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December 9, 2008 Mbruk l’3id!

Today was 3id al-Adha. It’s also known as 3id al-Kebir, which just means “The Big 3id”. As I talked about on 3id al-Saghir, “The Small 3id”, aka 3id al-Fdor, the word “3id” is usually translated as “Feast” or “Festival”, but it has a serious connotation that doesn’t survive the translation. Maybe “Holiday” or “Holy Day” or “Commemoration” conveys the sense better. I’ll stick with 3id.

3id al-Adha commemorates Abraham’s sacrifice. As you may recall from the Book of Genesis or the Qur’an, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. Despite the tremendous effort that Abraham had gone to in order to have a son, he agreed, and took his son to the designated place. At the critical moment, however, a ram (male sheep) appeared, and Abraham understood that he was supposed to sacrifice the ram instead. Genesis says that the son in question was Isaac; the Qur’an says Ishmael, but both Jews (descendents of Isaac) and Muslims (descendents of Ishmael) hold the sacrifice as a hugely significant piece of their history. That sacrifice is commemorated on 3id al-Adha every year, when every Muslim household sacrifices a ram.

Here in Morocco, land of the famous sugary mint tea, the feast of meat is incomplete without a feast of sweets, so the women also prepare cookies, fancy breads, and gallons upon gallons of tea. There is much visiting around in the morning, while the men are praying and then sacrificing and preparing the rams, followed by an enormous lunch that’s about 95% mutton. If you’re not completely stuffed by the end of the day, it’s entirely your own fault.

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