After Ramadan and Eid Iftar, comes Eid Al-Adha. One of the major holidays in the Islam community, it is of course revered here in Libya. I was hoping to see how the Libyans celebrate this event; unfortunately it wouldn’t look nice if I invited myself to a very personal event, since I learned that Libyans celebrate this holiday with their family. Fortunately, JG and I were invited to celebrate it in a party hosted by Filipino Muslims here in Libya. It’s is too bad that I might’ve missed out on experiencing some Libyan culture, but it is rather nice to think that I spent my first Al-Adhar with my Kababayans.
Couples of days before, one can immediately feel the buzz around the city in preparation for the festivities. My friend Omar, who drives me around was explaining to me why traffic was getting heavier and drivers faster than usual, mainly because people are busy preparing. Buying ingredients for their menu and most importantly ensuring the purchase of Kharouf meat – the most essential part of the the tradition of what they call The Feast of Sacrifice.
Sorry but I have to get this right so… According to wikipedia:
Eid al-Adha (Arabic: عيد الأضحى ‘Īdu l-’Aḍḥā) “Festival of Sacrifice” or “Greater Eid” is a holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God
Eid al-Adha annually falls on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja (ذو الحجة) of the lunar Islamic calendar. The festivities last for three days or more depending on the country. Eid al-Adha occurs the day after the pilgrims conducting Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia by Muslims worldwide, descend from Mount Arafat. It happens to be approximately 70 days after the end of the month of Ramadan…
Men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing to perform Eid prayer (ṣalātu l-`Īdi) in a large congregation in an open area or mosque. Muslims who can afford to do so sacrifice their best domestic animals (usually sheep) as a symbol of Ibrahim’s sacrifice. The sacrificed animals, called uḍiyyah (Arabic: أضحية, also known as “al-qurbāni”), have to meet certain age and quality standards or else the animal is considered an unacceptable sacrifice. Generally, sacrificial animals must be at least one year of age.
For those who don’t know, Islam traditions are calculated following the lunar Islamic calendar. Unlike Christmas for westerners, Islam holidays are not fixed on the same date each year. Nevertheless, Muslim communities worldwide still celebrate it the same time all over. This year however, Libya celebrates it with some changes as explained by blogger On the Edge.
My Muslim Kababayans held the traditional prayers a day before and we were invited for the symbolic killing of the sacrifice and partaking of the feast. We came just in time to see the actual “preparations” (sorry I don’t think its a good idea to post pictures of it), and it was really a something new to me. JG said he’d pass, as he is not one with a tough stomach, but I suppose curiosity got the better of him and watched still. The surprising part of the whole ritual was how easy it looked to do. How the honorary butcher of the year was merely pulling out the wool off the animal, just like taking of a tight shirt off someone. There was a bit of a stench, but I’ve had Kharouf before and I liked it a lot, a thought I concentrated on to get over the smell.
For the benefit of non-Muslims and never had the pleasure of eating Kharouf. The younger the sheep, the better, and right after it is killed and properly chopped for easy consumption, no washing or marinating was done. This is due to the fact that it wouldn’t taste as good if you do.
So while the men continued to prepare the center attraction for the day, the gathering went on. But before we partook of the blessing, another treat for me was witnessing an Aquiqa. It is likened to a christening a baby, but in Islam, it is the simple tradition of officially naming a new born into their faith and to the world. Men were asked to gather around the mother carrying the new born baby girl, (The Ambassador and JG included) and took turns cutting a small lock of the sleeping baby’s hair, putting honey on her mouth, and perfume on her head. According to the expert in the house, the hair cutting symbolizes making sure all evil around the baby separates with the cut hair, the honey is so it can have a sweet life, and the perfume is of course for a fragrant existence. With her new guardians around her, a prayer was said for her, and thus she was officially named. A few words of welcome and a few more minutes of pleasantries, and then the feast began.
After eating rugs were set so the men can pray. As I watched them solemnly prayed, I looked around and tried to take in the things that I experienced. I always found cultural traditions and practices interesting and being here in Libya among its Islam residents, has been truly filled with new educating experiences for me. And this year’s Feast of Sacrifice is definitely one to remember.