Mumbai terror attack casts shadow over Eid-ul-Zuha festivities (Roundup)

December 9th, 2008 - 6:17 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Mumbai/Hyderabad, Dec 9 (IANS) Muslims attired in their best gathered at mosques for prayers and wished each other on the occasion of Eid-ul-Zuha, also known as Bakr Eid, Tuesday, but the mood was distinctly sombre in Mumbai, which is still recovering from its 60-hour terror siege. People in Mumbai and elsewhere decided to wear black bands to send out a strong message against terrorism.

Imams or priests offered special prayers for peace and prosperity at the numerous eidgahs or open grounds and mosques.

After the prayers, Muslims sacrificed goats and other ‘halal’ animals commemorating the great sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim.

In the national capital, the centre of Eid festivities was the 17th century Jama Masjid, where about 20,000 devotees gathered to offer prayers.

“In the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, festivities are low-key,” said a cleric.

Security at the mosque was tight. All devotees were frisked and there were constant announcements, asking people to report anything suspicious.

The Imam, addressing the masses during prayer, condemned the Nov 26 terror attacks in Mumbai and called for simple celebrations.

In Mumbai, the festivities were low key. “This Eid I am keeping things very simple. I will distribute alms and food to the poor and wear a black band to mark my anger against terror,” said Asma Sheikh, an advertising executive in Mumbai.

“How can you celebrate when your friends, people you know, are recovering in hospitals or mourning the death of their loved ones? For all those people who dare to link terrorism with religion, the message is this - you simply don’t know what Islam is,” she said.

Ashfaq Hussain, a taxi driver in Mumbai, said: “Forget about celebrations, it just doesn’t feel like Eid. There is no excitement in the neighbourhood and I just don’t feel like feasting. It’s a holy occasion that symbolises sacrificing in the name of god so I will observe the ritual but nothing more than that.”

Meat was donated to the poor in the spirit of sacrifice and giving that the festival symbolises.

Eid-ul-Zuha, also known as Bakr-Eid or the festival of sacrifice, is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar. It commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son on Allah’s command. According to Islamic belief, Allah wanted to test Ibrahim and told him to sacrifice his son Ismail.

He agreed to do it, but found his paternal feelings hard to suppress. So, he blindfolded himself before putting Ismail at the altar on Mount Mina near Mecca. When he removed his blindfold after the sacrifice, he saw his son standing in front of him.

On the altar lay slaughtered a lamb. It is in honour of this test of faith that Muslims around the world sacrifice animals on the occasion to show their faith in Allah.

Young girls and women celebrated in shararas (flowing divided skirts), silk burqas and colourful bangles. Men were more soberly dressed in traditional white kurtas - but with colourful caps.

“I and my family will not celebrate with too much fanfare - just visit a few friends with sweets and do some charity. The mood in general seems grave,” said Ahmad Ali, a devotee.

But Ali, like many others, is looking forward to a day of delicacies.

“My mother prepares some lovely dishes with gosht (lamb meat). The sevaiyan and other sweets can’t be missed either,” he added.

In Hyderabad, the biggest congregation was held at historic Mir Alam Eidgah where over 200,000 people offered prayers. The historic Mecca Masjid witnessed the second biggest congregation. Prayers were also held in hundreds of mosques in the city.

During their speeches before the prayers, the imams pointed out how the Prophet Ibrahim offered to sacrifice his son in the way of Allah. They also prayed for peace and prosperity in the country.

Muslims constitute about 10 percent of Andhra Pradesh’s 78 million population.

In Lucknow, members of Shia and Sunni community offered Eid namaz but with a black band around their left arm to show their condemnation of the Mumbai attacks.

“We strongly protest the unfair and inhuman use of jihad, and the Muslims involved in it are a shame to our religion,” Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, Shia cleric told reporters after the namaz.

Khalid Rasheed Firang Mehali of the Sunni sect also shared similar feelings.

“No religion preaches killing people and Islam is strictly against it. We extend our apologies to the families of those killed in the terror attacks,” he said.

Muslims in Orissa offered prayers at mosques across the state. However, no one sported black badges.

More than 4,000 Muslims offered prayers in around 70 mosques in the district of Bhadrak - which has a large Muslim population.

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