Monday, November 23, 2009

This Week in Islam: Hajj and Eid Al-Adha

Hajj is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world. An estimated 2.5 million Muslims are performing Hajj, this year. The Hajj, or pilgrimage, is the 5th pillar of Islam. It is required of all Muslims to attend Hajj at least once in their lifetime, if they are physically and financially able.

During Hajj, Muslims remember and commemorate the trials and triumphs of the Prophet Abraham. One of Abraham's main trials was to kill his only son as commanded by God. Upon hearing this command, Abraham was prepared to submit to God's command. When he was ready to kill his son, God revealed to him that his 'sacrifice' had already been fulfilled-an animal had been killed instead. Abraham had shown God that his love for him superseded all others.

At the end of the Hajj, Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice). During the celebration of Eid Al-Adha, Muslims commemorate and remember Abraham's trials by slaughtering an animal such as a goat, sheep, or camel. The meat is then split into thirds. One-third is to be kept for the family to eat, one-third is given away to friends, and one-third is donated to the poor. The act symbolises our willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us or that are close to our hearts, in order to follow God's commands. It also symbolises our our willingness to give up some of our own bounties to strengthen ties of friendship and help those who are in need. We recognise that all blessings come from God and we should open our hearts and share with others.

It is important to note that the sacrifice itself, as practised by Muslims, has nothing to do with atoning for our sins or using blood to wash away our sins. Instead, this symbolism is an attitude, a wiliness to make sacrifices in our lives in order to stay on the Straight Path. A true Muslim, one who submits himself/herself completely to God, is willing to follow God's command completely and obediently. It is this strength of heart, purity of faith, and willing obedience that God desires from us.

On the first morning of Eid Al-Adha, Muslims around the world will attend prayers at their local Mosques. Prayers are then followed by visits to family and friends, and the exchange of greetings and gifts. The holiday is the larger of the two Islamic holidays. It will begin on Friday and is celebrated for 5 days.


  1. It's still Friday here... happy Eid Al-Adha :) I'll give you a call tomorrow to catch up!

    Love, Laura

  2. Happy Al-Adha!