Crowds converge on Valley Stream mosque during Eid


Thousands of congregants from Valley Stream and beyond flocked to Masjid Hamza on Sept. 1 to celebrate Eid al-Adha — the second of two major annual Islamic holidays.

Some 1.6 billion people who comprise the global Muslim community spend the holiday with family and friends, taking the day off from work and school to feast and exchange gifts. Beginning in 2015, New York City public schools closed in observance of both major Islamic holidays — Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha — and this year marks the first school year those holidays are recognized on the Valley Stream schools’ calendar.

Eid al-Adha (pronounced EED al-UHD-huh), also known as the Feast of Sacrifice, is a celebration of the Prophet Abraham’s devotion to God, manifested in his willingness to sacrifice his son at God’s request. Similar to the versions of the story in the Old Testament and the Torah, the story in the Quran says that God appeared to Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic) in a dream and asked him to sacrifice his son as a test of his loyalty. As he was about to go through with it, God gave him a sheep to kill instead.

Like most religious holidays, Eid al-Adha involves prayer services, usually in the early morning. Those who can afford it slaughter an animal — a cow or sheep — to emulate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God, and more broadly, the sacrifices humans make over the course of their lives in the name of goodness. Muslims are required to share portions of the slaughter, and their overall wealth, with the needy.

The holiday also corresponds with the height of the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, the Saudi Arabian city believed to be the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad and Islam itself. All Muslims who are financially and physically able are required to make the journey once in their lifetime. Over the course of five days, they perform a series of rituals meant to symbolize their unity with other believers and to pay tribute to God. The pilgrimage annually draws some 2 million Muslims, and Masjid Hamza, at 202 Stuart Ave. in Valley Stream, sends a group on the congregation’s behalf each year.

Representatives from the Islamic Circle of North America were also on hand this year to collect donations for hurricane relief, to aid victims of subsequent hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the southeastern U.S.

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