Azerbaijan’s Muslims celebrate Qurban Bayram, the Sacrifice Feast
On 1 September, Azerbaijani Muslims joined the rest of the Islamic world in celebration of Qurban Bayram (Eid al-Adha in Arabic) – the Sacrifice Feast – one of two major Islamic festivals held worldwide each year.
Qurban Bayram is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12 month on the Islamic lunar calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, the holiday celebration date varies from year to year.
The festival originates from the Old Testament in the Bible and Quran legend, in which God provided the Prophet Abraham (or Ibrahim according to the Quran) with a lamb so that he could sacrifice it instead of his son.
As Islam prescribes it, an animal should be sacrificed on this day and its meat should, according to tradition, be distributed among the underprivileged. Sheep, cows and camels, all males, can serve as sacrificial animals. However, in Azerbaijan it’s customary to sacrifice mostly sheep. On the eve of the sacrificial ritual, the animals are decorated with red ribbons, or their fleece is painted red.
A festive Namaz (prayer) was performed in all mosques throughout Azerbaijan on Friday.
Qurban Bayram has been celebrated in Azerbaijan at the state level since 1992. This year, per governmental decision, four days in early September have been declared public holidays.
The holiday coincides with Hajj (a pilgrimage to Mecca), a mandatory religious duty for each Muslim that must be carried out at least once in his/her life. This year, 900 people from Azerbaijan have performed their pilgrimage (last year 600 people), and 60% of them were males. The oldest pilgrim is 86 years old, and the youngest 17.