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Interfaith eLert – Eid al-Adha – Muslim

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The word Eid is an Arabic word meaning a festivity, a celebration, a recurring happiness, a feast. In Islam, there are two major Eids: Eid al-Fitr ("The Festival of Fast-Breaking”) at the end of Ramadan and Eid al-Adha ("The Festival of Sacrifice" or “Greater Eid”) at the end of the Hajj – the religious pilgrimage to Mekkah (Mecca).

Edi al-Adha (pronounced EED al-adHHHA) is the most important festival of the Muslim year. The holiday is celebrated worldwide as Muslims (including the Druze) remember and commemorate the trials and triumphs of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham).

Traditionally, the holiday celebrates Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael when he was commanded to show his commitment to Allah (God) and Allah’s revealing to Ibrahim that, by his willingness, he had already fulfilled his “sacrifice”. (NOTE: Muslims believe the son to be Ishmael rather than Isaac as told in Christian and Jewish traditions.) At Allah’s direction, a lamb was sacrificed in place of Ishmael.

In 2009 Eid al-Adha will begin on Friday, the 27th of November and in most countries the festival will last for three or four days. Muslim holidays begin at sunset on the previous day, so this year observing Muslims will celebrate Eid al-Adha beginning at sunset on Thursday, November 26th.

Eid al-Adha is a happy time. On the first morning of Eid al-Adha, Muslims around the world dress in their finest clothing to perform Eid prayer in a large congregation in an open area or mosque. Prayers are followed by visits to family and friends, the exchange of gifts, and by festive meals. Sweets, including dried fruits and sweetmeats, are plentiful.

In many countries, those Muslims who can afford to do so may sacrifice a domestic animal (such as a sheep, camel or goat) in an act known as qurbani. One-third of the animal’s meat is then consumed by immediate family, while the remaining two-thirds is given away to friends and to the poor Islamic residents of the community, respectively. The animal is offered as a symbol of Abraham’s sacrifice and the distribution of the meat to others is an expression of Zakat (giving to the poor and needy), one of the five pillars of Islam.

Traditional Greeting: Eid mubarak (EED moo-BAR-ak) is a greeting specifically for use on the festivals of Eid al-Adha and Eid ul-Fitr. In English the greeting can be paraphrased as meaning "may you enjoy a blessed festival".

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