by Jamal Hashim
BAGHDAD, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Like millions of Muslims around the world, Iraqis are celebrating the religious festival of Eid al-Adha, but it is rather common for Iraqis after the U.S.-led invasion to reflect mixed feelings of hope for better life and bitter disappointment from the troubled political process.
The four-day annual festival falls on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja of the lunar Islamic calendar. The Eid al-Adha, also known as the Feast of the Sacrifice, marks the end of the spiritual peak of the annual pilgrimage or Hajj in Arabic, when pilgrims descend from the hill of Arafat to the nearby holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Muslims marked the end of the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia on Friday by sacrificing a sheep for the feast in symbolic recall of Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son on God's orders.
Here at home, the sacrifice ritual is not only for pilgrims in Mecca but also religiously required for Muslims who have the affordability to buy livestock.
For poor people, the Adha feast is a great chance to get meat for free as long as it is hard for them to buy by their own money. According to the Islamic law, the meat of the sacrificed animal should be divided into three parts; one-third for the poor people, one-third for the neighbors and relatives and the rest for the households.
This year a sheep in Baghdad costs between 250 to more than 350U.S. dollars, an amount of money that would be hard for many Iraqi families, but an incredible increase of buyers for the animals of sacrifice could be perceived in Baghdad as a sign of improvement in stability of life in the war-torn country.
Many Iraqi Muslims buy sacrificial animals to bless and honor their families, or for the memories of their beloved ones who either been killed in violence or normally dead.
"I am buying sacrificial animal in memory of my son who was killed in a massive car bombing last year," said Ayad al-Saidy, 57,dressed in traditional Arab dishdasha as he was among other customers waiting to take the meat of the slaughtered sheep he bought from the butcher in Mansour neighborhood in western Baghdad.
"I am doing this duty to my son so that his soul would rest in peace and also to remind the people that my son was innocent who lost his life and all his dreams had gone. But it mustn't be for nothing, I am looking forward for the future of Iraq," Saidy said sadly.
Abu Ahmed, 48, a teacher in a western Baghdad secondary school was happy on the early hours of the feast on Friday as he saw an increasing number of buyers for sacrificial animals which means welfare for Iraqis after years of bloodletting.
"This year, I am really pleased to notice there are increasing numbers of people who visited the markets for shopping before the feast as well as a large number of families in my neighborhood who are buying sheep and cows to sacrifice and help the poor people," said Abu Ahmed, who was among other people gathered in Ma'moun neighborhood in western Baghdad to buy sacrificial animals from a seller who got several sheep and a cow fenced in to sell on the occasion.
Since early in the mornings of the four-day Adha feast, dozens of people in Baghdad were lining up at butcher shops and other impromptu slaughterhouses set up randomly near intersections, mains streets, parking lots inside the capital's neighborhoods to slaughter sheep, lambs and cows to sacrifice during the feast.
The buyers have to attend the slaughterhouses to watch their chosen animal being slaughtered according to the Islamic way.
However, Abu Ahmed like other customers lining up at the slaughterhouse expressed their disappointment from the wrangling political process despite their relief of the overall improving of life for most Iraqis.
"I can't deny that I, and at least the people I know, are very upset of the infighting of politicians over the political process, particularly, the wrangling over the next year election law," Abu Ahmed said, referring to the latest political crisis after the Iraqi Vice President vetoed the key election law which likely would delay a national vote slated for January.
Al-Hashimi, a Sunni Arab vetoed the election bill because he wanted more seats for Iraqis abroad that large part of them are Sunni Arabs who fled the country after the U.S.-led invasion and the following sectarian strife.
But the Shiite and Kurdish legislators amended the law in a way that would make the Sunnis lose more seats and increase the Kurdish seats instead.
According to the Iraqi constitution, al-Hashemi can veto again, but his office said Friday that he was waiting for Iraq's election panel to announce details on the latest seat distribution before he makes his next move.
Maher Habib, 32, an engineer, another customer who was lining up with Abu Ahmed, said "they (Iraqi politicians) will not stop creating crisis. They don't care for the misery of our people because they only care about how to defeat each other to win the power in the coming parliament."