• Eid al-Adha 2015Reuters
  • An aerial view is seen of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca.Reuters
  • Men prepare to slaughter a cow in Lahore.Reuters

Muslim devotees all over the world are set to celebrate Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice by offering prayers and slaughtering of animals on Thursday, 24 September. The second most important Muslim festival, also known as Bakr Eid or Bakrid, is observed on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar.

Read More: Eid al-Adha 2015: Best Messages, Wishes, Picture Greetings

History, Significance and Why is it celebrated?

Eid al-Adha or the Greater Eid commemorates the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to sacrifice his only son Ishmael on God's command. However, upon realising how devoted Abraham is, God asked him to sacrifice a sheep instead of his son. Therefore, as part of the festival, Muslims symbolically sacrifice cows, lambs, goats, rams or other animals to God.

Importance of Hajj Pilgrimage

Eid al-Adha is a period when Muslims travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia to perform the popular Hajj pilgrimage. Performing Hajj is mandatory for Muslims as it is the fifth and final pillar of Islam.

The knolls of Safa and Marwah are among the rites decreed by GOD. Anyone who observes Hajj or Umrah commits no error by traversing the distance between them. If one volunteers more righteous works, then GOD is Appreciative, Omniscient.
Quran 2:158

According to the Holy Quran, once in a lifetime, adult Muslims are asked to carry out the holy journey, if they are physically and financially able to do so.

During the Hajj pilgrimage, in order to praise Allah, devotees pray before the Kaaba, the most famous shrine in the Muslim world. They also cast stones at pillars symbolising Satan in Mecca. Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world.

Devotees also donate money and food to the needy on the day of Eid.

Check out some interesting facts about Eid al-Adha below:

Like Eid al-Fitr, which is the most important Muslim festival, Eid al-Adha also begins with a Sunnah prayer of two rakats, followed by a sermon called a khutbah.

Muslims attend prayers at local mosques in the morning and it is better to take a different route back home than the the way they reached the mosque.

Muslims may purchase an animal known as Udhiya, usually a goat or sheep, to sacrifice. However, this practice is not legal in some parts of the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The meat of the sacrificed animal must be divided into three parts: One third of the portion will be for the family, another part to friends and neighbours, and the remaining portion will be donated to the poor people.

 It is said that nearly 10 million animals are slaughtered on Eid days in Pakistan alone.

What is Eid ul-Fitr?

Also known as the feast of breaking the fast, Eid ul-Fitr or the Lesser Eid -- the most important Muslim festival -- marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. During the Ramadan month, Muslims fast for 29 - 30 days from dawn-to-dusk.

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