Islam: Celebrations and Festivals

Id ul-Fitr

This festival marks the end of the month of fasting, Ramadan. It ends with the sighting of the new moon in the sky. Muslims visit their mosque to say special prayers, visit friends and relatives, eat special feast foods and exchange gifts and cards. It is a time of thankfulness for Allah's blessings which are better appreciated because of the experience of fasting during Ramadan.


This is the pilgrimage to Mecca to worship in the Ka'bah. Muslims try to do this at least once in their lifetime. Pilgrims wear plain, identical clothes to show that all are equal in Allah's eyes. They walk around seven times, counterclockwise. They they walk or run seven times between two hills followed by a 16 mile walk to Mount Arafat where Muhammad preached his last sermon. On the way back to Mecca, Muslims throw stones at three stone pillars which represent Satan. Then they make a final seven circles around the kA'bah.

Id ul-Adha

The Hajj, whether on pilgrimage or at home, ends with the festival of Id ul-Adha in which a sheep or goat is sacrificed. This is a reminder of the sacrifice Ibrahim (Abraham) was asked to make of his son, Isma'il (Ishmael). When Ibrahim was just about to sacrifice his son to show his obedience to God, God provided a lamb instead. The festival celebrates God's mercy and Ibrahim's obedience. This story in different versions is in the Koran, the Bible, and the Old Testament which shows the common heritage of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Id Ul-Ghadir

This festival in Shia communities around the world celebrates the anniversary of the Holy Prophet Mohammed's completion of his final message to humankind with regard to his succession. Ghadir-e-Khun is the famous place where this event took place during the month of Hajj in the 10th year of the Hijra, or migration, of the Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Medina.

Milad an-Nabi (birthday of the Holy Prophet)

Muslims celebrate this occasion with great rejoicing. Muslims gather to narrate the stories of the Prophet's birth, childhood, his character, manhood and his mission.

Lailat al-Qadr (Night of Power)

The night in which the prophet Mohammed received the first revelation from God. The Night of Power is one of the odd-numbered nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. A portion of this night is spent reading the Qur'an and making special prayers.