It was a holiday worship scene that would be familiar to many in Carroll County, regardless of their denomination: The people mingling in their finest dress, the thoughtful sermon and prayer and after, a potluck meal, the people seated at long rows of tables.

On Tuesday morning, the members of the Islamic Society of Carroll County invited Muslims in the area, and interested non-Muslims alike to its location just north of Westminster on Littlestown Pike to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha, or “festival of sacrifice.”


“Today is a very special day for us. We have two annual events. They are called Eid. One, Eid-al-Fitr happens after the month of fasting, which was about two months ago,” said Raza Khan, president of the Islamic Society of Carroll County.

“The one we are celebrating today is Eid-al-Adha and Adha means ‘Greater Eid,’ or the more significant Eid. So this celebration we are doing is the most significant celebration that we do.”

Khan and others with the society are happy to share the stories of their faith with others, including more than a dozen local candidates for office and current officials who attended the event, including Carroll County Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2.

“This was a really unique invitation, and I was glad to attend,” Weaver said. “It’s neat.”

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President of the Carroll County Board of Education Bob Lord also attended the service.

“It is about inviting the community in,” he said of the celebration. “I found it fascinating and I was quite honored to be here.”

The Eid-al-Adha celebrates the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God, and God’s last minute substitution of an animal in place of the human, that appears in the Koran, Torah and Bible, according to Khan.

“Muslims are required to believe in a lot of prophets, and also respect them. Those include Abraham, Moses, David, Ishmael, Noah, Jesus; the list goes on and on, but for us it ends with Prophet Muhammad,” he said. “Believe it or not this is an Abrahamic religion.”

The Koran says that Abraham dreamed that God commanded him to sacrifice his son, according to Khan, and Abraham prepared to do just that.

“On the altar, as he was prepared to sacrifice his beloved son, his son was miraculously replaced with a lamb and a goat,” Khan said. “That is the tradition we still observe after Eid — people will slaughter a lamb or a goat or an animal of certain size and age, and that gets distributed among all.”

All Tuesday afternoon, the grounds of the JB Farms, in Taneytown, were filled with people doing just that. Muslim families came to select or lamb, goat or cow, which would be ritually sacrificed by the men of the family, and then butchered by the farm so that the family could take home the meat, according Joyce Blankenship, who owns the farm with her husband Joe.

“They make a picnic or barbecue out of it, some of them,” she said, as the smell of smoked and spiced meat lingered in the air. “It works out that this holiday is during the summer. We do this and then in the fall and winter we do deer processing.”

There was a festival atmosphere on the farm among those families waiting their turn to choose an animal by the barn, or those families who had already made sacrifice seated in the shade, the men carving up meat into multiple containers, socializing as they worked.

“We’re going to give some to friends and family and other houses to enjoy,” said Mohammed Rahman, of Brooklyn, New York, of the meat he had finished separating into coolers. “I came here to my brother’s house, and we are going to celebrate.”


Traveling for the holiday, it was Rahman’s first time at the Taneytown farm, and he was pleased with the experience.

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“I have been to another farm, but this one is good,” he said. “Their system is good.”

“The important thing is that it brings business to this county and this area,” said Anis Ahmed, of North Potomac, who was returning to the farm for the second year for the Eid sacrifice. “You see many of the people here, they are coming cross county — I live in Montgomery County — people from Virginia and New York, they came here. I haven’t seen them in many, many months, or some of them for years. But I see them here and this is a good thing.”

Many of the farm’s customers for the Eid come from Rockville or Silver Spring and Baltimore, according to Joyce, which is partly how she and Joe got their farm started in 2012 — he had been a traveling nurse working in various hospitals and she was working in respiratory medicine.

“Working in the hospitals in Shady Grove, Holy Cross and everything, he met international people who would tell him, ‘If you have a farm, this is what we want.’ We just heard what people were asking for and thought, ‘Well, there is a need,’ ” Joyce said. “He started with the goats and the lambs, and they had a few cows; and it just got bigger and bigger.”

Although the Eid-al-Adha comes just once a year, Khan said he welcome inquiries from people who wish to learn more about it.

“If people want to come learn about Islam, talk about Islam, observe, attend, they are welcome to contact me,” he said. “ My contact information is on the website at”