This means "Happy Eid ul-Adha" for the year 1425 on the Muslim lunar calendar. Today is a big holiday in Indonesia, as Idul Adha commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to God, and God’s eventual substitution of a lamb for Abraham’s son. Now, many of you may be saying "Wait! It’s Isaac who was supposed to be sacrificed!" Well, this is a big difference between Islam and Judaism/Christianity. In the Qur’an, Ishmael, Abraham’s first-born son with Sara’s slave Hagar, is the legitimate first-born one, and he’s the one whom Abraham almost sacrifices. In Islamic tradition, the Bedouins/Arabs are descended from Abraham through Ishmael, just like in Judeo-Christianity where Jews are descended from Abraham through Isaac.
At any rate, last night the muezzins were really excited, and they were so loud that we almost couldn’t fall asleep. There is some disagreement between us as to whether they went on all through the night, but by the time we woke up, they were back at it again. And yes, today is another holiday, so everything is closed. Traditionally (in Indonesia at least) Muslims will slaughter a lamb or some other animal and eat it to celebrate Idul Adha. It’s considered very important to share this meal with people who cannot afford it–we saw a sort of Idul Adha lamb feast sign-up sheet in our apartment lobby yesterday.
So remember, if you’re a Brit or Aussie who likes to say "Happy Eed" to
your Muslim friends on Eid ul-Fitr, that’s kind of weird, because there
are many Eids.
When we listen to radios in the car, lately we’ve been hearing a lot about the weather in Mecca and Medina. This is because Eid ul-Adha falls during the time of the year when Muslims can complete the hajj, which as you probably know is the pilgrimmage to Mecca that Muslims who are able are supposed to do once in their lifetime. Here’s an online description of what the hajj actually entails. You can also do a "lesser hajj" (called an umroh in Indonesian) at any time during the year, but that doesn’t actually count. We’ve seen lots of signs at travel agencies advertising umroh and hajj packages; in his later years, Soeharto liked to stop by Mecca for an umroh on his way back from overseas trips.
We also figured out what the "H" in "1425 H" stands for: it stands for hijra, the Arabic word meaning "decampment" or "withdrawal" which refers to the journey of Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina. This is year 0 on the Islamic calendar, so 1425 H means 1425 years after Muhammad moved to Medina, just like 2005 AD means 2005 years after Jesus was born.