What is Eid el-kebir, the “great holiday” of Islam?

What is Eid el-kebir, the “great holiday” of Islam?

Eid el-kebir (“big celebration” in Arabic) has no shortage of synonyms. This important Muslim festival is also called Eid el-Adha (“Feast of Sacrifices”) or, more commonly, “The Feast of the Sheep”. Eid el-kebir should not be confused with Eid al-saghir (“small celebration”), or Eid el-fitr, which is the celebration of breaking the fast of Ramadan. These two holidays, the “great” and the “small”, are the only two canonical holidays in Islam. They are practiced by all Muslims.

Eid el-kebir commemorates the submission and unfailing faith of Abraham, ready to sacrifice his son Ishmael to God. This name of Ishmael is not mentioned in the Quran. It is the Muslim tradition which designates it thus. In Jewish and Christian religious texts, it is Isaac. By evoking the memory of Abraham, present in the three great monotheistic religions, Eid el-kebir symbolizes in particular this desire of Muslim doctrine to place Islam in the footsteps of Judaism and Christianity. Islam indeed considers that the revelation of the Prophet Muhammad is the last revealed religion and a restoration, an updating of the primordial religion. Abraham is also designated as the “first Muslim” by the Koran.

On the day of Eid el-kebir, the ritual common prayer is said. It is recommended – but not at all ordered – to Muslims who wish and have the means to sacrifice a sheep, a goat, a camel, a cow or even an ox. The animal must be in good health. Before the sacrifice, the sacrificer must turn towards Mecca and pronounce ritual formulas. It is also supposed to keep only part of the meat. The rest should be distributed to neighbors, friends and the needy. Many Muslim clerics consider this sacrifice to be non-obligatory and accept the principle of substitution. The faithful can thus replace it with a donation to charitable organizations.

In France, the sacrifice must be carried out in an approved slaughterhouse. Outside of official structures, slaughter is prohibited. Each year, the State approves various temporary slaughterhouses to cope with the increased demand linked to this religious festival.

Eid el-kebir is a happy family celebration. It lasts three days. Muslims take the opportunity to visit family members or friends, exchange gifts and greetings. They also go to cemeteries to pay homage to ancestors.

Eid el-kebir is fixed on the 10th of the lunar month of the Muslim calendar. This means that this festival can fall in any season, since the lunar calendar has 354 or 355 days, and not 365 days as is the case for the solar calendar. This lunar month has the particularity of being the month of pilgrimage and the last month of the Muslim year. It is no coincidence that Eid el-kebir was set during the month of the pilgrimage to Mecca (in Saudi Arabia). According to Islam, the sanctuary of the Kaaba located in this city was rebuilt, after its destruction during the flood, by Abraham and his son Ishmael. Eid el-kebir marks the climax of the pilgrimage ceremonies.

Similar Posts