This week, Muslims around the world will take a break to observe the holiest day of their religion, and an opportunity to highlight commonalities between the three largest monotheistic religions in the world.
Eid al-Adha, the "Day of Great Sacrifice" is set aside to commemorate Abraham's willingness – known in Islam as Ibrahim – to sacrifice his son as an obedient servant of God some 3,000 years ago. It is the second of two major holidays celebrated by the Islamic faithful and the holiest of them. Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of the 12th month, Dhu al-Hijjah, in the Islamic calendar, which is determined by lunar cycles. This year it falls on the 20th of August, when it is observed on the 21
As the people of the book read, the stories of Muslims often coincide with those of the Christian Bible and the Jewish Talmud. The story of Abraham can be found in the Islamic holy book, the Koran. As the story tells, God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his eldest son. Abraham's faith forced him to do what God commanded, even if it meant the death of his son.
"Abraham is the father of monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam," says Abdullah Bokhari, deputy imam of the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills. "With everything that happens in the world against Islam and Muslims, we need to go back to the commonalities that we all have and work together for the common good instead of highlighting the differences, yes we are different and can focus on certain things but in the end you remember that we all came from Abraham. "
According to the story, just as Abraham wanted to kill his son – which Muslims call Ishmael, but who is called Isaac in the Bible – God replaced instead the son by an animal. In remembrance of this, Muslims sacrifice an animal and divide it into three parts, giving one third to the poor and needy, another third to family and friends, and keeping the rest for dinner.
"Muslims Are Normally Near That Day The world will prepare dishes according to their cultural traditions with sacrificial meat, although this is not a commitment but a preference," says Bokhari. "There is no particular kind of food or dish – that will vary from culture to culture."
An animal is sacrificed in the name of God, with a householder sharing and sharing the meat in three parts with the family, friends and poor people. In Michigan, many farms help fulfill this belief. The sacrifice must be in accordance with the Islamic law of Halal, similar to the Jewish kosher laws. That is, an animal sacrificed in the name of God can not be a baby or have any kind of want, it has to be prayed and slaughtered without pain or fear.
"They celebrate the mercy of God through sacrifice as a sacrifice to God," says Bokhari.
In addition to animal sacrifices, many Muslims around the world participate in Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city in the Muslim faith. The five-day pilgrimage begins on the ninth day of the month on the Kaaba, a large black cube in which the first Muslim church was founded.
The Hajj, which takes place annually since 630 AD, is one of the most important things about Eid al-Adha, says Bokhari. He has been leading groups of pilgrims to Mecca during the Hajj for the past four or five years, planning to return this year.
"It's one of the most amazing feelings you'll ever get in your life," he says. "You can see people from literally every country in the world, from countries you've never heard of, praying together for God – that's a beautiful sight."
During these five days, pilgrims travel to Mount Arafat, the is viewed by Muslims as the place where Adam and Eve met to ask for forgiveness and to assemble small stones. They throw these stones on pillars as a symbolic rejection of Satan.