As the end of the Islamic calendar year approaches local Muslims are planning a large celebration this weekend.
The holiday of Eid Al Adha, which commemorates the story in the Quran of when the prophet Ibrahim was ordered by Allah, his God, to sacrifice his oldest son Isma'il. In the Judeo Christian version, the story is told of Abraham being told to sacrifice his second oldest son Isaac.
At the last moment Allah intervenes and an animal is substituted for the sacrifice instead.
Kaleem Shabazz, president of the Masjid Muhammad of Atlantic City Inc. on Albany Avenue, said the story shows man he has to be obedient to God.
"(Ibrahim) disciplined himself to do what God commands him to do," he said. "The sacrifice he was willing to make and the mercy of God to not let it happen."
The holiday will begin Thursday night and local Muslim organizations have large services planned for Friday morning and celebrations throughout the weekend,
Muhammad Ayub, secretary general of the Muslim Community Organization of South Jersey, said Friday is the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. It is the month when many Muslims will take a hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which is one of the five pillars of the faith, he said.
During the holiday it is customary to make a sacrifice in honor of the story in the Quran. Ayub said many local Muslims will either visit a slaughterhouse or have a local butcher kill an animal and bring it to them. The meat is then divided a third for the family, a third for friends and a third for the poor, he said.
The weekend commemorates one of the two Eids — or celebrations —- during the year. The other is Eid al-Fitr observed at the end of Ramadan, which occurred in August this year.
After prayers on Friday morning, many people will spend time with family and friends over the weekend.
"People are very happy," he said. "They are all in good spirits."
Children will also receive gifts and go to parties and outings. On Sunday there will be a festival for kids at the site of the soon-to-be-built Muslim Community Center in Egg Harbor Township. On Saturday the Masjid Muhammad organization will send children to the Young's Skating center in Mays Landing, Shabazz said.
Shabazz said the local community is very fortunate that Atlantic City public schools will have the day off Friday so families can spend time together.
Many Muslims will fast the first nine days of the month during sunlight hours leading up to Friday — or at least fast on Thursday, Ayub said; The 10-day period is a very spiritual time, he said.
There are also larger crowds than normal expected for Friday. The Masjid Al-Taqwa on Atlantic Avenue can hold as many as 600 people, but the mosque will hold services at Atlantic City High School to accommodate the thousands expected to come and pray, Ayub said.
Atlantic City resident Salman Al Farsi is fasting for nine days leading up to the holiday and said this holiday like all of them in the Islam religion is very important to him.
"This is about the sacrifices we all have to make for Allah," he said. "It's for all the things that Allah brings to us."
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