Sunday, September 3, 2017

eid mubarak

Friday was Eid al-Adha, one of the most important holy days for Muslim Moroccans. It is the feast of sacrifice, when families get together and slaughter a sheep in honour of Ibrahim (or Abraham) and his test of faith. When I was in Istanbul, I would occasionally see the sheep and sometimes cattle being taken outside the city where makeshift abbatoirs were set up for the holiday. Sheep would be carried on the backs of trucks and in car trunks, looking rather bewildered to say the least. I have a vivid memory of the gutters running red with blood in Cairo, the scent of animal and iron in the hot air, the rusty handprints of the devout dripping on the walls of houses.

Here in Rabat, the musty smell of livestock permeates the air a few days before the Eid, and the bleating of sheep echoes from basements and rooftops alike. Our neighbours had four on their roof, and though I am a meat eater and respect that people have their traditions and beliefs, I must admit that I felt unsettled by the sight of those sheep on that roof. A roof, like a basement, is no place for an animal, and I knew that within a couple of hours, their lives would end on that roof. The only comfort was that they would be eaten and appreciated by families who came together in celebration, the meat shared with neighbours, friends, and the less fortunate— there would be little waste. A far better fate than for those poor creatures of feedlots and mass manufacturing in the West.

Many of my students love this Eid— they tell me it's like Christmas, and look forward to spending precious time with their loved ones. Some admit that they feel bad for the sheep, but value the holiday, and their beliefs. A friend of mine in Turkey once divulged her childhood Eid memories (Eid al-Adha is called Kurban Bayram in Turkish), which typically involved her mother calling over the girls to help her wash out the entrails for making sausages. The smell haunted her into adulthood, but it was a happy and cherished time that she spent with her mother, sisters, and aunts. It reminds me of Thanksgiving with my mother— only far removed from the killing and processing of the turkey (though there was that one time my mum had to pluck one of the birds).

So Eid Mubarak to my Muslim friends! I hope you are having a wonderful time with your loved ones, and wish you many more dear memories with them.

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