Following confirmation from Saudi Arabia‘s moon-sighting committee, the Kingdom’s Supreme Court has announced that Friday, July 31 will be the first day of Eid Al Adha this year. Since the crescent of Dhu al-Hijjah will be visible after sunset tomorrow, July 22 marks the start of the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, and Eid Al Adha will begin on the 10th day.
Celebrated by Muslims all around the world as a festival of sacrifice, Eid Al Adha is recognized as a time for prayer and charitable action. Although the spirit of the Islamic holiday will continue to be honored, traditional forms of celebration may be put on hold this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Similar to Eid Al Fitr, large gatherings may be restricted and while places of worship have reopened with the proper social distancing protocols in place, it’s not been announced if worshippers will still be encouraged to perform Eid prayers in their own homes. In the UAE, mosques have reopened at 30 percent capacity for the five daily prayers since July 1 but Friday prayers are still not permitted to prevent larger crowds from gathering.
Meaning “the month of pilgrimage”, Dhu al-Hijjah signifies the commencement of the Hajj season, in which millions of Muslims typically travel to the holy city of Mecca to embark on the annual pilgrimage that is one of the five pillars of Islam. However, this year Saudi authorities have limited Hajj to a maximum of 10,000 pilgrims who are already residing in the Kingdom as a precaution against the further spread of Covid-19 in the region. Saudi nationals and expatriate residents living in the country who plan to perform the holy pilgrimage will also need to follow a strict set of health and safety guidelines while adhering to the rituals of Hajj, such as only entering holy sites with a permit, wearing face masks, and keeping safe distances during group prayers. The year-round pilgrimage of Umrah continues to be suspended for the time being.
In Saudi Arabia, private-sector employees will receive four days off from work from July 30 until August 2 while public-sector employees are set to have two weeks off from July 24 to August 8, according to the Saudi Press Agency. Government officials in the UAE have yet to announce the public holiday schedule for both categories of workers in this country, but check back here for more updates…