Eid-al-Adha or Feast of the Sacrifice was celebrated today by Muslim communities all over the world, although the date my differ by a day depending on where you find yourself. Today, my husband and I found ourselves not in the UAE, but on the island of Lamu, just off the Kenyan North Coast, where Islam has been the dominant religion for hundreds of years. The local Imams were broadcasting special Eid prayers and sermons via loudspeakers from the twenty-seven mosques dotting Lamu Town from shortly after 6am until about 8.30am. The Imam from the Wahabi mosque situated just behind the guest house seemed the most passionate.
This day celebrates Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) willingness to comply to God’s command to sacrifice his son Ishmail. In the Jewish and Christian traditions the story is the same, but the son instead is said to have been Isaac.
Muslims in most countries celebrate by killing a sheep or goat for the communal meal, and donations ensure that poorer members of the community will also have a meat based meal on this special day.
When we visited a local school a week ago, we were excitedly informed about the upcoming week of holiday and celebration of Eid-al-Adha by the children, who were especially looking forward to wearing new clothes on this feast day. Walking through town on our way to the harbour to catch the boat to Manda Island for our flight to Nairobi, we encountered huddles of children smiling and playing in their new outfits. The girls all had intricate henna tattoos on their arms, hands and feet. A perfect day to end a richly rewarding holiday.