Checked content

Eid al-Adha

Did you know...

SOS Children offer a complete download of this selection for schools for use on schools intranets. SOS Children has looked after children in Africa for forty years. Can you help their work in Africa?

عيد الأضحى
Eid al-Adha (ʻĪd al-’Aḍḥá)
Feast of the Sacrifice
Official name Arabic: عيد الأضحى
ʻĪd al-’Aḍḥá
Also called The Major Festival, the Greater Eid
Observed by Muslims around the world
Type Islamic
Significance Commemoration of the prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his young and only firstborn son in obedience to a command from God
Marks the end of the annual Hajj to Mecca
Begins 10 Dhu al-Hijjah
Ends 13 Dhu al-Hijjah
2012 date 26 October (± 1 day, depending on the country or region)
2013 date 15 October (± 1 day)
Celebrations Family and friend gatherings, meals (especially lunches and late breakfasts), wearing new clothes, giving gifts
Observances Eid prayers, sacrificing a sheep, cow, goat, buffalo or camel in the name of God, giving away one-third of the meat to friends and neighbors and donating one-third or more of the meat to the poor and needy
Related to Hajj, Umrah, Eid al-Fitr

Eid al-Adha (Arabic: عيد الأضحىʻĪd al-’Aḍḥá, IPA:  [ʕiːd al ʔadˁˈħaː], " festival of sacrifice"), also called Feast of the Sacrifice, the Major Festival, the Greater Eid, Kurban Bayram, Eid al-Bakr and Bakrid, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to honour the willingness of the prophet ʾIbrāhīm (Abraham) to sacrifice his young first-born son Ismā'īl (Ishmael)a as an act of submission to God's command and his son's acceptance to being sacrificed, before God intervened to provide Abraham with a Lamb to sacrifice instead. In the lunar Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for four days. In the international Gregorian calendar, the dates vary from year to year, drifting approximately 11 days earlier each year.

Eid al-Adha is the latter of the two Eid holidays, the former being Eid al-Fitr. The basis for the Eid al-Adha comes from the 196th verse of the 2nd sura of the Quran. The word "Eid" appears once in the 5th sura of the Quran, with the meaning "solemn festival".

Like Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha begins with a Sunnah prayer of two rakats followed by a sermon ( khuṭbah). Eid al-Adha celebrations start after the descent of the Hajj from Mount Arafat, a hill east of Mecca. Ritual observance of the holiday lasts until sunset of the 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah. Eid sacrifice may take place until sunset on the 13th day of Dhu al-Hijjah. The days of Eid have been singled out in the Hadith as "days of remembrance". The days of Tashriq are from the Fajr prayer of the 9th of Dhul Hijjah up to the Asr prayer of the 13th of Dhul Hijjah (5 days and 4 nights). This equals 23 prayers: 5 on the 9th-12th, which equal 20, and 3 on the 13th.

Other names

The Arabic term "Feast of the Sacrifice", ‘Īd-ul-’Aḍḥā is borrowed into Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and Gujarati, and Austronesian languages, such as Malay and Indonesian (the last often spelling it as Idul Adha or Iduladha).

Eid al-Adha celebrations start at same time of the annual Hajj in Mecca.

Another Arabic word for "sacrifice" is Qurbān (Arabic: قربان‎), which is borrowed into Dari Persian and Standard Persian as عید قربان (Eyd-e Ghorbân), Tajik Persian as Иди Қурбон (Idi Qurbon), Kazakh as Құрбан айт (Qurban ayt), Uyghur as Qurban Heyit, and also into various Indo-Aryan languages such as Bengali as কোরবানির ঈদ (Korbanir Id). Other languages combined the Arabic word qurbān with local terms for "festival", as in Kurdish (Cejna Qurbanê), Pashto (د قربانۍ اختر da Qurbānəi Axtar), Turkish (Kurban Bayramı), Turkmen (Gurban Baýramy), Azeri (Qurban Bayramı), Tatar (Qorban Bäyräme), Albanian (Kurban Bajrami), Bosnian- Croatian- Serbian (Kurban bajram, Курбан бајрам), Russian (Курбан-байрам), Bulgarian and Macedonian (Курбан Байрам), Mandarin Chinese (古尔邦节 Gúěrbāng Jié), and Malaysian and Indonesian (Hari Raya Korban, Qurbani).

