Arafat Day and Eid Al Adha

Drawing of Mount Arafat with the pillar – 1853 – by Richard Birton (known as a British spy)

A few of you have mentioned that you find insights into local life out here interesting so I thought I would post about the latest religious festival we are celebrating. This week we have Arafat Day and Eid Al Adha.

Arafat Day marks the second day of Haj (pilgrimage) this is the day when a verse of the Quran revealed that Islam was perfected and when Allah’s blessings were completed. It is named after Mount Arafat where the Prophet Mohammad spoke his farewell sermon. On Arafat day Muslims travel to Mount Arafat and pray.  If a Muslim completes Haj then they have their sins expiated.  If anyone can’t make Haj then they can fast instead.

Eid Al Adha is a religious festival which is observed annually for three days.  It translates to ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’ and marks the willingness of Ebrahim to sacrifice his son at the command of Allah.  Ebrahim was willing to do this in spite of Satan trying to dissuade him.  At the moment of sacrifice his son was replaced by a Ram.  The story is probably familiar to a lot of you as it’s also a Bible story.

In order to prepare for this holiday all Muslims must have a morning ablution and then say Salat Al Fajar prayers.  Then they must wear their best clothing to pay their respects to Allah.  It is also customary to sacrifice an animal (usually a goat or a sheep) and then the meat is divided between family, friends and then the needy.   This is an important time for charity and people who can afford it make an effort to help those less fortunate.

The impact for those non Muslims living out here is that we get two days off work. Tonight is also a dry night – no alcohol will be served in any bars/hotels/restaurants throughout the UAE.

I actually knew very little about these holidays before I wrote this in rather a rush so do read the links if you want a lot more detail!!

To those Muslims reading I am sorry for any inaccuracies and I wish you a happy and blessed time ‘Eid Mubarak’.

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