Pilgrimage and Eid al-Adha

The fifth pillar of IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to... is the performance of the pilgrimage (hajjHajj, or pilgrimage to the Ka’bah in Makkah, is one of the five pillars of Islam, performed by millions annually during Dhu’l-Hijjah, the last lunar month. The Hajj is required at least once in a lifetime of every Muslim in good health and with financ...) to MakkahMakkah (also spelled Mecca) is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, the hub of the caravan trade in the Arabian Peninsula, and the site of the holy Ka’bah. After receiving the first revelations of the Qur’an on a mountain outside Makkah, Muhammad d.... The hajj has become a powerful symbol of unity within the worldwide Muslim ummahUmmah means “community,” refering to the worldwide community of believers bound by their faith in Islam which, ideally, is seen as transcending ethnic, racial, and national differences.. Annually, over two million Muslims converge in Makkah, Saudi Arabia to visit the Ka’bah, the “house of God” toward which all daily ritual prayersPrayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not. are directed. Every Muslim who has the means should perform this pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime. Before pilgrims arrive in the sacred precinct of Makkah, they purify themselves with ablutions and prayerPrayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not.. Then pilgrims don two seamless white garments called ihram, which symbolize both human equality and ritual purity.

Malcolm XMalcolm Little (1925-1965) is one of the most well-known African Americans who embraced Islam. He took the name Malcolm X upon joining the Nation of Islam while in prison. He spoke forcefully for black separatism in the face of white predjudice and violen... described the pilgrimage to Alex Haley in his autobiography:

“There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white.”

Malcolm X’sMalcolm Little (1925-1965) is one of the most well-known African Americans who embraced Islam. He took the name Malcolm X upon joining the Nation of Islam while in prison. He spoke forcefully for black separatism in the face of white predjudice and violen... experiences on the hajj transformed his beliefs on race as well as his understanding of Islam; he changed his name to reflect this transformation, becoming El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Many Muslims add the title “Hajj” to their name after the completion of the pilgrimage.

The actual hajj ceremonies take place in Dhu’l-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Muslim calendar. The parts of the pilgrimage recall the faith of the ProphetA prophet is one who communicates a divine message or vision, sometimes calling people to repentance or awakening, sometimes predicting future events. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all look to Hebrew prophets, including Abraham and Moses. Muslims believe ... AbrahamAbraham is the patriarch, acknowledged as the father of the lineage of faith by the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. He is presumed to have lived sometime in the period 2000-1700 BCE. He is the father of Isaac by Sarah (Genesis 12.25), and the "..., Hagar, his wife, and IshmaelA prophet of Islam, Isma’il (Ishmael in Hebrew) was the son of Abraham and his wife Hagar. He is the ancestor of Northern Arab tribes and of the Prophet Muhammad. Hagar and Isma’il miraculously survived in the desert near Makkah, and Isma’il helped ..., their son. The ceremonies involve circumambulating the Ka’bah seven times; running between the hills of al-Safa and al-Marwa, located just outside the MosqueMasjid (plural masajid) in Arabic means “place of prostration,” or the place where Muslims bow in prayer; in English, this word has become “mosque.” A masjid contains a prayer hall in which there is a mihrab or prayer niche, and a minbar or pulpit...; assembling at Mount Arafat on the ninth day of the month for the afternoon prayer and the “standing” ceremony, which commemorates both Muhammad’sThe Prophet Muhammad, known as “the Seal of the Prophets,” was born in the city of Makkah on the Arabian peninsula in 570 C.E. At 40, he began to receive a series of revelations from God through the angel Gabriel. His small group of followers met with... Farewell Sermon and the last revelationRevelation is the gift or disclosure of knowledge, insight, or instruction from God to the human. The term is used in the Jewish tradition to refer to the revelation of Torah, the law; in the Islamic tradition to refer to the revelation of the Qur’an, t... of the Qur’anThe word Qur’an literally means “recitation.” Revealed orally to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel, he recited it to his followers. These recitations collected in written form are arranged in 114 surahs, generally from longest to shortest. Muslims consi...; stoning the pillars representing Satan; and offering sacrifices of sheep, goats and camels at Mina on the final day, observed throughout the world as Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice.

Articles such as “The Performance of Hajj: A Checklist” in ‘Iqra magazine and Al-Hewar’s “The Hajj Journey,” a pull-out chart with graphics, give American Muslims a step-by-step and day-by-day review of hajj activities. A number of American travel agencies offer all-inclusive hajj packages; many of them donate their proceeds to Muslim organizations.

Muslims around the world who are not on pilgrimage share Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, with the pilgrims in Makkah. The night before Eid is commonly spent in prayer. Then all Muslims who have sufficient funds to do so sacrifice an animal, using some of the meat for their own family and distributing the rest to relatives and the poor. On Eid al-Adha, Muslim communities gather for prayer and hear a sermon, often on obedience and perfect trust in GodGod is a term used to refer to the Divine, the Supreme being, Transcendent deity, or Ultimate reality., following the example of the Prophet Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice his son at God’sGod is a term used to refer to the Divine, the Supreme being, Transcendent deity, or Ultimate reality. command. Eid al-Adha is a four-day celebration, involving the giving of presents and the celebration of special dinners with friends and relatives. In this way, all Muslims participate in the communal experience of the pilgrims in Makkah.

In Makkah, Muslims from all over the world gather for the pilgrimage; in Toledo, Ohio, American Muslims from over twenty different nationalities gather for Eid al-Adha. At the Islamic CenterAn Islamic center will typically include a mosque, school, and area for social and cultural activities. When a new Islamic center is being organized in the United States, attention is paid to community needs, including a weekend or full-time school, indic... of Greater Toledo, as many as one thousand people participate in the special Eid prayer, which is performed in the morning. Prayer is followed by a brunch, sponsored by the center’s kitchen committee, featuring foods from around the world. The rest of the day is full of activities, with special programs for the children, gatherings of family and friends, and visits to the local cemetery.

Many Islamic relief foundations in the United States provide community and charitable services in association with Eid al-Adha. For example, some Muslim organizations, such as Islamic Relief, run special Eid al-Adha programs, which enable American Muslims to donate money to serve impoverished people around the world. Other programs, such as ICNAThe Islamic Circle of North America was formed in 1968 by a group within the Muslim Student Association with roots in the Jama’at-i Islami movement of Pakistan but has since tried to diversify its membership. The organization publishes the magazine The ... Relief organize drop-off points for more affluent Muslims to donate qurbani (or sacrificed) meat for other Muslim families in the community who might be in need.


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