When is Eid Al Adha 2021? UAE holiday dates revealed

The most important religious holiday in the Islamic calendar is expected to take place on July 20

Latest: Eid Al Adha holidays for public sector announced

Eid Al Adha, the next religious holiday in the Islamic calendar, is now only a few days' away.

It is the most important festival for Muslims and begins on the 10th day of Dhu Al Hijjah, the 12th and final month of the Islamic calendar.

But when is it? And what does it celebrate?

When is Eid Al Adha?

The Eid Al Adha holiday is likely to start on July 20.

The International Astronomical Centre said that the month of Dhu Al Hijjah, 1442 AH, is likely to begin on Saturday, July 10 at 5.17am UAE time.

An announcement by Muhammad Shawkat Odeh, the centre's director, was reported by UAE news agency Wam.

Mr Odeh said it would be possible to see the crescent moon on that day using a telescope from Arab countries, and with the naked eye from most countries in Africa and Europe.

Residents can expect a long public holiday around the religious festival, as Arafat Day is expected to fall on Monday, July 19.

This will be followed by a three-day break for Eid, taking the holiday up to Thursday, July 22, adding up to six days off for those lucky enough not to work the weekend.

The festival of the sacrifice

Eid Al Adha is known as the festival of the sacrifice, and coincides with the Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah, which all Muslims are required to make at least once in their lives if they are able.

The sacrifice that the holiday commemorates is explained in the Quran, which tells of how the Prophet Ibrahim was asked by God in his dream to sacrifice his son, Ismail, as a test of his faith.

Ibrahim dismissed the dream at first, but it recurred several nights in a row.

He grappled with the decision but ultimately decided to fulfil God’s command, even though the devil tried to dissuade him.

Ibrahim threw rocks at the devil in response, pilgrims at Hajj reenact this by throwing rocks at symbolic pillars.

The worshippers pelt stones at three walls in one of a series of rituals that must be performed by those who make the journey.

But just before Ibrahim was about to carry out the command, God replaced his son with a goat and told him to sacrifice the animal instead.

Muslims now celebrate the holiday by eating the meat of a sacrificed animal.

How it will be different this year

Eid is usually celebrated with family and friends over a meal.

The day begins with early Eid prayers at a mosque and it is customary for a family to have a goat or sheep butchered at an abattoir.

The meat is typically shared between themselves, their relatives and the underprivileged.

Families and friends visit each other and wear new clothes. Eidieh, a monetary gift during Eid, is given to children and sweets are served.

But the occasion is expected to be quieter this year because of the pandemic.

Authorities urged people to avoid family visits and gatherings during Eid Al Fitr, and this celebration will likely be no different.

This year's Hajj will go ahead

Authorities in Saudi Arabia confirmed the Hajj will take place this year, but with precautions in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Only 60,000 citizens and residents will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage.

Anyone taking part must have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior, be aged between 18 and 65, and be free of chronic diseases.

“Those over the age of 65 are being prevented from performing Hajj this year in order to preserve their health during the ongoing pandemic,” the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia said.

A look back at last year's Hajj