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A Sweet Celebration

Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of the Sacrifice, is the second Eid holiday celebrated annually by Muslims worldwide, with the date falling in the twelfth and final month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Dhul Hijjah. Since the holiday is based on lunar sightings, this year it will start on or about July 31.

The holiday commemorates the Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael) and to mark the occasion of the final day of the annual Hajj (pilgrimage) of Muslims to Islam’s holiest sites in modern-day Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia.

Arab Muslims often make ma’moul (nut- or date-filled cookies) for religious holidays such as Eid Al-Adha. In Chicago, refugee women from the Syrian Community Network (SCN) started The Sweet Syrian to create and sell ma’moul and many other sweet and savory pastries. Dr. Bana Ahdab, a SCN board member, remarked, “People are liking it [Sweet Syrian’s baked goods], and so we start selling and little bit by little we got bigger.”

In her interview for the Chicago Muslim Oral History Project, Dr. Ahdab talks about her life in Syria, journey to Chicago, and work with The Sweet Syrian. Listen now.

Muslims observe #EidAlAdha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, at McCormick Place, 2301 S. King Dr., Chicago, January 4, 1974. ST-10104873-0006, Chicago Sun-Times collection, CHM.

Our exhibition American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago draws from more than 100 interviews conducted with Muslim Chicagoans sharing their stories of faith, identity, and personal journeys. Dozens of objects from local individuals and organizations, such as garments, artwork, and photographs, as well as videos and interactive experiences expand on how and why Chicago is known as the American Medina. Learn more.

Women from The Sweet Syrian make ma’moul, 2019. Photograph courtesy of The Sweet Syrian.
Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago's Stories
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