Reporter's Notebook: Thoughts on Eid, 'the festival of sacrifice'

One of my happiest and most vivid childhood memories was waking up, in the heart of Cairo, to the loud recitation of "takbeerat," or chants, coming from every direction twice a year.

I can relive it all in an instant when I close my eyes.

These memories mark the beginning of the Eid celebration for me. Muslims celebrate two religious holidays a year — one following Ramadan, a period of fasting; and the other following Hajj, when the devout travel to Mecca.

Although I don't wake up to the takbeerat's melodies in the United States, when I'm at the mosque celebrating Eid with takbeerat and prayers, I feel the same as I did years ago: happy and full of excitement and hope.

This Sunday, I plan on experiencing it all once again when my family, friends and fellow Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Adha, or the "festival of the sacrifice."

The four-day celebration marks the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, where about 2 million Muslims fulfill one of the five pillars of Islam.

Those in Mecca, including my uncle Moe this year, will perform the last and most important ritual of Hajj on Saturday: standing together on Mount Arafat, or Mount of mercy, in prayer — the place where we believe Angel Gabriel taught the Prophet Abraham the rituals of Hajj and where the Prophet Muhammad stood and gave his farewell sermon.

Arafat, meaning "recognition" in Arabic, is also where we believe Adam and Eve found each other on Earth after being forced from heaven. I can't help but find their reunion hopelessly romantic.

Eid ul-Adha honors Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, at God's command. According to the Koran, right before Abraham gave up his son, God offered him an animal to sacrifice instead.

Each year on Eid ul-Adha, Muslims sacrifice an animal and distribute its meat to the needy.

When I was little, my mom would send me out — brand new Eid clothes and all — to distribute bags of fresh, uncooked meat from the very sheep I petted, fed, named and befriended for days.

While the pilgrims in Mecca stand on Mount Arafat, Muslims around the world will join them by fasting from sunrise to sunset. I can't remember when I started fasting on that day each year, but I know I haven't missed one.

Several prayers and celebrations are scheduled to take place in Orange County for Eid ul-Adha on Sunday.

Eid takbeerat and prayer for the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County in Costa Mesa are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Irvine, 17900 Jamboree Road.

Eid takbeerat and prayer for the Islamic Center of Irvine are scheduled to take place at the Orange County Great Park. Takbeerat is scheduled at 8 a.m. and the prayer is at 9 a.m. followed by a celebration, free rides and a play area for children. Parking is $10.

My mom, aunt, sister and I plan to join the community of the Islamic Institute of Orange County, or Masjid Omar AlFarouk, in Anaheim, where we will be reciting the takbeerat in appreciation of God and praying.

Eid takbeerat and prayer are scheduled to take place at Angel Stadium. Takbeerat is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. with the prayer at 8 a.m.

Twitter: @MonaShadia

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World