From August 19 till 23, thousands of Muslims will be gathered in Saudi Arabia for the holy pilgrimage of Hajj. This marks one of the five pillars of the religion followed by millions around the world. While not everyone goes for pilgrimage, Muslims around the world celebrate the Day of Eid-Ul-Adha during the five days. In South Africa, this celebration will take place on Wednesday August 22. Here’s what you need to know about the day.
What is Eid Ul Adha?
Just like the Eid that is celebrated after the month of Ramadan, this Eid is not just a Muslim Christmas. It is a day of celebration and sacrifice for Muslims. It marks the third day of Hajj. It is called Eid Ul Adha as Adha is the Arabic word which means sacrifice. As Muslims use the lunar calendar to calculate when a new month starts and ends, the day when it is celebrated differs depends on when a country sees the new moon.
In Saudi Arabia, they will be celebrating the day of Eid on August 21 while in South Africa it will be on August 22. The Georgian date corresponds to the Islamic calendar date of the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah. Eid takes place between the 10th and 13th of Dhul Hijjah. It is a three day celebration.
What is the significance of this Eid?
While the Ramadan Eid is about celebrating the end of the month of fasting, this Eid forms part of the bigger religious observance. It is a celebration that commemorates the story of the Prophet Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son to God as a test of his faith. Before Prophet Abraham carried out the sacrifice, God provided a ram as the sacrifice instead as his faith has been proven. Every year on this day, Muslims sacrifice animals as a way of remembering the enduring faith of Prophet Abraham.
Eid ul Adha falls part of the five days of Hajj. This is an obligatory pilgrimage all Muslims are expected to go on once in their lives.
What is Hajj?
It is an annual pilgrimage where thousands of pilgrims observe a number of rituals which include begging for forgiveness from God, symbolically stoning the devil and praying and increasing in their individual spirituality. All of the rituals which are carried out during the five days have their origins with Prophet Abraham and his firm faith in God.
There have been many controversies with the Hajj including the stampedes and mass deaths that sometimes takes place during the pilgrimage which sees millions gathered in Saudi Arabia.
However this year the pilgrimage takes place just weeks after the Saudi Arabian government bombed a school bus of Yemeni children in the ongoing conflict between the two countries. This along with Saudi Arabia’s many other human rights violations within the country and in other countries has meant there have been calls for Muslims to boycott the Hajj. However, as going for Hajj is such an expensive and difficult process, the conversation around that will continue with no simple solution in sight.
Another controversy lies with this Eid which can be triggering to Muslims who are vegan or are opposed to the slaughter of animals regardless of their lifestyle choices.
What do Muslims do on Eid Day?
Just like with the Ramadan Eid, this Eid has some special rituals that need to be carried. On the day, Muslims wake up early to shower and dress in their Eid best, and to arrange a spread of sweet treats for any guests who might stop in later. Many make their way to masjids or to open fields to perform the special Eid salaah called the Eid Gah. On the day Muslims greet each other saying “Eid Mubarak”, “Eid Saeed” and other variations, which basically translate to “Blessed Eid” or “Happy Eid”.
After the Eid prayer is performed, Muslims are expected to sacrifice an animal. This can be done by literally sacrificing an animal according to Muslims rites. However, if for some reason personal or otherwise a person is unable to, they are expected to send money which will be given for a sacrifice. This is usually sent to people who are in need. The meat that comes from the animal must be divided in three parts with one given to the less fortunate, another to family and another to friends.
Any uniquely South African customs
Eid is a day for celebrating! It’s about showing off your best or newest clothes, eating as much of the amazing food that has been prepared and getting presents. While it is a day for happiness and celebration, there can be some drama.
Like most family holidays around the world, the day can be about negotiating difficult family relations, especially deciding whose family to have Eid lunch with in married couples. This usually means one meal will be spent with one side of the family and another meal with the other side.
The Daily Vox would like to wish an Eid Mubarak to all those who will be celebrating. And for those who aren’t, hopefully your Muslim friends will bring some barakatjies (Eid leftovers) for you the next day.