Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'm Dreaming of a White Eid

Eid Mubarak!!!! (Eid is pronounced Eed, and Mubarak is Mu-bah'-ruck and means congratulations or Happy or something.. like Merry Christmas, Happy Easter, Eid Mubarak)

Quick note of explanation to those who don't know what Eid is: Muslims have 2 Eids. There's Eid al Fitr, which is the Eid celebrated at the end of Ramadan, where we get lots of money and presents and we feast like starving pigs from morning until night. It's my favorite. I like to think of it as Muslim Christmas*.
Anyway. So Eid al Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice,is the Eid after Hajj, when, in some Muslim countries, you tend to see lots of goats and sheep tied up in the streets and then you see their bags of viscera decaying all over town for days after the whole event is over. Yum.

The sacrifice commemorates when Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son for God, but God, seeing his devotion, told him to sacrifice a ram instead.
The point is to sacrifice something of yours to give to society and make sure the poor are provided for. I feel like people usually just take it to mean you kill a big bovine animal and give a third of it to the poor, a third to a neighbor, and a third to family. Usually, we know so many people that we end up with like the equivalent of 3 cows and 5 goats or something ridiculous and I wonder why we, not the poor, end up with so much meat.

Okay, so that was a little irreverent and honestly not everyone has that attitude and many people do still remember the whys of what we do as Muslims. This is what wiki explains about Eid al Adha: "The charitable instincts of the Muslim community are demonstrated during Eid ul-Adha by the concerted effort to see that no impoverished Muslim is left without sacrificial food during this day. ...Eid ul-Adha gives concrete realization to what the Muslim community ethic means in practice."

In fact, wiki has very informative little blurbs on both the Eids so I'll just paste the links here for those of you who are interested in a little knowledge-building:

Hah, the bit on Eid ul Fitr in USA and Canada is interesting and true. Ah, to be Muslims in multicultural America (except for the governmental eavesdropping rights-snatching home-raiding crap) is quite something else.

So yes, back to the ethics... the whole ethics bit is great and caring for community is great, but it's just disappointing at a global level to see so much push for rituals that seem to have become hollow and meaningless and exploited.

Anyway, for animal rightsy people or just people who think animal sacrifice is a little passe and perhaps not as practical or beneficial as it may have been 1400 years ago-- when it was possible to make sure everyone was fed off one camel or cow or sheep and it was special for them because meat was such a rarity-- a viable alternative tends to be just giving charity to charities for the poor.

So in Qom (being the most religious and conservative city in the Islamic Republic of Iran) I have been expecting, all along, to see sheep and other cattle tied up and getting fattened for slaughter for slaughtering today, when I would see their viscera and blood rivulets. But disappointingly, no. Nothing of the sort. Apparently, though some people do slaughter animals here still, it is much more common in Iran to just give money to charities to make sure the poor are fed. I like.

We DID, however, end up getting snow! It's the first snowfall of winter, and though snow is not uncommon in Qom, it only happens a few times during winter and never tends to stick. It's amazing to see big fat fluffy snowflakes falling in a brown mountainy desert. I tried getting a picture my little digicam just isn't that powerful. Here's what I did get though.. try and see the snow if you can:

*Speaking of Christmas here, it didn't feel like it at all and a lot of people didn't even know it was Christmas. Some newspapers had pictures of "Baba Noel" but that's about it. It was sad. We did, however, listen to some Andy Williams (good thing Bobo brought his Andy Williams collection or what would we have done?!?!), called AliBobert's family and it was really cool to talk to them and especially to get to talk to Grandma and Grandpa because Grandpa has had cancer and it was just so good to hear his voice sound as jolly and loving as always. We sent xmas presents to the family via internet. What did people do before internet?
Anyway, we miss you, my white family.


Anonymous Mani said...

I have a few comments and suggestions so I will just jumble them all up right here.

1. Your archives are listed on daily basis - can you adjust on weekly or monthly basis that make it a more pleasent looking.

2. Use a lot of pictures. Pics of your University Campus / boarding / bazars and etc.

Remember its not only your learning trip - it serves as an educational window for all of us.

3. An insight on what you are learning and how it is different from what you already know would also make a great read.

Good luck.


1:54 PM  
Blogger huma said...

happy eid -- belatedly of course by a month -- i would like to say i'm already learning a lot :)

11:12 PM  

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