Eid al-Kabir, an Arabic term meaning "the Greater Eid" (the "Lesser Eid" being Eid al-Fitr), is used in Yemen, Syria, and North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt). The term was borrowed directly into French as Aïd el-Kebir. Translations of "Big Eid" or "Greater Eid" are used in Pashto (لوی اختر Loy Axtar), Kashmiri (Baed Eid), Hindustani (Baṛī Īd), Tamil (Peru Nāl, "Great Day") and Malayalam (Bali Perunnal, "Great Day of Sacrifice"). Albanian, on the other hand, uses Bajram(i) i vogël or "the Lesser Eid" (as opposed to Bajram i Madh, the "Greater Eid", for Eid al-Fitr) as an alternative reference to Eid al-Adha.

Some names refer to the fact that the holiday occurs after the culmination of the annual Hajj. Such names are used in Malaysian and Indonesian (Hari Raya Haji "Hajj celebration day", Lebaran Haji, Lebaran Kaji), and Tamil (Hajji Peru Nāl).

In Urdu- and Hindi-speaking areas, the festival is also called Bakr Īd, stemming from the Hindustani word bakrī, "goat", because of the tradition of sacrificing a goat in South Asia. This term is also borrowed into other languages, such as Tamil Bakr Īd Peru Nāl.

Other local names include Mandarin Chinese 宰牲节 Zǎishēng Jié ("Slaughter-livestock Festival") as well as Tfaska Tamoqqart in the Berber language of Djerba, Tabaski or Tobaski in Wolof, Babbar Sallah in Nigerian languages, Pagdiriwang ng Sakripisyo in Filipino and ciida gawraca in Somali.

Eid al-Adha has had other names outside the Muslim world. The name is often simply translated into the local language, such as English Feast of the Sacrifice, German Opferfest, Dutch Offerfeest, Romanian Sărbătoarea Sacrificiului, and Hungarian Áldozati ünnep. In Spanish it is known as Fiesta del Cordero ("festival of the lamb").


According to Islamic tradition, approximately four thousand years ago, the valley of Mecca (in what is now Saudi Arabia) was a dry, rocky and uninhabited place. Abraham (' Ibraheem in Arabic) was instructed to bring his Egyptian wife Hājar (Hāǧar) and Ismā'īl ( Ishmael), his only child at the time, to Arabia from the land of Canaan by God's command.

As Abraham was preparing for his return journey back to Canaan, Hajar asked him, "Did God order you to leave us here? Or are you leaving us here to die." Abraham turned around to face his wife. He was so sad that he couldn't say anything. He pointed to the sky showing that God commanded him to do so. Hajar said, "Then God will not waste us; you can go". Though Abraham had left a large quantity of food and water with Hajar and Ishmael, the supplies quickly ran out, and within a few days the two began to feel the pangs of hunger and dehydration.

Hajar ran up and down between two hills called Al-Safa and Al-Marwah seven times, in her desperate quest for water. Exhausted, she finally collapsed beside her baby Ishmael and prayed to God for deliverance. Miraculously, a spring of water gushed forth from the earth at the feet of baby Ishmael. Other accounts have the angel Gabriel (Jibrail) striking the earth and causing the spring to flow in abundance. With this secure water supply, known as the Zamzam Well, they were not only able to provide for their own needs, but were also able to trade water with passing nomads for food and supplies.

Years later, Abraham was instructed by God to return from Canaan to build a place of worship adjacent to Hagar's well (the Zamzam Well). Abraham and Ishmael constructed a stone and mortar structure —known as the Kaaba— which was to be the gathering place for all who wished to strengthen their faith in God. As the years passed, Ishmael was blessed with Prophethood ( Nubuwwah) and gave the nomads of the desert his message of submission to God. After many centuries, Mecca became a thriving desert city and a major centre for trade, thanks to its reliable water source, the well of Zamzam.

One of the main trials of Abraham's life was to face the command of God to devote his dearest possession, his only son. Upon hearing this command, he prepared to submit to God's will. During this preparation, Satan ( Shaitan) tempted Abraham and his family by trying to dissuade them from carrying out God's commandment, and Ibrahim drove Satan away by throwing pebbles at him. In commemoration of their rejection of Satan, stones are thrown at symbolic pillars signifying Satan during the Hajj rites.

