by Islam El-Shazly
It’s 6:15 AM on the 10th of Dhul-Hijja, 1431, 16 November, 2010. Outside the words: Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar, La Ilaha Illa Allah; Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar wa Lillah Al-Hamd (الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر لا إله إلا الله. الله أكبر الله أكبر و لله الحمد) – is all I can hear. Every mosque everywhere in the world is echoing the same call that has been heard on the same day for the last 1431 years.
Today is Eid Al-Adha, the day of sacrifice. Yesterday was the Day of ‘Arafah. More than 3 million Muslims stood on Mount ‘Arafat, from 181 countries. It is the most important day in Hajj.
Hajj is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so. It is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslims, and their submission to Allah.
History of Hajj
Hajj means literally “to set out for a place“. For a Muslim, that place is the Holy City of Makkah (Mecca). The history of Hajj goes back thousands of years, to the time of Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام (Abraham), the Father of Prophets. He was ordered to go Makkah, where he was commanded by Allah to abandon his second wife, Haajar, and his first-born son Ismail عليه السلام (Ishmael) in this barren, rocky, uninhabited valley.
The rites of the Hajj were laid down by Allah to mark historic events in the life of Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام, which show his absolute and total submission to the will of Allah. Allah commanded the Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام, on one of his visits to see Haajar and Ismail عليه السلام, to build the House of Allah (the Holy Kaaba). With the help of his son Ismail عليه السلام, Ibrahim عليه السلام built the House of Allah on the ground where the Kaaba stands to this day.
The Archangel Gabriel brought from Paradise a stone, known as the Black Stone (Al-Hajar Al-Aswad), which was set into one corner of the Kaaba.
Upon completion of the Kaaba, Ibrahim عليه السلام was commanded to call out to people to make pilgrimage to the house of Allah. He made the call, and to this day, and till the Day of Judgement, his call can be heard every year, calling to our hearts that the time has come to visit the house of Allah.
Eid Al-Adha commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim عليه السلام to sacrifice his son Ismail عليه السلام as an act of obedience to Allah, before Allah intervened to provide him with a ram to sacrifice instead.
Surah As-Saffat (The Rangers) 037:100-111 O my Lord! Grant me a righteous (son)!” So We gave him the good news of a boy, possessing forbearance. And when (his son) was old enough to walk and work with him, (Abraham) said: O my dear son, I see in vision that I offer you in sacrifice: Now see what is your view!” (The son) said: “O my father! Do what you are commanded; if Allah wills, you will find me one practising patience and steadfastness!” So when they both submitted and he threw him down upon his forehead, We called out to him saying: O Ibraheem! You have indeed fulfilled the vision; surely thus do We reward those who do good. Most surely this was a manifest trial. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. And We perpetuated (praise) to him among the later generations. “Peace and salutation to Abraham!” Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. Surely he was one of Our believing servants.
Here are some images courtesy of the Boston Globe’s Big Picture, from 2009’s Hajj and Eid Al-Adha.
To learn more about Hajj and Eid Al-Adha and their importance to the Muslims please visit these pages:
The Ministry of Hajj in KSA: http://www.hajinformation.com/index.htm
Islamway – Hajj and Umra: http://english.islamway.com/bindex.php?section=all_article&topicid=38 a collection of Articles in English
The Big Picture – Hajj and Eid Al-Adha, 2009: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/11/eid_aladha_and_the_hajj_2009.html