Saturday, February 23, 2002

Faith Matters


Muslims celebrate festival

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        Abubaker Amri has three notebook pages full of names. About 150 Muslim families, in all, each buying a lamb, goat or part of a cow to be slaughtered today.

        Mr. Amri, co-owner of Mount Olive Market in Corryville, will travel to a slaughterhouse in Northern Kentucky, say a blessing over the animals and watch to make sure they are slaughtered according to Islamic law.

        In West Chester, between 2,000 and 2,500 Muslims will attend prayer services at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati in celebration of Eid al-Adha, one of two major festivals in Islam.

        The holiday comes at the end of hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam's holy city in Saudi Arabia. Each Muslim is required to make the pilgrimage once in their lives, so long as they are financially and physically able.

        Usually six to nine Tristate Muslims join the estimated 2 million pilgrims for hajj, but Karen Dabdoub hasn't heard of any who made the trip this year.

        It's likely a coincidence, says Mrs. Dabdoub, administrator for the Islamic Center. The festival commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son at God's command, even though God ultimately allowed a lamb to be slaughtered in the son's place.

        Muslims traditionally honor Abraham's obedience to God by having a lamb or other animal slaughtered. They give a third to the needy, a third to friends and family and keep the rest.

        Kaleem and Nida Ansari of West Chester will pay between $60 and $70 to have a goat slaughtered — depending on weight. Lambs are out-of-season and run an average of $100.

        Islamic law dictates the animals must be treated kindly and humanely during their lives. At slaughter, a knife is used to slit their throats, and the animals are hung head down to drain the blood.

        Muslims also say a blessing: We're doing this in the name of God, most gracious and most merciful, and that God is most great, explains Mrs. Dabdoub.

        After prayers today, Muslim families will gather for snacks and fellowship, then spend the holiday visiting with relatives and friends and exchanging gifts.

Spreading the word

        Emily Bissonnette has really big pockets on her coat. Good thing, too, because they're always full of fliers for some Christian event. She hands them out every chance she gets.

        “I like spreading the word,” the 17-year-old says.

        She also wants to spread God's word.

        The home-schooled senior has spearheaded publicity for today's Catholic Women's Event, the sold-out conference that 2,700 women are expected to attend at the Aronoff Center for the Arts.

        Emily's done other public relations gigs for a Christian concert series and a youth retreat.

        She found she likes writing the press releases and designing the fliers. But the key is helping people find ways to connect with God.

        “My faith is the most important thing,” says the Finneytown teen. “I think it should definitely be top priority in everyone's life.” For more religion listings, check out www.enquirer.com, keyword: events.
        Send religion news to rthompson@enquirer.com or contact Richelle Thompson at 755-4144.

       



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