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Muslims In New York, Worldwide Celebrate Eid al Adha

BUFFALO, NY (WBFO) - Hundreds of Western New York Muslims gathered inside the Adam's Mark Hotel in Buffalo Tuesday morning for a prayerful celebration of Eid al Adha, an Islamic holy day coinciding with the conclusion of the Hajj - the annual holy pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslim faithful.

Eid al Adha, the Arabic phrase meaning "festival of the sacrifice," commemorates the ancient story of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his own son to God. According to tradition, God intervened and spared the son while a ram was offered up instead.

Mohamed Saleh of Buffalo was among the guests at the Adam's Mark Tuesday morning.

"We get together and we pray," he said, when asked about the gathering inside the downtown hotel. "That's how we pretty much start our day. The significance of it is to celebrate the pilgrimage in Mecca."

Able-bodied Muslims are required to make the pilgrimage to Islam's most holy city once in their lifetimes. Saleh says those who are unable to make the trip to Saudi Arabia are required instead to perform acts of charity.

While Mecca is a long way from Buffalo, he and his peers also suggested there are fewer excuses to miss out on the trip.

"In this day and age it's very affordable," Saleh told WBFO. "For older people it's not that much of a hassle because we do have airplanes. You have to take into consideration that people back in the day used to travel on camels and boats just to get there, which takes months or maybe years."

The holiday continues through Tuesday. Saleh said the rest of the holy day would be spend visiting with family.