Muslims in Ukraine celebrated Eid al-Adha, also known as Kurban Bayram, on July 2 in one of the biggest holidays in the Islamic faith. Eid al-Adha is the second of the two most important holidays celebrated in Islam (the other being Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan) and marks the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mina, near Mecca in Saudi Arabia,.

Kurban Bayram is translated as “the feast of the sacrifice” and celebrates the memory of how the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham in the Bible) made a sacrifice to Allah. The Holy Quran tells how the angel Gabriel appeared to Ibrahim and told him that Allah was asking him to sacrifice his son Ishmail (not Isaac in the Bible). The man obediently went to the valley of Mina, taking his son to fulfill the will of Allah. But the blade of the knife did not harm the child.

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It turned out that this had been a test for Ibrahim, and as a reward for his obedience, Allah sent him another son. The sacrificial victim was replaced with a ram.

Said Ismahilov, former Mufti now in the AFU rescue service. Photo by Oleksandr Avramenko

The meaning of the Kurban Bayram holiday is that you don’t need human sacrifices to get closer to Allah. The sacrifice must be conditional, and a person can atone for his sins before Allah only with his good deeds and pure thoughts. It is enough to pray, fast, give alms and shun everything bad.

The day before Kurban Bayram, Muslims fast, and the night before is spent in prayer. Celebrations begin at sunrise: the celebrants perform ablutions, put on festive clothes and go to the mosque for morning prayer. Afterward, they return home and gather again for a sermon. After finishing, they go to the cemetery to pray for the dead. Only then comes the time for the sacrificial ceremony.

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During the festival, families that can afford to sacrifice a ritually acceptable animal (sheep, goat, camel, or cow) do so and then divide the flesh equally among themselves, the poor, and friends and neighbors. Eid al-Adha is also a time for visiting with friends and family and for exchanging gifts.

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