Monday, November 15, 2010

What Is Eid (Eid Ul Adha) and What Is Hajj?

Muslims around the world celebrate two Eids a year: Eid Ul-Fitr and Eid Ul-Adha.

The Eid ul-Adha is one of two Islamic feasts celebrated each year. The word Eid translates to "feast" or "celebration". The Eid ul-Adha actually celebrates several religious themes and traditionally lasts for three days.

Dates for celebrating the Eid ul-Adha vary since the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle (Sighting Of The Crescent Moon), However, the Islamic calendar always marks the month of Dhul Hijja, or the tenth month of the year, as the month for this celebration.

One important aspect of the Eid ul-Adha is that it commemorates Ibrahim's (Abraham) readiness to obey Allah and sacrifice his son. To Muslims, this son is always Ismail (Ishmael). That comes as a surprise to Christians and Jews who traditionally think God asked Ibrahim to sacrifice Is'haaq (Isaac).

The Eid ul-Adha celebrates the faith and obedience of Ibrahim, and the mercy that Allah can and does show. Animal sacrifice is an important part of the feast. This sacrifice of generally sheep, goats or cows and is shared with family, friends and the needy. 

The second important aspect of the Eid ul-Adha is that it is the end of the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca for the year. Those who have made the Hajj that year may celebrate the Eid ul-Adha with particular joy. The Hajj is Jihad, strife to become more obedient to Allah’s will. Thus to have completed a jihad right before the Eid ul-Adha is cause for great happiness.

Eid ul-Adha also is an important time for family and friends. People dress in their best clothing and share meals. They also will visit family members and then friends. All are expected to attend the Masjid (Mosque) for special prayers, and brief talk from the Imam.

The Eid ul-Adha may be called by different names in different Islamic countries. It may be called Hari Raya in any country. In West Africa, a Muslim might call it Tobaski. A Moroccan might refer to it is Eid el-Kabir. Indians, Pakistanis and those from Bangladesh call it Id ul-Zuha, and more commonly refer to it as Bakr-Id, or Goat Eid. 

Eid ul-Adha: The second and final Eid celebration of the year. It commemorates the completion of the Hajj pilgrimage. Although only pilgrims in Mecca participate in the Hajj fully, Muslims around the world join them in celebrating Eid Al-Adha.

What is Hajj?

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. The five pillars are:
  1. Faith - Faith entails believing we should only worship the Creator of the Universe and not worship human beings, animals, statues, our desires, or anything else. Faith also entails belief that our Creator sent guidance of right and wrong via messengers such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and the Final Messenger, Prophet Muhammad. His message served to purify the guidance of the previous messengers from alterations made by mankind over the centuries. His message also provided a comprehensive set of divine laws for humankind, applicable to all situations for all times to come.
  2. Prayer - Establishing prayer five times a day, serving as a reminder through out the day of our purpose in life: to worship our Creator.
  3. Zakat - Mandatory charity given once a year by those who have the means. Voluntary charity is also heavily emphasized in Islam.
  4. Fasting - Abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations during the month of Ramadan, thereby developing characteristics of patience, self-restraint, and God consciousness.
  5. Hajj - Pilgrimage to the city of Mecca for those who are financially and physically able. It is a spiritual quest of submission to God and purification of the heart.
The Hajj pilgrimage has its roots in the time of Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim). He constructed a building in Mecca called the Kaaba with his son Ishmael (Ismail) as a center of worship for mankind. Since then, pilgrimage to this holy city has been occurring annually for thousands of years. The Hajj rituals are performed in the premises of the Kaaba.

Why do Muslims perform Hajj?

The Prophet Muhammad said:
“Whoever performs Hajj solely for the sake of Allah (God) and, in the course of it, abstains from sensuality and disobedience, he returns from there as immaculate as a new born child.”
Every healthy and financially able Muslim must undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his/her lifetime. Hajj is comprised of several acts of worship to God. People of different nationalities, languages, and colors gather in the millions at Mecca during this time. The concept of one humanity upheld by Islam is explicit during the Hajj pilgrimage. It is a time when people have the same thought, carry the same prayer on their lips, and are uniformly dressed. There is no discrimination between master or laborer, men or women, black or white, elite or lowly, native or foreigner. This equality before God becomes apparent in the multitude of human beings that assemble for this holy pilgrimage. 

Pictures from Hajj


Muslims Lining Up For Salaah (Prayer) In Mecca
Muslims Circling The Kaaba
Thousands Of Muslims At The Gates Of The Kaaba
The Masjid Structure EnCircling The Kaaba.


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