November 7, 2011

Tangier. November, 2010

We arrived in Tangier on a Friday, market day, the most important day of the week in Islam, when Muslims are called by the millions to midday prayer. It was also the eve of Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice concluding the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), celebrated by Muslims all over the world and one of Islam’s two most important festivals. Eid al-Adha [which began at sunset last night and ends at sunset today, November 7 in 2011], commemorates the prophet Abraham’s willingness to obey Allah’s command to sacrifice his son Ishmael, a slaughter avoided by Allah’s last-minute replacing of Ishmael with a ram thus sparing the boy’s life. The festival is marked by sacrificing a lamb and distributing the meat to relatives, friends and the poor -- an expression of zakah, one of the five “pillars of Islam.” Which explains why, as we exited the medina, we saw a crowd gathered around the open trunk of a car from which had just emerged two rams being prepared for on-the-spot sacrifice. Just one of many experiences that wonderful day that made us feel we weren’t in Kansas anymore.

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