Well, eid is tomorrow, but I’ll be busy celebrating, so I thought I’d post it today. 🙂 I’m also fasting today, as many Muslims are.
Muslims have two major eids: the one after Ramadan and this one.
It’s Eid al-adha, the celebration commemorating the prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) sacrafice to Allah (God…we do not worship a separate god from Christians and Jews, this word simply means ‘the one god’ in Arabic, and has no plural or gender form). Ibrahim was ordered by Allah to sacrafice his son, Isma’il. This was a test, of course, and just before the event was to take place, Ibrahim was ordered to sacrafice a sheep instead. We commemorate this event by sacraficing a sheep or cow and giving the meat to the poor. No, we don’t do this at an alter in our homes; most of us just give money to a halal butcher and the work is done for us. This is a really misunderstood holiday; it’s not about a ritual sacrafice, it’s about faith, submission to the will of God (which is what the word ‘Islam’ means), and feeding the poor.
Read more about it here.
So, how do we celebrate? Well, this eid is really suppsed to be the ‘bigger” eid, but it often takes a back seat in Muslim families because they often see the eid after Ramadan as more important, kind of like a reward for all that hard work. We don’t, however. There is a special morning prayer (blokes are required to go the mosque, we ladies can stay at home to pray, or go to the mosque; it’s our choice). We will get dressed up in something new (and probably colourful), decorate my father-in-law’s house and make lots of great food (I’ll be making a Victorian Mocha sponge cake and peanut butter cookies). Some of us will go visiting friends and other family members in the evening, and gifts may be exchanged.
It is also the time of Hajj (which ties in with this eid), one of the five pillars (religious obligations) of Islam. All Muslims are required (if they are financial and physically able) to make the pilgrimag to Makkah at some point in their (adult) life. This ritual is steeped in history and all of the rituals involved have significant meaning…it is not a meaningless requriement. I’m saying this because this is one of the things that I love about Islam; nothing we do is simply for the sake of ritual or to create rules and more ‘work’ for us, it all has meaning and is iman (faith)-building.
For further reading:
For an excellent post about this eid, hajj, and fasting, click here
This is a great picture book of Islamic stories for the younger set.