Gathering to celebrate Islamic holy day



BLESSED CELEBRATION—Shahid Iqbal, right, of Oak Park and Hamza Jilani of Agoura Hills greet one another after prayer during Eid-al-Adha on Sept. 1 at Dos Vientos Community Center in Newbury Park. BOBBY CURTIS/Acorn Newspapers

BLESSED CELEBRATION—Shahid Iqbal, right, of Oak Park and Hamza Jilani of Agoura Hills greet one another after prayer during Eid-al-Adha on Sept. 1 at Dos Vientos Community Center in Newbury Park. BOBBY CURTIS/Acorn Newspapers

Standing shoulder to shoulder in a sea of color at the Dos Vientos Community Center on Sept. 1, hundreds of Muslims offered prayers of devotion on Eid al- Adha, a celebration marking the four holiest days in the Islamic calendar.

The holiday commemorates the Quranic story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael out of obedience to God.

A HAPPY TIME—Six-year-old Zara Konkader, right, embraces 1-year-old Shaan Iqbal, both of Newbury Park, following an Eid-al-Adha prayer on Sept. 1 at Dos Venitos Community Center in Newbury Park. BOBBY CURTIS/Acorn Newspapers

A HAPPY TIME—Six-year-old Zara Konkader, right, embraces 1-year-old Shaan Iqbal, both of Newbury Park, following an Eid-al-Adha prayer on Sept. 1 at Dos Venitos Community Center in Newbury Park. BOBBY CURTIS/Acorn Newspapers

According to the Quran, before Abraham sacrificed his son, the angel Gabriel intervened and God provided a ram as an alternative offering.

In the Judeo-Christian version of the tale, Abraham is ordered to kill his other son, Isaac.

One of two officially sanctioned religious holidays in Islam, Eid al-Adha is considered the holier of the two. The other, Eid al-Fitr, marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.

Eid al-Adha begins with a prayer followed by a sermon. In his sermon to the crowded auditorium, Imam Ahmed Patel of the Islamic Center of the Conejo Valley urged the faithful to celebrate the holy day but to also remember those who are less fortunate.

“There are so many who are suffering. They don’t know how they will eat tomorrow,” he said. “Remember those people who cannot celebrate.”

After the services, attendees greeted each other with “Eid Mubarak,” which translates to “blessed celebration,” and a kiss on the cheek.

Observers are required to make charitable donations on the holy day. Giving is one of the Five Pillars, or requirements, of Islam.

Circulating through the crowd last Friday,

Patel made sure those in attendance performed their duties. Carrying a box labeled “Hurricane Harvey,” the imam collected donations for victims of the flooding in Texas.

Noor Haq serves on the ICCV board of directors. He said the Islamic Center typically helps the underprivileged around Eid al-Adha, but recent catastrophic flooding in the Houston area added a layer of urgency to their philanthropic efforts.

“It’s tragic to see a part of humanity so devastated,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to help.”

Rubina Ismail is a scientist who works at Amgen and serves on ICCV’s board of directors. She compared Eid al-Adha to Christmas or Easter.

“It’s always about gathering people together, sharing food and spending time with the kids,” she said.

Ismail said she fasted for two days in anticipation of the holiday. She said fasting is a practice shared by all Abrahamic faiths, but it is not required for Muslims preparing for Eid al-Adha.

“Fasting is another form of prayer,” she said. “It increases your awareness of God.”

Adha means “sacrifice” in Arabic, and some devotees slaughter animals like goats and sheep as a symbol of Abraham’s submission.

Amneh Qaralleh of Ventura began her Eid al-Adha observance at services in Newbury Park, but she and her husband, Ahmad Bdairat, planned to spend the rest of the day in Ojai, where he could sacrifice a lamb according to halal practices for the family’s evening feast.

“It’s a lot of work but it’s really delicious,” he said. “Other meat doesn’t compare.”

Eid al-Adha also marks the climax of the hajj, another pillar of Islam, the sacred journey to Mecca in Saudia Arabia undertaken by about 2 million Muslims each year

For those who couldn’t travel on hajj this year, Patel urged them to pray for their fellow Muslims who had submitted themselves to God on the hot plains of the Arabian Peninsula.

“Pray for every single person that they can follow Abraham’s example,” he said. “Insha’Allah (If God wills it.)”