Text by: Kimmy Baraoidan
Photos by: Chris Quintana and Kimmy Baraoidan
The adhan (call to prayer) echoes throughout the mosque and nearby houses in Los Baños, Laguna just before 6:00 a.m. While the town is still half-asleep, a hypnotic male voice chants over the loudspeakers, summoning members of the Muslim congregation to the mosque for that morning’s prayer. But it’s not just an ordinary day. It’s the holiest of all days in Islamic faith: Eid al-Adha or Feast of the Sacrifice. Eid al-Adha is about Ibrahim’s (Abraham in Christian doctrine) willingness to sacrifice his firstborn son Ismail to Allah. Every year, Muslims around the world commemorate this through animal sacrifice, slaughtering cows, goats, sheep, camels, or buffaloes, whichever is available.
Two bull calves and five large goats are offered up for sacrifice this year at the mosque. The animals have been brought to the mosque a few days before the feast, tied to the fence to prevent them from wandering. Plastic sheets are hung high above the animals to shield them from the scorching sun and the monsoon rains. Occasionally, the goats would engage in some headbutting when they get too close to each other, and they are separated immediately so they won’t injure each other—the sacrificial animals must be of excellent health and must not have wounds.
Members of the congregation start to arrive in groups. In this part of town, the Muslim community is quite small, as most residents are either Catholic or of other Christian denominations. An even smaller part of the Muslim community is composed of foreign Muslim students and professionals who come from Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, and Africa. Upon entering the mosque, the men and women perform the salah and the takbir in their designated areas—men on the ground floor, women on the second floor. The ones who arrived early are already settled down, either fixing their outfits or taking selfies with their companions. Mothers with their children are busy reining in their wandering toddlers, as the prayer is about the start.