Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holiday - Eid al Adha

Eid al-Adha [‘ee-Dh al add-ha], or the Festival of Sacrifice, is a three-day festival/holiday which celebrates the end of Hajj {see wgaw posts: Hajj overview + obligations} and the Prophet Ibrahim/Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishamel/Isaac, to God.

In remembrance, Muslims will sacrifice a cloven hoofed animal (usually a sheep or a goat, but also camels and cows depending on the number of people visiting for the main meal) as a reminder of Ibrahim's obedience to Allah.

After slaughtering the meat is often made into a dish called Ozi [oo-zi] and shared with immediate family and friends. Once the family has eaten what remains will be distributed, by hand, throughout the neighborhood.

The giving of food to the poor in the neighbourhood will occur after each meal for the entire three days. This is carried out in an effort to ensure not a single person goes hungry during Eid and is an essential part of this particular festival.

Eid always occurs on the 10th day of the month of Dhul al Hijaa [dh-hule al hij-jah] and lasts for nine days in Saudi Arabia and three days for the rest of the GCC (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE). This means Eid al Adhar falls from Monday 1st December to Wednesday 10th December, 2008 for Saudi Arabia and Sunday 7th to Wednesday 10th December, for the rest of the Gulf states.

What to Say?
If you want to practice speaking Arabic, Eid is an excellent time to do this. Every Muslim, no matter what their background or extraction, will be happy to hear the following exclamation; “Eid Mubarak” [‘ee-d moo-ba-rak] or to translate, ‘Happy Holidays’.

Don’t worry if you hear a lot of words you don’t understand in response. What is likely to be said is; "Taqabbal Allah mina wa minkum." [taa-Qaa-bal Al-laH min-na waa min-kuum], or in English, ‘May God accept the good deeds done by you and by us’. To this phrase you can easily reply, “Shukran” [sh-kran], or ‘thank you’.

General Truths
In the Arab world your family are of most importance and then come your neighbours. As my brother-in-law explained one day, “First give to the family, then give to the neighbours and then if anything is left over, give to the poor people in your neighbourhood.”When my husband was small he remembers running in and out of the neighbour’s houses and being fed, by them, whenever he was hungry. He assures me everyone kept their doors open at all times and during the summer months the entire neighbourhood would sleep on their roofs.

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