Muslims around the world observed Eid al Adha or Festival of the Sacrifice, the most significant holiday in the Islamic calendar, on September 12.

The holiday commemorates Prophet Abraham’s absolute dedication and commitment to God and is observed as a day of giving charity, distributing fresh meat to those in need, repenting to God, showing gratefulness for God’s bounties, visiting the sick and elderly, and participating in festivities.

Thousands of Muslims streamed into the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee to offer their holiday prayers. Those unable to take the Monday off joined in early morning prayers at nearly a dozen Mosques in the area. Dressed in holiday outfits, the Wisconsin Center was transformed into a dazzling array of colors and ethnic clothing.

Eid al Adha coincides with the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, an important ritual that every Muslim must perform at least once in their lifetime if physically and financially able. The pilgrimage includes rites such as circulating around the Kaaba, a square structure, while in earnest prayer and supplication. Muslims believe the Kaaba is the first house built on earth for the worship of One God, the original structure being built by the Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael.

Muslims all over the world turn five times a day to face the Kaaba when offering their daily prayers, symbolically showing that they worship the God of Abraham. Additional rites include hastening seven times between two small hills, a replication of Haggar’s desperate search for water for her infant son Ishmael, and spending the day before Eid on the barren Mountain of Arafat, in deep repentance.

The millions of pilgrims stand together in their simple attire, reminiscent of the Day of Judgment, when each person will account for their life and how they lived it, their wealth and how they spent it, and their actions and how it affected others.

Inside Milwaukee’s Convention Center, worshippers stood shoulder to shoulder, kneeled and prostrated as one body. The prayer was followed by a short sermon, ending with wishes of Eid Mubarak or blessed holiday. Participants hugged and kissed family and friends, sharing good wishes. The Eid was spent celebrating with loved ones.

The Milwaukee Independent spent the morning at the prayer commemoration, and these images captured moments from the community’s holiday celebration.

Janan Najeeb

Lee Matz