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Muslims Celebrate Eid-ul-Adha At Tuckahoe Plantation Wednesday, January 18, 2006

 Article from Goochland Courier

Tuckahoe Plantation - On ground where Thomas Jefferson, author of the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom, played as a child, members of the Islamic Society of Greater Richmond (ISGR) marked their festival of Eid-ul-Adha with a ritual as ancient as the Old Testament.

Held at Tuckahoe Plantation on Wednesday, Jan. 11, the services were part of a three-day observance of God's substitution of a sacrificial lamb in place of the son of Ibrahim.  The event also holds an important place in the traditions of other unitary faiths such as Christianity and Judaism.

"His [Ibrahim's] faith was so strong that when God told him to kill his son, he was prepared to follow God's command," explained Tariq Jangda, who coordinated the observance for the ISGR. "This is one of our greatest celebrations when God reminds us to follow his laws and have faith in him above all ."

Jangda said that about 30 animals, both lambs and goats, were sacrificed according to ancient religious laws.

"The animals must be free of flaws, healthy and well cared for," explained Jangda. "The sacrifice is done in such a way as to cause the animal minimal pain and stress.  It is similar to the way that kosher meat is prepared."

Two prayer tents, one for men, the other for women and children, were set up in an open field along the plantation road. Prayers, said facing east toward Mecca, the most holy place of Islam, were offered several times during the day.  The number of the faithful in attendance ebbed and flowed throughout the day and about 150 were in attendance for the mid morning prayers.

"People come when they can around their work schedules," said Jangda.

This marks the first time that the ISGR has performed the sacrifice as part of the observance, Jangda said. Venues, such as banquet halls in Richmond and Henrico would not permit the activity.

"We were searching for a place on the Internet and found this," said Jangda. "We investigated and it worked out that they could accommodate us.  Most of our members live in the West End, so this was very convenient for us."

Goochland officials, he reported, were accommodating when they learned that the events were part of a religious observation.

"The sheriff's department, especially, was very good to work with," said Jangda. "The sheriff himself came out to make sure that everything was in place, and the deputies were here for traffic control when we started".

In the past, when the event has been held at other venues, he explained, law enforcement has appeared several hours after the start of the festival.

Although representatives from People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were expected to demonstrate in the vicinity of the event, their protest did not materialize during the morning hours.

Because Tuckahoe Plantation is zoned agricultural, activities planned for the observance fell into permitted uses on the property.

"We hold all sorts of events from weddings to fund raisers, said Stefan Crawford, the general and events manager of Tuckahoe Plantation. "This worked out well for everyone."

Muslim tradition requires the faithful to break the Eid-ul-Adha fast by partaking of the cooked meat of the sacrificial animals.
At a huge barbecue grill Zainab Abdullah, of the Al-Shahadah restaurant at 315 North 2nd Street in Richmond slathered barbecue sauce on pieces of lamb and goat that would be eaten during the festival.

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Islamic Society of Greater Richmond (ISGR)