‘Tobaski’ is here again!

It is the approach of yet another Muslim feast of ‘Eid-ul-Adha.’ ‘Tobaski’ is what they called it across Senegambia region. It is a period of sacrifice and jubilation among the Islamic Ummah worldwide.

It is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to honour the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his first son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of submission to God’s command and his son’s acceptance to be sacrificed, before God intervened by providing Abraham with a Lamb to sacrifice instead.

In the lunar Islamic calendar, Eid-ul-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah and the celebrations lasts for four days at most. In the international Gregorian calendar, the date varies from year to year, drifting approximately 11 days earlier each year. However, the name ‘Tobaski’ or ‘Eid-ul-Adha,’ in this article will be using intermittently.

Preparation for Tosbaki has never been easy as it always start just few days after the holy month of Ramadan, hence its preparation starts when thousands of Muslims converge in the holy city of Makkah to observe one of the pillars of Islam called Hajj. In The Gambia, preparations reach its climax about three weeks to the celebration. This is because shepherds across the country joined by others from neighbouring countries such as Senegal and Mauritania bring in rams to sell in the Gambian market.

This always creates some temporary livestock markets across the country especially in the capital city of Banjul, the Greater Banjul Area, Brikama in West Coast, Soma and Farafenni while the popular abattoir in Abuko continues to receive more people ahead of the sacrificial Eid-ul-Adha feast in The Gambia. During this period from morning through night people walk round those temporal livestock markets or even on the streets and other places to select and bargain for good prices. Some vendors roam with their rams from one street to another to enable people who could not go to livestock markets to buy from them. Ram, goat, sheep; camel; cow can be slaughtered to commemorate this holy feast of Eid-ul-Adha.

The textile dealers are not also left out in the preparation for the feast as they will replenish and stock their shops with different latest fashion outfits. ‘Tobaski’ apart from its religious aspects also provides income for many people including tailors. Their business is at its peak during the period of celebration. Each household especially women and children always flock to tailoring shops and market places to buy new clothes in observance of the celebration.

In the Gambia, the famous ‘wanterr’ – auction market normally takes effect from ten days to the celebration. During this period the markets around the country especially the busy Serekunda and Albert markets to be precised are flooded with different types of household and clothing items as well as people. Even some supermarket owners will bring out some of their goods to these ‘Wanterr’ venues for people to buy. ‘Wanterr’, is always helpful at this period, villagers will travel to the city to buy some needed materials. At the same time it gives chance to people to surf for the hidden items that could not be found due to one reasons or another. All these goods will go for very cheap prices. The main aim of ‘Wanterr’ is to enable people buy material or items of their choice at a reasonable and affordable prices.

Among others, it is also a time for the fashion designers to make and receive bonus from their works. Their customers will throng their shops from morning to midnight to collect their well-tailored and fully designed clothes.

As the feast continues to draw nearer so many things are been touched, replaced and repaired where necessary. It has now become a tradition not only in the city but also at the provinces for people to paint their houses. Children will sing, and dance at the sight of a ram for the family sacrifice. They go to the bushes to cut grass for it and as well wash it to make it clean and attractive, while some will busy counting the remaining days left for livestock to be slaughtered.

With this mood in them it is necessary to enlighten them more on the advent of this memorable feast of Eid-ul-Adha. Educating them on this remarkable day now becomes the duty of the Islamic teachers in schools and Islamic preachers to sensitise people about the significance of the day and oneness of Almighty Allah and spread the messages of His prophets.

You can discuss more on how ‘Tobaski’ came about by relaying the story of Prophet Abraham, father of faith, as many scholars will address him and the sacrifice he was instructed to make by Almighty Allah. It is equally incumbent to narrate this in connection with the Hajj to the holy city of Mekka. This will as well enable them to understand what their parents do when they have the opportunity to visit the holy city of Mekka to observe one of the most important pillars of Islam. Preachers also explain how hajj is performed.

On Tobaski day, Muslims slaughter their sacrificial animals and share the meat among their families, friends, and the poor and needy when they come back from the praying ground. Muslims as well give out alms to the less privileged as this will make them happy and not been left out from the celebration.

Eid-ul-Adha, in some countries from local meaning and as per the history regarding the sacrifice some called it ‘Time to go home feast,’ ‘feast of sacrifice;’ ‘the big/grand feast,’ amongst others all geared towards the commemoration of Prophet Abraham’s (Ibrahim) (ASW) faith, love and devotion to Almighty Allah.

Eid-ul-Adha always marks end of the – pilgrimage to Makkah and Medina. That is on the day of Arafat which falls on the 9th of Dhul Hijja while the second day, 10th of Dhul Hijja is the feast throughout the Muslim world.

The celebration of Tobaski is due to the Holy Qur’an and Muslim belief that Almighty Allah had asked Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) (ASW) to sacrifice his only son in fulfilment of his promise to Allah. This was not only narrated in the Holy Qur’an but as well in the Holy Bible. Almighty instructed him to sacrifice Ismail and he obeyed, as he believed in divine rights and human obligations. However, Prophet Abraham (ASW) was on the verge of slaughtering Ismail to obey Allah’s command when Almighty Allah interceded by replacing a ram in the child’s place.

On the day of Tobaski, recognize, count your blessing and give thanks to Allah for His blessing by wearing the best of your clothes. Dress your children and be happy with them, give out gifts especially to children and celebrate with friends, neighbours and the entire family. If one may ask how we prepare ourselves for the prayer, I will answer that on ‘Tobaski’ day it is a day of joy, jubilation and glorifying Almighty Allah. So, following the way of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is to clean yourself for the Tobaski prayer, dress nicely in your best cloths, but do not steal or borrow money to buy this material just to look good and expensive. Apply good perfume or deodorant on your body and walk with your family to the prayer ground by reciting and chanting praises to Almighty Allah.

On Tobaski day it is advisable to go to the praying ground very early and secure a good position to sit and pray. The Eid prayer is non-obligatory but it is very good and rewarding to attend it as the day is meant for prayers and thanks giving to the Almighty Creator for his countless blessings to you, your family, the Muslim Ummah and the entire nation. After the two non-obligatory prayers at the praying ground, before departure, the Imam will recite the ‘khutba’ and pray for the Muslim Ummah. It is good to listen to this ‘khutba’ from the Imam, as it is full of positive messages from Allah and his prophet. Immediately after ‘khutba’, the Imam will slaughter his ram. According to the way of Prophet Mohammad, when leaving the prayer ground, it is good to take a different route to your house.

However, Imams and Islamic scholars all agreed that Eid-ul-Adha ‘is in essence a day to renew our bondage with our Creator, embrace His word without murmur or hesitation and to positively respond to the challenges that we face.’

The celebration in some countries especially in the Arab world can go up to six days. But in our region and in The Gambia in particular, the celebrations continue for three days and the government declares two days as public holidays. But when the feast falls closer to the weekend this will make it a longer celebration.

As we are celebrating this year’s Eid-ul-Adha on 23rd, May Almighty Allah fill our hearts with His love and grant us the steadfastness to uphold the banner of Islam for as long as we live.

From the entire family of the Daily Observer and Society crew, I will be the first to wish our esteem readers and their families a Happy Eid-ul-Adha!!! ‘Alama Naa Sali Seyalaa’, ‘Dewenati’, ‘Yo Allah Tawnu Enn Ko Arata’.