On Friday 31 July 2020, Muslims all over the world celebrated Eid-ul-Adha. Eid-ul-Adha (‘festival of Sacrifice’), also known as the Greater Eid, is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar. The festival remembers Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son when God ordered him to. Allah appeared to Ibrahim in a dream and asked him to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of obedience to God.
The devil tempted Ibrahim by saying he should disobey Allah and spare his son and him; Ibrahim used stones and pelted Satan. Today during Hajj at Jamra the stoning of Satan is replicated by pilgrims. As Ibrahim was about to kill his son, Allah sent angel Gibril to stopped him and gave him a ram to sacrifice instead. We must not forget that Eid-ul-Adha coincides with Hajj (pilgrimage), the fifth pillar of Islam, which sees Muslims all around the world gather to express their commitment to serving humanity as equals.
Eid usually starts in the morning with Muslims going to the Mosque for congregational prayers, dressed in their best clothes, and thanking Allah for all the blessings they have received. This year all congregational prayers at the mosques took place in social distance settings to stop the spread of infection.
Eid is also a time when people visit family and friends as well as offering presents. On the day of Eid it is obligatory to give a set amount of money to charity to be used to help poor people buy new clothes and food so they too can celebrate. For those that can afford it, they sacrifice a sheep as a reminder of Ibrahim’s obedience to Allah. In Britain, the animal has to be killed at a slaughter house. The meat is then shared out among family, friends and the poor, who each get a third share. On Eid day families would put up a big feast, the type of food depends on the part of the world you are from, in the Gambia traditional Eid lunch would be ‘Benechin’ (Jollof rice).
However, this year due to Covid-19 regulations it has been a very quiet and unusual Eid for all Muslims across the globe. As Muslims we understood hugely the importance of complying with social distance measures; we are each other’s keeper regardless of religious affiliation.
Eid- ul-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, is one of the most important occasions of the year for Muslims. Sacrifice is of course a value our country demands of us, particularly this year during the Covid-19 pandemic. Working for our country requires that, on occasion, we place country and service before self, which embodies the essence of Eid-ul-Adha.
During this time of sacrifice (the Covid-19 pandemic) and Eid celebration there is no better moment to reflect on the challenges and the demands of duty faced by both Muslim and non-Muslim members of the Armed Forces, NHS workers, Care workers, Police, Fire service, key workers, supermarket staff, industrial workers and so forth.
We owe all of you a debt of gratitude for your exemplary courage and sacrifices. Also thanking the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his team for their leadership. Prime Minister you will be pleased to know when you were admitted to hospital my family has offered you prayers as we felt it was the least we could do for you and we were delighted when you pulled through.
Finally thanking Leeds City Council, The Gambia Welfare Society, Leeds African Communities Trust, Hamara Centre, Bahar Women Association, Morrison Supermarket Hunslet and all the volunteers for providing much needed food supports to those affected by the pandemic. Your contributions typify the United Kingdom’s values and standards and as a diverse country we have much more in common than is sometimes perceived.
The aims of this article are to celebrate the common bond, understand each other cultures and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual. Thank you for taking your time reading it.
This post was written by Sarata (Elliot Hudson College), Lolly and Ramou Sawo (Ruth Gorse Academy)
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