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Muslims prepare to celebrate

Friday, February 22, 2002

By Ervin Dyer, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Thousands of Muslims in the Pittsburgh area are preparing their hearts and homes for the celebration of Eid ul-Adha, or "festival of the sacrifice," which begins tomorrow.

The occasion commemorates the Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at God's command. It is a holy and festive time for Muslims worldwide.

The celebration coincides with the end of Hajj, the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca all able-bodied Muslims are required to make at least once in their lifetime.

Locally, Muslims will focus on God, family, friends and fun.

There are two congregational prayers for Eid planned tomorrow: one at 8:30 a.m. at the Monroeville mosque and the other at 9 a.m. at the Oakland mosque.

There also will be community potlucks, games, prizes, brunches and, especially, gift-giving in mosques and households.

You can't outgrow the tradition, said Nazeeh Alothmany, who worships at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh in Oakland. "My father still gives to me and I'm 31."

To mark Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, Muslims slaughter a lamb, goat or cow. Locally, hundreds of families will either exercise this practice or observe how it's done at two nearby farms.

The animal's meat is divided into three portions: one for oneself, one for friends and one for the needy.

The merriment of Eid gives Muslims a chance to put the issues of Sept. 11 behind them. But not too far. For Farooq Hussaini, interfaith relations director for the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, the observance is a reminder that "being a part of this country means you have to sacrifice to make it better."

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