Worshippers attend prayers at a Sunni mosque on the first day of Eid-al-Adha in Baghdad. (Photo: Reuters)
Worshippers attend prayers at a Sunni mosque on the first day of Eid-al-Adha in BaghdadReuters

Thousands of Muslims around the world are set to celebrate Eid-al-Adha, which this year starts on 3 October and ends in the evening of 4 October.

Eid-al-Adha, which translates as Festival of the Sacrifice, commemorates Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishamel as an act to submission to God, and it is one of the most important celebrations for Muslims.

Eid also marks the end of another important tradition in Islam: Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Eid Prayer

During Eid, Muslims wear new clothes and attend the Eid prayer services at the mosques, some of which also hold lectures on aspects of Islam and Islamic history.

Eid prayer is performed any time after the sun has risen and before midday of the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar.

Before going to the prayer, Muslims are required to perform some preparation rituals, which include wearing new clothes, paying extra care to personal cleanliness, performing ablution and reciting the Salat al-Fajr, the pre-sunrise prayer.

Sacrifice

Eid al-Adha  animal sacrifice
A Yemeni man carries a goat at a livestock market in the capital Sanaa on 2 October ahead of Eid al-AdhaGetty

Muslims sacrifice animals – usually cow and goats but also camels, sheep and rams – during Eid and donate one part of the meat to poor people. The animal slaughtering symbolises the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son to God.

The animals have to meet certain quality standards, or their sacrifice will be considered unacceptable. This year, Saudi Arabia's General Presidency of Religious Research issued a fatwa, or religious edit, urging Muslims to be cautious when buying animals for sacrifices.

According to the edict, animals should have all their body parts intact, while they should not be ill, blind, visibly lame or emaciated. There are also specific conditions regarding the minimum age of the animal. A camel should be at least five years old, a cow two years, a goat one year and a sheep six months.

Charity

Charity is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, the basic tenets of the religion, and represents an important aspect in Muslims' lives.

During Eid, Muslims are encouraged to engage in activities that help the poor and improve the lives of the community members. For example, if some families do not have animals to slaughter, they can donate money to charities that will provide meat to those who are in need.

Muslims are also encouraged to practice the waqf, endowing money or land for building public spaces such as mosques, shrines, schools and hospitals.