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What Are the Meanings of Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha?

What's the Difference? Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha Explained

Eid is a wonderful time of celebration, involving friends, family and loved ones. It's a time when Muslims around the world don their finest clothes, remember their devotion to Allah and donate to charity, enabling a spirit of brotherhood and kindness.

However, referring to Eid, can either be the celebration of Eid Al-Fitr, after the Holy Month of Ramadan (when Muslims break their month-long fast) or Eid Al-Adha, the second Eid holiday on the Muslim calendar. The two Eids, although equally important, are therefore not to be confused.

Here's what you should know:

Eid al-Fitr

Eid al-Fitr (the festival of breaking the fast) is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month of the Islamic calendar. It marks the end of the month of Ramadan – the Holy Month when Allah gave the Quran to the Prophet Mohammed – and one of the five pillars of Islam (Sawm, which means 'fasting').

Eid al-Fitr is viewed as a time for celebration. On this day, families and friends gather together to show gratitude toward Allah. It is forbidden to fast on this day.

Traditionally, Muslims will gather at local mosques in their finest outfits, and enjoy their first daytime breakfast since the beginning of Ramadan. The day usually begins with a pre-dawn prayer known as Salaat ul-Fajr. After this, Muslims will take a bath and brush their teeth before the Eid prayer, known as Salaat al-Eid.

In addition, a spirit of generosity is encouraged on this day, with several Muslims donating charitable contributions known as Zakat al-Fitr. A common greeting on the two Eid holidays is "Eid Mubarak" or "Have a blessed Eid."

Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha (the sacrifice feast) is celebrated on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the final month of the Islamic calendar, and lasts until the thirteenth day. It commemorates the day Allah appeared to Ibrahim in a dream and asked him to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience.

As Ibrahim was getting ready to sacrifice his son, Allah stopped him and gave him a sheep to sacrifice in his son's place. This holiday is therefore a celebration of Ibrahim's devotion to the lord, and involves sacrificing an animal – like a sheep, goat or cow – in order to share its meat with the poor.

The celebration of Eid al-Adha involves a bath, pre-dawn prayers and new clothes, much like the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. After this, Muslims will perform the slaughter and prayers of the sacrificed animal. Traditionally, the meat from the sacrificed animal will be divided into three shares: to family; to close friends, relatives and neighbors; and to the less fortunate.

In addition to this, many Muslims will visit one another's homes and share gifts with friends and loved ones. A charitable contribution is also usually involved.

It's important to note that the celebration of Eid al-Adha coincides with Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca all financially and physically able Muslims must undertake at least once in their lifetime. Traditional greetings during Eid al-Adha include "Eid Mubarak" and "Eid Saeed," or "Happy Eid."

Image Sources: Four Seasons Bahrain Bay and BurJuman
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