Eid ul-Adha (‘Festival of Sacrifice’) also known as Barkri/Bakra Eid in many countries is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar.
The story of Eid ul-Adha
Eid ul-Adha celebrates the time when the Prophet Ibrahim had a dream which he believed was a message from God asking him to sacrifice his son Isma’il as an act of obedience to God.
The devil tempted Ibrahim by saying he should disobey God and spare his son. As Ibrahim was about to kill his son, God stopped him and gave him a lamb to sacrifice instead.
In some countries, Muslims sacrifice a sheep or goat (in Britain the animal is killed at a slaughter house). The meat is shared equally between family, friends and the poor.
Eid usually starts with Muslims going to the Mosque for prayers. They dress in their best clothes and thank Allah for all the blessings they have received. It is a time when they visit family and friends. Muslims will also give money to charity so that poor people can celebrate too.
Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Adha during the 5 days of Hajj. The Hajj is pilgrimage to Makkah in Saudi Arabia. It occurs every year and is the Fifth Pillar of Islam (and therefore very important).
All Muslims who are fit and able to travel should make the visit to Makkah at least once in their lives.
During the Hajj the pilgrims perform acts of worship and renew their faith and sense of purpose in the world. They stand before the Ka’bah, a shrine built by the Prophet Ibrahim, and praise Allah together.
Like last year due to the pandemic, Hajj this year will be limited to 60,000 pilgrims who already reside in Saudi Arabia. No one from outside the Kingdom will be permitted to enter and no one over the age of 65 will be allowed to take part.
The numbers allowed to perform the Hajj this year are in stark contrast to normal years. Pre-pandemic, there has been between 2 and 3 million pilgrims from around the world gathering to take part in the Hajj.
Eid ul Adha tends to fall by the wayside in terms of excitement and attention every year. But like Eid-ul-Fitr, this Eid needs planning and preparation as well to make it memorable and meaningful to all. Here are some tips and ideas on how to make Eid ul Adha exciting, whether you’re on your own, with your family, or want to get the community involved. Here, how is Eid al Adha celebrated?
1. Clean and decorate the home
Make the house as spotless as possible. Since the weather is getting warmer, consider white washing the house and putting mattresses and bedding outside to air out. Clean out those hard to reach places (or the ones you’d rather forget about).
Then decorate with lights, banners, streamers, etc. Put an Islamic song on the CD or cassette player so you can sing or hum along while you work. The ideal one would be A Whisper of Peace which features the song “These are the Days of Eid”.
2. Cook for the occasion
If you’ve been living on Halal takeout food, take note: Eid can’t really be special if you put no effort into it in the kitchen. Think about what made Eid special for you back home or when you were with your family. In many cases, it was because mom went all out and cooked up a storm the night or a few nights before for the occasion.
So use those pots and pans that may have been sitting idle in your cupboard and try your hand at making something easy but special. You don’t even have to share it with anyone if you really think it’s a flop. But at least it will give you a sense of accomplishment and if it does work out, it will add to the feeling that Eid is special, not just “another day off”.
3. Arrange a gift exchange with friends
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Exchange presents with one another, for they remove ill feelings from the heart. (Tirmidhi).
Eid is a great occasion to do this. A gift exchange can be with just a couple of friends or even acquaintances. Giving and getting gifts is a great way to increase in brotherhood and love on this occasion.
Remember though, that gifts should not burn a hole in your wallet. They should be affordable, well thought out, and of course Halal.
4. Get a new outfit
If you’ve been dragging out the same dress, suit, etc. for Eid day these past few years, invest in a new one this Eid. If you’re really tight in the finances department, at least make the necessary effort to launder and/or dry clean what you want to wear. Don’t just do this for the actual clothes you wear, but also do it for your jacket and scrub your shoes also.
5. Attend Eid prayers
It will really feel like Eid if you attend the prayers. Be part of not just the congregation but the Dua (supplications) following the prayer. You’ll feel the community spirit and Eid will really feel like Eid.
6. Hug the strangers
If you’re on your own, you know how lonely and sad Eid can be watching others hug each other while you stand on the sidelines. This Eid, make it a point to hug those Muslims you notice standing alone, with no family or friends with them. Invite them over, make plans to get to know each other or at least tell them about any upcoming Eid community events.
