Conversation about Eid al-Adha with a Hui Family
One of the most important times of the year for Chinese Muslims is The Festival of the Sacrifice or the Qurban Festival (Eid al-Adha). It is a holiday that all Hui celebrate regardless of whether they weekly attend the mosque or only go for important occasions.
Below is a conversation that a believer, Peter*, had with a Hui Muslim family that owns and operates a noodle shop. The mom is Mary*. She has two daughters, Sarah and Rachel, and her son is Hassan*. Her husband is not a part of the below conversation as he has returned back to his hometown to prepare a home for his son who is preparing to get married.
This conversation provides insight into how much a typical Hui family understands about Islam.
Peter: How are you? How about your recent business?
Hassan: Fine. It is doing better and better.
Peter: I heard that you are now engaged?
Hassan: Yes, I found a fiancée. We will marry in the next year. My father went back to our hometown to build a new house for me.
Peter: That is wonderful news! I have a question for you. Yesterday, I saw many sheep and goats for sale in the community. Why?
Hassan: Yes, yesterday was the Qurban Festival (Eid al-Adha).
Peter: How do you celebrate during the Qurban Festival?
Hassan: We offer a sheep, cow or camel to Allah that has no defects. It cannot be blind, lame, short-eared or even have a little tail. Yesterday, my mother purchased a sheep from our hometown. It weighed around 40-50 pounds and cost $280. Rich or big families offer a bull that cost almost $2000 dollars and weighs about 400 pounds.
After we bought the sheep, the imam killed it for us. My father also knows how to kill a sheep. The sacrificed animal is then divided into three parts. My family keeps one third, another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors, and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy. We have shared our lamb with a few families since yesterday. We have invited many friends, family members, and relatives to join us for a celebration meal.
Peter: What is the meaning of The Festival of the Sacrifice?
Hassan: I don’t exactly know. My father might know it. Or, you can ask the imam at mosque.
Rachel: It is about a saint’s story, but I do not know the story well.
Sarah: Why do you so interested in our Islamic festival? Do you want to be a Muslim?
Mary: Yes, you should follow Islam. It honors a commemoration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his young firstborn and only son Ishmael in obedience of a command from Allah. After testing Abraham’s loyalty and his son’s obedience, Allah intervened and asked the angel Gabriel to provide Abraham with a lamb to sacrifice instead. Hence in Chinese it is also called the 忠孝节(Loyal Obedience Festival).
Peter: Mary, you are very knowledgeable about the Quran. How did you learn these stories? Have you studied at the mosque?
Mary: No, my uncle taught me. I can read the Quran in Arabic language, even though I am illiterate in Chinese. You must believe in Allah. He is the only god.
Peter: I believe in Jesus. He died for our sins on the cross, was buried, and raised on the third day. By his sacrifice, he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. If we believe in Jesus, our sins have been forgiven.
Mary: Jesus was a saint. He had never died on the cross. We believe in Allah. You should believe in one God. Jesus is not God.
Peter: I also believe in one, creator God. Jesus is both a human being and God. He was with God in the beginning. The Word was God. Jesus is the Almighty God.
Mary: Jesus was just a saint. Jesus is like the prophet Muhammad. He is not God, but he will come back at the end of the age.
Peter: Yes, you are totally right that He will come back to judge the sinners. Jesus is the Lord.
At this point the conversation ended as customers entered the restaurant and Mary and her children had to go back to work.
For the most part, Mary and her children are cultural Muslims. They do not often go to the mosque to pray, and the adult children in the family understand very little about Islam. However, they do celebrate the Islamic holidays, and they are quick to defend Islam if someone like Peter begins asking questions.
It is common to find at least one person in a family who is very knowledgeable about Islam. Mary learned from her uncle. She is illiterate in Chinese, the common language that everyone around her can read, but she was taught Arabic so that she could read the Quran.
Please pray for Mary and her family, and the many Hui families across China that are similar. Though they do not understand Islam well, they are not open to hearing about Jesus. Pray that God will open their eyes to see and their ears to hear the truth. May the walls come down that keep them from understanding.
- Pray for the Hui families who have heard and rejected the Gospel. Ask God to convict them of the truth of the Gospel and open their eyes to the truth.
- Pray that followers of Christ will persevere and remain faithfully in sharing about Jesus regardless of the responses they receive.