Eid Al Adha (feast of the sacrifice) celebrated
February 21, 2002

The word 'Eid is an Arabic word for festive occasion, a celebration, and a
feast. It is used both by Arabs who are Muslim, Christian, or Jewish.  For
example Christian Arabs celebrate Eid Al Milad (festival of birth or Christmas)
and Eid Al-Fish (Easter, Passover).  In Islam, there are two major 'Eids namely
the feast of Ramadhan/breaking teh fast ('Eid Al-Fitr) and the Feast of
Sacrifice ('Eid Al-Adha). The first 'Eid is celebrated by Muslims after fasting
the month of Ramadhan a gratitude to God for his mercy and his caring for
mankind. It takes place on the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month of the
lunar calendar. The second 'Eid is the Feast of Sacrifice and it is to be
celebrated for the memory of prophet Ibrahim obeying God and being willing to
sacrifice his son Isma'il (Ishmael). This 'Eid lasts between the tenth and the
thirteenth day of Zul-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the lunar calendar. It occurs
at the end of the Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca).  Muslims in the Hajj finally
come face to face with the Kaaba in Mecca, the place they had turned to for
prayer 5 times a day.  It is thus an emotional experience especially when all
around, the pilgrims see millions of their fellow pilgrims (men and women of all
races, ethnicities, background and social status) all wearing the same simple
white cloth.  To Muslims, this also symbolizes the unity of mankind in the
worship of God (Allah).

Understanding Islam and other faiths is incumbent on all of us.  Thus, a bit of
history here maybe appropriate. Some Canaanites began worshipping the one/high
God "EL" over 6000 years ago (around the same time, some Egyptians also
worshipped one God).  EL was the Canaanitic High God (the word high in the
semitic languages also has the root made of two letters: 'ain and lam).  He is
the same God worshipped by Abraham who is believed by his followers to have been
the prominent leader and prophet of a tribe of Semites called the wanderers
(Abiru, Habiru later modified to Hebrews). These Habirus are mentioned in both
Egyptian and Mesopotamian sources. Their ancient worship of EL is enshrined in
many of the names like IsraEl (may God/El show his strength, also some translate
it as the people who struggle with El), Ismail/IshmaEl (named by God/El), and
MichaEl. It is the root of the words for God in ancient Aramaic (Aalah, Aaloh),
which later evolved to Hebrew (Elohim), and Arabic (Allah). These words are used
by people who speak those languages regardless of whether they are Christian,
Jews, or Muslims.  Thus, Christians whose native tongue is Aramaic (e.g. some in
Syria and Lebanon) or Arabic (throughout the Middle East) refer to God as Aaloh
or Allah, respectively.  No wonder that Islam recognizes people who practice
Christianity and Judaism as "people of the book."

To all Muslims, Eid Mubarak (Blessed Eid). And to all of us regardless of
religious faith, let us work for understanding, harmony, peace, and justice
among all humans (as commanded by all the prophets).

Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ph.D.