Eid Al Adha is the Muslim celebration that, thank God, or I should say thank Allah, gave us a whole week off from work!!!
Discovering the origin of this Eid was intriguing to me. While at ASD our Arabic teacher started to explain it to the kids, I thought I heard that story before... but as I don't know much about the Islamic religion and culture, I couldn't understand how that was so familiar to me.
Then I realized that what I found familiar was a part of the Bible that tells us pretty much the same thing, with slight little differences.
"Eid Al Adha" is translated as "Festival of Sacrifice". According to the Qurran, God asked Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience. Ibrahim and his son both accepted God's willingness with faith. Once their obedience was proven, God told Ibrahim he didn't have to carry on the killing of his Ishmael and asked him to sacrifice a goat instead.
This key event of the Muslim religion is present in the Old Testament as well. The only difference I could recall is that the name of Ibrahim is in its Jews version "Abraham" and the son who had to be sacrificed was not Ishmael, but Isaac.
Well it looks like Abramo, how we say in Italian, is a key figure in more than one religion: Muslims and Christians share the same belief that Prophet Mohammed and Christ descend from Ibrahim/Abraham's progeny. And so believe the Jews, who - still waiting for their Messiah - acknowledge the importance of Abraham in the Torah (corresponding pretty much to the Old Testament).
I didn't know all these things and I found my self making reflections on how similar religions are, even when they seem so far away. Over a few conflicting interpretations of a scripture men have started to fight and the humanity grew apart, hating who didn't believe what they thought to be right.
Before our Eid break started, I talked to my colleague Samreen, as I often do. She's an educated Pakistani woman and my classroom neighbor. When I first got to ASD I was of intimidated by her. Honestly (and stupidly), her covered head and her conservative outfits made me feel uncomfortable with her. Like if we were coming from 2 different worlds. Gradually, the sense of discomfort disappeared and I discovered a very pleasant person in her. A woman that I can easily relate to, with whom I often laugh and that, for many reasons, I admire.
She is a Muslim. a very convinced one and more than one time I have envied her strong faith. A dignified faith, that goes hand in hand with a high fascinating moral rectitude.
The fun part is that she was raised in a Catholic school (and that surprised me a lot!), but when I expressed my astonishment she said that, although at some stages of her childhood she really wanted to celebrate Christmas and sometimes she even thought she was a Christian, that type of education reinforced her own faith, somehow. Could you imagine the opposite? Can you imagine your parents...open-minded enough to send you to a Muslim School, without freaking out that you'll become the next Bin Laden? Well I doubt so and I admire Samreen's parents for making that choice.
Samreen told me that this year she managed to organize her parents' trip to Mecca and she was so happy and proud about it. I knew that already, but for the first time I saw with my eyes and felt with my heart how important it is for a good Muslim to perform the Hajj in their pilgrimage to Mecca. I understood what it meant for Samreen and, once again, I felt good for her pure sense of commitment and duty.
Other than that, that day, I had one of the most interesting and meaningful conversation I had in Dubai, so far. Samreen and I not only shared our thoughts about religions (and we both agreed that, in the end, they really are all the same) we also talked about art and cultures. About the beauties and masterpieces treasured in our European museums (that she widely visited on her many trips) and I realized how much she knows about my western culture...and how little I know about her middle-eastern culture.
She gifted me with one of the best conversations of my new life in Dubai...I am not sure she could say the same about me. My ignorance about Islam makes me feel uncomfortable. I want to learn more about Samreen's culture and customs.
In this post, I wanted to tell you about our trip to Oman, instead I came up with this mental quibble.
I'm sleepy now, tomorrow I'm leaving for New Delhi and I still need to pack... but I WILL write about Oman. I will write about Thomas talking in English to a fisherman in Dibba who only spoke Arabic and about how we were the only tourists not driving a 4x4 in that part of the country ....
Meanwhile you can check the "trailer" and the "video" of our road trip! ENJOY!
and the video... (yes for copyright reasons I couldn't upload it to YouTube). You need to click on the link below: