Last week many students at Illinois Tech could be heard happily greeting one another with the words “Eid Mubarak.” When translated form Arabic, "Eid" means "celebration" and "Mubarak" means "blessed." When used in conversation, the phrase “Eid Mubarak” can be translated to “have a blessed holiday/celebration.” Muslims celebrate Eid twice a year, and because of Illinois Tech’s large international student body, many people on campus take part in the festivities and even take a day off to do so. Eid is a time for Muslim families to come together and find happiness within their homes. “Eid is joy: glowing smiles, shiny gifts, and sparkling family love,” says Nada Abdallah, a sophomore and Muslim student at Illinois Tech.
Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of the month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast, pray, and give charity. Eid-al-Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of Dhu-al-Hijjah, a month within the Islamic calendar. This day just so happened to occur on Tuesday, August 21 or Wednesday, August 22. The date isn’t perfectly narrowed down because the Islamic calendar is based on the phases of the moon. Eid and other events such as the start of Ramadan shift about 11 days each year. This often causes some minor discrepancy over the exact dates of events. Nonetheless, many Illinois Tech students made the most of the holy day. Sobia Sultana, an Illinois Tech student says “Eid is like our Christmas and our Thanksgiving in one. For Eid-al-Fitr, we celebrate the end of Ramadan and feast. In Eid-al-Adha, we celebrate the completion of Hajj, the holy pilgrimage for Makkah. The mornings are always rushed because everyone is running off to the early Eid Prayer while also trying to look good. The rest of the day is really about spending it with your loved ones. At Illinois Tech, it’s a time when any other Muslim on campus will stop to wish another ‘Eid Mubarak.’”
Eid-al-Adha or “festival of the sacrifice” is regarded as the holier of the two holidays celebrated by Muslims around the world. It commemorates a story told in multiple Abrahamic Religions in which Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his son to prove his loyalty and faith. In the story, God provides a sheep in place of Abraham’s son moments before the sacrifice occurs. Across seas, families honor this story by slaughtering an animal and dividing the meat between the family, their neighbors or friends, and the needy. Millions of Muslims travel to Makkah (the holiest city for Muslims) to perform Hajj during Eid. Hajj or “the pilgrimage” is the 5th pillar of Islam. A journey to this holy city in Saudi Arabia to perform acts of worship is mandatory for every Muslim at some point in their life as long as they meet health requirements. The other four pillars of Islam include a statement of faith, Prayer, charity, and fasting.
Muslims come from diverse backgrounds, and therefore do not all celebrate exactly the same way. Many people dress up nicely and attend a special Eid Prayer as Sobia Sultana described. Others eat traditional foods and exchange gifts and money. For some Muslims, Eid is a time to reflect upon one’s character and life. As Illinois Tech student Mustafa Reheem puts it, “Eid to me is a reminder of how important joy and celebration is in this world. Despite experiencing struggle in life, Eid always serves to bring happiness and peace, which consequently motivates one to push past their struggles.” Eid influences and inspires Muslims around the world each year. The Islamic faith is rich with traditions that bring families closer and happiness into the hearts of many. Eid Mubarak, Illinois Tech!