What is Eid al-Adha and How is it Different from Eid al-Fitr?

What is Eid al-Adha and How is it Different from Eid al-Fitr?

It’s the Hajj and qurban season. You are probably seeing plenty of qurban ads on social media since the past couple of weeks, if not months.

As Muslims look forward to celebrating Eid al-Adha with their family and sharing the joy of relishing qurban meat with the less fortunate, let’s take a look at some of the differences between Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, which Muslims celebrated about two months back. 

We’ll begin with the definition of Eid. 

What is the meaning of Eid?

Eid is an Arabic word that means ‘feast’, ‘festival’, or ‘holiday’. Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr are two major Eid celebrations in the Islamic calendar.

The Islamic calendar, or the Hijri calendar, is based on the lunar year. It revolves around the 12 cycles of the Moon, which takes about 354 days to complete. It is different from the Gregorian calendar that most people around the world use in their day-to-day life. Based on solar year – the time it takes Earth to orbit the sun, the Gregorian calendar originally evolved from the lunar calendar system. 

When do Muslims celebrate the two Eids?

Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitri every year. In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah. It is sunnah to fast on the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah, especially on the day of Arafah, which is the day before Eid al-Adha. 

Abu Qatadah narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah, I hope from Allah, expiates for the sins of the year before and the year after.” (Sunan ibn Majah)

Related: 10 Deeds to Practice in the First 10 Days of Dhul Hijjah

Eid al-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal, after fasting for a whole month in Ramadan. The celebration will always take place two months before Eid al-Adha because in the Islamic calendar, similarly, the month of Shawwal comes two months before Dhul Hijjah.

On both Eids, there are sunnah congregation prayers for Muslims to perform at the mosque. But in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with social distancing and restricted movements, Muslims resort to offering prayers at home with their family. 

Muslims performing sunnah congregation Eid prayer in a mosque in India.

Significance of the two Eids

Story of divine sacrifice

Eid al-Adha serves as an honor to Prophet Ibrahim’s obedience and full submission to Allah, which is the essence of Islam.
For the sake of Allah, Prophet Ibrahim was willing to sacrifice his son, Prophet Ismail whom he was only bestowed upon in his old age, after many years of longing for a child. Allah then replaced the son with a ram as a qurban (sacrifice), and his son was left unharmed. 

Eid al-Adha serves as an honor to Prophet Ibrahim’s obedience to Allah. He was willing to sacrifice his son for the sake of Allah, and Allah replaced the son with a ram.

Taking away the ibrah (lessons) from the divine sacrifice, it is sunnah muakkadah (highly recommended) for Muslims to offer qurban during Eid al-Adha.

Related: What are the differences between Qurban and Aqiqah?

Eid al-Adha also marks the end of Hajj, the fifth pillar in Islam. Hajj is an act of worship where Muslims make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia. It’s wajib (obligatory) for Muslims who have the means to do it, to carry out the act once in their lifetime.

Muslims performing Hajj in Makkah, before the pandemic.

Celebration of Muslims’ victory

Eid al-Fitr, on the other hand, marks the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting for Muslims. Throughout Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset, among other things, to bring themselves spiritually closer to Allah, the Creator of the world.

Muslims observe Eid al-Fitr to celebrate the victory of completing a month of abstinence. It’s a time where family and loved ones get together to enjoy the joyous occasion.

Related: How do Muslims around the World Celebrate Eid

Lessons from the two Eids

On both Eids, Muslims are taught to enjoy the celebrations with fellow Muslim brothers and sisters who are less fortunate than them.

For those who are offering qurban during Eid al-Adha, the meat is to be shared preferably in three portions. One portion for themselves, one for their family and friends, and the other one for those who are in need. 

At the end of Ramadan, before Eid al-Fitr begins, every individual Muslim who fulfills certain criteria pays zakat al-Fitr to show gratitude for the opportunity to experience the blessed month of Ramadan. The amount is one saa’ of food that is customarily eaten by the people; which is equivalent to approximately 3 kgs. It is best for zakat al-Fitr to be distributed where you live. The head of the household is responsible for making sure zakat al-Fitr has been paid before Eid prayer. If the children cannot pay it themselves, the head of the household should pay on their behalf.

Apart from purifying Muslims from any shortcoming that might have happened while fasting, it’s also meant to benefit those who are less privileged. The money collected from zakat al-fitr is channeled to help the less fortunate Muslim families so that they can also make the most of Eid. 

The concept of sadaqah (charity) in Islam is powerful. It’s Allah’s way to leave no one behind through Islamic brotherhood cultivated for the sake of Allah while rewarding the upper hands with the deeds. 

Eid Mubarak and have a blessed one for those celebrating!
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