By SÍLE MOLONEY
Local residents, Mahfuja Chadani, Madiha Madani and Nusrat Tasnim, took a stroll through Williamsbridge Oval Park on July 31 to celebrate the Muslim holy festival of Eid al Adha, also known as the Feast of Sacrifice. This year, the holiday was observed from sundown on Thursday, July 30, to sundown on Friday, July 31.
Chadani said typically the Muslim community have two big celebrations each year. The earlier festival of Idul-Fitr (Eid Al-Fitr) is celebrated among friends and family to mark the end of Ramadan, a month-long period during which Muslims fast during daylight hours, while offering up additional prayer and reflection.
Due to the statewide PAUSE order, and related social distancing restrictions, celebrations on Sunday, May 24, were much more low-key this year.
The other big holiday is Eid al Adha, which is usually celebrated a few months after Eid Al-Fitr. Asked to explain the cultural significance of the holiday, Chadani said, smiling, “I can’t really explain because it’s a long story. It’s more like religious things.”
According to Islamic Finder, the holiday commemorates Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son to God. However, before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead. In commemoration of this intervention, an animal (usually a sheep) is ritually sacrificed.
Other sources say that one third of the meat from the animal is consumed by the family offering the sacrifice, while the rest is distributed to the poor and needy. Sweets and gifts are also exchanged, and extended family are typically visited and welcomed. The holiday also marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Jewish and Christian religions believe that according to Genesis 22:2, Abraham took his son Isaac to sacrifice to God, and similar events unfolded with the substitution of a lamb instead.
Asked if they were having a good day, the girls said they were but that it was different from other years. Typically, they said they would go to a relative’s house to hang out with friends and family, and have a big meal but the pandemic had clearly impacted upon the usual tradition. “Yeah, that’s for sure, yeah,” Chadani said.
Asked how they were adapting, she said, “It’s like we celebrate, but we keep it like really short – just in like home – or maybe like with two or three people you go outside, not more than like – well, not like a whole group but just a small number.”
A 2018 report by the group, Muslims for American Progress, found that Muslims make up 8.96 percent of the City’s population. Many of Norwood’s Bengali community are Muslim, though the girls said they were not members of this community. The report also shows that a large number of the City’s Muslims work in front line services.
For example, Muslims make up 57.5 percent of people who work at food stands, and 39.2 percent of those who work in the taxi industry, two sectors still badly hit by the flailing economy.
On the other hand, the report also showed that Muslims make up 9.7 percent of those who work in the medical profession, while 8.1 percent of those who work in respiratory therapy, specifically, are Muslim.
This year, in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest population of Muslims, according to a July report by the Los Angelus Times, people were allowed to attend Eid prayers in mosques under strict health guidelines, which included bringing their own prayer mats and praying several feet apart from one another. Worshipers also had to wear masks and were not allowed to shake hands or hug.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, it was reported that in order to facilitate social distancing, and allow the Eid al Adha celebrations to go ahead, the national sports stadium, Croke Park, was offered as a central venue to the Irish Muslim community who are based throughout the country.