Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 5th 2014 Contents A44
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt October 5, 2014
MINA, Saudi Arabia---Muslims around the world
celebrated the start of Islam s biggest holiday yes-
terday as more than two million pilgrims took part
in one of the final rites of the annual hajj pilgrimage
in Saudi Arabia.
Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, commemorates
what Muslims believe was Prophet Abraham s will-
ingness to sacrifice his son Ismail---the Biblical Ishmael,
though Christians and Jews believe his other son
Isaac was the near-sacrifice---as a test of his faith
from God. In the end, he is provided with a sheep
to sacrifice instead.
In remembrance, Muslims around the world slaugh-
tered sheep and other livestock yesterday, giving
some meat to the poor.
Because Eid follows the Muslim lunar calendar
that depends on sightings of the moon, some Muslims
will be celebrating the first day of Eid today, including
Iraqi Shiites and the majority of Indonesians in the
world s most populous Muslim nation of 240 million.
Pakistan will celebrate tomorrow.
In Mina, a desert tent city just outside the Saudi
holy city of Mecca, pilgrims cast pebbles in a symbolic
stoning of the devil. Male pilgrims changed out of
their white pilgrim robes and shaved their heads as
a sign of renewal. Women clipped a lock of hair.
Though pilgrims will repeat the devil stoning ritual
for two more days, they can now be referred to as
"hajjis," a term of honor for completing the pilgrimage.
The roughly five-day hajj is meant to cleanse the
faithful of sin and is required of all able-bodied Mus-
lims to perform once in their lives.
"I feel good and satisfied with who I am and for
the chance to come to the hajj this year," said Pales-
tinian pilgrim Mona Abu-Raya. "I am so happy that
I am here."
Not all were as fortunate. Muslims from Sierra
Leone, Liberia and Guinea---the countries hardest
hit in the Ebola epidemic---were not given visas by
Saudi Arabia as a precaution against the virus, a
measure that affected 7,400 would-be pilgrims from
Elhadj Mansour Sow, a 54-year-old herder from
Guinea, said he sold 20 cattle from his herd to go
to Mecca only to find out later he could not even
apply for a visa.
"If I had known that, I would not have sold these
companions. I have tears in my eyes when I think
of those animals," he said.
The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 3,400
people in West Africa, casting a pall over the region s
celebrations of Eid.
In Guinea, where Muslims make up the majority,
the usual fields and squares where people gather to
pray on Eid al-Adha were empty yesterday, as people
heeded their government s warning to avoid large
In Sierra Leone, which also has a sizable Muslim
population, the United Council of Imams warned
believers not to shake hands or embrace.
The atmosphere was also subdued in one of the
last Muslim neighbourhoods in Central African
Republic s capital.
The past year of attacks from Christian militias
left at least 5,000 people dead and forced thousands
of Muslims to flee into exile. Residents of the PK5
district in Bangui said they did not have enough
money to properly celebrate the feast while others
pined for their families in refugee camps in Chad
and other countries.
"This is the worst Eid I have had in my life, no
sheep, no festive atmosphere," said Awa Abdoulaye,
a 40-year-old merchant. "But despite our precarious
state, we re still Muslims and we have to celebrate,
even if many of us won t perform a sacrifice."
In the northern Iraqi village of Kalak, 35 kilometres
west of the Kurdish capital, Irbil, 68 year-old herder
Hashim Mohammed said he was reeling from having
to flee shelling by militants from the extremist Islamic
The summer attack also scattered many of his 250
sheep, and those that were left are too small to be
sold over the Eid holiday.
"When they get skinny, we can t sell them," he
their way to
at a pillar,
the stoning of
Satan in a
last rite of the
annual hajj, in
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