Reflecting on Eid al-Adha in Ghana


Hassan Wahab, Ghana

Our Lord, I have settled some of my children in an uncultivable valley near Thy Sacred House—our Lord—that they may observe Prayer. So make men’s hearts incline towards them and provide them with fruits, that they may be thankful.’ [1]


Muslims throughout the world celebrate the Festival of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha) on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah (or the 12th month of the Islamic calendar). The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, rather than the Gregorian calendar, so the Eid date shifts forward each year by eleven days. Eid al-Adha also marks the annual pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj) which is one of the five pillars of Islam. [2] This year (2021), Eid al-Adha was celebrated in Ghana on Tuesday, 20th July. Ghana is not a Muslim-majority country but has a large Muslim population (approx. 18%) so the Eid days are statutory holidays. On Thursday, July 15, 2021, Ghana’s Minister for Interior issued a statement declaring Tuesday, July 20 a public holiday.

While there is never a dull moment in Accra, one could observe enthusiastic preparations for the upcoming Eid. Goat, Sheep and Cow sellers could be seen in various places in the city doing brisk business. People purchased their sacrificial animals well in advance and took them home. While visiting a family friend on the eve of Eid, his family’s sacrificial animal—a cow—could be spotted tied up to a mango tree. Our sheep was ordered on the afternoon of Thursday, 15th July and was delivered to our home on the morning of Sunday, 19th July. It is important to note that the physical sacrifice of animals carried out on this occasion is not merely to perform a physical rite, rather it is to reflect a spirit of sacrifice within, whereby one sacrifices their inner passions and desires and establishes righteousness. The Fifth Caliph and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslims Community, His Holinss, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) explained in his Eid al-Adha sermon:.

‘Allah Almighty has stated that He does not accept the sacrifice of large and expensive animals made without righteousness. Allah Almighty does not need that meat and blood for He is above such necessities…If our intention for this sacrifice is wrought from righteousness, then to that, Allah Almighty says that it is accepted in His court. And if our sacrifice is devoid of righteousness, then it is merely the case of slaughtering an animal.’ [3]

In Ghana, Eid al-Adha prayers are usually offered about an hour early to allow enough time for congregants to return home and carry out their sacrifices. So families prepare early the previous night for the busy day ahead.

The Day of Eid

On Tuesday, we got up to offer tahajjud (pre-dawn voluntary prayer) and the Fajr (prayer offered right before dawn) prayers, as we normally do. We started reciting the following prayer:

الله أكبر الله أكبر، لا إله إلّا الله، و الله اكبر ،الله أكبر ولله الحمد

Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! La illaha illallah! Wallahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Wa lillahil Hamd

(Allah is most Great, Allah is most Great! There is no god but Him! Allah is most Great! Allah is most Great! And all praise belong to Allah!) [4]

The time for the prayer was scheduled at 9:00 in the morning at Bustan-e-Ahmad, about 40 acres of land, which now houses Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA) Ghana and Wahab Adam Studios as well as an international primary school. In Ghana, Eid prayers are usually offered open air (outdoors). Because it was a public holiday, there was less road traffic than usual. We left our home at 7:45 in the morning and arrived at Bustan-e-Ahmad an hour later. Several members of the Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya (Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association), dressed in their impeccable white shirts, smartly tucked into their black trousers with their black-and-white scarf neatly wrapped around their shoulders and tied around their neck, were standing at the main entrance of Bustan-e-Ahmad and the grounds directing both vehicular and human traffic. 

Although all Eid prayers have been offered at this location for over 20 years since the Community purchased the land and developed it, this year’s Eid was particularly poignant. A considerable number of people—nearly 3000 men, women, and children [5]—were able to gather on a large, empty tract of land, outdoors, and under the shades provided by canopies and the specially planted trees with an exceptionally pleasant breeze in full compliance of COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing, temperature checks, and masking to observe the Eid prayer.

After the Eid prayer and sermon led by the Amir (National President) and Missionary-in-Charge of Ghana, at 10:15 AM, congregants had a moment to offer our greetings of peace (Salaam) and wishes of the blessed festival (Eid Mubarak) to those who sat near and close to them. To comply with COVID-19 protocols, elbow bumps were preferred to the embraces and warm handshakes that we were accustomed to. Celebrants hurriedly hopped back into cars, and after a bit of heavy traffic caused by the nearly 500 vehicles that had conveyed worshippers to the location, left for their homes. [6]

My family had arranged a professional butcher, prior to leaving home for the prayer, to come and slaughter our sacrificial sheep after prayers. Some family members, including nieces and nephews, and a few friends joined us for lunch and/or dinner, hearty conversations, and gift-giving. Part of the meat was distributed to our neighbours, as customary. We spent some time speaking over the telephone or Facetiming with some of our family members we could not see because of COVID-19 restrictions and those who live outside Accra (or Ghana).


As far as Eids go in Ghana, this was a more sombre occasion. Although the size of the congregation at Bustan-e-Ahmad was smaller than usual and there was little or no photo-taking with family and loved ones, the sense of gratitude to Allah the Almighty, to have enabled us to safely participate in the 2021 Eid-ul-Adha in Accra was palpable. May Allah accept our prayers and sacrifices. Amen. Eid Mubarak!

About the Author: Hassan Wahab is a Senior Lecturer of Political Science at the University of Ghana, Legon, and Editor of the Race and Equality section of The Review of Religions.


[1] The Holy Qur’an 4:38

[2] The five pillars of Islam are: 1. Belief in the Oneness of God and that Muhammad (sa), is His messenger; 2. Offering five daily obligatory prayers (Salat); 3. Offering alms (Zakat) 5. Fasting in the month of Ramadan 5. Performing pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj)

[3] Eid al-Adha Sermon 21st July 2021

[4] This prayer is to be recited until after Asr (mid-afternoon) prayer of the third day after Eid.

[5] Figure provided by MTA Ghana

[6] Figure provided by MTA Ghana