November 2, 2012
This past week, we were closed at work for Eid Al-Adha. Eid (solemn festival) al-Adha (feast of sacrifice) is an Islamic festival to celebrate the willingness of Abraham to follow Allah's command to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience before Allah intervened to provide him with a ram to sacrifice instead.
During the celebration of Eid al-Adha, Muslims commemorate and remember Abraham's trials, by themselves slaughtering an animal such as a sheep, camel, or goat. This action is very often misunderstood by those outside the faith. The meat is divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the other third is given to the poor and needy. Muslims around the world observe this event.
But before the celebration, Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam (faith, prayer, charity (zakat) and fasting) is performed. An obligation of every Muslim, except for those too ill or too poor, this entails making a trip to Mecca to Al-Masjid Al-Haram (The Holy Mosque) that is built around Kaa’ba at least once in his/her lifetime. The pilgrims circulate this cuboid shape, anti-clockwise, seven times. Part of the Hajj ritual is to throw pebbles (at least seven shots) at three stone pillars that represent Satan.
The pilgrimage is made during the Islamic month of "Dhul-Hijjah" which is the twelfth and final month of the Islamic calendar. This year, it began October 17th and Eid Al-Adha came ten days later on the October 27th.
Once a pilgrim as completed the hajj a male is called a Hajji and a female is called Hijjiyyah. I asked a couple of women what their sentiments were once they had completed hajj. The responses were similar. They said, though the journey was difficult and emotional, it was an experience of a lifetime which both revitalized and purified them, mentally and physically while enhancing the knowledge of the greatness of Allah. Al-hamdu lillah (Praise be to Allah).
All the best,