Ask Mehmet: Festival of Sacrifice

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Muslim world will start to celebrate the Eid al-Adha,‘Festival of Sacrifice’ this Thursday, July 30.

In Islamic tradition, this historic event started when the Prophet Abraham was ordered to prepare his son Ismael as a sacrifice, an order which Abraham and his son unquestioningly obeyed. But, Ismael’s life was spared and ransomed by a ram.

The offering of the sacrifice has become an annual celebration to commemorate the occasion and thank God for his favors.

Millions of sheep, goats, calves and camels will be sacrificed this Friday, July 31, during the Festival of Sacrifice

The Festival of Sacrifice falls on the 10th day of  the last month of the lunar calendar. This festival means recurring happiness, a day of peace and thanksgiving, a day of forgiveness and moral victory, a day of good harvest and remarkable achievements and a day of festive remembrance.     

This time of the year is also when Muslims go to Mecca and other holy sites in Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage known as the hajj.          

The climax of the Hajj is marked by offering a sacrifice to celebrate completing this devotional course and feeding the poor so they may feel the universal joy of the festival.    

This duty isn’t undertaken by pilgrims only, but by all Muslims in every corner of the globe. The sacrifice is only a symbol.    

It is not the meat or blood that’s intended to please God, but the expression of thankfulness and the affirmation of faith.   

The festival of sacrifice is called Kurban Bayrami in Turkish. This year it starts at noon Thursday and lasts four and-a-half days.     

The lunar calendar determines the religious dates which accounts for why the festivals are observed 10 to 11 days earlier every year.  

As I mention before, the most notable event of this holiday is sacrificing an animal to Allah. In Turkey, sheep are usually sacrificed. 

The sacrificed animal should be at least one year old and healthy. While wealthy people can sacrifice more than one animal, up to seven people can get together to sacrifice a cow or a camel.       

Although city officials designate certain areas and state the violators would be fined, sheep are sacrificed everywhere; in the garden, the driveway, back yards, streets and even on balconies. This is especially true during the first day of the holiday, Friday. You can also see animals sacrificed Saturday and Sunday.          

On the first day, everyone wakes up early to make their final preparations. Male family members go to the mosque to perform the special Bayram Namazi, festival prayer, with the men of the community.     

The actual sacrifice begins after the men return from the mosque. The head of the family is expected to perform the sacrifice, but a butcher can also be authorized by the head of the family to do the butchering.         

The animal is given water and salt, its eyes are wrapped with a clean rag and turned to face Mecca, and then the head of the family recites some verses from the Koran, the holy book of the Muslims during the sacrifice.       

The meat is divided into three portions. One is given to poor, one to the neighbors and relatives and the third is kept for the household             

After the sacrifice is complete, everybody dresses in their finest clothes and visits friends, neighbors and other family members. Those bayram visits are kept very short. Post cards are mailed and phone calls are made to those who can’t be visited.

Maids, gardeners, apartment doormen (kapici) and garbage collectors are given tips during this festival.