Eid al-Adha

October 5-6 (+/- 1), 2014

The Muslim prophet Ibrahim (Abraham in Judeo-Christian tradition) is one of the most remarkable figures in religious history. He is the father of three great religions, the first to believe in one God, and his tales are recounted by all three faiths.

Eid al-Adha, the holiest feast of the Muslim calendar, marks the end of the annual pilgrimage (Hajj.) Eid Al-Adha begins on the tenth day of Dhu’l-Hijja and lasts four days.

It commemorates an event roughly three thousand years ago, when the prophet Ibrahim took his son Ishmael/Ismail to be sacrificed at the command of the Lord. But before Ibrahim could go through with the act God gave Ibrahim a ram to be sacrificed in the place of his son.

There are two major distinctions between the this and the Judeo-Christian version as written in Genesis.

First, in Genesis the son to be sacrificed is not Ishmael, but Isaac.

And second, in the Qur’an Ishmael is aware of his father’s intentions and agrees to be sacrificed. Thus, Eid al-Adha remembers not only Ibrahim’s sacrifice, but Ishmael’s as well.

Arguably the figure of Ibrahim is more prominent in the Islamic faith than in either Judaism or Christianity. Even though he lived twenty-five hundred years before the Prophet Muhammad, Ibrahim is said to have lived a life consistent with Muhammad’s teachings. In addition to nearly sacrificing Ishmael, Ibrahim also broke ties with his own father Azar, an idolator who refused to follow the teachings of the one true God.

Traditionally Eid al-Adha was been celebrated through the sacrifice of an animal such as a sheep, goat, camel or cow. (In recent years the practice has become more controversial. Animal sacrifice is not one of the five pillars of Islam and Muhammad himself did not eat much meat.) The meat of the animal was split into three parts. One part for themselves and family, one part for friends and neighbors, and one part for the poor.

Eid al-Adha also recalls the journey of Hajar, mother of Ishmael, and her search for water:

…Prophet Ibrahim brought Lady Hajar and their baby son Ismail, by the command of God, to the deserted uncultivable valley of Makkah where the sacred house, Ka’bah, is now located. Prophet Ibrahim left Lady Hajar and their son alone by the order of God, and Lady Hajar said, “never ever will God neglect us.” Eventually, she ran out of provisions. Shortly thereafter, she ran up and down two hills, Safa and Marwa, seven times looking for water. Finally, a spring of water gushed at her baby’s feet. God had not neglected them. That same water is still gushing (Zamzam Well).

The Big Feast Eid al-Adha – Ahmed Shoker

 animal market - kashgar

Land Day – Palestine

March 30

Today Palestinians observe Land Day in commemoration of the six unarmed Palestinians killed by Israeli troops on this day in 1976.

The original Land Day strike occurred on March 30, 1976 when thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in reaction to Israeli government’s appropriation of about 5,000 acres of Arab-owned land between Arab towns in northern Israel.

“Although the strike was strictly observed by Palestinians throughout Israel, the focus of the protest were three villages in the central Galilee that faced the loss of a large area of prime agricultural land: Arrabeh, Sakhnin and Deir Hanna.” —Jonathan Cook, Palestinians Celebrate Land Day

The original strike was organized by the “Committee to Defend the Land,” a coalition composed of many disparate political groups, but the strike was rejected by or not endorsed by the more establised “Committee of Heads of Local Authorities.”

“Compared to the large-scale land expropriations from the 1950’s and 60’s, the amount of land actually seized from Palestinians in 1976 was relatively small.” Rabinowitz & Baker, Coffins on Our Shoulders


“What is significant about the movement of the Land Day is the fact that it merged the nationalist demands with the civil rights demands and thus was able to mobilize a large part of Palestinian Arab population.” Farsoun & Aruri, Palestine and the Palestinians

In response, the Israeli government sent in not just the police, but the army. After protesters threw stones, the army imposed a curfew.

“When a neighbour stepped outside her house, she was shot and injured, Mr Khalaila said. He and his older brother, Khader, tried to help the woman. When they were about 50 metres from her, Khader was shot in the head. ” (Cook)

Palestinians recall many similar beatings and shootings that took place on that first Land Day and of wide-scale arrests that followed the strike.

Today, Land Day is one of the most important national non-religious observances of the Palestinian people, and in fact, many consider the original Land Day as one of the major events that helped to unify and define the disparate Palestinian factions.

Land Day Oral Histories

Palestinians Plant Trees on Land Day (2010)

Israeli Forces Open Fire at Land Day Protest (2010)

Sculpture in the town of Sakhnin
from a sculpture in Sahknin