Center for Spiritual Life

Eid al-Adha: The Feast of Sacrifice

Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, is a major holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide for three to four days. Most Muslims will attend the special prayers held at major mosques and Islamic centers in the United States and throughout the world. Muslims usually wear new clothes and some exchange gifts. Children take a day off from school (including college students), and many adults do not go to work. When asked about the origin of Eid al-Adha, The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, is reported to have said, “It is a tradition that has come down to us from Abraham.” The Feast of Sacrifice originates from the historic event when Prophet Abraham was commanded by God in a dream vision to sacrifice his son, Ishmail. While he was in the act of sacrificing his son, God sent the Angel Gabriel with a huge ram. Gabriel informed Abraham that his dream vision was fulfilled and instructed him to sacrifice the ram as a ransom for his son. The story is mentioned in Chapter #37 of the Holy Qur'an. Eid al-Adha enjoys special significance because the Day of Sacrifice marks the climax of Hajj or Pilgrimage, the fifth pillar of Islam. This annual pilgrimage to Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia is an obligation only for those men and women who are physically and financially able to perform it once in their lifetime.