Wisconsin Muslims Celebrate Joyful `Eid Al-Adha

A week of somber news reports could not stem the feeling of joy last Sunday as thousands of Milwaukee-area Muslims gathered to celebrate `Eid Al-Adha at the Wisconsin Center downtown and at mosques around the city, Wisconsin Muslim Journal reported.

“It’s really nice to see the community all together and to have a support system of brothers and sisters who believe as I do,” Heather Gilvary-Hamad, who has been Muslim for six years, said at the Wisconsin Center.

`Eid Al-Adha, or “Feast of Sacrifice”, is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations, together with `Eid Al-Fitr.

It begins with special prayers to mark the day, Muslims then offer udhiyah, a ritual that commemorates the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma`eel were willing to make for the sake of Allah.

In the sermon given at the Wisconsin Center, Imam Ziad Hamdan spoke of the Muslim community’s inclusiveness following community prayer.

Membership in the Muslim community, he said, “is not something you are entitled to because you were born Muslim.” It is not based on being of “a certain race, color, or ethnicity, but on certain principles, morals, manners, and conditions.”

This year’s `Eid celebrations came as India’s Hindu nationalist government made a unilateral decision to revoke Kashmir’s autonomy. The revocation was enforced by an influx of troops, sparking protests and violent clashes.

Muslims must care about “the affairs of other Muslims,” those who “are suffering day and night at the hands of the hypocrites, the dictators,” said Imam Hamdan.

“We need to stand with our brothers and sisters in Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Palestine. This is our duty. Enjoin what is right and forbid what is evil.”

Despite chilling news worldwide, including thwarted terrorist attack targeting a Norway mosque, Wisconsin Muslims said that celebrating `Eid was very important.

Naheed Arshad said at the Wisconsin Center, “Celebrating this day is important from a religious point of view, and it also gives us a sense of community. To see everyone in the same place at the same time is a unique opportunity.”

“I feel very happy,” said Mohamed Montasir. “This is the biggest day of the Muslim year for people now in Mecca doing Hajj and for us.”