Muslims across the globe were in high spirits just this past week in celebration of the Festival of the Sacrifice or Eid al-Adha. Muslim families from the Crossroads area of Victoria, Texas awoke in the early hours of Monday morning to be able to celebrate with the exchange of gifts and numerous activities for their children.
[caption id="attachment_3101" align="alignright" width="300"] Children accompanied their parents to the Victoria Islamic Center on September 12 to celebrate Eid al-Adha[/caption]
Eid al-Adha begins each year following the Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Almost as many as three and a half million people make this journey and gather together in prayer. The trip is a significant time for pilgrims, with traveling to Mecca being one of the pillars of the Islamic faith.
Imam Osama Hassan, the local Imam at the Victoria Islamic Center in the Crossroads area, said that two individuals made the journey this year. He, in fact, made the journey to Saudi Arabia last year saying how exciting it was for him to go on the trip to Mecca. Hassan said: "When you return, it's like God forgives all your sin, and you're a newborn baby."
[caption id="attachment_3102" align="alignleft" width="300"] Imam Osama Hassan celebrating with the children[/caption]
Eid al-Adha is celebrated in commemoration of the time when Abraham heeded God's call to sacrifice his son Abraham, and as a reward for his obedience, an animal sacrifice was prepared for him instead of his son. God recognized Abraham's willingness to give up his only son, his most valuable possession.
Eid celebrations include sacrificial feasts of sheep, lamb, and goats. Two-thirds of the meat is usually handed to the poor. Muslims also serve the less fortunate and give financial donations to those in need. In this manner, the entire community can celebrate together.
This year, Eid was celebrated on 12 September, the day after the anniversary of the fateful events which took place on 9/11. Hassan mentioned that this was a slight concern for him, as he did not want the general public to see it as a celebration of the attacks.
Fortunately, all went well, and Eid festivities continued up until last Thursday. The Victoria Islamic Center hosted a picnic on Saturday for families to mark the end of Eid al-Adha.
Hassan said that more than a billion Muslims celebrated worldwide and joined in the festivities, which for him has been, "amazing and beautiful" to experience.