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Originally broadcast November 20, 2009
KIM LAWTON, correspondent: The festival of Eid al-Adha begins with sacrifice. Those participating in the hajj, and all other Muslim families with the financial means, slaughter a sheep, lamb, goat, camel, or cow.
DAWUD WALID (Council on American Islamic Relations Michigan): This sacrifice is in remembrance of what the Qu’ran says, as well as the Bible, of when Abraham was inspired or he had a dream that he was to sacrifice one of his sons, and then God told Abraham that he did not have to sacrifice his son, and a ram came, and Abraham then sacrificed the ram.
LAWTON: American Muslims typically buy meat slaughtered according to Islamic requirements from a market or grocery store. The immediate family eats one-third of the meat. Another third is shared with the larger community of friends and relatives, and the rest is donated to the poor.
WALID: It’s a religious obligation for us to give to other people. We would not be good Muslims or following our religion, because the third pillar of Islam is charity, so we’re obligated to give charity.
LAWTON: In the United States, recipients include places such as Gleaner’s Community Food Bank of southeastern Michigan. They partner with over 400 outlets in their network of feeding programs to distribute thousands of pounds of frozen lamb meat donated by the Muslim community annually.
JOHN KASTLER (Gleaner’s Community Food Bank): It’s a high-protein item, and it’s certainly the type of food product that we really like to provide during the winter months where you get a nice, hearty meal out of the donation. Groups like the Salvation Army, the Cabbage & Soup Kitchen, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, and different feeding programs around town will be able to enjoy this blessing.
LAWTON: Through the soup kitchens they operate, mosques and Islamic centers also serve as distribution sites. Those who come in to pray are offered bags of lamb to take home, as are all non-Muslims seeking food assistance.
I’m Kim Lawton reporting.