Day 5

Day 5 – Tobaski

Updated: Aug 22

This morning we went to Tobaski, or the festival of Eid Al-Adha, celebrated at the prayer ground in the centre of Gunjur.

I found it amazing, awe inspiring, and enlightening. What struck me most was the strength of community; there was a deep, shared faith amongst everyone there. I’ve seen other religious sites and ceremonies, and nothing has felt as moving as Tobaski. It was just believers in an open space, the sounds of the prayers of a few thousand people repeating Allahu akbar. It was out of this world. It felt as though they spoke as one, and the sound moved through you.

it was very powerful to witness. The sights the sounds and smells: it just felt very raw. I was lost for words, stunned by it all.

Everyone was in their best, brightest clothing: the pride people take! Everyone truly cared. And everyone was enjoying themselves.

I was speaking to someone afterwards. If you could picture ‘community,’ he said, this would be it.

As someone who isn’t religious, it made me feel very spiritual. It was the closest to a religious experience I’ve ever had. The good that is perpetuated by a religion was so in evidence here. We were welcomed and given a great first hand experience. The whole atmosphere was happy and spiritual. It will stick with me – I hope – for the rest of my life.

Callum Roberts, 17 Kingsbury Green Academy, Calne

After the prayers I was invited to my partner, Fakebba’s house to take part in the traditional sacrifice of a goat. It was such an honour; I was the only one of the British young people to be invited. And Fakebba’s family made me so welcome, even though it was a family occasion, and family ties here are so strong. I wasn’t expecting to take part, just to be an onlooker. But it turned into quite a real experience! I was asked if I’d like to help.

Fakebba’s father had just come back from Hajj, and he explained the whole story of Tobaski, of Ibrahim and Ishmael, to us.

I held the goat while they cut its throat. It was done on a palm leaf and all the blood drained into a small hole. I was worried it might be a bit gruesome, a bit much, but it turned out to be an amazing experience. It wasn’t cruel or unkind or wasteful. In fact, it was strangely peaceful; they were respectful and gentle with the animal, and they were all praying as they killed it with a sharp knife bought that morning. It was all done so gently, not at all what you‘d expect. I was there, with the goat, its neck bleeding out. It was intense, but not in a bad way.

Afterwards, I helped with the skinning and butchering, squeezing out the intestines, getting the organs out and cleaned and readied to be shared amongst the people.

They split the goat into seven pieces and shared six pieces with other people in the community who don’t have enough money to buy a goat. And Fakebba pointed out the houses where the meat would be distributed. They gave me a leg, which is in the freezer now. Everyone in the community looks out for those who don’t have any money. It gave me a whole new outlook on the Islamic religion.

Once the meat was ready to be cooked, Fakebba’s mum cooked it in a stew with all the vital organs – the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys – over a wood fire. Meanwhile, we played football.

It was served with spaghetti and bread, surprisingly. Me and Fakebba ate it out of a bowl with our fingers, and he gave me the best bit, which was the heart. I don’t normally like those parts of an animal, but because it was so fresh and so clean, it tasted very good.

Oli Chandler, 17

St John’s Academy,