Eid Salah is similar to all other salahs, except in one regard. It comprises of a few additional takbeers.
Opinions of the Scholars
According to Imam Abu Hanifa (rahimahullah), there are three additional takbeers in the first rak’ah before the Qir’ah (recitation) and three more in the second rak’ah after the Qir’ah. On the other hand, according to Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad (rahimahumallah), the numbers of takbeers are six in the first rak’ah and five in the second rak’ah. Whereas, Imam Shafeyi’s (rahimahullah) opinion is that the numbers of takbeers are seven in the first rak’ah and five in the second rak’ah. Except Imam Abu Hanifa, all other Imams say that the takbeers in the both rak’ahs should be performed before the Qir’ah. (Al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh: 2/370)
The principal reason for the difference of opinions amongst the scholars is the difference in hadiths/traditions narrated from the Rasulullah (sallallhu alaihi wa sallam) and his sahabah (companions). Moreover, some scholars regard Takbeer-tahreema as included in the numbers of takbeers mentioned in the traditions and some others do not.
In one hadith, Sayyidah Ayesha (radhiyallahu anha) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallhu alaihi wa sallam) used to perform seven takbeers in the first rak’ah and five takbeers in the second rak’ah, besides the takbeers of Ruku – before the Qir’ah (recitation) in the prayers of both Eids (Abu Dawood & Ibn Majah). Imam Shafeyi (rahimahullah) rests his opinion upon this hadith. Imam Ahmad and Imam Malik (rahimahumallah) also regard this as supporting their opinion – as they say that the number of takbeers mentioned in the hadith conerning the first rak’ah includes Takbeer-tahreema as well.
On the other hand, Imam Abu Dawood (rahimahullah) narrates that Sa’eed ibn al-‘As asked Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari (radhiyallahu anhu) and Huzaifah ibn al-Yaman (radhiyallahu anhu) that how many takbeers would the messenger of Allah (sallallhu alaihi wa sallam) perform in Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha? Abu Moosa said, ‘He used to perform four takbeers as he used to do the same in janazah (funeral) prayers’. Then Huzaifah said, ‘He is right’. Afterwards, Abu Moosa said, ‘This is how I used to perform takbeers when I was the governor of Basra’ (Abu Dawood). Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) rests his opinion upon this hadith and, because of other narrations, he regards the numbers mentioned in the tradition as including Takbeer-tahrima in the first rak’ah and Takbeer of Ruku’ in the second rak’ah.
Actions of Sahabah
The matter held some controversy amongst the sahabah as well. Some very authentic narrations from Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) can be found which unequivocally support the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah. On the other hand, narrations from Abdullah ibn Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) vary - sometimes they correspond the opinions of other scholars and sometimes, the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah. (Nasbur-Rayah: 2/215-219).
Imam Ibn al-Jawzi (rahimahullah) said that no SAHIH hadith has been narrated from the Nabi (sallallhu alaihi wa sallam) regarding the takbeers of Eids. Imam Ahmad (rahimahullah) said, ‘the companions have differed in (the number of) takbeers (in Eid salah), and all of them are valid (Al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh: 2/377 – in the footnote).
To conclude, it is important to remember that the difference of opinions relates to preference and desirability. Nonetheless, the salah will be validly performed in anyway: whether six, eleven or twelve takbeers were performed. Imam Ibn al-Humam (rahimahullah) states that if the imam performs more than six takbeers, the people must follow him until he reaches thirteen (and according to some - sixteen). If he performs more than that, they should not follow him (Fathul-Qadeer: 2/76).