It has been a wrong stereotype that muslims are identical to terrorism, suicide bomber, and their famous yelling. Actually “Allahu Akbar” is a sentence praising God, meaning “God is Great” in Arabic. Why am I writing this? Because of that coincidence I wrote earlier above. It’s not because we are celebrating the 911 tragedy, but it’s because we are celebrating a holiday.
12th of September, for most people in Gothenburg is just a usual Monday. Going to work or school, still with the aftermath of the crazy party from the last weekend. But for muslims, today is a big day. 12th of September coincides with 10 of DhulHijjah in Islamic lunar calendar. Today is the day that muslims who do pilgrimage this year, finish their journey. For the rest? It’s Eid al Adha time!
Eid al Adha, also calles “The Festival of Sacrifice”, is the second of two muslim holidays celebrated each year. The history of this festival dates back to biblical time when Ibrahim (or Abraham) submitted to God’s will. In this day, muslims all around the world offer a prayer in the morning. After that, they offer a sacrifice to God by slaughtering an animal (might be goat, sheep, cow, camel, etc). The meat from the sacrificed animal is preferred to be divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy. However, one can, if willing, give it all to the poor and needy. The essence of this act of sacrifice is to make sure all people can have a good meal, at least in this holiday.
This is my 2nd year in Gothenburg. It means that today is my 2nd Eid in Gothenburg as well. I would like to share my story to you about things I found interesting here.
The Eid Prayer, usually held in open spaces in the morning after sunrise (let’s say around 7-8 am). When I was a kid, I used to come with my family and listening into a short speech after the prayer as a part of the ritual. The interesting thing here in Gothenburg is that the prayer here was held 3 times this morning (there are 3 shifts of prayer), and not in open space. The prayer was held in mosque. I went to Goteborg Moske (around 30 minutes of journey from Chalmers). The reason the prayer was held 3 times was probably to acommodate the quite large number of muslims in Gothenburg. Form madangsgatan bus stop to the mosque, I saw maybe hundreds, if not thousands of muslim walking, filling the pedestrian spaces.
The speech after the prayer was given in 2 languages, arabic and swedish. I was only able to comprehend a little about what the Imam (religious leader) said. But that doesn’t matter. Here, I see quite a diversity. I saw people from Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia just like me, and even European. They come from many nations. Makes you rethink the paradigm that Islam is identical to middle east or arabs.
(People Gathering Before the Prayer)
After the Prayer
Back in Indonesia, today was supposed to be a holiday. I usually go back home to play some video games, and then mingling with family, neighbors, and relatives. Usualy we cook and eat the portion of meat from the sacrifice we offered together. Here, today is just another working day. So, everyone gets back to work or campus to attend lecture after the prayer (luckily, I don’t have class until after lunch). The interesting thing is that I met a fellow student who said that he wouldn’t attend his class because he thought that today is a holiday.
For now, I wouldn’t be able to get any sacrifice meat because I heard that all the sacrifices offered here will be given to war victims, the poor, and so on in Africa and Middle East. So, I guess no free meat for me now. Screw it, I will just buy a lot of kebabs now :P
For fellow muslim Chalmerists, in Gothenburg, and everywhere, I wish you a happy Eid!