Eid al-Adha: The remembrance in Islam of Abraham’s faith
Listen to the Audio post

What holiday is Eid al-Adha for Islam?

Eid al-Adha ( Arabic : عيد الأضحى lett . “Feast of Sacrifice,” Farsi: عید قربان) is the second and largest of the holidays celebrated in Islam (the other being Eid al -Fitr which is the feast of breaking the fast in the month of Ramadan). This holiday commemorates Ibrahim’s (Abraham in Arabic) willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to the LORD. Yet before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, GOD provided him with an animal as a substitute. GOD’s was only a Trial to test the faith of the biblical patriarch, and it is in remembrance of this Divine intervention that animals are slaughtered and consumed together with relatives and friends on this occasion. Part of the meat then is consumed by the community of believers, with the rest distributed to the poor and needy. Sweets and gifts are offered, and members of the extended family are visited or welcomed into their homes. The day is also sometimes called the Great Eid.
In the Islamic lunar calendar , Eid al-Adha falls on the tenth day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts four days. So in the international (Gregorian) calendar , the dates vary from year to year, moving about 11 days earlier each year.

The Arabic word عيد ( ʿīd ) means “feast,” “celebration,” and the same holiday can also be called in Arabic عيد الأضحى ( Eid-ul-Adha ) or العيد الكبير ( Eid-ul-Kabir ).  The words أضحى ( aḍḥā ) and قربان ( qurbān ) are synonymous in meaning “sacrifice,” “offering,” or “oblation.” The first word is derived from the triliteral root ضحى ( ḍaḥḥā ) with the associated meanings of “immolate; offer; sacrifice.”  No occurrence of this root with a meaning related to sacrifice is found in the Quran, but only in Hadith literature. Very interesting to know that Arab Christians use this term to refer to the host in the Eucharist.
The second word comes from the triletter root قرب ( qaraba ) with the same meanings as the Hebrew korban קָרבן ( qorbān ).

Origin

One of the main trials of the patriarch Abraham’s life was to accept GOD’s command, despite the fact that he had to sacrifice his beloved son. Ibrahim knew that it was a command from ALLAH (GOD in Arabic) and as the Qur’ān claims he said to his son, “Oh son, I keep dreaming that I am immolating you,” Ishmael (Ishmael in Arabic, although Biblical tradition speaks only of his brother Isaac), and the son as a true believer replied, “Father, do what you have been commanded to do.” Ibrahim thus prepared to submit to GOD’s will and prepare for his son’s sacrifice as an act of faith and obedience, but during the preparation, Shaytaan (Satan) tempted Ibrahim and his family by trying to dissuade them from fulfilling the commandment. Ibrahim drove the devil away by throwing stones at him, and in commemoration of the refusal, stones are still thrown at pillars symbolizing the place where Satan tried to dissuade Ibrahim, during Hajj (pilgrimage) rituals. Thus recognizing that Ibrahim was willing to sacrifice what was dearest to him, GOD the Almighty honored both Ibrahim and Ismail over the centuries. That is why it was said that the Angel Garbiel (Jibreel) called Ibrahim saying, “Oh Ibrahim, you have fulfilled the revelations,” and a lamb from heaven was offered by the Angel Jibreel to Prophet Ibrahim to be slaughtered instead of Ismail. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al Adha to commemorate both Ibrahim’s devotion and Ismail’s survival. 

This story is known as Akedah in Judaism (Binding of Isaac) and originates in the Torah, the first Book revealed by GOD to Moses (Genesis 22). The Qur’an refers to the Akedah as follows:

100 My Lord! Bless me with righteous offspring.”
101 So We gave him good news of a forbearing son.
102 Then when the boy reached the age to work with him, Abraham said, “O my dear son! I have seen in a dream that I ˹must˺ sacrifice you. So tell me what you think.” He replied, “O my dear father! Do as you are commanded. Allah willing, you will find me steadfast.”
103 Then when they submitted ˹to Allah’s Will˺, and Abraham laid him on the side of his forehead ˹for sacrifice˺,
104 We called out to him, “O Abraham!
105 You have already fulfilled the vision.” Indeed, this is how We reward the good-doers.
106 That was truly a revealing test.
107 And We ransomed his son with a great sacrifice,
108 and blessed Abraham ˹with honourable mention˺ among later generations:
109 “Peace be upon Abraham.”
110 This is how We reward the good-doers.
111 He was truly one of Our faithful servants.
112 We ˹later˺ gave him good news of Isaac—a prophet, and one of the righteous.
(Quran Surah As-Saaffat37, 100–112)

The word “Eid” appears once in Al-Ma’ida , the fifth sura of the Qur’an, with the meaning of “feast or festival.”

Bibliography

  1.  “Islamic Holidays, 2010–2030 (A.H. 1431–1452)”InfoPleaseArchived from the original on 18 December 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  2.  “Id al-Adha”. Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  3.  “Definition of Eid al-Adha | Dictionary.com”www.dictionary.com. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
Translate into your language
Main Topics
ASH’s Newsletter