Hajj and Eid al-Adha: meaning and importance for Muslims
Muslim pilgrimage (Hajj), every Muslim is required to undertake at least once in their lifetime. But this is only required from those in good health and can afford it. Eid-al-Adha is the feast of sacrifice, which is celebrated by all Muslims, not just those who perform Hajj.
The origins of Hajj
According to the Quran, God told the prophet, Ibrahim, to take his wife Hajira and his son Isma’il on a trip to Arabia. He then told Ibrahim to leave Hajira and Isma’il with food and water.
Hajira and her son found themselves in the Heart of the desert running out of water, so she started running up and down over two hills( Safa and Marwah) in search of water. Finding no water, she prayed to God and water sprang from the ground. the stream was so strong she wrapped her hands around it and start saying (Zam Zam) Meaning asking the water to go easy, That water source is Known as Zamzam well and it is still there until today.
When Ibrahim returned, he was ordered to build the Ka’aba as a shrine dedicated to Allah where worship would take place.
Over time, people began to worship idols in the Ka’aba instead of the one God, Allah. However, Muhammad restored the Ka’aba to its original function when he converted Mecca to Islam.
Key Hajj Events
During the trip, Muslims change their clothes for two white linens and enter Ihram state. This is a testament to equality since everyone, regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, or socio-economic status is dressed the same.
Pilgrims arrive at the Grand Mosque, a spiritual place for Muslims as it is considered by many to be the house of Allah. There, they go around the Ka’aba seven times, which is called the Tawaf.
They drink a glass at the Zamzam well in memory of Hajira’s water search. This shows the dependence of Muslims on Allah.
Pilgrims visit the hills of Safa and Marwah and run between the two seven times to replicate Hajira’s actions and determination, as all Muslims must be, and they must never give up.
Arafat’s day, a crucial step in Hajj
Arafat’s day is the ninth day of the month of Zul-Hijjah, in the lunar calendar. Muslims stop at Mount Arafat, the place where Prophet Mohammad delivered his last sermon, and they pray, hoping to be forgiven of their sins.
According to the Quran, this day commemorates the completion of the religion of Islam and divine revelation. Islam teaches Muslims to regard Arafat’s day as a day of gratitude, hence the celebration of Eid the following day. It is also a day of immense forgiveness with the possibility of great reward.
According to one version of the Islamic tradition, it is in Arafat that the day of judgment will take place.
The Muslims then spend the night in Muzdalifa, a valley between Arafat and Mina. In Muzdalifa, they collect stones, needed for the next day.
Then they go to Mina, where they stone the Devil. They throw pebbles at three stone pillars built to represent the Devil. It is said that Ibrahim stoned Satan. Muslims must show that they reject the devil.
The importance of Hajj
People who perform Hajj are called Hajjis. All participants in Hajj are treated equally and there is a great sense of oneness. The pilgrim demonstrates self-discipline and fulfills a religious duty, hoping to draw closer to God.
Some hadiths (accounts) agree that sins are purified by the journey: the pilgrim will return from Hajj as if he had been born again (collection of hadiths of Sahih al-Bukhari 26: 596).
The Hajj under Covid
Pilgrims visiting Islam’s holiest site are expected to distance themselves socially and wear protective masks.
The event is larger than in 2020 but remains much smaller than the usual years when more than two million pilgrims converged on Mecca.
Only 60,000 fully immunized residents were allowed to take part – participants were selected from a pool of over 550,000 applicants online.
To be eligible, pilgrims had to have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine and be between the ages of 18 and 65 without chronic disease.
What is Eid-al-Adha?
In the Qur’an, it is told how Ibrahim dreamed that Allah asked him to sacrifice his son Isma’il.
Ibrahim explained his dream to Isma’il, who agreed to the sacrifice being made. but at the last minute, the angels came down with a ram and told Ibrahim God said to sacrifice the ram instead. It was all a test of Ibrahim’s loyalty to Allah.
Eid-al-Adha is the commemoration of the sacrifice and marks the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. For Muslims, this holiday is a reminder of the blessings of Allah and shows how important it is to submit to Allah.
Muslims thus remember the trials of the Prophet Ibrahim, who was asked to make a great sacrifice for the love of God.
On the morning of Eid-Al-Adha, Muslims around the world attend morning prayers at their local mosques. The service includes common prayers followed by a sermon delivered by the imam.
Muslims commemorate and remember the trials of Ibrahim by slaughtering an animal themselves, such as a sheep, a camel, or a goat. According to tradition, meat is divided into three. A third is kept, a third is given to relatives or neighbors and a third is given to the poor.
Since this is a special occasion, everyone is wearing new clothes. People also spend time with family and friends, and gifts and cards are exchanged. Women and young girls often decorate their hands with beautiful mehndi (henna) designs. We eat delicious food and share it with others.