MOSCOW, October 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Muslims in Russia who have begun celebrating Eid al-Adha, an important Muslim holiday honoring sacrifice and the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, held October 4 to October 6, the Kremlin press service announced on Saturday.
"For centuries, this feast, filled with light and good feelings, is bringing people closer together, praising societal ideals of goodness and mercy, fostering respect for religious precepts and traditions," President Putin said in a statement.
Worshipers gathered at the Moscow Cathedral Mosque at 6 a.m. local time (2:00 GMT) on Saturday to begin celebrations of Eid al-Adha where Mufti sheikh Ravil Gaynutdin, Chairman of the Russian Muftis Council, is expected to preach followed by a festive prayer.
It is gratifying that the Muslim community in Russia is actively involved in public life, developing extensive charitable, educational activities, paying relentless attention to strengthening family values , and makes a significant contribution to the maintenance of inter-religious and inter-ethnic harmony, Putin said according to the Kremlin press service.
In past years, over 150,000 people have gathered to celebrate the Muslim holiday in Moscow. Five Moscow mosques are scheduled to lead Eid prayers on Saturday.
Eid al-Adha, the feast of the sacrifice, honors the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his promised son, Ismail, as an act of submission to Allah's command, before Allah intervened to provide Abraham with a lamb to sacrifice instead.