Thursday, December 7, 2006

The Festival of the Sacrifice

The Festival of the Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha) is a very important Muslim holiday that is celebrated at the end of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is celebrated by Muslims throughout the world. The festival begins on the 10th day of the last month of the Islamic calendar, and lasts for three days. This year, the celebration begins on December 31, 2006.

The Festival of Sacrifice pays homage to the prophet Abraham’s unselfish act of sacrificing his son, Ishmael, to God. In turn, God spared the boy’s life and instead substituted a sheep. In Judaism and Christianity, the child in this story is Ishmael's brother Isaac. During the festival, families that can afford to do so sacrifice an animal such as a sheep, goat, camel, or cow, and then divide the meat among themselves, the poor, and friends and neighbours.

Thus, the demand for sheep, lambs, and goats increases prior to the Festival of Sacrifice, and producers often receive a premium price for the animals they market 7 to 10 days before the holiday. The type, size, and age of animal varies by customer. An unblemished animal is preferred in many cases: tails, testicles, and horns!

Muslim holidays occur approximately 11 days earlier each year because the Islamic calendar is lunar, based on the sighting of the moon. Next year, the Festival of the Sacrifice will be on or near December 20, 2007.

Muslim Religion in Brief

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