Nazarbayev pledged last year to announce the first day of `Eid an official holiday for the Kazakh Muslims.
By Abdul Azim Badran, IOL Correspondent
ASTANA, January 9, 2006 (IslamOnline.net) – Muslims in the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan will have an official holiday on Tuesday, January 9, to celebrate `Eid Al-Adha for the first time.
The parliament has recently endorsed a decision declaring the first day of `Eid Al-Adha an official holiday.
The decision was welcome by Muslims in the former Soviet republic, who believe it was long overdue, says IslamOnline.net’s correspondent.
Last year, President Nursultan Nazarbayev pledged to declare the Muslim religious feast an official holiday.
Kazakh officials say Muslims make up 62% of Kazakhstan’s 15 million population, Orthodox 35% and followers of other faiths the remaining percentage.
Kazakh Muslim celebrations of `Eid Al-Adha is quite similar to that in other Muslim countries.
Joyfully welcoming feast, they flock to mosques in the early morning to perform `Eid prayers.
There are some 1,500 mosques across the country.
After the prayers, Muslims make their sacrifices, following the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
A financially-able Muslim sacrifices a single sheep or goat or shares six others in sacrificing a camel or cow as an act of worship during `Eid Al-Adha.
The ritual reminds Muslims of the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma`eel were willing to make for the sake of God.
During `Eid, Kazakh Muslims also exchange visits and presents with both fellow Muslims and non-Muslims.
According to IOL correspondent, Islam has been gaining a foothold in the country since independence from the Communist Soviet Union on December 16, 1991.