Sacrificial Sheep: Eid Al Adha In A Moroccan Berber Village

This past Saturday, we decided to spend Eid Al Adha, the Muslim holiday where people sacrifice a sheep, in the country side. We visited a little Berber village a few miles south of Marrakesh.

This is a tradition that has existed for centuries and Muslims all over the world celebrate it once a year. According to the Muslim history, the tradition started when God asked the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to prove his full dedication by sacrificing his only son: Ismael. It was extremely hard for Ibrahim to make a choice but he ultimately decided to show his loyalty to God and to kill his son. After he did so, God spoke to him and revealed to him that he instead had a sheep killed and that his son Ismael was alive because the willingness to sacrifice his son was enough of a proof of commitment .

Since then, Muslims commemorate this miracle by killing a sheep. Some of it is given to poor people but most families get together to celebrate and eat.

In Azimime, the village that we picked to spend the holiday, the mood was pretty festive. We arrived there at around 9:30 a.m. Women had woken early to make a delicious breakfast and to start preparing for the day. People were moving around the village, walking into their neighbors' houses to wish them a happy holiday. We received a very warm welcome from the villagers who rarely had outsiders visit them. Omar and his family invited us into their home, made us tea and after we were done, took us around the village so we could see people slaughtering their sheep, following the Muslim tradition.

Everyone was welcoming, offered us tea and wanted us to spend the night. In each home, a butcher came in to help with the slaughtering. Once it was done, the sheep was cut into pieces and every part was used to cook. First, we ate the liver, but did not get a chance to eat the head and other parts because they were going to cook on the fire the entire night.

We tried, in our pictures, to capture the tradition. The following slide-show takes us through a day with the villagers and their families on this holy day.

(Photographs by Leila Alaoui)

Eid Al Adha Slideshow 1 from aida alami on Vimeo.