Article Info

published: 3/17/04
updated: 6/13/13

Eid Al-Adha: Festival of the Sacrifice

Goats for Eid al Adha
Goats intended for sacrifice on Eid al Adha in Delhi, India. Photo: Tom Maloney.

Sacrifice on Eid Al-Adha
Sacrifice of an animal during Eid al Adha in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: Luisangel.

Buffalo sacrifice for Eid
A buffalo prepared for sacrifice on Eid al Adha in Delhi, India. Photo: Tom Maloney.

What is Eid Al-Adha?

'Id Al-Adha or Eid al-Adha (Arabic عيد الأضحى, "Festival of the Sacrifice") is a major Islamic festival that takes place at the end of the Hajj. It is also known as 'Id al-Qurban or al-'Id al-Kabir (Major Festival).

Eid al-Adha marks the completion of the hajj (pilgrimage) rites at Mina, Saudi Arabia, but is also observed by Muslims throughout the world to commemorate the faith of Ibrahim (Abraham).

Dates of Eid al-Adha

Eid Al-Adha begins on the 10th of Dhu'l-Hijja, the last month of the Islamic calendar, and lasts for fours days. It begins the day after Muslims on the Hajj descend from Mount Arafat.

In the western calendar, Eid Al-Adha begins on the following days:

  • October 14-15, 2013
  • October 4-5, 2014
  • September 23-24, 2015
  • September 12-13, 2016
  • September 1-2, 2017

Meaning of the Festival

The festival commemorates God's gift of a ram in place of Isma'il (Ishmael), whom God had commanded Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice. (In Judaism and Christianity, the child in this story is Ishmael's brother Isaac.)

The Devil tried to persuade Ibrahim to disobey God and not to sacrifice his beloved son, but Ibrahim stayed absolutely obedient to God and drove the devil away. Eid al-Adha is a celebration of this supreme example of submission to God, which is the cornerstone of the Islamic faith (islam means "submission").

Eid al-Adha Observances

On Eid al-Adha, families that can afford it sacrifice an animal such as a sheep, goat, camel, or cow, and then divide the meat among themselves, the poor, friends and neighbors. In Britain, the law requires that this be done in a slaughterhouse. The sacrifice is called Qurban. During the sacrifice, the following prayer is recited:

In the name of Allah
And Allah is the greatest
O Allah, indeed this is from you and for you
O Allah accept it from me.

Eid al-Adha is a public holiday in Muslim countries. Like 'Id al-Fitr, 'Id Al-Adha begins with communal prayer at daybreak on its first day, which takes place at the local mosque. Worshippers wear their finest clothes for the occasion. It is also a time for visiting friends and family and for exchanging gifts.


  1. "'Id Al-Adha." Encyclopędia Britannica (Encyclopędia Britannica Premium Service, 2004).
  2. Eid ul Adha - BBC Religion & Ethics
  3. Eid ul-Adha - Wikipedia

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External Links on Eid Al-Adha