Differences between Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha: Significance, time of celebration, rituals and tradition
The Muslim festivals of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha are different in terms of their meanings, rituals and practices. Here are some key distinctions
Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha (also known as Bakra Eid, Bakrid, Bakhreid, Eid al-Adha, Eid Qurban, Qurban Bayarami or the Feast of Sacrifice) are two major Islamic festivals celebrated by Muslims worldwide. This year, Eid-ul-Adha is being celebrated in Saudi Arabia, UAE, other Gulf countries, USA and UK on Wednesday, June 28 while the same will be marked in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian nations on Thursday, June 29.
Both Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha festivals hold religious significance and involve communal prayers and festivities but there are notable differences between Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha in terms of their meanings, rituals and practices. Here are some key distinctions:
- Meaning and significance - Eid-ul-Fitr, also known as the "Festival of Breaking the Fast," marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and is a time of celebration and gratitude for the successful completion of the month-long fasts. Eid-ul-Adha, also called the "Festival of Sacrifice," commemorates the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God and it honours the concept of sacrifice and demonstrates devotion to God.
- History: Eid-ul-Fitr finds its origins in the early years of Islam when the Prophet Muhammad, who received the revelations of the Quran, taught his followers about the importance of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan hence, fasting from dawn to sunset during Ramadan is considered one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month of Ramadan holds immense significance for Muslims as it is believed that during this month, the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of several years and at the end of Ramadan, the joyous celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr takes place, marking the successful completion of the month-long fast. On the other hand, the history of Eid-ul-Adha dates back to when Abraham or Prophet Ibrahim kept having a recurring dream of slaughtering his beloved son, Ismael, to fulfil the wishes of God. Ibrahim spoke to his son regarding this dream, explaining to him how God wanted him to make the sacrifice and Ismael, who was just as much a man of God, agreed with his father and asked him to comply with the wishes of Allah. Shaitan (the devil) tempted Ibrahim and tried to dissuade him from making the sacrifice but he tried to shun it away by pelting it with stones. Allah saw Ibrahim’s absolute devotion and sent Jibreel (Angel Gabriel), the Archangel, bearing a sheep for slaughter. Jibreel told Ibrahim that God was pleased with his devotion to him and sent the sheep to be slaughtered in place of his son. Ever since then, cattle sacrifice is a major part of Eid-ul-Adha celebrations which not only commemorates Prophet Ibrahim and Ismael’s love for Allah but also shows that one is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of what they love dearly, for the sake of Allah.
- Time of Celebration: Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated immediately after the end of Ramadan, on the first day of the 10th Islamic month i.e. Shawwal and it begins with the sighting of the new moon, signifying the start of a new lunar month. Eid-ul-Adha, on the other hand, takes place on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of Islamic lunar calendar and following the completion of the Hajj pilgrimage.
- Rituals and Practices: Eid-ul-Fitr begins with a special prayer called Salat al-Eid, which is performed in congregation at mosques or open prayer grounds and it is customary to give Zakat al-Fitr, a form of charity, before the prayer and then families and friends come together to celebrate, exchange gifts and enjoy festive meals. On the other hand, while Eid-ul-Adha also begins with the special prayer of Salat al-Eid, it is immediately followed by the sacrifice of an animal (usually a goat, sheep, cow or camel) as an act of Qurbani and the meat is later distributed in three proportions: poor people, relatives and themselves or among family, friends and the less fortunate, emphasising the spirit of sharing and charity.
- Customs and Traditions: During Eid-ul-Fitr, Muslims often wear new or traditional clothes, visit relatives and friends and partake in festive activities while sweet delicacies and traditional dishes are prepared and shared. Celebrating Eid-al Adha by sacrificing a cattle is very akin to the practice of self-sacrifice which is an act of offering gratitude to Allah and it is believed that during a lifetime, we give up a number of things that are important to us for a bigger purpose and in a similar way, sacrificing the animal is a symbol of willingness to stay true on our path and not be lured by earthly love and affection. On Eid-ul-Adha too, Muslims may dress in their best attire and attend communal prayers but the Qurbani is a significant aspect before families engage in activities such as visiting loved ones, exchanging greetings and participating in community events.
In short, while Eid-ul-Fitr is widely celebrated around the world, marking the end of Ramadan and fasting and is a time for Muslims to come together and rejoice, Eid-ul-Adha holds particular importance in the Hajj pilgrimage as it coincides with the completion of this significant Islamic obligation but both Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha are joyous occasions in the Islamic calendar, with distinct meanings, rituals and practices. Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and fasting while Eid-ul-Adha commemorates the concept of sacrifice and Prophet Ibrahim's devotion and understanding and appreciating the differences between these two celebrations deepen the cultural and religious significance of these festivals for Muslims worldwide.