The big holiday known as Eid el-Adha or Eid el-Kbir is just around the corner. The holiday celebrates the almost-sacrifice of Ishmael. This same story appears in Christian and Jewish texts, though is slightly different in that it is Ishmael who is almost sacrificed by Abraham in Islam, not Isaac. In either case, that God provides a ram for sacrifice in the place of Abraham’s son makes the holiday a kind of remembrance and time of reflection for the sacrifice God may require of us. It’s essentially the Muslim version of Christmas in terms of how large and important the holiday is; and it’s probably similar to Easter in terms of religious significance and the similarity to sacrifice.
This is my third Eid in Morocco. Every family will buy at least one goat or sheep to slaughter on this coming Friday morning. So, right now, my world is surrounded by goats and sheep (more than it usually is). Case in point, this afternoon, when I went to grab my backpack out of the taxi, I opened up the trunk, and there was a sheep laying there smiling at me. Hey sheep. I realized I have been here entirely too long when I just kind of shoved the sheep to the side trying to find my backpack and thought nothing of it until five minutes later. Then, I was sitting in the cafe, and it just sort of dawned on me, “You just pushed a sheep over in a taxi trunk to grab your backpack. That’s at least kinda weird.”
Back in the orchard, there’s two sheep in a side room connected to my house constantly calling to me, “Philip, save us. Only you can set us freeeee.” Their call is maddening. Here’s some fun math: there are approximately 32 million people living in Morocco. Now, let’s say that per 10 people, which each family being somewhere in that number, one goat or sheep is purchased for the sacrifice. That means, on Friday morning, this country will collectively slaughter 3.2 million adorable, furry sheep and billy goats.
Meanwhile, I have been… summoned... to one of these slaughters by my landlord who is insistent that I arrive at his house at 8:00 a.m. Friday morning to take pictures of the whole charade (his son Mohamed begged me to come at 7:00 and I shut that down really quickly; no way, Mo). I honestly like how this will be my way of saying goodbye to this family. To spend their holiday with them. I do not, however, particularly enjoy the fact that I will endure sheep stomach, potentially eyeball or testicles as part of the day’s meal. If you are a praying person, please pray for me to endure this meal yet one final time. And that I can stomach it without vomiting. Or crying as the blood of some cute little baby goat or sheep cries out from the ground. I’m being dramatic, I know, but they are such cute animals!