Today is the beginning of the Islamic festival Eid al-Adha (in Arabic: عيد الأضحى).
Eid al-Adha commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim (called Abraham in the Bible) to obey Allah’s (God’s) will and sacrifice his son. Just as Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son, God sent his angel Jibra’il (the archangel Gabriel) to stop him and sacrifice a ram instead.
During Eid al-Adha it is customary to visit the mosque and pray. It is also customary to put on new clothes, visit family, help those less fortunate in the local community, and in some countries an animal is sacrificed.
The holiday lasts for four days, but the length of the public holiday varies from country to country. It is also the time of the year when most Muslims travel to Mecca in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the annual Islamic Pilgrimage (Hajj). The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam. As a Muslim, it is one’s duty to carry out the pilgrimage at least once during a lifetime in so far one is financially and physically able to do so. This year, 1.5 million Muslims are expected to travel to Mecca for the pilgrimage.