Eid al-Adha – What Is It?

An important holiday in Turkiye is looming, Eid al-Adha, traditionally a four day holiday now stretching across eight days. Many of our friends outside Turkiye are not familiar with this event, so we thought we would provide you with some information.

This painting hangs in the Uffizi gallery in Florence, Italy. Painted by Carravagio for Cardinal Maffeo Barberini in 1603.

It is based on a biblical narrative in Genesis, where God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a test of Abrahams loyalty. Abraham complies but just as he is about to sacrifice his son the angel of the lord appears and tells Abraham to spare the boy as he has proven himself. Abraham looks up & sees a ram caught in a thicket by it’s horns, he sacrifices the ram instead.

In Christianity, Judaism & Islam Abraham plays an important role as an example of faith. In Turkyie and many other Muslim countries, the great sacrifice Abraham was willing to make to achieve nearness to God is remembered each year during the festival Eid al-Adah (the feast of sacrifice)

The holiday begins at sunrise with prayers at the mosque followed by visits to friends and family to exchange gifts. Being with family and friends and strengthening relationships is important at this time of the year. A family meal is traditionally held for nearest and dearest using the meat of an animal who has been sacrificed for the feast. This mass sacrifice is known as Qurban and involves ritual slaughter of the animal (they are not rendered insensible to pain prior to having their throat cut)

Credit Havva Zorlu We Animals Media

About a month before this day Qurban markets are established where animals to be slaughtered for the feast are sold. This makeshift shelter is located in Buca, Izmir in 2022. The sign hanging from the roof cloth reads done or finished in English indicating that all animals have been sold for the feast. Animals from rural areas where they are farmed travel across the country to towns and cities for the sale.

Credit Havva Zorlu We Animals Media

A variety of animals can be found for sale at the market in addition to the cattle shown. You may find sheep, goat, buffalo and camel.

According to The Sheep And Goat Breeders Association of Turkiye in 2021 close to four million sacrificial animals were sold for slaughter. With no official record kept of animals sold the true volume is unknown.

Animals sold for the feast are marked with paint as in the picture above.

Some animals are slaughtered at the market by butchers but not all. Many people like to take the animals home and slaughter them themselves. Some cities and towns have slaughtering areas set up and we have been told that in some villages it is not unusual for a garden to be set aside for people to make their sacrifice.

Credit Havva Zorlu We Animals Media

There are rules regarding the suitability of animals for sacrifice.

There is a minimum age requirement of one year for sheep and goats, two years for cows and buffalo and five years for camels.

Animals have to be in good health with an additional requirement that no horns are broken, they have at least half their teeth, they cannot have lost a third or more of their ears or tail, they cannot be blind or have lost a third or more of their sight, they must be able to walk without a limp or signs of lameness and they must be in good condition with no thinness.

Credit Deniz Tapkan Cengiz We Animals Media

If animals are transported in cars by purchasers their feet are bound to make handling them more easily.

Animals are most often slaughtered in a family garden but street slaughtering has been reported with the inedible parts of the animal left in the streets creating a health risk.

In the video above a woman realises that the sheep she has bought to sacrifice is afraid. She shields the animals eyes from the knife being sharpened to cut it’s throat.

Many of our friends celebrate Eid with prayers, family time, gift exchange and feasts that do not involve the ritual sacrifice of an animal. Many of our friends are vegetarian or vegan. Some dislike the holiday so much because of the slaughter that they make use of the holiday period by leaving the country for a vacation.

Sadly we have been told by some friends that the mass ritual slaughter of animals causes a great deal of emotional distress for many people.

Eid Mubarak to all our friends in Turkiye, our best wishes to you for a blessed, cruelty free holiday.

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