Blessed Cel­e­bra­tions

Grocott's Mail - - SOUL FOOD - By SHAKIRAH THEBUS

Ev­ery year, around this time, some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary hap­pens not of­ten broad­cast on our TV screens. On 1 Septem­ber, mil­lions of Mus­lims from all over the world (dates may vary ac­cord­ing to the coun­try) cel­e­brate Eid ul Adha, the ‘Fes­ti­val of Sac­ri­fice’ and also the com­ple­tion of the an­nual pil­grim­age to Makkah known as Hajj. This sa­cred jour­ney sees more than two mil­lion ad­her­ents of the Mus­lim faith per­form ri­tu­als over a five-day pe­riod in Makkah, in­clud­ing the cir­cum­am­bu­lat­ing of the Holy House, the Kaabah, which ac­cord­ing to Mus­lims is metaphor­i­cally known as the House of God. Fol­low­ers come from al­most ev­ery cor­ner of the world, rep­re­sent­ing ev­ery age group, race, gen­der and class, with the old­est pil­grim be­ing 104 years old, from In­done­sia. The in­cred­i­bly rich are seen, treading the same path, as the one who is strug­gling. It is a place where one's class or sta­tus is of no sig­nif­i­cance.

The day typ­i­cally starts with a col­lec­tive prayer by all fol­low­ers at the lo­cal Masjid, or in our case here in Gra­ham­stown, at the prayer room on the Rhodes Univer­sity cam­pus. The rest of the day is then spent gath­er­ing with fam­ily, friends and neigh­bours in cel­e­bra­tion and re­joice with the shar­ing of food, gifts and com­pany. One is en­cour­aged to wear sweet-smelling per­fume and your best clothes. Greet­ings of 'Eid Mubarak' or vari­ants of it, are said to all, which means ‘Blessed Cel­e­bra­tions’.

The term Eid is de­rived from the Ara­bic word ‘aada’, which means ‘to re­turn’. This an­nual cel­e­bra­tion re­turns ev­ery year in or­der for Mus­lims to re­flect on their cur­rent stand­ing with God and His creation, show grat­i­tude for His count­less bless­ings and mer­cies, as well as a time to re­flect on the Covenant made to God, one of sub­mis­sion to His Will and Com­mands. But also the mes­sage of ‘love to­wards all and mal­ice to none’.

It is un­doubt­edly one of the most im­por­tant cel­e­bra­tions for Mus­lims around the world. One, which serves to re­mind them of the re­silience and sac­ri­fices made by those who came be­fore them, of Prophet Abra­ham who was asked to sac­ri­fice his son, in or­der to test his faith and his will­ing­ness to give up that which was most im­por­tant to him.

How­ever, God would in­stead bring forth a ram for sac­ri­fice. Mus­lims sac­ri­fice on this par­tic­u­lar day in com­mem­o­ra­tion of this par­tic­u­lar mo­ment as it is ul­ti­mately con­sid­ered a day of re­mem­brance and deep re­flec­tion. It is a time for re­newed strength and ul­ti­mately the re­newal of faith. Usu­ally a sheep or goat, or cat­tle are sac­ri­ficed with most of the meat care­fully dis­trib­uted. One-third of the meat is do­nated to the poor, an­other third to neigh­bours and friends and the rest will re­main for the fam­ily. It is also greatly en­cour­aged to give to char­ity dur­ing this time.

It is a time for re­newed strength and ul­ti­mately the re­newal of faith

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