Over 15,000 Muslims gathered in the parking lot of Angel Stadium on Monday morning to celebrate Eid al-Adha (the “Sacrifice Feast”), the second of two major Islamic holidays that occurs during the time of the annual hajj pilgrimage.
The hajj is a mandatory religious pilgrimage for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in each Muslim’s lifetime. Eid al-Adha is a four-day festival marking the end of the hajj pilgrimage.
“We had two services, and many people ended up praying outside the fence because there was no room,” Nicole Bovey Alhakawati, spokeswoman for the Islamic Institute of Orange County, told the Orange County Register.
The event was reportedly organized by the four largest mosques in Orange County – the Islamic Center of Irvine, the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove, and the Islamic Institute of Orange County and West Coast Islamic Society, both in Anaheim.
The holiday commemorates the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son on the altar. The Qur’an derives the story from the Torah, the holy book of the Jewish people. Judaism is the first of the three major Abrahamic religions, which also include Christianity and Islam. In the Torah, Abraham (Abram) was told by God to sacrifice Isaac. Muslims, however, believe it was Ishmael who was placed on the altar. In the Torah, an angel intervened, and seeing his devotion to God, told Abraham not to sacrifice Isaac.
A ram was sacrificed in Isaac’s place in the Torah, and a goat in Ishmael’s place in the Qur’an.
Monday’s mass prayer was reportedly interrupted by four protesters who “were yelling out hateful things and holding Bibles,” Khalil Hamidi, who attended the prayers with his family, told the Register. “I have many close friends who are Christians. What these people did today was not Christian.”
On social media, one user captured part of the protest, referring to the group of four as “Islamophobes”:
— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) September 12, 2016
Although there was reportedly some pushing and shoving among the protesters and attendees, Anaheim Police Sgt. Daron Wyatt told the Register that officers responded to the incident and that no arrests were made.
A woman named Joumana told Breitbart News that she had performed the hajj in 2007 but said she believes fewer women went this year than last year due to security concerns. Last year, a stampede in Mecca tragically killed approximately 2,300 people. This year, the AFP notes that Saudi Arabia has begun issuing hajj pilgrims with identification bracelets.
Photo: file (2013)
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz