It was early morning and it was drizzling, but Ustadz Faisal Idjiran had to get up and prepare for prayers. It was a special day. His wife and children had their best dress on for the occasion.
The feast of Eid al-Adha was marked around the world on Friday, July 31. It was the “Festival of Sacrifice in the Muslim” world.
The feast is the last of the two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year and considered the holier of the two. It honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismael as an act of obedience to God’s command.
Faisal, a public school teacher and religious leader of a small Muslim community in the province of Pangasinan, gathered the faithful together in a mosque in the town of Calasiao.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, only a limited number of people were allowed inside to pray.
“In the past, we all gathered here,” said Faisal. “We pray shoulder to shoulder, very close to each other as a sign of unity,” he said.
Unfortunately, due to health protocols, they had to give up tradition. “It is our health that is at stake in this crisis,” he said.
Faisal prepared a goat he bought with his own money and two goats that were donated to the community for the sacrifice.
Faisal and his family were also celebrating the youngest daughter’s “baptism.”
Islam practices a number of ablution ceremonies, but none of them has the character of a religious initiation rite. Belief in the monotheism of God in Islam is sufficient for entering in the fold of faith and does not require a ritual form of baptism.
“I have to save some money,” he said. “So we decided to celebrate our daughter’s baptism during the feast,” he added.
Many members of the Muslim community in Pangasinan were affected by the pandemic. Many lost their jobs.
In the past years, the Muslims in Calasiao would sacrifice a cow and several goats for the Eid al-Adha. This year, the goat meat was cooked and distributed to poor families in the community.
Despite the pandemic, faith and tradition continue to live in the hearts of Filipino Muslims.