Muslims around the world celebrate first day of Eid al-Adha

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Muslim worshipers around the world gather at mosques to mark the beginning of the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha on Friday.

Eid al-Adha -- the Feast of Sacrifice -- is one of the most important holidays in the Muslim Calendar. It includes the pilgrimage to holy city of Mecca, known as “Haj”, which is one of the five pillars of Islam and is supposed to be undertaken by every Muslim who can afford to do so.

The holiday commemorates Prophet Abraham’s willingness to obey God’s command to sacrifice his son Ismael.

Muslims worldwide traditionally slaughter a four legged animal in commemoration. The meat is then distributed amongst the family and neighbors as well as the poor and needy.

But before the slaughter, men, women and children alike flock to mosques around the country to take part in the prayers.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hosted officials for holiday prayers at the presidential compound and later laid a wreath on the grave of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

“The upcoming month, November, we will go to the United Nations to get an observer state status so things can be clear. After this we can see what's next," Abbas told reporters after prayer.

Prayers in the Hamas-run and sanctions-hit Gaza Strip were attended by the Islamist-group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh who’s preaching reaffirmed unity between all Palestinians.

In neighboring Egypt, hundreds of Muslims gathered at Cairo’s Mostafa Mahmoud mosque to attend Eid prayers.

People in the crowd wished everybody a happy Eid and hoped that president Mursi’s presidency would be successful.

“We are 91 million people and I wish that we can all move to the same rhythm and heartbeat. I want to wish all the Egyptian people a happy Eid and on the forefront, his Excellency President Mohamed Mursi, a happy Eid to him as well,” said Abdel Kereem Fahmy.

Indonesians, who make one of the largest Muslim population in the world, marked the holy occasion with prayers that conflict in the Middle East to end.

“I hope Muslims in Syria can stop the civil war, that’s already suffered thousands of civilian casualties. Let’s make peace in this Eid al- Adha, the Holy day,” said Ahmad Jais, who came to pray at Jakarta’s Istiqlal Grand Mosque.

Despite the agreed ceasefire by both Syrian opposition and government, activists reported that least eight people were killed in the country.

Muslims in the Philippines were also highly charged when around 1,000 Filipino Muslims gathered in Rizal Park in downtown Manila past sunrise, despite rain showers, and joined prayers led by an imam.

Muslims from Manila, including Imam Ahmad Javier who converted from Christianity, expressed optimism about the peace framework agreement signed between the government and the country’s largest Muslim rebel group last week.

The pact raises prospects of an end to a 40-year-conflict that has killed 120,000 people and displaced 2 million.

“There’s a lot of hope. Of course, this [peace agreement] has been long awaited, and it’s gaining some clarity. So Muslims are continuing to pray for the success of the negotiations between the government and Muslims in Mindanao,” Imam Ahmad Javier said.

But in Bangladesh, Eid sentiments were apolitical and celebratory amid the hustle and the bustle as thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims filled the streets, ferry terminals and train stations on Friday to make it home in time for the Holy day of Eid al-Adha.

“To celebrate Eid festival I am going to my home, I bought a ticket but I could not get into that train. This one is also very crowded, it is impossible for me to take this train, it is just hopeless. But I must find another way to go home. Let me see what I can do,” said Sahana Begum, a female passenger.

Eid al-Adha, the second largest religious festival for Muslims, will be celebrated across the world on Saturday.