When Ismā'īl was about 13 (Abraham being 99), God decided to test their faith in public. Abraham had a recurring dream, in which God was commanding him to offer his son as a sacrifice – an unimaginable act – sacrificing his son, which God had granted him after many years of deep prayer. Abraham knew that the dreams of the prophets were divinely inspired, and one of the ways in which God communicated with his prophets. When the intent of the dreams became clear to him, Abraham decided to fulfill God's command and offer Ishmael for sacrifice.

Although Abraham was ready to sacrifice his dearest for God's sake, he could not just go and drag his son to the place of sacrifice without his consent. Ishmael had to be consulted as to whether he was willing to give up his life as fulfillment to God's command. This consultation would be a major test of Ishmael's maturity in faith, love and commitment for God, willingness to obey his father and sacrifice his own life for the sake of God.

Abraham presented the matter to his son and asked for his opinion about the dreams of slaughtering him. Ishmael did not show any hesitation or reservation even for a moment. He said, "Father, do what you have been commanded. You will find me, Insha'Allah (God willing), to be very patient." His mature response, his deep insight into the nature of his father’s dreams, his commitment to God, and ultimately his willingness to sacrifice his own life for the sake of God were all unprecedented.

When Abraham attempted to cut Ishmael's throat, he was astonished to see that Ishmael was unharmed and instead, he found a dead ram which was slaughtered. Abraham had passed the test by his willingness to carry out God's command.

This is mentioned in the Quran as follows:

"O my Lord! Grant me a righteous (son)!" So We gave him the good news of a boy, possessing forbearance. And when (his son) was old enough to walk and work with him, (Abraham) said: O my dear son, I see in vision that I offer you in sacrifice: Now see what is your view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do what you are commanded; if Allah wills, you will find me one practising patience and steadfastness!" So when they both submitted and he threw him down upon his forehead, We called out to him saying: O Ibraheem! You have indeed fulfilled the vision; surely thus do We reward those who do good. Most surely this was a manifest trial. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. And We perpetuated (praise) to him among the later generations. "Peace and salutation to Abraham!" Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. Surely he was one of Our believing servants.

As a reward for this sacrifice, God then granted Abraham the good news of the birth of his second son, Is-haaq (Isaac):

And We gave him the good news of Is-haaq, a prophet from among the righteous.

Abraham had shown that his love for God superseded all others: that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dearest to him in submission to God's command. Muslims commemorate this ultimate act of sacrifice every year during Eid al-Adha.

Eid prayers

Muslims go to the Masjid to pray the prayer of the Eid.

Who must attend

According to some fiqh (traditional Islamic law) (although there is some disagreement)

  1. Men and women both should go to mosque—more precisely eidgah (a field where eid prayer held)—to perform eid prayer; it is sunnat e muakkadah (a confirmed sunnat). Menstruating women have to stay away from the prayer, but should witness goodness and the gathering of the Muslims.
  2. Residents, which excludes travelers.
  3. Those in good health.

When is it performed

The Eid al-Adha prayer is performed anytime after the sun completely rises up to just before the entering of Zuhr time, on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah. In the event of a Force majeure(e.g. natural disaster), the prayer may be delayed to the 11th of Dhul Hijjah and then to the 12th of Dhul Hijjah.

The Sunnah of preparation

In keeping with the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, Muslims are encouraged to prepare themselves for the occasion of Eid. Below is a list of things Muslims are recommended to do in preparation for the Eid al-Adha festival:

  1. Make wudu (ablution) and offer Salat al-Fajr (the pre-sunrise prayer).
  2. Prepare for personal cleanliness – take care of details of clothing, etc.
  3. Dress up, putting on new or best clothes available.

Rituals of the Eid prayers

Muslims from the Ottoman Empire gather after Eid prayers to greet the Imam.

The scholars differed concerning the ruling on Eid prayers. There are three scholarly points of view:

1 – That Eid prayer is Sunnah mu’akkadah (recommended). This is the view of Imam Maalik and Imam al-Shaafa’i.

2 – That it is a Fard Kifaya (communal obligation). This is the view of Imam Ahmad.

3 – That it is Wajib on all Muslim men (a duty for each Muslim and is obligatory for men); those who do not do it with no excuse are sinning thereby. This is the view of Imam Abu Haneefah, and was also narrated from Imam Ahmad.

