20,000 gather for Eid al-Adha prayer in Dallas
North Texas Muslims entered 20,000-strong Friday morning into the Dallas Convention Center, in native costumes of far-flung lands for communal prayer for one of the holiest days of the Islamic faith, The Dallas Morning News
Four-year-old Awa Faal and her mother, Mbenda Faal of Garland, took part in the prayer for Eid al-Adha, the feast of the sacrifice, at the Dallas Convention Center.
"This is the time to come together, to help each other and to understand each other," said Imam Yusuf Kavakci, the religious leader of the Dallas Central Mosque.
The morning marked Eid al-Adha, or the feast of the sacrifice. It comes at the end of the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. For those of the faith, it celebrates the prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son to God. It commemorates God sparing the son for a sacrificial ram instead.
North Texas is now home for some 150,000 Muslims and more than 50 mosques and Islamic centers.
And like the 3 million celebrating the hajj this week in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Dallas event brought together families from diverse points on the globe.
Men wore prayer caps of West Africa and South Asia, Nehru jackets and Afghan robes. Women wore the salwar kameez of India and many other south Asian nations. And nearly every woman and child draped their heads in scarves of lilac, rose, and marigold.
"It is spiritual unification," said Sabeen Faheem, a junior at Southern Methodist University. "It is Muslim Christmas. And it is important because our forefathers did it."
Ameera Khan, a native of India, gathered with her daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
"We celebrate Ibrahim, his life and his family," she said. Her daughter-in-law, Hajira Khan, called the holiday "a time that I personally think of all the other sacrifices others have made and what sacrifices I can make."
A banner greeted all entering the communal prayer arena. It read: "Eid Mubarak," blessed festivities, and directed "brothers" though one entrance and "sisters" through another.
And as the event ended, Wali Zazay greeted friends from his native Afghanistan with a Salaam Aleikum, peace be with you. Zazay, who has lived in Texas for 40 years, noted that peace is elusive in many parts of the world.
He fears for Afghanistan, where his sisters still live. And in days, President Barack Obama is expected to make a decision on a troop build-up there of possibly 30,000 more men and women to the existing force of 68,000.
"I am not just worried about my family but the whole country," Zazay said.
"Our troops are there for the last eight years and we have not achieved our goals ... and a lot of innocent people have lost their lives."
And then, Zazay greeted another man. "Salaam Aleikum."