Ask Mehmet: Kurban Bayrami or Feast of Sacrifice

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Editor's Note: Ask Mehmet is a forum for people to ask questions of the local area, as well as the outer confines of the region and the country as a whole. To submit a question, send an e-mail with the subject "Ask Mehmet" to

If you see herds of sheep in the streets of Incirlik village and Adana, don't get worried. It is a sign that the Muslim world is preparing to celebrate Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, which  falls on the tenth day of the last month of  the Islamic calendar. 

Feast of Sacrifice lasts four-and-a-half days and is the longest religious holiday.

The Feast of Sacrifice is called Kurban Bayrami in Turkish. This year, it's observation starts at noon on Friday, Oct. 3. Religious dates are determined by the lunar calendar versus the more commonly used Gregorian calendar. Therefore, festivals are observed 10 to 11 days earlier every year. 

On the first day of the festival, thousands of sheep, goats and calves will be slaughtered by the Turkish citizens celebrating Kurban Bayrami.

According to Muslim tradition, the sacrificed animal should be at least one year old and in good health. The animals are sacrificed in all kinds of places: the garden, driveway, back yard and streets. This is especially true during the first day of the festival. You may also see animals sacrificed on the second and third day of the festival.

The government put a ban on killing animals in public and in unhealthy environments. Almost every city designates a central location with professional butchers to conduct the butchering for believers. However, many people still follow the traditional way and kill their animals at other locations.

The sacrifice is only a symbol according to the Muslim faith, it's not the meat or blood that pleases God. It's the expression of thankfulness to him and the affirmation of faith in him.

According to Muslims, this event started with the prophet Abraham when he was ordered to offer his son, Ismael, in sacrifice, an order which Abraham and his son were ready to obey unquestioningly.

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.

Meanwhile, about 3.5 million Muslims have started to flock from all over the world to Mecca to perform the pilgrimage called hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam.

Hajj is obligatory at least once in a lifetime for every Muslim male or female, in fairly good health, and financially capable and secure. In fulfilling this service, Muslims express their devotion to Allah. The pilgrimage is an annual event atended by Muslims from all over the world. They meet in one place, Mecca, and are all dressed in similar attire. There is no discrimination or preference between them; all are Allah's creations.
Eid (short  for Eid al-Adha) means "recurring happiness" or "festivity," a day of peace and thanksgiving; a day of forgiveness and moral victory; a day of good harvest and remarkable achievements; a day of festive remembrance.

The climax of hajj is marked by offering a sacrifice, an obligation in the way of God, to celebrate the completion of this devotional course and feed the poor so that they may feel the universal joy of the festival.

This duty, sacrifying an animal to God, is not only undertaken by pilgrims but by all able Muslims in every corner of the globe.

On the festival's first day, all family members wake up early to make their final preparations. Male members go to a mosque to perform the special Bayram Namazi (sacrifice festival prayer). 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 used to perform the ritual.

The animal is given water and salt and its eyes are wrapped with a clean rag.  Then it is turned to face Mecca, verses are recited from the Koran and then the animal's throat is cut.

The meat is then divided into three portions, one is given to the poor, one to neighbors and relatives, and the third is kept for the household.
Another tradition practiced is visiting the graves of the deceased family members. That is mostly done one day prior the festival. Therefore, the cemeteries are very crowded on that day.

Friends, neighbors and relatives visit each other celebrating the festival. Traditionally, people offer cologne, candy and Turkish coffee during those visits. Children might be given pocket money as well. Kapicis (door keepers), maids and gardeners are also tipped during the festival.

In recent years, some Muslims have begun to make donations to charitable institutions instead of sacrificing animals. 

The government has announced Oct. 3 as a whole day of holiday instead of a half day. Feast of Sacrifice ends Tuesday, Oct. 7.  The state offices and schools will be closed between Oct. 3 to 7. All the shops at the alley will be closed on the first day of the festival, Saturday, Oct. 4, but most of them will be open for the rest of the holiday.

Bayraminiz Kutlu Olsun (Buy-rahm-ihn-is Koot-lou all-soon) or Iyi Bayramlar (ee buy-rahm-luhr) are the phrases you should use to to wish your Muslim friends' a good sacrifice festival.