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Supporting colleagues taking part in Eid ul-Adha

Today marks the start of Eid ul-Adha ('Festival of Sacrifice') which is a public holiday in Muslim countries and one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar. Here we find out more about Eid ul-Adha and how to support colleagues that are taking part.

Tue 20th July 2021 The PDA

Chand Kausar, PDA Regional Committee Member and Community Pharmacist shares more about Eid-ul-Adha and how pharmacists can support their Muslim colleagues at work.

What is Eid ul-Adha? 

In Islam there are two main Eid’s (Religious Celebrations): Eid ul-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting; and Eid ul-Adha which follows on from the completion of Hajj, the religious pilgrimage, at the time of Qurbani (sacrifice). 

The day of Eid ul-Adha is the 10th day of the final 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is determined by the sighting of the moon. Eid ul-Adha is considered the bigger of the two festivals, religiously, and although is not directly linked to the Hajj pilgrimage, it always falls the day after its completion. It is related in time to Hajj and heightens the celebration for the pilgrims that have performed Hajj, and for those awaiting their return. 

Hajj itself is one of the five pillars of Islam and for those Muslims that are able, a compulsory part of the faith. However, the story behind Eid ul-Adha is one of sacrifice. The main thing we reflect upon during Eid ul-Adha is the devotion of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to God and his obedience to Him. In particular, that when he was ordered to sacrifice his son Ismail, he readily obeyed and set out to do so. Just at the last minute before the sacrifice, God replaced the child with a ram, which was then slaughtered instead. This command from God was a test of Prophet Ibrahim’s faith, and the commitment to obey Him, even in a very emotional situation. A faith not many would be able to have.

To commemorate this day, on Eid, after the morning prayers in congregation at mosque, we offer different sacrifices of animals, such as a ram, sheep, cow, or goat. This sacrifice is to honour and remember the sacrifice made by the Prophet Ibrahim. This is done differently depending on the country and local rules for slaughtering. The celebrations can last up to 4 days depending on the country, but it is an extended celebration. The days of animal sacrifices are 3 days: the 10th, 11th, and 12th day of the month of Dhul-Al-Hijjah. The meat is then divided into 3 equal parts; with a portion for the family; a portion for friends; and a portion for the poor or needy. This is then taken to each chosen recipient and given out in a timely manner.

Traditionally, Muslims dress up, exchange gifts, visit family and friends, but also make additional efforts to reach out to all those people who are in need to join in on the celebrations with them.

The spirit of this sacrifice as Muslims, is to reflect upon their own faith and consider which things we would be willing to give up in order serve our obedience to God. Accordingly, this period becomes a reflective period. It allows Muslims a chance for self-development, in all aspects of life, depending upon one’s degree of faith and practice. It is especially relevant in this year of the global pandemic, when everyone has had to make so many personal sacrifices for the greater good of society and the safety of others. As we now know, it is imperative to take care of each other. 

How to support your Muslim colleagues at work

During the days of Hajj, leading up to Eid, there are often one or two voluntary fasts that Muslims are encouraged to keep. As with Ramadan, these fasts allow for no food or water to be consumed from dusk until dawn. In the summer, this translates to long days of fasting, and the fasting person may require additional time to pray whilst at work. 

Colleagues may also require time off for Eid. Depending on local moon sighting resources, this isn’t always easily predictable. A degree of flexibility around the day of Eid, and an allowance to take the day or two as leave, would always be greatly appreciated. 

PDA BAME Network Member, Community and GP Practice Pharmacist Ayah Abbas, added:

“I am a firm believer in educating, empowering and encouraging others to have open conversations in the workplace to help us understand each other’s beliefs, culture and identity. Another reason is to help our employers understand why sometimes we find ourselves in a tricky position having to book time off without as much notice as we would like for example for Eid.

Eid Al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu Al-Hajjah which is the 12th month of the Islamic Hijri calendar which is based on the lunar cycle. This date changes from year to year which means it’s impossible to predict the exact date as it depends on the sighting of the new moon. However, we can often estimate when we should book time off and thus try and plan as much as possible for locum cover. Usually, the celebration lasts for 4 days but it can be challenging to book time off for that long due the demands of the role. Usually, Muslims greet others with the phrase “Eid Mubarak” which means – blessed Eid. I feel like more and more people from other backgrounds, like my colleagues, are wishing me a “Happy Eid” or “Eid Mubarak” even if they are not celebrating. This is a very meaningful gesture as it shows understanding, support and allyship. I think it is good practice to send well wishes to those celebrating holidays irrespective of their cultural background or faith.”

The PDA BAME Network works to enable all Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic pharmacists to realise their full potential and raise their profile by being educationally, socially and politically active. For more information about the network and how you can get involved, click here.

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