Eid al-Adha in Ethiopia

Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, is an important Islamic holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide, including in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, the event is locally known as Arefe. It commemorates the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Isma'il (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to Allah's command. However, before Ibrahim could carry out the act, Allah provided a lamb to be sacrificed instead. This event is meant to honor and remember Ibrahim's devotion to God.

Eid al-Adha in Ethiopia takes place on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah. The date changes every year based on the Islamic lunar calendar, which is roughly 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. To determine the exact date of Eid al-Adha, Ethiopian Muslims rely on the sighting of the moon, following the same process as Muslims around the world.


The celebration of Eid al-Adha in Ethiopia dates back to the arrival of Islam in the region during the time of the Prophet Mohammed. Ethiopia has a long history of interaction with Islamic culture, dating back to the 7th century when a group of early Muslims, including the Prophet's family members, sought refuge in the kingdom of Aksum from persecution in Mecca. The king of Aksum, known as the Negus, granted them asylum and protection, creating a strong bond between Ethiopians and Muslims. Since then, Eid al-Adha has been an important religious celebration in the country.


National customs for Eid al-Adha in Ethiopia

Eid al-Adha customs in Ethiopia share similarities with those practiced in other Islamic countries. The day begins with special prayers at the mosque, where men, women, and children dress in their finest clothes to attend the prayer service. After the prayers, Muslims in Ethiopia follow the tradition of sacrificing an animal, usually a sheep or a goat. The meat from the sacrificed animal is then divided into three parts: one-third is given to the poor, another third is shared with friends and neighbors, and the remaining portion is consumed by the family.

Additionally, it is customary for Ethiopian Muslims to visit the graves of their loved ones during Eid al-Adha, offering prayers and remembering the deceased. The holiday is also a time for charity, as many people donate food or money to the less fortunate in their communities.

Local customs for Eid al-Adha in Ethiopia

Ethiopian Muslims have their unique customs and traditions when it comes to Eid al-Adha celebrations. One such custom is the preparation of traditional Ethiopian dishes, such as doro wat (a spicy chicken stew) and injera (a sourdough flatbread) that are shared among family and friends during the festive period.

Additionally, Ethiopian Muslims may also participate in local cultural events and gatherings, incorporating their regional customs into the celebration of Eid al-Adha. This may include traditional Ethiopian music, dancing, and other forms of entertainment, reflecting the diverse cultural heritage of the country.


Eid al-Adha in Ethiopia is a significant religious and cultural event that brings communities together in a spirit of devotion, sacrifice, and charity. With a rich history of Islamic influence in Ethiopia, the celebration of Eid al-Adha is deeply rooted in the country's cultural fabric. By incorporating both national and local customs, Ethiopian Muslims honor the teachings of Islam while also celebrating their unique cultural heritage.