Eid Al-Adha Holiday: A Lesson of Sacrifice and Generosity
By Michaela Schrum/Contributing Writer
When traveling to Morocco to study abroad, I was lucky to have witnessed the Eid Al-Adha with the preparation of a lamb as part of the celebration and an appropriate enactment of the sacrifice the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) made.
Most Americans prefer to be more removed from the process of which we obtain food, and choose instead to buy their food at a store where lumps of processed meat are wrapped in plastic. Preparing and eating lamb with my host family made me feel at peace because of the reverent and loving attitude which my host family displayed.
Eid Al-Adha, or “the Feast of Sacrifice” is celebrated by Muslims from all over the world. It’s also the time when millions of Muslims go on Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca) in the lunar month of Dhu- al-Hajj, to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as commanded by God.
Before Ibrahim could carry out the sacrifice, God sent the angel Jibra’il (Gabriel) who stopped the procedure, and instead, He replaced Ibrahim’s son with a sheep. To remember Ibrahim’s willingness to trust God fully, despite his fatherly intuition and his situation, Muslims and families from Arab countries celebrate Eid-Al-Adha.
That day in Morocco, I learned that Eid Al-Adha is a lot more than the food and party. It would have seemed like just another ordinary day to many Americans, but to Muslims, including those with ancestry from North Africa and the Middle East, that day was a cause for much celebration and remembrance of important values of selflessness, giving, and patience. In fact, the meat of the lamb on Al-Adha day (and many other occasions) gets divided into three portions. One portion goes to the family, the second goes to friends, neighbors and loved ones, and the third is shared with the poor and hungry families in the area.
Many Arabs and Arab Americans believe in the sacrifice Ibrahim was willing to make, and they apply it to their daily living by constantly sacrificing time, effort, and finance for their families and close friends. For example, if one of them has a doctor’s appointment, but receives a phone cfrom a family member who needs help, then, it is customary to drop everything and run for help without any hesitation; this is not only respected, but it is expected.
It’s not easy for those who immigrate from the Arab World to America. They sacrifice comfort in the homeland to travel to a strange country. They learn a new language and new procedures for schools, banking, and overall learn to maneuver huge changes. Their sacrifice for immediate family also supports those family members and close friends who still live in the homeland.
The spirit of Eid Al-Adha and the traditions of Arab Americans provide examples of goodwill and charity, not only to family, friends and youger generations, but contribute to the spirit of America as a whole. This holiday of peace, remembrance, obedience, and sacrifice serves as a reminder to be proud of heritage, traditions, values, and long lasting sacrifice to family and friends.