I’ll take a stab at it.
I live in a community with a significant Muslim population, and a significant Christian population and a solid Jewish community and a growing Buddhist community.
Most of the Christians and Muslims who I know in my neighborhood are people busy with their lives. They work and raise their families and support their kids in school. They lobby our (openly gay) City Council member for more green space and the expansion of a local playground for our kids. They celebrate their holidays with extended family. Some Christians eat the body of Christ on a weekly basis, while others wave their arms in the air and clap their hands and sing during their times of worship. Some Muslims I know feel that they need to pray at very specific times of the day, while others feel that if they get their five prayers in, the specifics times don’t matter. And those with busy schedules sometimes double up on prayers. I live in a progressive community, so I don’t really know many fundamentalist Christians who want to assassinate doctors who practice abortion, and I don’t know any Muslims who want to punish the infidels. I don’t personally know any Westboro Baptist types, and I don’t know any Al Qaida types.
I don’t really see a lot of difference in the communities that I know. There is so much diversity within both Christianity and Islam, that any stereotype of either group would represent only a small portion of adherents. But I see a lot of overlap in terms of practice. I mean, they both draw from the same set of texts, and the same set of stories. And I generally don’t begrudge anyone their festivals and traditions.
But I have to admit that Eid al-Adha makes me squeamish on multiple levels. First of all, there are a bunch of Halal meat stores in my neighborhood, and there are few things that I enjoy less than watching men walking down the sidewalk carrying dead goats (with faces) over their shoulders to bring home for the family feasts. I don’t eat meat, but I admit I am not nearly as offended by watching Thanksgiving shoppers buying wrapped up butterball turkeys.
But it is not just the dead goats. It is the reason for the celebration.
So Abraham was told by God to go and kill his son. (Christians and Muslims differ on which son it was. Muslims believe it was the son of Hagar, while Christians believe it was the son of Sara. But other than that, it is the same story.) So Abraham, who wanted kids so much, and supposedly loved them greatly, follows God’s instructions, and gets all set to sacrifice one of his sons. Then, as we all know, at the last minute, God, in his great mercy, lets him off the hook and lets him kill a goat instead.
Christians and Muslims and Jews all incorporate this story into their faith, but for some reason Jews and Muslims have special holidays around it.
Most Christians cherry pick the Bible, and don’t make as big a deal out of the story as their other Abrahamic counterparts. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that even most Christians get kind of squeamish about the story, and don’t emphasize it a lot. But for Muslims, it is the biggest example of God’s mercy, and one of the biggest holidays of the year.
Off to work. Wont’ get to respond to anything here until this evening. So if you address me and I don’t respond, please don’t be offended.