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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Eid el Adha:
Festival of the Sacrifice


By Priscilla Adum




Eid el Adha

Eid el Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice which is celebrated worldwide in Islam and the Druze religion, refers to the story of the patriarch Abraham (known as Ibrahim in Arabic) and his son.

Both Jews and Arabs honor Abraham as their ancestor:

  • Jews believe they are descended from Abraham's son Isaac through Sarah, and they believe Isaac was Abraham's legitimate heir. The Christian Bible tells this story in Genesis 21.
  • Arabs believe they are descended from Abraham's son Ishmael through Hagar. They believe Ishmael was Abraham's legitimate heir, and the ancestor of the Prophet Mohamed.

The story goes that God/Allah decided to test Abraham's faith, so he ordered Abraham to take his son to a remote place and sacrifice him. Abraham obeyed. He bound his son and placed him on the altar, preparing to plunge the knife into him. An angel intervened, told Abraham not to sacrifice his son, and instructed him to spare him. Abraham then noticed a ram in the nearby bushes, caught it, and sacrificed that instead.

In the Jewish version of the story, which can be found in Genesis 22, the son that Abraham prepared to sacrifice was Isaac. In the Muslim version of the story, it was Ishmael.

Today, Eid el-Adha is a Muslim festival which commemorates this story by sacrificing an animal. It falls on the 10th day of Dhū al-Hijjah, which is the 12th and final month of the Islamic calendar. The preferred sacrifice is a ram, because that is what the original story referenced. This is known as kharouf el eid, the sacrificial ram.

However, some families may instead sacrifice a lamb or a cow. They then distribute the meat to the poor. Acquiring an animal to sacrifice can be quite expensive. Families with less money sometimes work together with other family members or with their neighbors to purchase an entire animal between them for the sacrifice. It's easier that way for people with lower income levels.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: The photo shows a nighttime view of the mosque built by Sultan Qalawun, who ruled Egypt from 1279 to 1290. It stands on Al Moez Street in Cairo.

Sultan Kala Wan Mosque in Cairo



Related Articles

  • Kharouf el Eid. By Priscilla Adum. Translation of a 1934 newspaper advertisement about a show at Badia Masabni's nightclub which gave a nod to Eid el Adha.
  • Shagaret el Dor Movie Flyer. This 1935 movie advertisement for Shagaret el Dor promotes special showings during the Eid al Adha holiday. Translated by Priscilla Adum.
  • Ramadan Dates. By Priscilla Adum. Egypt's playful custom of assigning names to dates sold at Ramadan.



About the Author

Priscilla is a dancer of Lebanese heritage who enjoys researching the Golden Era of Egyptian dance. She owns a collection of more than one hundred classic black and white Egyptian films which is continually expanding.

Priscilla has also gathered a large library of dance related articles and clippings from Middle Eastern magazines and newspapers, many of which she has translated from the original Arabic to both English and Spanish.

Priscilla currently resides in Central America where she is a dance instructor. 




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