Millions of Muslims commemorate Eid al-Adha amid high prices

“Everybody wants to sacrifice an animal in the name of Allah, but they can’t because they are poor,” said Mohammad Nadir from a cattle market in Mazar-e-Sharif, northern Afghanistan, where a few men haggled. on the bleating of sheep.

Eid al-Adha commemorates the Quranic account of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice Ismail as an act of obedience to God. Before he could perform the sacrifice, God provided a ram as an offering. In the Christian and Jewish account, Abraham is ordered to kill another son, Isaac.

Many Muslims celebrate the four-day festival by ritually slaughtering cattle and distributing the meat to family, friends and the poor. At al-Shati refugee camp in western Gaza City on Saturday, excited children lined up for entrails and baby walkers – a cherished offering for those who otherwise could not afford to ‘buy some meat.

In cash-strapped Afghanistan, there is usually a rush to buy prime animals ahead of the holidays. But this year, runaway global inflation and economic devastation after the Taliban takeover have put a purchase of great religious significance beyond the reach of many.

“Last year so far I have sold 40 to 50 cattle,” said Mohammad Qassim, an Afghan cattle dealer. “This year, I only managed to sell two.”

Wheat and meat prices have soared and hunger has spread as Russia’s war on Ukraine disrupts agriculture and limits energy supplies. Skyrocketing feed and fertilizer prices have forced livestock sellers to raise prices.

From Tripoli, in war-torn Libya, families are eagerly awaiting the holidays after the last two years of the pandemic and more than a decade of violent chaos. But price tags – up to $2,100 per sheep – had buyers scouring the dusty market near the palm-lined highway, worried about the major purchase.

“Honestly, the prices are crazy,” Sabri al-Hadi said, sounding exasperated.

In a cattle market in the blocked Gaza Strip, there were hardly any buyers. Vendors said the price of sheep feed had quadrupled in recent weeks.

“Our life is full of losses,” lamented Abu Mustafa, a sheep seller in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, who has long suffered from widespread unemployment and poverty.

On the streets of Ramallah, in the West Bank, Palestinian families pared down other components of the holiday – usually an abundance of food, from offal to kaak and maamoul holiday cookies.

“On those days there was a demand for fruits, sweets and nuts as well, but as you can see… no one is standing ready to buy now,” complained fruit seller Baligh Hamdi .

But lavish feast or not, there were communal prayers – a welcome sight in much of the world after years of coronavirus restrictions. Worshipers crammed into mosques across the Middle East and North Africa on Saturday.

From Kenya to Russia to Egypt, crowds of worshipers prayed shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet.

“I am very happy that all these people came to pray,” said Sahar Mohamed in Cairo, smiling broadly. “There is love and acceptance between people.”

In Saudi Arabia, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims got up at dawn to go to Mina, a wide valley surrounded by arid mountains where the Prophet Muhammad stopped on his way around 1,400 years ago. One million Muslims from around the world have flocked to the holy city of Mecca this week in the biggest pilgrimage since the pandemic upended the event.

At the multi-storey Jamarat complex, pilgrims performed the symbolic stoning of the devil, recalling Ibrahim’s victory over temptation. It is part of the set of rituals associated with the Prophet Muhammad and the Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, or Abraham and Ishmael in the Bible, performed each year during these intense five days.

Pilgrims threw pebbles at three large pillars that mark the places where the devil tried to interrupt Ibrahim’s sacrifice.

This is the most dangerous point of the hajj, with masses coming and going. In 2015, thousands of pilgrims were crushed to death by surging mobs. The Saudi government has never given a definitive assessment. In the years that followed, authorities improved access with wider streets, electronic gates and a high-speed rail link.

All Muslims who are physically and financially able to complete the spiritual journey are expected to do so at least once in their lifetime. Saudi Arabia has maintained limits to curb the spread of the virus this year, with a COVID-19 vaccination mandate and attendance at less than half of pre-pandemic quotas.

Still, the scenes were a significant step closer to normal. Famous crowds invaded holy sites, abandoning masks and safety measures.

At the end of the pilgrimage, one of the essential pillars of Islam, the men must shave their heads and the women must cut a lock of hair as a sign of renewal.

They will return to Makkah to circle the cube-shaped Kaaba, which represents the metaphorical house of God, as a farewell before returning home and continuing to celebrate the rest of Eid al-Adha in family.

“We are very proud,” said Indian pilgrim Izhar Anjoom, who was stoning the devil in Mina. “We are having so much fun because today is Eid.”

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DeBre reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press reporters Jelal Hassan in Ramallah, West Bank; Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip; Kawa Besharat in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan and Mohamed Wagdy in Cairo contributed to this report.


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