Salma Hasan Ali, Saanya Ali, 16, and Zayd Ali, 10, bake moon and star cookies by the dozen, for neighbors, classmates and friends.
Potomac Many local area children will be missing school this Friday as hundreds of Muslims gather at local mosques, community centers and in their homes to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid-ul-Ahda.
"I love wearing the special clothes that I get just for Eid. It’s fun to spend the day with my cousins and visit my friends,” said Aden Ahmad, a sixth-grader at Cabin John Middle School. For her brothers, Yusuf and Isa, who attend Churchill High School, the favorite part about eid is the food.
“On this holiday we remember the act of complete submission of Prophet Abraham when he was asked by God to sacrifice his son Ishmael and Ishmael’s consent to being sacrificed,” said Anser Ahmad, a lawyer by profession and president of the Potomac chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. “Before the actual sacrifice happened God stopped Abraham and provided a lamb, telling Abraham he had passed the test and he should sacrifice the lamb instead, and we follow that same tradition of sacrificing an animal on this holiday.”
Eid-ul-Ahda is one of two holidays celebrated by Muslims each year. While the first, Eid-ul-Fitr, marks the end of the month of fasting, this eid marks the completion of the Hajj — the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the rites of which are rooted in the story of Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God.
Hundreds of Muslims from the region will participate in prayers, hear sermons, visit family and friends and those who can afford it will sacrifice a lamb and share the meat amount family, friends and the poor, who each get a third share.
“Many people fulfill this requirement by sending money overseas through charitable organizations so the meat can be distributed to the poor,” Ahmad said. “But there are plenty of ways to give right here in our county that many Muslims avail.”
Salma Hasan Ali, a freelance writer and co-head of MoverMoms, an non-government organization that promotes service for busy families, plans to celebrate this holiday with friends and family.
“It is a holiday that celebrates faith and sacrifice and intention to God,” Ali said. “For us it is a very special holiday as both eids are. We celebrate by sacrificing a lamb and feeding the poor, understanding what it means to have so much and be able to share with others who don’t have as much as we do”
This year Ali and other area Muslims are planning to contact a butcher in Baltimore and have meat distributed to Muslimat Al Nisa, the shelter for women who are victims of domestic abuse.
“There are needy people everywhere. This holiday is very much about recognizing our blessings and helping those that need our help particularly through meat distribution. We can do that right here in our own communities, and help feed people of all faiths,” Ali said.
Bano Makhdoom is an active member of Montgomery County and is co-founder of Chai Time, a forum for speakers and published authors that was started 12 years ago. Makdoom has been able to perform Hajj twice, once in 1978 and again in 2003.
“Hajj is the annual pilgrimage that Muslims have to perform once in their lifetime if they are able and as everyone converges there is a deep sense of unity, of purpose and Eid-ul-Ahda is the celebration that follows,” Makhdoom said.
Makhdoom says that recently the Montgomery County Muslim Council has become very active in soup kitchens and in providing for the needy and very often a lot of people will contribute to them to do the sacrifice and to distribute the food to the needy of the community.
“The beauty of this holiday is that it brings all the commonalities of all religions together,” Hanan Elbakry, an active member of the Muslim community and mother of three, said. “Abraham is the father of all prophets and his story, also found in the Torah and the Bible, holds on and carries through with everyone regardless of where you were in-between.”
“For Muslims around the world this holiday is a reminder of unquestionable faith in God and that no matter how desperate things seem just because you can’t find a way, you have to turn to God because he will always find a way,” Elbakry said.