Noted-Id al-Adha is the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice, the holiest and grandest festival of the Muslim calendar. The feast falls on the 12th month of the calendar, Tho El Hija, the month of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The Feast of Sacrifice lasts for four days and commemorates Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) obedience to God in all things, even to sacrifice his own son Ishmael if such was required. God intervened at the moment of Ibrahim’s sacrifice, providing a ram in place of the beloved son so that Ishmael might live.i The Feast of Sacrifice requires every head of household to sacrifice a goat, sheep, or other domestic ruminant, in memory of Ibrahim’s devotion to God if he or she can possibly afford to do soii. A third of the meat is eaten by the sacrificer’s family during the Id holiday, a third is given to relatives, and the remaining third is given to the poor. Id al-Adha is one of the two times of the year that every Muslim, no matter how poor, can expect to eat their fill of meat.
2:39 p.m., Oct. 26, 2012
DOWTOWN SAN DIEGO
Two men in beige tunics greeted each other with smiles and a kiss on the cheek. “Salaam alaikum!” they said before parting with a slight bow, their hand placed over their heart. Behind the men, in a separate area, was a sea of fuchsia, turquoise and pink headscarves. The call to prayer boomed from the loudspeakers.
More than 12,000 Muslims gathered Friday morning at the San Diego Convention Center for Eid al-Adha, a religious holiday in honor of the prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his first-born son as an act of submission to God.
The “Feast of the Sacrifice” also marks the end of Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that all healthy and financially able Muslims are expected to make before they die. The event draws more than 3 million believers to holy sites in Mecca each year.
“It feels like you’re in the United Nations,” said Edgar Hopida, 36, local spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations who completed his Hajj in 2002. “Muslims from all over the world, wearing their traditional garb, all worshiping the one God in Mecca. … It’s a great spiritual experience.”
The convention-center gathering was a diverse crowd to Hopida as well, with dozens of countries represented by myriad styles of headscarves and thawbs, the long-sleeved robes worn by Muslim men.
“Here it’s only for the ceremony. But at home, you wear it all the time,” said Mirwais Mojadiddi, a 22-year-old Iraqi who moved to El Cajon last year. He was wearing a thawb from Oman that morning because he had traded his Iraqi robe with a friend just before the prayers.
“It’s a neighborhood of cultures,” he said, referring to the robe swap. “You’re more connected; you feel good.”
Eid al-Adha is the second of two significant feasting holidays on the Islamic lunar calendar. The first is Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, a month-long fast that prohibits eating and drinking from sun-up to sun-down.
Believers also try to observe a similar fast for several days before Eid al-Adha to encourage spiritual self-reflection, but not everyone can resist.
“It’s really hard for me to fast because I’m in school now.” Tutu Omar, a 21-year-old from Linda Vista, admitted. “I get so tempted!”
In an attempt to look “fancy-pantsy” for Friday’s celebration, Tutu and her two friends painted ornate flowers on the backs of their hands.
“God tells us you have to look nice this day, and since our religion doesn’t allow tattoos, a lot of girls get temporary ones,” said Hayat Yasin, 16, also from Linda Vista. “It’s our bling bling!”
Like Christmas or Hanukkah, food and family are integral to Eid al-Adha. The absence of either can make for a lackluster holiday.
At the convention center, Abdul Rahman, 22, and his cousin Sattam Bansa, 24, were two somber-looking Saudi exchange students dressed in white robes and the traditional black-and-red Saudi head covering.
Abdul said he misses the ceremonial lamb slaughter at his home in central Saudi Arabia (the majority of San Diegans simply go to a special Halal butcher), but mostly just wishes he could be with his family.
“In Saudi Arabia, I go to more than eight or nine homes to say, ‘Happy eat! Happy eat!’ Here, we just go back to our apartment.”