Jul 192021

Today (July 19) at sundown commences the second of two Eid celebrations in the Islamic calendar – Eid al Adha, called colloquially “salty eid.” Eid al-Adha, Arabic for Festival of the Sacrifice, honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to God’s command. (The Jewish and Christian religions believe that, according to Genesis 22:2, Abraham took his son Isaac to sacrifice.) Before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, however, Allah provided a lamb to sacrifice instead. In commemoration of this intervention, animals are sacrificed ritually. One third of their meat is consumed by the family offering the sacrifice, while the rest is distributed to the poor and needy. Sweets and gifts are given, and extended family are typically visited and welcomed.

This story is known as the Akedah in Judaism (Binding of Isaac) and originates in Genesis, Ch. 22. The Qur’an refers to the Akedah as follows:

100. “My Lord, give me one of the righteous.”
101. So We gave him good news of a clement boy.
102. Then, when he was old enough to accompany him, he said, “O My son, I see in a dream that I am sacrificing you; see what you think.” He said, “O my Father, do as you are commanded; you will find me, God willing, one of the steadfast.”
103. Then, when they had submitted, and he put his forehead down.
104. We called out to him, “O Abraham!
105. You have fulfilled the vision.” Thus We reward the doers of good.
106. This was certainly an evident test.
107. And We redeemed him with a great sacrifice.
108. And We left with him for later generations.
109. Peace be upon Abraham.
110. Thus We reward the doers of good.
111. He was one of Our believing servants.
112. And We gave him good news of Isaac, a prophet, one of the righteous.

— Qur’an, sura 37 (Aṣ-Ṣāffāt), āyāt 100–112

Men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing to perform Eid prayers in a large congregation in an open waqf (“stopping”) field called Eidgah or in a mosque. Affluent Muslims who can afford it sacrifice their best halal domestic animals (usually a camel, goat, cow, sheep, or ram depending on the region) as a symbol of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son. The sacrificed animals, called aḍḥiya (Arabic: أضحية‎), known also by the Perso-Arabic term qurbāni, have to meet certain age and quality standards or else the animal is considered an unacceptable sacrifice.

I am not expecting you to sacrifice an animal unless you are Muslim, and, even then, there are other possibilities. In Turkey and the Balkans it is customary to eat kokoreç (Albanian: kukurec, Greek: κοκορέτσι, Turkish: kokoreç), a dish consisting of lamb or goat intestines wrapped around seasoned offal, including sweetbreads, hearts, lungs, or kidneys, and typically grilled; a variant consists of chopped innards cooked on a griddle. The intestines of suckling lambs are preferred. Here’s your video:

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