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Eid al-Haj

Eid al-Haj (also called Eid al-Adha or Eid al-Kebir) is the Islamic festival of the annual pilgrimage, or haj, to Mecca. It is the second major holiday of Islam and a three-day festival of feasting and celebration in all Muslim communities in Tanzania. Eid al-Haj remembers Ibrahim (Abraham in the western tradition) and his son Ishmael (Isaac in the western tradition), who was almost sacrificed to God in obedience with his commandments. For Muslims, this holiday is about sacrifice, faith, and honouring the prophet Ibrahim.

Along the predominantly Muslim Swahili Coast, and especially on the islands of Zanzibar, each family sacrifices a goat or sheep to commemorate the sacrifice. A third of the meat is given to the poor; another third to family and friends, and the final third is kept by the family to be served in a lavish meal. Gifts are exchanged, prayers are said and sermons are attended, and after family and friends have visited each other the celebration culminates in a feast. Any family members or friends who made the pilgrimage to Mecca that year are welcomed home with much rejoicing. During the night there is live Swahili taarab music and much rejoicing.

As with Eid al-Fitr, if you would like to visit Tanzania during Eid al-Haj, please note that the dates of the Islamic holiday change each year. Contact your travel agent to find out when to travel.

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