Friday 27 November 2009

Eid al-Adha - Abraham's Sacrifice

George who has been overseeing the linens and threads we sent out to Beit Sahour sent me an email yesterday wishing us a Happy Eid al-Adha. I would like to say that I could have told you exactly what that meant without first consulting Wikipedia...but to my shame I can't. Eid al-Aida is the festival commemorating Abraham's release from the sacrifice of his son Isaac. It is certainly a time for joy to be told by God that no sacrifice of sons or daughters is necessary, simply obedience to God's laws and justice towards fellow humans. Abraham's sacrifice is a perennial subject on samplers and stitched pictures of the 17th century. Here are two examples for you to see. This first above comes from probably the finest collection of stitched samplers and pictures in the world - The Micheal and Elizabeth Feller Collection featured in the Perpetually Engaging Diary and shortly to be released Needlework Treasures by Mary M Brooks. I love the naive quality of the stitched narrative in this fine 17th century picture in which the protagonists, Abraham and the Angel, have speech bubbles - the words in the Angel's speech bubble - ABRAHAM ABRAHAM are flipped to MAHARBA MAHARBA to indicate they are coming from a different direction and are being heard.

This second is from the marvellous Dutch Verheggen Penders Collection (obtainable on CD-Rom). It was stitched by Mari Pieters in 1682 and Mari has stitched that she was 78 years old when she completed it. Whatever you do, don't give away your stash yet!


  1. Thank you for the Eid greetings. :) In the Qur'an, it doesn't specify which one of his sons Abraham is told to sacrifice...his eldest, Ishamael, or his youngest, Isaac. Muslims still sacrifice a sheep on Eid to commemorate the sheep/ram that God gave Abraham in place of his son. One is supposed to keep 1/3 of the meat for oneself, give 1/3 to one's neighbors/friends, and give 1/3 to the poor. Often times, the two Eids and during Ramadan are the only time that many Muslims eat meat--as they cannot afford it other times. In the U.S., many Muslim organizations donate the meat to soup kitchens and food pantries.

    Oh...and Maharba is Arabic for "Welcome" or "Hello".

  2. This is wonderful to know Umsami - thank you. How would I have ever known that Maharba is Arabic for Welcome or Hello without you!