Eid al-Adha, or greater Eid, is celebrated on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijah, the 12 month of the Islamic calendar. This year this will be around 10th-11th September, depending on the sighting of the new moon.
Also known as the feast of the sacrifice, it should not be confused with Eid al-Fitr, the feast of the breaking of the fast. Eid al-Adha celebrates the prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son.
The story tells how Allah appeared to Ibrahim in a dream and asked him to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, as a sign of his obedience. Just as Ibrahim was about to perform the sacrifice, Allah stopped him and gave him a lamb to slaughter instead. The same story is recounted by Jews and Christians who tell of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
Many Muslims sacrifice a sheep or goat for this festival and the meat is shared equally between family, friends and the poor. Anyone in the UK who chooses to do this makes an arrangement for the sacrifice to be carried out in a slaughterhouse.
As with many Muslim festivals, the day starts with prayers at the mosque before the rest of the celebrations – getting together with family and friends and exchanging gifts – begin
Eid al-Fitr, or lesser Eid, celebrates the breaking of the fasting during Ramadan. It is celebrated on the first day of the month of Shawwal, which is the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. This year that will be around 5th July, depending on the sighting of the new moon.
To non-Muslims, the festival, which lasts between 1 and 3 days, is probably most noted for the feasting: lavish, rich foods are prepared and shared and fasting is not permitted on this day. Homes are decorated, gifts are given and family and friends are visited.
But the festival is not just about the food. Most Muslims will wake early and then go to the mosque, or to an agreed outdoor meeting place, where they pray together before the celebrations begin. Eid al-Fitr is a time for thanking Allah for giving them the strength to exercise self-control during Ramadan. It’s a time to forgiveness and putting differences aside, and it’s a time for remembering loved ones who are no longer here.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. This year Ramadan begins around 6th June and ends around 5th July. These dates are approximate because the Islamic calendar follows the lunar calendar, and months end and begin with the sighting of the new moon which can differ slightly from country to country around the world.
Ramadan is considered the most holy of the 12 months because this is when the Qu’ran is said to have been revealed to the prophet Muhammad (pbuh). During this month Muslims are encouraged to read the whole Qu’ran and to be extra charitable.
Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and most Muslims fast during daylight hours during Ramadan, although the very old, the very young and the very ill are exempt. The fast begins at sunrise and ends at sunset and so Muslims eat 2 meals a day during Ramadan – one (the suhoor) just before the sun comes up and another (the iftar) after sundown. At the end of the month, with the sighting of the new moon, Ramadan ends and the celebration of Eid al-Fitr begins