By Rob Dozier
RABAT, Morocco — For more than 30 years, Abdeni Mdegdeg has sold meat year-round near the old walled medina of Morocco’s capital city. Now comes the time of year when his services are in the highest demand: the important Muslim holiday Eid Al-Adha, or the “Feast of the Sacrifice.”
“Working as a butcher is a popular profession in Morocco,” Mdegdeg said. “And, it’s a sacred one.”
Especially on Thursday, the day of Eid throughout the Muslim world, when people will partake in tradition of sacrificing sheep or other livestock.
Many Moroccans save money for months to purchase a ram, which can be anywhere from 1,000 to 6,000 dirhams, or about $100 to $600. Some don’t have enough money for that, so they go to butchers like Mdegdeg and buy a rack of lamb or, sometimes, only lungs or feet.
“I make a vow to God and to my customers to give them a good product,” Mdegdeg said.
Sales of lamb and other meats spike during religious holidays. In particular, Mdegdeg said Ramadan and Eid Al-Adha are his busiest times of the year.
The ram is a symbol of biblical proportions for Muslims, Jews and Christians alike. In religious texts, it signifies Abraham’s reward for committing to sacrificing his only son, stopped only by the presence of angels.
Mdegdeg, like many others in Rabat, started as an apprentice at a young age. Naturally, butchery grew into a profession. Now, he owns a shop in Rabat.
“My apron is a sign of honor. It’s a sign of pride; it’s a sign of trust,” Mdegdeg said, referencing the blood stains on the cloth. “And,” he added, “it’s a sign of belonging to Morocco.”