- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2006

An estimated 10,000 Muslims in the D.C. area yesterday began celebrating the annual Eid al-Adha, which pays homage to the prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to show obedience to Allah.

“It’s like Christmas for Christians,” said a mother of two preschool boys who attended the ceremonies at the Washington Convention Center.

Eid al-Adha, or “the Feast of Sacrifice,” marks the close of hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest site of Islam.

The holiday, which is celebrated over three days, commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice everything for Allah, including his son. In turn, Allah spared the boy’s life and substituted a ram for sacrifice.

Many who attended the ceremonies at the convention center yesterday dressed in traditional Muslim clothing.

Some women wore burqas, with scarves covering their heads. Some men wore floor-length robes and white skull caps. No one was permitted to wear short skirts or shorts.

In Hall A of the convention center, scores of children bounced in seven balloon castles and stages. Their parents and other adults wandered among rows of booths that sold items such as books, jewelry, shawls and toys.

Dozens of visitors sat at tables and ate lunch, while others nibbled on popcorn or billowing cotton candy.

A tent was set up for daily prayers, and throughout the day, Muslim men and women kneeled and prayed.

Members of other religions were welcome to attend the event, said Rizwan Jaka, president of All Dulles Area Muslim Society, one of the largest Muslim communities/mosques in the country.

Organizers held an open house yesterday afternoon.

“It is an interfaith reception,” Mr. Jaka said. “There will be a [discussion about religions] and symbolic breaking of bread.”

A part of the Eid al-Adha celebration is the sacrifice of an animal such as a ram, a goat or a cow. Area Muslims were expected to make their sacrifices at farms and communities, organizers said.

“Everyone is supposed to kill a ram,” said Habu Dauda, 46, a native of Nigeria who is a real estate agent in the D.C. area.

Muslims are expected to give one-third of the meat to the poor and one-third to family and friends. They keep the rest for themselves, Mr. Jaka said.

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