2024 Festival of Sacrifice

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

Starting next week you may see herds of sheep in open spaces among houses and apartments in cities, but don’t be alarmed as this is a sign of the upcoming Feast of Sacrifice for the Islamic world. The Muslim world will start to celebrate the Eid al-Adha on Sunday, June 16. Millions of sheep, goats and calves will be sacrificed during the Festival of Sacrifice.

This festival means recurring happiness, days of peace and thanksgiving days of forgiveness and moral victory, days of good harvest, remarkable achievements, and days of festive remembrance.In Islamic tradition, this historic event started when 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. This time of the year is also when Muslims go to Mecca and other holy sites in Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage, known as the HajjThe 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.

The duty isn’t taken 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 (cour-bahn by-rahm-eh) in Turkish. This year it starts at noon on Saturday, 15 June, and lasts four-and-a-half days. It is expected that the Turkish government will add Thursday and Friday, June 20-21, to the holiday. Thus, the holiday becomes a nine-day-holiday.

The Festival of Sacrifice always falls on the tenth day of the last month of the lunar calendar. The lunar calendar is 10 to 11 days shorter than the solar calendar. That’s why the festivals are observed 10 to 11 days earlier every year. The most notable event of this holiday is sacrificing an animal to Allah. In Türkiye, 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.

Although city officials designate certain areas and state that violators will be fined, sheep are sacrificed everywhere -- in gardens, driveways, back yards, streets, and even on balconies. This is especially true on the first day of the festival.

On the first day, everyone wakes up early to make their final preparations. Male family members go to a mosque to perform the special festival prayer, bayram Namazi, 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 be authorized by the head of the family to do it.

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 Quran, the holy book of Muslims, during the sacrifice. The meat is divided into three portions. One is given to poor and needy, one to neighbors and friends, and the third is kept for the household. After the sacrifice is complete, everybody dresses in their finest clothes and socializes. Those bayram visits are kept very short. Phone calls or text messages are sent to those who cannot be there in person. Maids, gardeners, Apartment doormen (kapicis), and garbage collectors are given tips during this festival.