Friendship marks Eid-ul-Adha event

The Holy Day of Sacrifice was commemorated, Tuesday, at the Westin Hotel on Route 1.

By:Joseph Harvie
   The hallways of the ballroom at the Westin Hotel on Route 1 were filled with people, some drinking coffee, and others hugging and kissing friends and acquaintances as they entered.
   Most people were smiling as they walked the corridors, sharing stories with one another.
   It was the Muslim celebration of Eid-ul-Adha and Mohammed Siddiqui, trustee of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, said he was happy to see so many of his spiritual brothers and sisters at the celebration Tuesday.
   "We plan to hold the prayers three times, but it could be four because there are about 5,000 to 6,000 people here today," Mr. Siddiqui said. "It is a good size crowd. The weather is really nice which usually brings more people."
   Eid-ul-Adha, also known as the Day of Sacrifice, is commemorated by holding special morning prayers, having a gathering and making a sacrifice. The Holy Day celebrates the sacrifice from Abraham when he offered his son, Ishmael to please God.
   Muslims traditionally sacrifice a sheep on Eid-ul-Adha, and divide it into three parts. One part for the poor, another for themselves and the third for their friends and family.
   "There is not a lot opportunity to make the sacrifice here," Mr. Siddiqui said. "So we usually send money to India or Pakistan or wherever and they make the sacrifice over there."
   The celebration comes the day after the Day of Arafat, where Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Holy Land. There they perform the hajj, a set of prayers that takes several days to complete.
   "More than 3 million Muslims make the pilgrimage and perform three to four days of prayers to complete the ritual," Mr. Siddiqui said.
   Members of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, located on Route 1 in Monmouth Junction, said the celebration gave them a chance to come together and share a day with friends and family.
   "It is an opportunity to see people from our community that we don’t see all the time," Heba Kandil, 16, of South Brunswick said. "It brings us together at a festive time.
   Heba, a sophomore at the Noor Ul Iman school at the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, said once she was done with the prayers at the Westin she would spend the rest of the day with her family.
   "I usually go hang out with my family," Heba said. "We go out for brunch and hang out the rest of the day."
   Nesreen Delfoukhy said she was excited about the event and that she expects the celebration to continue on through the weekend.
   "Since it fell on a weekday this year, we will probably get together this weekend," Ms. Delfoukhy, 25, said. "There will be all sorts of parties this weekend."
   The congregants, some from as far as Langhorne, Pa., came to the I1SCJ’s celebration to spend time with people they do not see often.
   "To see people here, coming together with the community, it is like having the biggest family in the world," Shaymaa Elansary, 24, of Langhorne, said.
   Several members of the congregation were excited that an area daily newspaper printed "Happy Eid" on the top of its cover.
   "It is a touching note to see that we are acknowledged as Muslims in this country," Nadia Younesi of Edison said. "This is the first time this has happened and it is wonderful."