Eid prayers must be offered in congregation. It consists of two rakats (units) with seven Takbirs in the first Raka'ah and five Takbirs in the second Raka'ah. For Sunni Muslims, Salat al-Eid differs from the five daily canonical prayers in that no adhan (Call to Prayer) or iqama (call) is pronounced for the two Eid prayers. حجم الحروف The Salaat (prayer) is then followed by the Khutbah, or sermon, by the Imam.

At the conclusion of the prayers and sermon, the Muslims embrace and exchange greetings with one other ( Eid Mubarak), give gifts (Eidi) to children, and visit one another. Many Muslims also take this opportunity to invite their non-Muslims friends, neighbours, co-workers and classmates to their Eid festivities to better acquaint them about Islam and Muslim culture.

The Takbir and other rituals

A greeting card with the verses of the Quran calling the Prophet and his followers to offer sacrifice – often equated with Eid al-Adha. The translation is available in English, French and Urdu.
Prayers in Comilla, Bangladesh can be seen attending Khutbah as part of the Eid al-Adha prayers on 7 November 2011.

The Takbir is recited from the dawn of the ninth of Dhu al-Hijjah to the thirteenth, and consists of:

Allāhu akbar, Allāhu akbar, Allāhu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر
lā ilāha illā Allāh لا إله إلا الله
Allāhu akbar, Allāhu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر
wa li-illāhil-hamd ولله الحمد
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest,
There is no deity but Allah
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
and to Allah goes all praise


Allāhu akbar, Allāhu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر
lā ilāha illā Allāh لا إله إلا الله
wa Allāhu akbar, Allāhu akbar والله أكبر الله أكبر
wa li-illāhil-ḥamd ولله الحمد
Alḥamdulillāh `alā mā hadānā, wa lahul-shukru `ala mā awlānā الحمد لله على ما هدانا و له الشكر على ما اولانا
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest,
There is no deity but Allah
and Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
and to Allah goes all praise, (We) sing the praises of Allah because He has shown us the Right Path. (We) gratefully thank Him because He takes care of us and looks after our interests.


Allāhu akbar, Allāhu akbar, Allāhu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر
lā ilāha illā Allāh لا إله إلا الله
Allāhu akbar, Allāhu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر
wa li-illāhil-ḥamd ولله الحمد
Allāhu akbar kabīra, wal ḥamdu lillāhi kathīra, wa subḥāna Allāhi bukratan wa aṣīlā الله أكبر كبيرا والحمد لله كثيرا وسبحان الله بكرة وأصيلا
lā ilāha illā Allāh waḥdah(i) لا اله إلا الله وحده
Ṣadaqa wa`dah صدق وعده
wa naṣara `abdah ونصر عبده
wa 'a`azza jundahu wa ḥazama al-aḥzaba waḥdah وأعز جنده وهزم الأحزاب وحده
Lā ilāha illā Allāh لا إله إلا الله
walā na`budu illā iyyāh ولا نعبد إلا إياه
Mukhliṣīn lahu ud-dīn wa law kariha al kāfirūn مخلصين له الدين ولو كره الكافرون
Allāhumma ṣallī `alā Sayyidinā Muḥammad اللهم صل على سيدنا محمد
wa `alā Āla Sayyidinā Muḥammad وعلى آل سيدنا محمد
wa `alā Aṣḥabi Sayyidinā Muḥammad وعلى أصحاب سيدنا محمد
wa `alā Anṣāri Sayyidinā Muḥammad وعلى أنصار سيدنا محمد
wa `alā azwāji Sayyidinā Muḥammad وعلى أزواج سيدنا محمد
wa `alā ḏurriyyati Sayyidinā Muḥammadin wa sallim taslīman kathīra وعلى ذرية سيدنا محمد وسلم تسليما كثيرا
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest,
There is no deity but Allah
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
and to Allah goes all praise
Allah is the Greatest, all Praise is due to Him, And Glory to Allah, eventide and in the morning
There is no god, but Allah the Unique
He has fulfilled His Promise,
and made Victorious His worshipper
and alone made Mighty His soldiers and defeated the confederates
There is no deity but Allah
He alone we worship
With sincere and exclusive devotion, even though the infidels hate it
O Allah, have Mercy on our Prophet Muhammad
and on the family of our Prophet Muhammad
and on the Companions of our Prophet Muhammad
and on the Helpers of our Prophet Muhammad
and on the wives of our Prophet Muhammad
and on the offspring of our Prophet Muhammad, and bestow upon them much peace.

