October 26 this year is the Muslim festival of Eid ul-Adha. The story that is at the heart of it is familiar to followers of all the Abrahamic religions:
Allah appeared to Ibrahim in a dream and told him to sacrifice his son Isma'il. Just as Ibrahim was about to kill Isma'il Allah stopped him and gave him a ram to sacrifice instead.Islam literally means submission to the will of God so Abraham's willingness to prepare to kill Isaac and Allah's mercy is particularly potent and worthy of a special holy day or Eid.
During Eid-ul-Adha, Muslims remember this obedience and sacrifice, and think about their own obedience to Allah. People who can afford it will sacrifice an animal such as a sheep or a goat and share the meat among family, friends and the poor, who each get a third share. People also donate money to the poor. Eid-ul-Adha is also a time when people get together with family and friends, eat traditional food and give presents.Although there are variations in the local languages, the traditional Arabic greeting after prayers is "Eid Mubarak", translating roughly as "may your holiday be blessed" or more prosaically, "Happy Eid".
The family of Malala Yousufzai, the education activist shot in the Swat Valley, Pakistan, flew into Birmingham, England last night at the start of the Eid festival. Ziauddin, her father, gave a press conference today after visiting Malala. She is progressing well although her injuries make tiring the tests she had today on her vision and hearing. Ziauddin was obviously moved to see her progress:
He said he had cried when he saw for the first time Malala standing at the hospital in Birmingham. He said it was "a miracle" she had survived a bullet grazing her brain.
The first time he had seen her after the shooting her "whole body was swollen". Mr Yousafzai said he had considered making preparations for her funeral.
Her condition today is a complete contrast and Ziauddin's words echo how Abraham must have felt at Isaac's escape from death.
"She got the right treatment, at the right place, at the right time," Mr Yousafzai said. She is recovering at an encouraging speed and we are very happy. It is a miracle."He is obviously immensely proud of his brave daughter and moved at the response to the attack on her. He is also hopeful that this will help move the country forward:
"When she fell, Pakistan stood. This is a turning point. In Pakistan, for the first time, all political parties, Urdus, Christians, Sikhs, all religions prayed for my daughter."So for Ziauddin; Malala's mother, Toorpekai Yousufzai, and Malala's siblings Atal Khan and Khushal Khan, this year's Eid ul-Adha must have felt particularly blessed. May I wish them and other Muslims, a slightly belated "Eid Mubarak!".