The month of January marks the most important month in the Islam religion, particularly in Istanbul. In
this month, Turkish celebrates the religious festival known as Kurban Bayrami or Eid el-Adha in Arabic.
Kurban Bayramı, which starts on 10 Zilhicce (Dhul-hijja) in the Islamic lunar Hijri calendar, is also the
time of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca (Haj), so there’s a notable influx of domestic and international
travelers in Turkey at this time.
The festival celebrates the Biblical and Kur’anic account of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son on Mount
Moriah, proving Abraham’s complete obedience to God. In the story, God stays Abraham’s hand at the
last moment and provides a ram for sacrifice instead, praising Abraham for his faithfulness. Following
this tradition, the head of each Turkish household hopes to sacrifice a sheep on the morning of the first
day of the holiday period. A lavish meal is made from the meat, friends and family are invited to feast,
and the excess meat and the hide are donated to charity.
Men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing to perform Eid prayer in
a large congregation is an open waqf field called Eidgah or mosque. Well off Muslims, i.e Malik-e-
Nisaab, sacrifice their best domestic animals (usually a cow, but can also be a camel, goat, sheep or ram
depending on the region) as a symbol of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son. The sacrificed
animals, called Uḍhiyyah have to meet certain age and quality standards or else the animal is considered
a void sacrifice. This tradition accounts for more than 100 million slaughtering of animals in only 2 days
The meat from the sacrificed animal is divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share;
another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the other third is given to the poor and
needy. The regular charitable practices of the Muslim community are demonstrated during Eid al-Adha
by concerted efforts to see that no impoverished person is left without an opportunity to partake in the
sacrificial meal during these days.
During Eid al-Adha, distributing meat amongst the people, chanting the Takbir out loud before the Eid
prayer on the first day and after prayers throughout the three days of Eid, are considered essential
parts of this important Islamic festival. In some countries, families that do not own livestock can make a
contribution to a charity that will provide meat to those who are in need.