Celebrating Eid al-Adha: History, Traditions, and a Reading List

Written by Rania, staff member, Keshen Goodman Public Library
Originally published July 2021; updated July 2022

Eid al-Adha ("Festival of Sacrifice" or "Qurbani Eid") is one of the most important festivals in the Islamic calendar and is celebrated by Muslims, opens a new window all around the world. In 2022, Eid al-Adha will begin on the evening of Saturday, July 9 and end on the evening of Wednesday, July 13.

Read more about Eid celebrations in our previous blog post, opens a new window for Eid al-Fitr.

The story behind Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha celebrates the time when prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) had a dream which he believed was a message from Allah. In the dream, Allah asked him to sacrifice his son Isma'il (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to God. Although the devil tempted Ibrahim to disobey Allah and spare his son, Ibrahim followed Allah’s orders. However, as Ibrahim was about to kill his son, Allah stopped him and gave him a sheep to sacrifice instead.

The festival commemorates prophet Ibrahim's obedience to God, which was so strong that he was willing to sacrifice his own son. Today, Muslims celebrate the festival by participating in prayers, visiting friends and family, and sharing halal meat with the needy, among many other traditions.

Hajj (Pilgrimage)

Hajj is an important ritual that happens in conjunction with Eid al-Adha. It takes place every year and is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, opens a new window (the core beliefs Muslims practice). The rituals of Hajj are centred around the Kaaba. The Kaaba is located at the centre of Islam's most important mosque, Al-Masjid Al-Ḥarām (The Sacred Mosque, opens a new window) in the city of Makkah, opens a new window, Saudi Arabia.

Al-Masjid Al-Ḥarām is the most sacred site in Islam as it is considered by Muslims to be Bayṫ Allāh ("House of God"). People from all over the world make a pilgrimage to the Kaaba to do Hajj. All Muslims who are fit and able to travel should make the visit to Makkah at least once in their lives.

Reading list

Browse our recommended reads to learn more about Eid and some of the countries that celebrate it. These books and more will also be featured on a special Eid display at Keshen Goodman Public Library.

Let's Look at Somalia

Once Upon An Eid, opens a new window

Bali & Lombok, opens a new window

The People Next Door, opens a new window

Malaysia, opens a new window

Indonesian Children's Favorite Stories, opens a new window

Modern Egypt, opens a new window