Muslims gathered in prayer yesterday in observation of Eid ul-Adha, one of the two major annual Islamic holidays. The day marked the end of Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that all physically and financially-able Muslims are required to make once in their lifetime.

“Most people enjoy the day with family and friends,” said Kenan Basha, president of the Muslim Students Association, “It’s not a celebration time – it’s a time to dedicate to spirituality.”

Eid commemorates the Quranic event when God first told Abraham to sacrifice his son, but in the end, only asked him to sacrifice a lamb and share it with the poor. Muslims remember this during Eid by giving food to the poor, Basha said.

LSA freshman Aisha Jukaku said her first Eid ul-Adha away from home did not feel any different, except that she was with friends instead of family. In the past, she had spent the day at her mosque and had family over for dinner in the evening. This year, “I went to the mosque for prayer and service and then I went out to lunch with friends,” Jukaku said.

The 10 days of Hajj are observed in different ways, depending on whether a pilgrimage to Mecca is made. Pilgrims spend the days performing acts of worship in and around Mecca. For Muslims who do not make the pilgrimage, the days are still highly spiritual and reflective, Basha said. But this year’s observance took on a different tone, MSA vice president Omar Khalil. Celebration for Eid ul-Adha has changed over the past two years due to the increased national focus on Islam, he said.

“The number (of Muslims) from America who actually went to Hajj decreased, stemming from their fear of excessive detainment and wrongful detainment on the basis of minor visa violations or heresay,” Basha said.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told CNN the terror level was increased from an “elevated alert” to a “high alert” status Friday partly because intelligence signaled that attacks might occur around the time of Hajj.

“President Bush raised the terror (threat) level to high because of Hajj, but Hajj is a very peaceful thing. The Hajj itself should never be a cause for concern,” Khalil said.

past two years due to the increased national focus on Islam, he said.

“The number (of Muslims) from America who actually went to Hajj decreased, stemming from their fear of excessive detainment and wrongful detainment on the basis of minor visa violations or heresy,” Basha said.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told CNN the terror level was increased from an “elevated alert” to a “high alert” status Friday partly because intelligence signaled that attacks might occur around the time of Hajj.

“President Bush raised the terror (threat) level to high because of Hajj, but Hajj is a very peaceful thing. The Hajj itself should never be a cause for concern,” Khalil said.

But Basha said Muslims still remained upbeat during the holiday. “In spite of these issues, Muslims have not lost track of the celebratory nature of Eid, as it will still be a special one for Muslims all over the world,” Basha said.

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