Thursday, November 3, 2011

Eid al-Adha

Beginning Sunday, November 6, Muslims everywhere commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God with Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice.  The celebration begins at the end of the Hajj – the holy trip to Mecca - at the descent from Mount Ararat; about 70 days after Eid al Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of fasting known as Ramadan.

“Eid” (EYE-EED) means “solemn festival.”

Muslims recognize Ishmael as Abraham’s sacrificial son.  Others (me included) grew up with Isaac on the chopping block:

Isaac is bound to an altar and Abraham raises his knife.  At that moment, the angel of God stops Abraham, saying, “…now I know you fear God…”  (Genesis 22:12)  God provides a ram for the sacrifice instead.

(Abraham sacrifices Isaac, by Caravaggio)

I leave the Ishmael/Isaac dispute to the theologians. 

To prepare for Eid al-Adha, Muslims make wudu (ablution), offer Salat al-Fajr (pre-sunrise prayer), assure personal cleanliness and dress in their finest clothing.  All meet for Salat al-Eid (prayers) in a mosque or other special place.  The Imam speaks.  And then, celebrate!

“…At the conclusion of the prayers and sermon, Muslims embrace and exchange greetings (“Eid Mubarak!”), give gifts (“Eidi”) to children, and visit one another. Many Muslims also take this opportunity to invite non-Muslim friends…to their Eid festivities to better acquaint them about Islam and Muslim culture.”

Those who can afford it sacrifice their best (farm) animal and break it into three parts:  one for the family, one for relatives, friends and neighbors and one for the poor and needy.

Bob isn’t Muslim and doesn’t expect to participate in Eid festivities (this year).  Instead he’ll celebrate Eid al-Adha with five days off work (Friday, November 4 through Tuesday, November 8) – a great chance to get to know the city: shop the malls, peruse the souq, find the Catholic Church (an unmarked building beside a mosque), visit the beach, buy towels and sheets for his new apartment (move in day November 15!!!) and more.  He has his own car now and plenty to do.

What do you want to know about Doha?

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