Newspaper article

How Minnesotans Celebrated Eid Al-Adha

Newspaper article

How Minnesotans Celebrated Eid Al-Adha

Article excerpt

All over the world Thursday, Muslims celebrated Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), the Islamic festival that commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to follow Allah's command to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Allah ultimately showed mercy and Ishmael was replaced with a lamb, and thus an ancient tradition -- and the phrase "lambs to the slaughter" -- was born.

Eid celebrations traditionally call for the killing of the lamb to take place in a home ceremony, but in Minnesota, the killing and sharing happens for most metro-area Muslims at Jeffries Chicken Farm, a two-shack farm in Inver Grove Heights. Thursday morning, harried farm owner John Jeffries barked orders to farmhands and customers alike as he oversaw a steady stream of customers and the slaughter of hundreds of sheep.

"I'm so excited, because this is my first time here and I wanted to show my kids," said a newly henna-festooned Iman Mahamad, who made the pilgrimage to Jeffries with her father, Mohmud, and her children. "We have to sacrifice for our prophet, and we have to do it on this specific day. It's a joyful day.

"It's a big feast back home in Somalia, and we get the goat and my dad cuts the goat and we have breakfast, dance, get gifts, all the kids get candy and we get money from the relatives. But here [in Minnesota] we have to come here. We had to get the goat ahead of time, and we don't only do a goat, we do a cow, a sheep, whatever you can afford."

It was a bloody scene in the farm's cramped quarters Thursday, but also convivial and reverent. Men stoically corralled and the sheep and slit their throats, while Minnesotans hailing from Morocco, Egypt, India, Somali, Tunisia, Cameroon, Senegal, Nigeria, and other places bustled through, looked on, and joined in on the hauling of carcasses.

"This is all for our religion," said Daha Abdala, a Sudanese immigrant who lives in Bloomington, wielding a knife and waiting his turn to slaughter his lamb. "This is the right way for peace, and freedom and everything."

Muslim tradition has it that after the slaughter, the lamb's meat is shared with the poor, family and friends, though to be sure, Eid sacrificial ceremonies have a much different feel at Jeffries Chicken Farm than in the Muslims' native lands. …

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