It’s with great pleasure I welcome back to Our Globetrotters Zeyna Sanjania from Mummy on My Mind to talk to us about the Islamic celebration Eid-ul-Adha, and what it means to her and her expat family living in the UAE.
Eid-ul-Adha, meaning Festival of Sacrifice, lasts for three days and is also known as Bakra-Eid for many. It is considered to be holier of the two Eids celebrated by Muslims around the world.
Eid-ul-Adha honours the sacrifice given by Ibrahim (A.S.) (Abraham) who was asked to sacrifice his son for the sake of Allah (God). The willingness of Ibrahim (A.S.) as an act of submission, one that I cannot even imagine as a parent how difficult it must have been, made Allah very happy.
Thus after Ibrahim (A.S) brought his son to the mountain top, moments before the sacrifice was to be made, Allah intervened through the angel Jibrael (A.S.) (Gabriel) and as the knife struck, it was a goat that was sacrificed in the place of Ibrahim (A.S.)’s son, after which he was informed that his sacrifice had been accepted and his son left unharmed.
This act of sacrifice is now repeated by Muslims around the world, by sacrificing meat of an animal that is then shared between the family as well as the poor and needy.
Having already written about Eid-ul-Fitr, one can draw many similarities between the two, yet there are some significant differences too.
To begin with, the day that Eid-ul-Adha will fall on can be determined on the moon cycle sighting up to ten days beforehand, falling on the 10th day of the Islamic month – Dhul Hijjah, unlike Eid-ul-Fitr which is based on sighting the moon the night before.
This gives the family much more time to prepare for the festivities, and there is no last-minute dash to the supermarket to buy the milk for your Doodh Khurmo.
This year, it is set to fall on Monday September 12th 2016, and as with every other time that Eid comes around, the UAE government grants a public holiday of at least three days, the most important one being the day before Eid-ul-Adha, called Day of Arafat. (OG: This year the UAE Federal government has decreed a full working week holiday for Public sector workers and 3 working days for the Private sector)
Eid-ul-Adha is unique because it comes at the end of the yearly occurring pilgrimage, called Hajj, that is compulsory on all Muslims to complete at least once in their lifetime.
I have not yet been to Hajj, though I plan to in the near future along with my husband. However, I have completed the lesser and shorter of the two pilgrimages called Umrah earlier this year, and you can read all about it here.
For Muslims not taking part in Hajj, we can still reap the rewards by fasting on the Day of Arafat as it is believed that fasting on this auspicious day “absolves the sins of two years, the previous year and the coming year”, which is a great opportunity for Muslims. I only recently started fasting on the Day of Arafat, and it takes me back to Ramadan for the day, as I can feel the peace and serenity surround me.
Eid-ul-Adha begins with the Eid Prayer on the grounds of Eidgah, and as we congratulate each other with hugs and saying “Eid Mubarak”, we also remember the sacrifice made by Ibrahim (A.S.) and of the pilgrims who have successfully completed their Hajj.
After that, the three-day feast begins, with food and “Eidi” gifts galore. Children often dress up in their best clothes and offer Eid biscuits around the neighbourhood.
We celebrate by decorating the home with Eid banners and now being parents ourselves, carry on the tradition of gifting “Eidi” to the younger family members, including my son. This is followed by long-distance phone calls, as well as Skype calls, to family members and an enormous breakfast including delicacies such as Doodh Khurmo, also known as Sheer Khurmo.
Having adorned our hands with mhendi the night before to get in the festive spirit and after a grand Eid lunch at home, we all dress up in our best clothes to spend quality time as a family, either at another family member’s home or out and about in the shopping malls or latest attraction of Dubai.
Thanks to the Eid season, Dubai has plenty of offers and great deals available to take advantage of, and it is quite common for families to enjoy the Eid holiday at a local resort over the course of the holidays or simply enjoy dinner at a lavish new restaurant.
I find that charity given by residents in the UAE is very generous and abundant, and especially highest around the hot summer season and Eid celebrations.
Apart from the meat offerings to the needy, money is also given before the morning Eid prayers, as well as into the charity boxes dotted around the country throughout the day. This generous act is a great example to set for our children, and my husband often encourages Baby Z to drop some money into the charity boxes on his own, which instils the act of giving from a young age.
Whichever way you may be spending Eid-ul-Adha this year, the notion of sacrifice and charity is at the forefront of our thoughts. The celebrations are a great reminder of the blessings we have in our lives and a chance to give back to those that would benefit more from our actions.
I pray that we all get a chance to celebrate Eid in the holy city of Makkah after completing our Hajj one day in the near future, if you haven’t already had the chance to do so. Until then, I hope you enjoy a very pleasant Eid with your family and friends.
How will you be celebrating Eid this year? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Thank you again to Zeyna for bringing some further cultural meaning to our time in the UAE. (Don’t forget to check out our previous posts explaining the events of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr). As Christian expats, so often we think only of the days (or often week!) off school or work that surround religious holidays and don’t look at the true meaning behind them and why Muslims celebrate in the way they do.
Thank you for opening our eyes and minds to this special occasion and further understanding its true meaning.