Friday, 5 December 2008

Eid al-Adha

It took me while to understand how there could be two eids; and so close together! When I discovered that eid just means 'festival' or 'celebration' it made more sense too. To non Muslims it seems counter intuitive that the eid that happens on Monday(al-Adha) is often called 'big' eid (and, in fact, this is how it's commonly known in a lot of south Asia and north Africa) when the one most people in the UK are familiar with is the al-Fitr (little eid). The 'bigness' has as much (I think) to do with the length of the event as to the meaning behind the celebration. al-Adha lasts up to four days and the other, al-Fitr (marking end of fasting in Ramadan) lasts up to three. If my students attendance is anything to go by, there are pockets of Muslims in Bradford who celebrate even bigger eids lasting about two weeks on both occasions.

Al-Ahda is the sacrifice celebration where Ibrahim's devotion was tested by his willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael. This parallels the Judeo-Christian story of Abraham and Isaac. In both, of course, the son is saved though lambs all over the world let out a collective whimper.
Along with the reminder that this very important event is rooted in the same story shared by the other monotheistic faiths is the importance of the principle of sharing of the slaughtered lamb with family, friends, the poor, Muslims and non-Muslims. At the heart of Christmas there still sits that altruistic ethos, sometimes lost amongst the cheesy songs, coloured lights and excess spending but, all the same, the focal point of the celebration. Likewise, the whole point of eid can be subsumed by the new clothes and, inexplicably (in Tower Hamlets at least), the urge to hire an expensive car and hang out of the window getting all patriotic.

Anyway,I'm not sure what my point is but I would, though, like to wish everyone:

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