After the solemnity and discipline of Hajj pilgrimage, comes the festival of Eid al-Adha
Traditionally lasting for four days, Eid al-Adha is also known as the ‘Festival of the Sacrifice’. This is because it commemorates a significant event in the life of the prophet Abraham.
According to tradition, God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his eldest son – the dearest person in his life. Abraham agreed to submit to the will of God, and made all the necessary preparations, but when the moment came to make the sacrifice he was astonished to see that his son had been replaced by a lamb. By his willingness to go ahead, Abraham had proved his love for God, and so his son was spared.
On Eid al-Adha, Muslims in the UK usually start the day by performing ghusl, a full-body purification ritual. They then dress in their best clothes and attend a prayer service either at the mosque or at an outdoor venue. Families and friends then gather together, gifts are exchanged, and celebratory food is prepared and eaten.
In contrast to Eid ul-Fitr which takes place at the end of Ramadan, and is nicknamed by some ‘the Sweet Eid’ for its variety of sweet dishes, Eid al-Adha is often called the ‘Salty Eid’ because the feast includes mainly savoury food. In the UK, the composition of the feast largely depends on the cultural background of the family, but the main ingredient is usually the meat – lamb, goat or beef. One of the central rituals on Eid al-Adha is the act of sacrificing this animal but British law means that the animal must be killed in an official slaughterhouse. Popular dishes include kebabs, Haleem (a stew made from meat, wheat and lentils) and , and Haleem (a stew usually made from meat, wheat, and lentils), and Biryani. The meal is usually rounded off by a sweet dessert, featuring cakes, biscuits, or sweet pastries similar to Turkish baklava.
As is often the case with Muslim festivals, those less fortunate are also helped, whether by the giving of meat for the celebration, making charity donations so that poorer families can have an Eid feast, or the arranging of communal meals to which all are invited. In keeping with this aspect, initiatives to improve the quality of life or opportunities in Muslim communities around the UK are often launched on Eid al-Adha
If you wish to greet a Muslim celebrating Eid al-Adha, then use the words “Eid Mubarak” (blessed Eid).