The Eid holiday: What does it celebrate?

While the Eid festival following Ramadan is better known, Eid al-Adha is more significant to the Muslim calendar.

Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
Muslim pilgrims cast seven stones at a pillar that symbolizes Satan during the annual haj pilgrimage, as part of a haj pilgrimage rite, on the first day of Eid al-Adha in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca October 26.

The Syrian cease-fire pegged to the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha has put the annual observance in the spotlight, bringing it to non-Muslims attention for reasons that have nothing to do with the holiday. But the “Feast of the Sacrifice” is one of the most important holidays on the Muslim calendar, actually trumping the better known festival holiday Eid al-Fitr in importance.

Eid al-Adha is celebrated at the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, or hajj, which each Muslim is supposed to undertake once in his or her life. It is welcomed at daybreak on the first day with a communal prayer and lasts three days.

The holiday commemorates the day when Abraham was commanded by Allah to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. Abraham’s willingness to obey led Allah to permit him to sacrifice a ram in his son’s stead. (In the Judeo-Christian recounting, it is Abraham’s other son, Isaac, who is almost sacrificed.)

Eid al-Adha is celebrated with the sacrifice of an animal, part of which is kept for the family for a feast, part of which is distributed to friends and the poor. It also includes the distribution of gifts and sweets, visits with family, and, for those not in Mecca for the hajj, visits to local mosques and relatives’ graves.  
Today, much like Christmas, Eid al-Adha is also often marked in commercial ways. Gulf News reports that Dubai shopping malls are holding 24-hour “shopping extravaganzas” in honor of the festival holiday.

Incompatible with modernity?

In this video interview with StandAloneMedia (scroll to bottom of page), Reza Aslan, a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of California, Riverside, and author of "No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam," shares his views on the misperceptions that abound about Muslims, modernity, and democracy.

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, Gulf News, the Oxford Dictionary of Islam

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.