An interesting story on the power of hugging: in one Muslim community in central Canada, a man watched curiously as Muslims were hugging each other following thecompletion of Eid prayer. He inquired as to why they were doing this, studied Islam, and later became a Muslim.
7. Visit relatives and friends
Call up that uncle you haven’t seen in months and arrange to drive the extra hour or so to visit him on Eid. Or do the same for the best friend who lives farther away. Maybe if you suggest this, you can actually end up spending the whole day with them.
1. Plan in advance
Call a family meeting and plan what you want to do on the days of Eid and Tashreeq. Invite others over one day, then visit others on the next day? Or vice-versa?
Discuss ideas with the family, including all of the kids. Also, talk about the menu and delegate cooking responsibilities instead of dumping the whole workload on mom. Make something special which the family does not normally eat, it can be sweet, sour or in-between.
And make sure EVERYONE has a day off from work, school or any other commitments.
2. Clean and decorate the home
Get the whole family to make the house is virtually spotless, decorate it with balloons, lights, banners, streamers,etc. Get the younger kids to make decorative signs saying “Eid Mubarak” and post these around the house.
Put an Islamic song on the CD or cassette player so everyone can sing or hum along while they work. The ideal one would be A Whisper of Peace which features the song “These are the Days of Eid”.
3. Set up a family gift exchange
Put each family member’s name in a Kufi and have each person pull one out. Whoever picks a person’s name has to buy or make that person a gift. One catch: babies have to get gifts from everyone.
4. Buy and/or prepare Eid clothes
Invest in Eid and try to make sure everyone has something new or at least has their nice clothes ready following dry cleaning and laundering.
5. At Eid prayer, look for those who are alone and invite them over
At the Eid prayer place, where a lot of hugging goes on, you will find some Muslims standing alone. They are either new Muslims or new immigrants without relatives and friends. Do hug them and greet them. If possible invite them to your home for a meal. Also inform them of any planned Eid celebrations at any community center.
The weather has been getting much warmer up North. Take advantage of this and have a barbecue in your backyard. Invite your neighbors over too, and do some Dawa. Tell them about Eid and Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him).
7. Visit relatives and friends
Make a point to visit those far away especially. There is almost no better time than Eid. Since Eid is celebrated for more than a day, make it a point to go at least one of these days to see an uncle, aunt, cousin, etc.
8. Have the youngest lead in Takbirs
It is a Sunnah to say the Takbirs (Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illa Allah, etc.) on the way to Eid prayers. Have the youngest in the family do this.
1. Inform the media
Send a press release to the media from your mosque (see sample press release and tell them about Eid prayers. Arrange for photo opportunities and have statistics ready about your Muslim community (i.e. how many Muslims live there). Set up a committee to deal with the media on the day of Eid.
2. An Eid luncheon or dinner or BBQ
Get volunteers to help make the food. The event would be held shortly after people have completed their Eid sacrifices.
If lunch is too close by, try dinner. Even better, have an outdoor barbecue if the weather is nice. Remember, the key is make it simple. If getting it catered is too expensive, try getting volunteers to make the food.
3. Kids’ Eid activity day
Kids really need to feel that Eid is special, given the hype around Christmas, and to a lesser degree, Hanukkah. They need rides, games, cotton candy, the works. Make it simple. Get some dedicated, organized volunteers, especially young adults, and have them arrange good, old-fashioned kids’ games outside the mosque area: tag, beanbag races, etc.
And of course, have lots of candy ready to give out.
The mosques should be resounding with Takbirs on Eid. Instead of just grabbing any brother standing around to recite the Takbirs, arrange to get a group of young brothers to do it and prepare well in advance. It could very well be the best Takbirs you’ve heard in your life!
5. Have a sports competition outside the mosque
Get the Imam and mosque administrators/parents to play against young Muslim brothers. It can also be baseball, hockey or cricket if that’s what everyone likes to play. The point is not to beat the competition, but to have fun, build community and Eid spirit and youth confidence in the leadership. Have kids nine and under be “cheerleaders” for the different teams.