In Islam, the son was Ishmael, though in Judaism and Christianity which came before Islam the son was Isaac. Ishmael was the son of Hagar the gentile maidservant of Abraham and Isaac the Hebrew son of Sarah, his wife. Regardless of these differences in teachings and what we all believe to be the correct version, this festival is about the issue of obedience to sacrifice and one about compassion when a ram caught in a thicket was provided by the Creator as a substitute.
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In Pakistan alone some ten million animals are slaughtered on that day and there the tradition is to separate the meat into three parts. One part for the family, one part for extended family and friends and the third part to be shared with the poor and needy.
In Gambia where the Muslims call the festival Tobaski the eldest son of the family is the one to slaughter a ram. In Gambia a ram is traditional, based on the Bible and Koran. In other Muslim countries their best domestic animal is used, be it a camel, a cow or a sheep.
In all Muslim countries people will wear their finest clothes and will perform an Eid prayer at their Mosques. The Gambian people also go visiting around friends and relatives that day.
It is important in all Muslim countries to ensure that the impoverished eat on that day. Gambian children can ask neighbours for pocket money that day to buy sweets and ice cream. In Kairaba Avenue in Banjul they will be seen buying ice cream and cakes from vendors and the street will be crowded. It is a day of celebration to be sure!
Eid Mubarak and happy Tobaski my Muslim friends.