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Eid al-Adha
Saudi Arabia

Eid al-Adha 2019 and 2020

Eid al-Adha is a celebration that honours the willingness of Ibrahim to obey Allah and also commemorates the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, made by Muslims from around the world.

YearDateDayHoliday
201910 Aug to 13 AugSat to TueEid al-Adha Holiday
202030 Jul to 2 AugThu to SunEid al-Adha Holiday

Eid al-Adha is a time when Muslims remember the “almost sacrifice,” according to Islamic Scriptures, of Ishmael by Ibrahim on Mount Moriah in the vicinity of Mecca. God commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice Ishmael to test him, and he passed the test by being willing to obey even such an extreme command. But then God either changed Ishmael with a goat or commanded Ibrahim to stop and replace Ishmael with a healthy goat.

During Eid al-Adha, those who are financially able will slaughter an animal such as a sheep, goat or cow in remembrance of the sacrifice made by Ibraham. A portion of the sacrificed animal is kept for a feast and the remainder is shared with the poorer individuals in the community.

Hajj is a five-day series of rituals completed while on pilgrimage to Mecca and nearby areas. Most Islamic activities have their origins and highest expression in the region of Saudi Arabia around Mecca, and Hajj especially so.

As one of the Five Pillars of Islam, every Muslim is supposed to do Hajj at least once in his or her life if financially and physically able to do so. In fact, over two million Muslims from over 180 countries visit Mecca for Hajj every year.

Hajj begins on the 8th day of Dhu al Hijja, the final month of the Islamic calendar, and continues until the 12th day of the month. On the first day of Hajj, religious pilgrims arrive in Jeddah, the Red Sea coastal city that acts as “the Gateway to Mecca.” From there, they either walk or take a bus to the town of Mina, where they sleep the night.

In the morning, they rise early and trek more than eight miles on foot to the Plain of Arafat. At the Plain of Arafat, where Muhammad gave his last sermon before he died, the travellers spend a full day in prayer and reading the Quran. When the sun goes down, they return to the town of Muzdalifah to sleep.

On the morning of the 10th day of Dhu al Hijja, it is time to gather small rocks and pebbles to take to Mina, where they will walk out on a large, spacious pedestrian-only bridge to “stone the Devil.” This consists in casting the little stones gathered earlier at several pillars erected not far from the bridge’s edge. After this ceremony, the pilgrims offer an animal sacrifice like Ibraham did in place of his son. Professionals are on-site to sell the animals and perform the sacrifices.

At this point, those on Hajj enter Mecca and proceed without delay to Islam’s holiest site and the biggest mosque on the planet, Masjid al Haram, also called simply “the Grand Mosque.” The mosque wraps around the Kaaba, a large cube in which is a black meteorite and some other holy relics, and all pilgrims must circle the Kaaba seven times going counterclockwise. This is referred to as “tawaf”.

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