The Hajj (Pilgrimage) authorities in Makka have announced that the day of Arafah (9th day of the Month of Dhul-Hijjah) is on Friday October 3, 2014 and Eid ul-Adha is therefore on Saturday, October 4, 2014.
There will be a community-wide Eid ul-Adha Prayer at the Wisconsin Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin at 9:30am on Saturday, October 4th. For those who prefer an earlier Eid prayer, there will be a Eid Prayer at the Islamic Center, 4707 S. 13th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin that will be held at 7:30am SHARP!
Eid Mubarak to all!
Eid ul-Adha, one of two major Muslims holidays, will be celebrated on either Saturday, October 4, 2014, or less likely, on Sunday, October 5, 2014. October 4 is the expected date based on astronomical calculations. (More on this issue below).
What is Eid ul-Adha? Eid means "holiday" or "festival" and "ul-Adha" means "the sacrifice". This "Holiday of the Sacrifice" commemorates Prophet Abraham's willingness to obey the command of God when he was called on to sacrifice his much beloved son. Like Christians and Jews, Muslims believe that the command was meant to test Abraham's strong faith and his complete devotion to his Creator, but that our Most Merciful God would never allow Abraham to carry out such a command.
The date of Eid ul-Adha coincides with the end of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to the City of Makka. The pilgrimage or "Hajj" is a rite that every Muslim will try to complete in one's lifetime if one can afford it. The millions of Muslims who participate in the annual pilgrimage will all celebrate the Eid together. In a sign of unity, Muslims around the world will try to celebrate the Eid on the same day as those who are in the City of Makka.
So, why don't we not know the exact date on which the holiday will be observed? The answer is easy, but it takes a little bit of explanation.
For all their religious observances, Muslims follow a Lunar Calendar. A lunar month is either 29 or 30 days. Historically, throughout the Muslim world, the beginning of a new month was determined by visually sighting the crescent of a "newly born" (waxing) moon. Despite this historical tradition, many Muslims, including the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, have adopted a more accurate and scientific approach for determining religious holidays, which is to rely on scientific astronomical calculations on which the exact date and time of the moon's birth can be determined. Based on the "calculation" method, Eid ul-Adha will be on October 4th this year. Unfortunately, the calculation method is not used in all parts of the world.
In the the City of Makka, which is the site where Muslims make their annual pilgrimage, the authorities follow the visual sighting method and not the calculation method. Based on astronomical data, it is highly likely that the new crescent moon will be visually observed in Makka on the same night as determined by calculations. However, there is a possibility that the crescent moon may not be visually observable, which would therefore push the date back by one day!
Although the Islamic Society of Miwaukee is expecting the celebration to be on October 4, in order to have a unified international celebration, they will defer to the decision of the Hajj (Pilgrimage) authorities and celebrate the holiday on the same day as those on Hajj celebrate the holiday, which will likely be October 4, but can be October 5.
One final item: the holiday of Eid ul-Adha falls on the tenth day of the new month. The first day of the month (when the crescent is expected to be sighted) is September 25. Therefore, by September 26, Muslims will know the exact day of Eid ul-Adha, giving them a little more than a week to prepare for the celebration.