An introduction to some Islamic festivals:
- Eid-ul-Adha or Festival of Sacrifice
- Maulid Al-Nabi or birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
Eid-ul-Adha or Festival of Sacrifice
This major Muslim festival marks the end of the pilgrimage (or Hajj) to Makkah which Muslims are encouraged to make at least once in their lifetime. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. For the festival, animals are sacrificed by pilgrims on the way back to Makkah from Mount Arafat, in commemoration of Abraham's (Ibrahim's) willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. We read that God stopped Abraham and provided a sheep instead.
Muslims around the world share in the celebrations, the meat being distributed to the poor and shared with family and friends. In Muslim countries this is a four-day public holiday. Each Muslim, as they celebrate, reminds themselves of their own submission to God.
Maulid Al-Nabi or Birthday of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
Maulid Al-Nabi marks the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), although some Muslims do not approve of this celebration and regard marking it as a religious innovation. Those Muslims who celebrate it do so joyfully, Shia Muslims celebrating five days after Sunni Muslims. Many Muslims regard it as an important festival because Prophet Muhammad is seen as a great blessing for the whole of humanity and it was to him that the Holy Qur'an was revealed.
The most important part of Eid Maulid Al-Nabi is a focus on the character of the Prophet: his teaching, leadership, wisdom, suffering and how he forgave even his most bitter enemies.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, every day of the month. This requires a total abstinence from food, drink, smoking and marital relations. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam But Ramadan is much greater than just fasting and abstinence. It is a time of increased worship and remembering Allah. Muslims make an extra effort to attend all the 5 daily prayers in the Masjid (Mosque) and there are additional prayers that are held after the night prayer.
The purpose of Ramadan is that Muslims will improve their lives and their demeanour and carry that improvement throughout the year. At the end of Ramadan Muslims observe a holiday, called Eid-ul-Fitr.
Calendar of Festivals and Holy Days
You can find lists of Festivals and Holy days on the following websites: