On Eid al Adha, Muslims embrace the messages of feeding others, strengthening family bonds, saying prayers and forgiving one another.
From dawn, a day of prayer and sacrifice
ABU DHABI // The Eid al Adha message rang out through the speakers of mosques across the UAE at dawn yesterday.
Roads around neighbourhood mosques were clogged by parked cars as thousands attended early-morning Eid prayers. Others chose to drive a few extra kilometres for a chance to pray at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque at 7.20am.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, was at the mosque to perform the Eid al Adha prayers.
Police were at the ready to escort vehicles through the already packed car parks.
"We came early because here it gets very crowded on Eid," one of the police officers said.
The faithful made their way through security checks and up the stairs to the mosque, prayer mats in hand, to recite takbeerat in unison with the imam of the mosque.
The adults were separated into segregated areas, both outdoors and indoors, while awaiting the imam's call to prayer.
A 20-minute sermon delivered by the religious adviser at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Sheikh Ali al Hashimi, followed the two-raka prayer, and emphasised the importance of sacrificing either one sheep or goat, or joining with up to six other families to sacrifice a camel or a cow during Eid.
"Allah's worshippers, there is no greater deed than to sacrifice on this day, which is Sunnah for all those who can," he said. "Prophet Mohammed said that the sacrificed animal will come on the day of judgment and be highly regarded by Allah."
The meat of the sacrifice is divided into three portions: one for the needy, another for neighbours, relatives and friends, and the rest for the sacrificer and his family.
"Feeding others is a great act of worship," the imam said. "It is part of worship to be kind to others, it helps people to control their willpower and put others first.
"On this day, Prophet Ibrahim told his son, Ismael, that in a dream he saw that he was sacrificing him. His son said, 'My father, do as you please. You will find me patient'."
The story of Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his beloved son is one told in homes all over the country on the night before Eid. It is related to children to teach them about Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to be obedient to God. At the last moment, God spared Ismael and told Ibrahim to sacrifice a sheep instead.
The imam's sermon continued: "Be kind to each other, forgive each other, and give gifts to each other, tighten family bonds, and be kind to orphans, and do takbeers in these days after prayers and do good deeds.
"When friends of the Prophet Mohammed asked him about the sacrifice, he told them it was the 'Sunnah of your father, Ibrahim', and the rewards for every sacrificer is getting a hasana for every strand of wool."
Palestinian Abdulrahman al Agha, 22, drove with his family from Al Ain to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque to meet his relatives.
"Eid does not start until we pray Eid prayers with other Muslims and pass on our greetings to everyone we meet," he said. "We are going now to the slaughterhouse and my nephews and nieces are going home to eat a cake in the shape of a sheep, and later we will all go for a picnic."
After the sermon, Amna Abd al Aziz, a 30-year-old mother from Egypt, said she would take her two children to the butchers. "It is important for them to see this, to learn more about their religion," she said. "They will play with the sheep for a while before it is butchered, but they won't see this."
Meanwhile, Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, received Eid greetings from his siblings and international dignitaries such as King Abdullah II of Jordan and the president of Lebanon, Michel Suleiman, according to WAM the state news agency.