Muslim pilgrims pray around the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque, during the annual hajj pilgrimage in Mecca September 27, 2014. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) literally means to set out for a place. However, islamically it refers to the annual pilgrimage that Muslims make to Makkah, Saudi Arabia with the intention of performing certain rites in accordance with method prescribed by God (Holy Quran, Chapter 2, and Verse 28).
This Islamic tradition has entirely to do with the Prophet Abraham (as), who is the Patriarch of all 3 monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Therefore, it is important to understand this tradition and benefit from its teaching. The details of these events are included in the Holy Qurâ€™an (Chapter 2; verses 125-140)
More than 3 million people travel to perform the Hajj every year. Hajj is not only the fifth pillar of Islam, it is a duty Muslims owe to Allah. In order to qualify a Muslim must be sane, and wise enough to understand the meaning of every step as well as resources to travel to perform the Hajj. Before departing for Hajj, all your debt must be paid off. Your hates and angers toward relatives or friends must disappear. A will must be drawn.
The Kaaba (the house of God in Makkah) was built by Prophet Abraham with the help of his son Ismael. It is known as the first house built on the earth for the worship of God. The Kaaba is a cubical structure that is draped in black silk cloth embroidered with Qurâ€™anic verses, in the center of grand mosque and at the epicenter of pilgrimage rites. All Muslims must face the direction of Kaaba (Qiblah) during prayers, which is northeast from USA.
The rituals of Hajj includes the following:
1. The donning of 2 pieces of white cloth (Ihram) for men, and removal of old cloths means removal of bad habits and practices; women wear their usual but simple clothes. 2. Circumbulation (Tawaaf) of Kaaba â€“ 7 times. 3. Running between 2 hills of safa and Marwa to symbolize the Hagarâ€™s frantic search for water and safety of the baby Ismael, when they were left in the desert on order of God who had guaranteed their safety. 4. Praying at plain field of Arafat â€“ on the 9th of Zil-hijja (12th month of lunar calendar) called the Essence of the Hajj. 5. Trimming of hair after returning from the plains of Arafat.
The last two rituals includes the stoning of Satan at 3 difference places, symbolizes Satanâ€™s attempt to prevent Prophet Abraham from sacrificing his only son, followed by sacrificing of animal which symbolizes the sacrifice Prophet Abraham offered of his only son for the sake of God. This was a supreme act of faith and conviction in Allah. We should ask ourselves as to how far we can go in fulfilling the commandment of God?
Abrahamâ€™s willingness to sacrifice all for the sake of God is admired by all Abrahamic faiths. The theme of connecting the three religions as part of the Abrahamic religion runs all through Holy Qurâ€™an. The Jews and Christians are referred as people of the book. On more than one occasion the following verses appear in Qurâ€™an: â€œVerily those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians whosoever believes in God and the last day, and worked righteousness, on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieveâ€ (5:69)
It is part of Muslim daily prayers to say, â€œMay the blessings of God be upon Abraham and his progenyâ€. It is heartening to see that Hanukkah and Eidul-Adha are going to be celebrated within few weeks apart. Appreciation of this Abrahamic tradition may unite the Jews, Christians, and Muslims in attaining a peaceful co-existence.
This year Muslims will celebrate Eid Ul Adha on Sunday October 5, 2014 at Muslim Community of Quad Cities Mosque in Bettendorf, 2115 Kimberly Road at 8:00 AM. Prayers are followed by sacrifice of the animal. Three days of festivities continues with exchanging of gifts, visiting of family friends and eating of special sweets. More than 1000 Muslims from 25 different countries are expected to join in the prayer. Media is invited to cover this event.