Sacrifice for the health of all

By Dr Khalfan Hamed al Harrasi

Eid al Adha commemorates the complete submission, obedience and test of faith of prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) to Allah with his willingness to unquestionably adhere to the command of God to sacrifice his son Ismail, who was substituted by a sheep at the last moment. Eid al Adha, thus, in Arabic means the Festival of Sacrifice. It also culminates the annual pilgrimage to Mecca; a religious activity that Muslims should do at least once in a lifetime, if they possess the health and money. Due to this significance, Eid al Adha is also known in Oman as Eed al Kabeer (the Big Eid or the Major Eid).

Similar to Eid al Fitr (which culminates in Ramadhan) Eid al Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah – the last month in the Islamic calendar. Eid al Adha is around 2 months (more or less) subsequent to Eid al Fitr. This year it started on July 30. Diverse ways can be used to greet others at Eid (both Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha), most commonly would be “Eed Mubarak” (Blessed Eid) and “Eed Saeed” (Happy Eid); the response could be exactly the same phrase or any of the two.

As there is no sign of decline in coronavirus infections, Eid al Adha 2020 must not – for the safety and health of our community and our loved ones – follow the usual traditions.

This Eid al Adha will be the festival of double-sacrifice. We must sacrifice not only an animal but also the usual manner of celebrating Eid. We must abide by the preventive measures set by the Supreme Committee. To avoid creating new hotspots of the virus, most of the Eid activities this year should be conducted at home with our family and remotely connecting with and greeting our extended families, relatives and friends using social media tools.

On the first day of Eid al Adha, with pomp and glory people are distinguished by extensively dressing up in  new clothes. Men dress up in brand new dishdasha (mostly white) and kuma (head cap) or Massar (head turban), while women in colourful dresses and with beautiful henna designs on their hands.

In normal times, Eid starts with a communal prayer, traditionally performed in an open-air space, between 6:30 am and 8 am. Eid prayer is followed by the sacrifice rituals, slaughtering a goat, sheep, cow or camel (symbolically remembering Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice). One third of the sacrificed animal (Arabic: Odhiyah) should be donated to the poor and needy, while the rest is consumed by the family and relatives. Given the current coronavirus situation, people must wear their masks and gloves should they go out to donate Odhiyah or give charity.

The 3-4 days of the festival is characterised by lavish meals cooked in numerous styles, such as Ursiyah (mashed rice), shuwa (underground grill) and mashakeek (barbecue). Children at Eid get very excited as they would expect to receive money gifs, called “Eelidiya”, at minimum between 100 baisa and RO 1 given by relatives.

All these customs and traditions will be missing this year as we must strictly avoid big family gatherings and visits to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections as suggested by the Supreme Committee.

The author is Assistant Professor and Head of Essential Skills Unit, University of Nizwa.