Showing posts with label islam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label islam. Show all posts

Sep 9, 2016

Baed Eid

Next week starts the most holy celebration of the Islamic year called Eid ul-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) in Arabic or Baed Eid (Big Eid) in Kashmiri. The festival begins at the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca called the Hajj.  During the Hajj, Muslims remember and honor the trials and triumphs of great patriarch and Prophet Abraham. This holiday honors the willingness of the Prophet Abraham to follow Allah's (God's) command to sacrifice his son. Just when the Prophet Abraham was prepared to perform the sacrifice, the angel Jibra'il (Gabriel) intervened telling him that his sacrifice had already been fulfilled.

The Sacrifice of Isaac  by Caravaggio 
With this act of obedience the Prophet Abraham had shown that his love for Allah was above all others, and that he would willingly lay down the lives of those dearest to him in submission to Allah. Muslims commemorate this trial of the Prophet Abraham by the halal slaughtering of an animal such as a sheep, camel, cow, or goat. Allah has given us dominance over animals and allowed us to eat meat, but only if we pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life. 

Kashmiri women at Eid prayers
On the first morning of Eid ul-Adha, Muslims worldwide attend morning prayers. Men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing to perform Eid prayers. Prayers are followed by visits with family and friends, the exchange of greetings (Eid Mubarak), and give gifts called Eidi.

Kashmiri men at Eid prayers
At some point during the festival Muslims who can afford it sacrifice a halal domestic animal such as a goat, sheep, camel, yak, or cow in commemoration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. The sacrificed animals are called qurbani and must be of a certain age and standards of perfection or the animal is considered unacceptable. (In Kashmir a sheep fattened up on cashews and other goodies is preferred. Every once in a while some affluent Kashmiri buys a camel or yak to show off I suppose. Camel and yak really don't taste that great.)

Sheep being sold for Baed Eid in Kashmir
The animal (qurbani) is slaughtered in the halal manner and the meat is traditionally divided into three portions. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends and neighbors, and one-third is donated to the poor. This act symbolizes our willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us in order to follow Allah's commands, to strengthen ties within the community, and to help those who are in need. 

Traditional Kashmiri mutton-a-palooza!
(Every part of the sheep is used in a specific dish)
In addition to distributing qurbani to the poor the meat is prepared and often served at mosques so that those less fortunate do not miss this sacrificial meal. Many Muslims also take this opportunity to invite their non-Muslim friends, neighbors, co-workers, and classmates to their Eid festivities to better acquaint them with Islam and Muslim culture. (This means Bibi's going to be cooking a lot- not just meat but treats too!)

Eidi or the gifts given over Eid traditionally take the form of money, presents such as smartphones and perfume, or even flowers. Usually it is children who receive eidi from uncles and their parents.

From our family to yours:
May the blessings of Allah bring you hope, faith, and joy!  Happy Eid ul-Adha 2016!

Jun 7, 2016

Keep Calm And Prepare For Ramadan

It's time for Ramadan! Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims unite in a holiday of fasting, feasting, prayer, and spiritual reflection. The annual month-long fast is one of the five pillars of Islam and is considered to be the holiest time of year.

Ramadan is the month which the Holy Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. The Holy Koran (literally meaning "the recitation") is the central religious text of Islam. Thus Ramadan is believed to be the holiest month of the year. During this holy month Muslims are to refrain from food and liquid from dawn to sunset, and renew their focus on prayers and recitation of the Holy Koran. All Muslims are encouraged to complete the full recitation of the Holy Quran at least once during the month. 

During Ramadan Muslims who are physically able are required to fast every day of the month from sunrise to sunset. Fasting is called sawm which is the Arabic word for "to refrain." Those who are fasting are referred to as being rosa. Not only must Muslims refrain from food and drink (including water) during the fast but also evil thoughts, actions, and speech. 

Before dawn every day during Ramadan there is a pre-fasting meal called suhur or suhoorTaking suhur is considered a blessing. In Islamic communities there is traditionally a man called a meseraharati who roams the dark pre-dawn streets clanging bells, beating drums, and yelling loudly to wake everyone up to partake of suhur

At sunset there is a banquet-like meal called iftar in which the daily fast is broken. Iftar is a religious observance often done as a family or community. Traditionally but not mandatory, three dates are eaten to break the fast as did the Prophet Muhammad. After that all manner of fruits, sweets, and juices are served followed by savory dishes and lots of desserts.

The month of Ramadan culminates with the three-day Eid Al Fitr holiday celebrating the end of the fast. Marked by a special morning prayer, the days are a form of spiritual elevation and a chance to implement the spiritual lessons learnt throughout the month. Muslims dress in their best and go about visiting friends and relatives promoting a sense of community.

Although I won't be preparing lunch, dinner, and tea time snacks during Ramadan I will be preparing all sorts of dishes to send to the iftar observance at our mosque every evening. We will be hosting iftar for our little community in our home a few times also. Hopefully, I'll be doing lots of posts on what I'm cooking and preparing as well as events we attend and host. 

Wishing you a joyous and blessed Ramadan,
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