Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

Eid Al Adha 2020: when will it fall in the UAE?

Eid Al Adha is expected to fall in late July but the exact date is yet to be confirmed

Eid Al Adha is expected to begin in the end of July. Though the exact date is not yet known, some astronomers believe it will fall on July 31.

The festival is the most important of two main holidays in the Muslim world. It begins on the 10th day of Dhu Al Hijjah, which is the 12th and final month in the Islamic calendar.

How this corresponds with the Gregorian calendar will depend on when Dhu Al Hijjah begins but it is likely to start either on Tuesday, July 21, or Wednesday, July 22.

When the UAE will celebrate the holiday will be officially determined and announced by local authorities over the next few weeks. But what is Eid Al Adha and how is it celebrated? The National explains ...

What is Eid Al Adha?

Al Adha means the sacrifice. The specific sacrifice this holiday is named after is explained in the Quran, which tells of how Prophet Ibrahim dreamt that God asked him to sacrifice his son, Ismail, as a test of his faith.

At first, Ibrahim dismissed the dream but it reoccurred several nights in a row. The prophet is said to have grappled with the decision but ultimately chose to submit to God's will as an indication of his commitment to faith.

The devil tried to dissuade him, telling him not to kill his son, but Ibrahim responded by throwing rocks at him. This act is now repeated by pilgrims at Hajj who throw stones at symbolic pillars.

Just before Ibrahim went to carry out God's command, God replaced his son with a goat and told him to sacrifice the animal instead. Now Muslims celebrate Eid by feasting on a goat.

Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., August 22 , 2018. Livestock shoppers for the second day of Eid Al Adha at the Abu Dhabi Livestock Market and the Abu Dhabi Public Slaughter House (Abu Dhabi Municipality) at the Mina area. -- A livestock market worker delivers a sheep to be processed across the street to the Abu Dhabi Municipality Public Slaughter House. Victor Besa/The National Section: NA For: stand alone and stock images
A livestock market worker delivers a sheep to be processed across the street to the Abu Dhabi Municipality Public Slaughter House. Victor Besa / The National

When will it begin in the UAE?

Eid Al Adha will fall on the final days of July, but the exact date is yet to be determined.

Ibrahim Al Jarwan, a Sharjah-based member of the Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Sciences, told The National he expects Dhu Al Hijjah to begin on July 22. As Eid Al Adha falls on the 10th day of that month, this will correspond with July 31.

New months are declared after the crescent moon is officially sighted.

“The crescent of Dhu Al Hijjah 1441 will be born on Monday, July 20, at 9.33pm after sunset, and it will be seen on Tuesday evening," Mr Al Jarwan said.

"Wednesday, July 22, will mark the beginning of Dhu Al Hijjah and Friday, July 31, will be the first day of Eid Al Adha, according to astronomical calculations."

However, if the crescent moon is sighted on Monday night and Dhu Al Hijjah begins on Tuesday, Eid will instead fall on July 30.

The final decision rests with the UAE government based on consultation with local Islamic authorities, who monitor the moon cycle to determine the beginning and end of months in the Hijri calendar.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, August 11, 2019. Eid prayers at Zayed The 2nd Mosque. Friends and relatives great one another after Eid prayers. Victor Besa/The National Section: NA Reporter: Haneen Dajani
Eid Al Adha typically begins with prayers a mosque. Victor Besa / The National

How is it celebrated and how might things be different this year?

Eid is a time when families and friends come together to celebrate, usually over a meal.

The day begins with early Eid prayers at a mosque and it is customary for a family to have a goat or sheep butchered at an abattoir. The meat is typically shared between themselves, their relatives and the underprivileged.

Families and friends visit each other and wear new clothes. Eidieh - a gift of money during Eid - is given to children and sweets are served.

This year, because of the coronavirus outbreak, traditions will likely be put on hold. Family gatherings will be restricted to limit the spread of Covid-19.

During Eid Al Fitr, authorities advised against sharing food and giving children cash.

Places of worship opened to the public on July 1 but restrictions remain in place to keep worshippers safe.

Though mosques have reopened for the five daily prayers, authorities have said Friday prayers - which typically draw a larger crowd - are not yet allowed.

It is unclear if Eid prayers will be permitted or Muslims will instead be encouraged to be carry them out at home, as they did for Eid Al Fitr.

In the UAE, Eid Al Adha is celebrated with three to four days of public holiday for government and private sector workers. This will be announced by authorities closer to the time.

Previously, residents and Emiratis would travel during the holiday or visit hotels in the country for staycations. Hotel stays in some emirates will be possible this holiday but travel abroad, for some airlines, requires obtaining a special permit. Anyone who intends to fly into the UAE must provide a medical certificate indicating they are clear of Covid-19. The test must be conducted within 72 hours of travelling.

At present, residents who travel abroad must apply for a permit to return to the UAE, either with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship or Dubai's General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs.

How does Hajj factor into this holiday?

Dhu Al Hijjah translates to 'the month of pilgrimage', which is fitting because it is the month when Muslims perform Hajj – a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in a lifetime by all Muslims who are physically capable and can afford it.

About 2.5 million pilgrims visit Makkah every year during Dhu Al Hijjah to perform Hajj but this will not be possible for most Muslims this year.

In March, Saudi Arabia authorities suspended the year-round Umrah pilgrimage because of the pandemic.

Last month, the kingdom announced that only “thousands” of people who already reside within the country would be allowed to take part in this year’s Hajj.

The measures are intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and comes after Saudi Arabia – and nations around the world – took drastic measures including lockdowns, travel restrictions, closing borders, closing venues and shutting schools, offices and universities to limit the spread.

Under normal circumstances, millions of Muslims travel to Makkah to perform Hajj, with many also travelling farther north to the city of Madinah.

The world's largest annual pilgrimage, Hajj requires the faithful to repeat a set of rituals first performed by the Prophet Mohammed centuries ago.

Though the ritual has been performed in its current form for more than 1,300 years, some of its elements go back to the time of the Prophet Ibrahim in 1813BC.

Hajj begins on the 8th day of Dhu Al Hijjah and lasts between four to six days, depending on the speed of the pilgrim.

Read more about Hajj here: the Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah explained

Updated: July 1, 2020 05:26 PM

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