Eid al-Adha is a four-day commemoration that runs July 31-August 3 this year. It is celebrated at the end of the well-known Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and is the greatest holy day on the Islamic calendar, not to be confused with Eid al-Fitr, which we observed in May.
Eid al-Adha recalls the story of Ibrahim, who was willing to sacrifice his beloved son Ishmael as an act of faith when commanded by God. At the last moment, the angel Jibra’il (Gabriel) stayed Ibrahim’s hand and gave him a sheep or ram to sacrifice instead, and the boy’s life was spared.
Many Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha with prayers, family gatherings and gifts of food, meat in particular. In some traditions, they may also purchase the meat of an entire sheep or goat to share with family and friends, in commemoration of Ibrahim’s sacrifice. The poor are never forgotten, and they receive a third of the offering.
Prayers are offered at the mosque or in an open field, for which all are expected to put on their finest clothes. They embrace and greet one another with a joyful “Eid Mubarak” (happy Eid!) before exchanging gifts and hosting festivities.
The last several months have not been easy for Ontario’s Muslim communities, estimated at 665,000. Like the province’s other faith communities, they have had to forgo gathering at mosques for prayers to limit the spread of COVID-19.
As the province’s restrictions lift, Muslims may soon come together for worship and appreciate again the strength and joy that come from celebrating and sharing faith as one.
We wish our Muslim members, and all Ontario Muslims, Eid Mubarak! May this wonderful celebration be an occasion for cheer and laughter, great food and sincere thanksgiving.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer