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This marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, and is a festival of great celebration. In Islamic countries it is a public holiday. The first Eid was celebrated in 624 CE by the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) with his friends and relatives. Muslims are not only celebrating the end of fasting, but thanking Allah for the help and strength that he gave them throughout the previous month to help them practice self-control. The festival begins when the first sight of the new moon is seen in the sky. Muslims in most countries rely on news of an official sighting, rather than looking at the sky themselves.
Eid ul Fitr is very much a community festival and people go out into the streets to exchange greetings, and visit friends and relatives. The celebratory atmosphere is increased by everyone wearing best or new clothes, and decorating their homes. There are special services out of doors and in Mosques, processions through the streets, and of course, a special celebratory meal-eaten during daytime, the first daytime meal Muslims will have had in a month. Eid is also a time of forgiveness, and making amends.
Eid ul Adha (10 Dhul-Hijjah) The Festival of sacrifice which marks the end of the Hajj or holy pilgrimage, which is one of the 5 pillars of Islam, however it is celebrated by all Muslims, not just those who are on the pilgrimage. The festival remembers the prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son when God ordered him to. God appeared in a dream to Ibrahim and told him to sacrifice his son Isma " il. Ibrahim and Isma " il set off to Mina for the sacrifice. As they went, the devil attempted to persuade Ibrahim to disobey God and not to sacrifice his beloved son. Ibrahim drove the devil away.
As Ibrahim prepared to kill his son God stopped him and gave him a sheep to sacrifice instead. Ibrahim's complete submission to the will of God is celebrated by Muslims each year. Each Muslim, as they celebrate, reminds themselves of their own submission to God, and their own willingness to sacrifice anything to God's wishes. During the festival Muslims who can afford to, sacrifice domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Ibraham's sacrifice.
The meat is distributed among family, friends and the poor, who each get a third share.
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