Muslims gather to celebrate Eid al-Adha

October 15, 2013 

The multicolored bounce houses behind the Islamic Center of the Tri-Cities on Tuesday couldn't compete with the brilliance of traditional dresses worn by the women representing about 30 Islamic nations.

Almost 1,000 had gathered in West Richland to celebrate Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice. It's a Muslim holiday honoring the prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail before Allah offered a sacrificial lamb instead.

The holiday marks the end of the annual pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca. For those in the Mid-Columbia, the celebration drew Muslims from as far as Moses Lake, Wenatchee and Yakima.

And for Mohamed Jimaale of Kennewick it was this chance to meet new people that makes the holiday exciting.

"Everybody is happy. We can't even wait," he said as he hung out with three friends who usually attend the Kennewick mosque.

Kisa Zehra, 16, of Karachi, Pakistan, was celebrating her first Eid al-Adha away from home as a foreign exchange student at Southridge High School in Kennewick.

"I miss my family. I miss Pakistani food, but I love this too," she said. "I never knew I would be able to come to a mosque here."

The celebration was quite different than what she was used to at home, she said, especially because it was a regular Tuesday for non-Muslims in the Tri-Cities.

Another big difference, Kisa said, was that there wasn't going be the sacrifice of a sheep, goat, cow or other halal meat at the Islamic center. Traditionally, the meat from the sacrificed animal is divided into thirds, with a third for your family, a third for friends and neighbors, and a third to the poor.

Cultures mingled as boys lowered a basketball hoop to just above 6 feet for some rim-rocking dunks and Faiza Farah, 10, of Kennewick, wore a bright pink Hello Kitty vest with henna on her hands and a Somali hijab, or headdress.

With these differences came the same message, however.

After prayer, Imam Mohamed Elsehmawy of West Richland joined others in hugs and greetings, and said his message was simple: "God created all of us to spread peace on earth."

-- Kai-Huei Yau: 585-7205; kyau@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @kaieeieei

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