Hundreds of thousands of Muslims call Texas home and June 28 marks an important date on their calendar. Eid al-Adha, which is often called “Big Eid,” is celebrated on this day.
Imam Anwer Imam, the Director of Religious Affairs at Nueces Mosque in Austin, told Texas Standard the holiday celebrates the Prophet Abraham overcoming a set of challenges given to him by God.
According to Islamic scripture, Abraham was commanded to leave his family and build a sanctuary for God’s worship. Finally, God challenged Abraham to sacrifice his son. Because of his unwavering devotion, God allowed Abraham to sacrifice a lamb in place of his son.
Imam said Abraham’s profound devotion is why Muslims revere him and celebrate Eid-al-Adha.
“That’s why he’s held up in the Quran, the Muslim holy book, as a paragon for piety, for virtue, for sacrifice,” Imam said.
Eid al-Adha falls on June 28 in 2023 but the holiday’s date is not fixed on the Gregorian calendar.
While other popular holidays in the U.S. like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Independence Day are on the same day year-after-year, Muslim holidays are not. This is because the Muslim liturgical calendar is aligned with the lunar calendar. The lunar calendar is 11 days shorter than the solar Gregorian calendar that dictates most schedules in the modern world.
As a result, holidays like Eid al-Adha occur during different seasons as years pass. This year, the holiday takes place during a summer heatwave, but Imam remembers celebrating Eid al-Adha in the winter months.
“It connects you to different seasons around the year,” said Imam. “And each manifestation of it is really beautiful.”
Imam said it can be difficult for Muslims in Texas to celebrate holidays like Eid al-Adha. Often, employers and schools do not observe Muslim holidays. This puts the responsibility on the individual religious practitioner to arrange time off from work or school.
Despite these challenges, Texas Muslims find ways to honor their religious duties.
Imam said adherents celebrate with prayer and acts of charity. Muslim charitable organizations see a substantial increase in giving during Eid al-Adha. Imam said charity is a vital part of Eid al-Adha.
“The spirit of sacrifice and giving to others as a service to God and his creation is the heart of the celebration,” he said. “And I encourage both Muslims and non-Muslims to reconnect to that legacy and remind ourselves of that.”