(RNS) — Summer for many Americans means country fairs. And, with this year’s Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha falling on Tuesday (July 20), a Muslim organization in Washington, D.C., is combining the two traditions.
“This (is the) perfect opportunity for us to bring the Muslim story of Eid to the American venue of a farm,” said Laila Tauqeer, who is the director of the Next Wave Muslim Initiative. “The theme is meant to incorporate centuries-old Eid traditions into new and exciting activities to connect the American Muslim community with Islam in a way and in a setting that is relevant to their lived experiences.”
Over 800 Muslim Americans are expected to attend the family-focused event at the Green Meadows Petting Farm in Ijamsville, Maryland, making it one of the larger such gatherings around the country in the era of COVID-19. The event combines traditional Eid prayer services, a carnival atmosphere and a concert from the group Native Deen.
Given the farm’s location, the event is expected to draw Muslims from Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Facilities at the farm allow visitors to engage in archery, soccer, darts, duck races and hayrides. Organizers say halal versions of American classics will be served from food trucks at the event.
Part of the American Islamic experience has been to turn the Eid al-Adha holiday into a family affair. While Eid carnivals have become a common practice in recent years, the growth of the American Muslim community means more and more Eid al-Adha events take place away from a mosque and in a temporary venue. For example, in Orange County, California, as an ecumenical gesture, Muslims in one congregation will use the parking lot of St. Philip Benizi Church in Fullerton, California. Eid al-Adha prayers take place in a number of large sports venues, including MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota and Angel Stadium in California.
The Eid al-Adha holiday marks the end of the six-day hajj to Mecca and celebrates the willingness of the Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God’s command. (In the Quranic version of the story, the sacrificial son is Ishmael; in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, the son is Isaac.)
“We went with a farm day extravaganza theme because the farm venue represented a very American Eid experience for us. This particular Eid, Eid al-Adha, highlights the story of Prophet Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son Prophet Ishmael in the way of God before God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead,” Tauqeer said.