Eid ul Adha is one of the biggest celebrations in the Islamic calendar Eid meaning Feast or Festival. “The Festival of the Sacrifice”. The Muslim community around the globe celebrate Eid ul Adha to commemorate Ibrahim’s (Abraham in Christianity and Judaism) willingness to sacrifice his only son Ismael (Isaac in Christianity and Judaism), in submission to Gods will. So every year the sacrifice of a cow, buffalo, goat or sheep is performed, as God intervened and provided Ibrahim a ram to sacrifice instead. This story is present in not only the Quran but also in the Bible and the Torah, one of many shared stories in our history and faith albeit with slight variations (see the link below to read more about Ibrahim’s sacrifice).
Unfortunately, all my Muslim friends had headed back to Jakarta or Lombok for the holiday and I needed to be in Bali so could not gatecrash Eid with them, but where there is a will, there is a way! I googled frantically for a way to witness proceedings and came across http://www.balimuslimtours.com. So with a polite introduction about my keenness to learn, Gunawan graciously accepted to take me around for the day and off we went. It turns out I was babysitting a friend’s daughter, so a quick chat about if I could take their daughter to watch a cow be slaughtered, with the promise of an educational and cultural experience, it was on !
It was the crack of dawn, literally and Miss Mia and I were up ready for the morning prayers. Having not yet purchased a fabulous hijab, we improvised and I think we look sensational personally. We arrived at Renon Square and we were both astounded at the number of people there, maybe 5-6 thousand or more. I was surprised not to be taken to a mosque for this dawn prayer known as Salat al Eid. Gunawan explains to us that in the Hadith it says that this prayer on this day should be performed in a field. The men to the front in countless rows and the women’s rows start about three metres behind in a blanket of white. Mia and I watched these people devote themselves to God through worship and prayer. The Bajira Sandhi monument standing tall in the background, the sun was rising and the sea of worshippers performing two rakaat (prescribed movements and words followed by Muslims while offering prayers to God.) it was simply beautiful. The field fell silent and I thought that was quite fitting, I always believed that your relationship with God, whilst an invisible one is mighty in strength and this silence was powerful. Hilariously Gunawan told us later the speaker just lost power.
Now it was time for the sacrifice, with slight apprehension we headed to the Mosque Agung Sudirman in Denpasar. Mia and I were secretly hoping for a goat given it might be a quicker process. Of course we arrived and there were 6 cows and 1 goat. Oh Dear! Now I know there is mixed feelings out there on this topic. However today was about a cultural experience of an Islamic persuasion and a lot of us eat meat and don’t cry in our hankies over it so we just stood by and watch it unravel. Starting with the men who were performing the task saying a prayer and “securing the animal” next was the gory bit which I watched politely from afar, not miss Mia she was in there. Granted she came back looking slightly pale but all in all had learned something new today. Gruesomeness aside I like this idea because once the slaughter has been done the meat is divided and given to members of the mosque and most important distributed to the needy. Now how can you not love that.
We headed to Nusa Dua as I had heard of a place where multi faith buildings were. It’s called Puja Mandala, the perfect place for me and a sign of the tolerance and open-mindedness of the Balinese. In this place stands a Mosque, Protestant Church, Catholic Church, Hindu Temple and Buddhist Temple!!! Brilliant. We entered the Mosque to witness the distribution of the meat and I was thankful for the little Arabic I have learned. Salam Alikom came the greetings left right and centre, Alikom Salam I replied without missing a beat (Thankyou Abdel) This particular Mosque has 7 levels and caters for thousands of worshippers, it was quite the operation similar to I imagine a butchers shop with people lined up preparing the meat for distribution.
With formal proceedings finished for the day we shared a Halal lunch with our wonderful guide who explained to us the story of Ibrahim (Abraham), what food is Haram (forbidden) and the complexities of the 5 daily prayers, the timings and how Muslims used the sun as their guide before the age of watches. This man is one of the most devout men I had met of any religion. He takes the words of the Hadith and Quran and lives his entire life by them, no picking or choosing what he sees fit, no interpretation to benefit his lifestyle, just a pure and true obedient servant of God. I wish I had this level of faith (she writes with a beer in hand).
Another wonderful day out with beautiful people. The education continues, as my mind and heart continues to learn of the devotion of people of many faiths and their commitment to God, their way. I haven’t even left Bali yet!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binding_of_Isaac (Not the best source but offers all 3 views)
Yours in Faith,
The Unlikely Pilgrim