Islamic Relief USA marks Eid-ul-Adha, provides Food Distribution

January 6, 2015

Christina Tobias-Nahi, Director of Public Affairs, Islamic Relief USA

One of two most important Islamic holidays of the year is Eid-ul-Adha which due to the ever shifting lunar calendar fell this year in early October (next year it will be in late September). Eid-ul-Adha marks the end of Hajj, the sacred pilgrimage to the holy city Mecca. Also popularly known as the Feast of Sacrifice, this holiday commemorates in our tradition the Prophet Abraham’s selfless act of sacrificing his own son Ishmael to God to prove his devotion.

Qurbani distribution in Herndon, Virginia. Courtesy: IRUSA

Qurbani distribution in Herndon, Virginia. Courtesy: IRUSA

To commemorate this outstanding deed, people sacrifice a lamb, goat, ram or other hoofed animal and give a portion of the meat to friends, neighbors, relatives and the needy (called qurbani). Others donate money in lieu of this ritual to organizations such as Islamic Relief who then purchase local fresh and canned meat depending on the country to distribute in the community. While this has been done internationally for decades, Islamic Relief USA has also been increasing the domestic program as food insecurity in America grows.

This year Islamic Relief USA gave 48,000 pounds of fresh meat to over 38,000 beneficiaries in 7 locales nationwide –Falls Church and Herndon, Virginia; New York, Detroit, Chicago,  Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. In many cities the meat was given in concert with other services as part of our Day of Dignity action so there might be health screenings, clothing donation, fresh vegetable distribution with a nutrition training/cooking demonstration, etc.  Meat was distributed by staff and volunteers to all who stopped by, regardless of faith.

Distribution in Los Angeles, California. Courtesy: IRUSA

Distribution in Los Angeles, California. Courtesy: IRUSA

In addition to once yearly meat, Islamic Relief USA is supporting year round food pantries and also engaging in advocacy around the child nutrition reauthorization act and other programs trying to eliminate hunger in our midst.  For the past two years our headquarters staff and volunteers have also supported the Martin Luther King Day of Service collecting canned goods and donating them to the Arlington Food Assistance Center. To join this effort on January 19th please contact our volunteer coordinator at zjmohammed@irusa.org.