Giving to Neighbors on Eid ul-Adha
By Yvonne Maffei
What is ‘Eid ul Adha?
‘Eid ul-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) is a wonderful time for Muslims. It commemorates the obedience ofProphet Abraham (upon him be peace) to Allah (God) where he and son were tested by the command to sacrifice Ismael, and passed the test which actually saved his son, who was replaced by a ram.
Prophet Muhammad (prayers of God upon him and peace) continued this tradition of obedience and conveyed to us to divide the Udhiya (sacrificed camel, cattle, lamb or goat) into thirds. One-third of the sacrifice is designated for the poor, one-third for the owner, and one-third to give away as gifts.
The Act of Giving to Neighbors & Friends on ‘Eid
Abraham’s obedience is commemorated in other traditions as well, such as kindness to neighbors. Under the guidance of God, Abraham’s accommodation to his guest actually resulted in an atheist becoming a believer in the One True God.
In an authentic, sound chain of narration, the Angelic Messenger of God, Angel Gabriel, urged the Messenger of God, Prophet Muhammad to extend the rights of neighbors to such an emphasis that Muhammad expected neighbors would eventually be elevated to the familial position of recipients of inheritance.
That said, ‘Eid is a time of gift-giving, not only in the form of meat (cooked or uncooked), but also of other gifts, edible and otherwise. I have personally enjoyed offering a portion of the Udhiya to my neighbors (most of whom are not Muslim) as an opportunity to be generous and share how our holiday is celebrated.
Given the fact that many people are not accustomed to eating lamb (let alone cooking it) it has been my experience that a cooked dish is much more appreciated than the alternative. Medium-size boneless pieces of meat in a flavorful, mildly-spiced stew, like Italian Lamb Stew, with rice or potatoes has the delicate balance and just the right combination I’ve come to learn that works best. Offered with a smile and a card (from Silver Envelope, of course) explaining our traditions and why we feel honored to have them as our neighbors and friends really has proven to be the start of something special and bonding among us. Although I have been turned down by some neighbors who insisted they didn’t like the taste of lamb; countless others have embraced the new flavors and told me years later how much they remembered the gesture and the taste of the dish as something they’d never experience before.
This year I have a new set of neighbors and am contemplating what dishes to surprise them with. One is an adventurous eater who has traveled the globe and is open to all cuisines; the others I know very little about but will do my best to create something simple and delicious for each of their small families. Perhaps as a result, we’ll find out more about each other- our common ground and similarities, like the basic desire for healthy social ties, a comfortable place to raise our families, and of course healthy and delicious food to enjoy.
I think I’ll even add some SilverEnvelope Treat Bags filled with dates, nuts and chocolates to the mix. After all, every ‘Eid celebration is a sweet one…
--Imam Ahmad said: “We go along with the hadeeth of ‘Abd-Allaah (ibn ‘Abbaas – may Allah be pleased with them both): ‘He should eat one third himself, feed one third to whomever he wants, and give one third in charity.”
Yvonne Maffei is a Chicago-based Food Writer and the Publisher of MyHalalKitchen.com, a popular food blog focused on halal cooking, eating and halal food topics. She is also a Culinary Consultant to Schools and Businesses. She can be found offering cooking tips and more on her Facebook page and on Twitter.
Click here for Yvonne's Italian Lamb Stew recipe!