TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15: Hajj 2010 officially ended yesterday, and so today, Muslims around the world will all take part in Eid al-Adha—the Festival of Sacrifice. According to BBC reports, Hajj 2010 drew a whopping 3 million pilgrims (check out photos and more stats on a blog from the Washington Post).
Today, those pilgrims will return home to partake in the 3-day festival with family and friends. Muslims highly regard Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, when asked to by God. Because Abraham was willing to put God before those he loved most on Earth, God allowed him to sacrifice a ram instead. To remember that sacred event, Muslim families who can afford to “sacrifice” an animal, wind up sharing fresh meat with family, friends and the poor. This “Greater Eid” is a time to dress in one’s finest clothing while performing Eid prayer. (Wikipedia has details.)
The Islamic custom of sharing sacrificial meat with the poor has a twofold intent: Muslims are required to give to charity as a pillar of Islam, and they also desire for all devotees to be able to participate in Eid al-Adha, regardless of wealth. This holiday is one way that Islam continually focuses Muslims’ thoughts on the neediest people around the world. To read more about different approaches to charity, read OurValues.org today. And, according to a PBS interview, Gleaner’s Community Food Bank annually partners with hundreds of feeding programs to distribute thousands of pounds of frozen lamb—donated by the Muslim community—each Eid al-Adha.