Eid Prayer is Wajib, not a fard kafaya.

Traditions and practices

A panorama in 12 folds showing Muslims returning from their Mosques after Eid prayers in the Mughal Empire.

Men, women and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing to perform Eid prayer (ṣalātu l-`Īdi) in a large congregation is an open waqf field called Eidgah or mosque. Affluent Muslims who can afford, i.e Malik-e-Nisaab; sacrifice their best halal domestic animals (usually a cow, but can also be a camel, goat, sheep or ram depending on the region) as a symbol of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his only son. The sacrificed animals, called Uḍhiyyah (Arabic: أضحية‎, also known by its Persian term, "al-Qurbāni"), have to meet certain age and quality standards or else the animal is considered an unacceptable sacrifice. This tradition accounts for more than 100 million slaughtering of animals in only 2 days of Eid. In Pakistan alone nearly 10 million animals are slaughtered on Eid days costing over US$ 3 billion.

The meat from the sacrificed animal is divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the other third is given to the poor and needy. The regular charitable practices of the Muslim community are demonstrated during Eid al-Adha by concerted efforts to see that no impoverished person is left without an opportunity to partake in the sacrificial meal during these days.

During Eid al-Adha, distributing meat amongst the people, chanting the Takbir out loud before the Eid prayers on the first day and after prayers throughout the four days of Eid, are considered essential parts of this important Islamic festival. In some countries, families that do not own livestock can make a contribution to a charity that will provide meat to those who are in need.

Eid al-Adha in the Gregorian calendar

While Eid al-Adha is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar. The lunar calendar is approximately eleven days shorter than the solar calendar. Each year, Eid al-Adha (like other Islamic holidays) falls on one of two different Gregorian dates in different parts of the world, because the boundary of crescent visibility is different from the International Date Line.

The following list shows the official dates of Eid al-Adha for Saudi Arabia as announced by the Supreme Judicial Council. Future dates are estimated according to the Umm al-Qura calendar of Saudi Arabia. However, it should be noted that the Umm al-Quraa is just guide for planning purposes and not the absolute determinant or fixer of dates. Confirmations of actual dates by moon sighting are applied to announce the specific dates for both Hajj rituals and the subsequent Eid festival. The three days after the listed date are also part of the festival. The time before the listed date the pilgrims visit the Mount Arafat and descend from it after sunrise of the listed day. Future dates of Eid al-Adha might face correction 10 days before the festivity, in case of deviant lunar sighting in Saudi Arabia for the start of the month Dhul Hijja.

  • 1418 (Islamic Calendar): 7 April 1998
  • 1419 (Islamic Calendar): 27 March 1999
  • 1420 (Islamic Calendar): 16 March 2000
  • 1421 (Islamic Calendar): 5 March 2001
  • 1422 (Islamic Calendar): 23 February 2002
  • 1423 (Islamic Calendar): 12 February 2003
  • 1424 (Islamic Calendar): 1 February 2004
  • 1425 (Islamic Calendar): 21 January 2005
  • 1426 (Islamic Calendar): 10 January 2006
  • 1427 (Islamic Calendar): 31 December 2006
  • 1428 (Islamic Calendar): 20 December 2007
  • 1429 (Islamic Calendar): 8 December 2008
  • 1430 (Islamic Calendar): 27 November 2009
  • 1431 (Islamic Calendar): 16 November 2010
  • 1432 (Islamic Calendar): 6 November 2011
  • 1433 (Islamic Calendar): 26 October 2012
  • 1434 (Islamic Calendar): 15 October 2013 (calculated)
  • 1435 (Islamic Calendar): 4 October 2014 (calculated)
  • 1436 (Islamic Calendar): 23 September 2015 (calculated)
  • 1437 (Islamic Calendar): 11 September 2016 (calculated)
  • 1438 (Islamic Calendar): 1 September 2017 (calculated)
  • 1439 (Islamic Calendar): 21 August 2018 (calculated)
  • 1440 (Islamic Calendar): 11 August 2019 (calculated)
  • 1441 (Islamic Calendar): 31 July 2020 (calculated)
  • 1442 (Islamic Calendar): 20 July 2021 (calculated)
Retrieved from ""