Every year, Muslims wearing new clothes with bright colors fill the street. Their faces are bright with large smiles as they greet each other with warm hugs. Children play near them with balloons in their hands and sweet in their pockets. The Mosques are packed with worshipers to do the ritual prayer. Muslims united together from diverse countries in one place to celebrate the day of Eid al-Adha.
Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, is the second most important religious holidays that Muslims celebrate around the world each year. It’s the day that Muslims remember the Prophet Ibrahim willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, in a submission to Allah, the Arabic name for God. But instead God sent him a sheep to sacrifice. On that day, Muslims nationwide sacrifice an animal like cow, goat or sheep.
It is a day of joy for my family and I, where we plan for the special day in advance. We prepare a long list with all the items we need to buy such as new outfits for every member of the family, groceries to cook our favorite Eid dishes, and gifts to give to families and friends.
Being in a non-Muslim community requires taking a day off on Eid from school or work, unlike being in a Muslim country that gives a break during holidays and many schools and public places close for up to a week. For me, I have to ask for the day off ahead of time, but I like it when people ask me about the celebration because that way I can explain my religion to them. Also, it can be difficult for many Muslims in Western countries to celebrate Eid because they are unable to participate in more than a few hours of festivities.
In the early morning, everyone in my family hurry to put on their new clothes in preparation for the Eid prayer. It is traditional for every Muslim to wear their best clothes in that day as Prophet Muhammad taught us that God is beautiful, and He loves that which is beautiful. People have to look their best when going to the Eid prayer since it’s the day of being with each other.
In the first day of Eid, people gather in groups to go to the special prayer. Most of the time, the Eid prayer is held outdoors or in large open place, due to the lack of space, since Mosques is not big enough to preform the prayer in.
People should not be surprised to see a large crowd of people walking or driving to the praying area before the sunrise and carrying with them their velvet rugs to put in the ground in time of the prayer. When entering the praying place, all Muslims glorify God in one pleasant voice saying, “God is great, there is none worthy of worship but God; God is great, Praise be to Him."
At about 9:00 a.m. or maybe earlier depending on the Mosque, Muslims will stand in straight neat rows, shoulder to shoulder facing the Imam, the person who leads the worshipers, to do the Eid prayer.
After the prayers, people shake hands and hugs with a cheerful smile in their faces, and say, Eid Mubarak, blessings Eid or Happy Eid to one another. Outside the praying space, there are tables with traditional delights for people to enjoy.
It’s time when my parent reminds me that they want to go to Mecca to perform Hajj. Hajj or pilgrimage is an important mark of Eid al-Adha. Hajj is one of the “Five Pillars of Islam,” that every Muslim has to do once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially able.
For my family, the first day of Eid is a family time where we get together to go to the restaurant or hold a particular Eid dinner at the house. We usually stay up late at night to watch movies and eat the Iraqi traditional dessert, Klecha. Klecha is a thin layer of date mixture that covered special dough. It is served with tea to family and guests during Eid.
The second or the third days are when the family obligates a community celebration. My family likes to party and invite neighbors and friends over. It is a great time for people to heal lost bonds and renew relationships. We give money and sweets to children and exchange gift with adult.
Eid al-Adha is a day of forgiveness, togetherness, and charity. It is a day of interaction with relatives, with being kind to parents and people around us, and showing empathy for the poor and concern for neighbors. It is a day of visiting and wishing the best for our loved one. It’s a day for rejoicing indeed.