Pilgrimate Hajj and Festival Eid Al-Ad'ha Q&A>
Festival of Sacrifice "Eid Al-Adha"
is one of the "five pillars" of the Islamic faith. (The other
"Pillars" include a declaration of faith, daily prayers, offering
regular charity, and fasting during the month of Rmadan). Hajj activities
take place during six days (8th-13th) of the Islamic lunar month of Dhul-Hijjah.
Pilgrimage is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation for those Muslims who have
the physical and financial ability to undertake the journey. It is also
a form of worship that involves the entire being: body, mind and soul.
Obligatory and optional activities of "Hajj" include:
into a state of self-control called ihram, during which pilgrims are forbidden
to harm living cretures or even raise the voice in anger. The state of
ihram is signified (for men) by the wearing of two pieces of unsewn white
cloth. No specific clothing is prescribed for female pilgrims.
Circling of the Holy Ka'aba, the stone building Muslims believe was originally
built by Abraham and his son Ishmael. The Ka'aba is viewed as the first
sanctuary on earth dedicated to the worship of the One God. It is a symbol
of unity for Muslims because all prayers, wherever they are performed,
are oriented in the direction of Ka'aba.
* The Sa'i, or "hastening" between two small hills near the
Ka'aba, to commemorate Hagar's search for water to offer her son Ishmael.
* The stoning of three pillars representing Satan's temptation of Abraham.
The stoning indicates the pilgrim's rejection of evil deeds.
* Cutting the hair to symbolize the completion of "Hajj".
* Sacrifice of an animal to help the poor, and in remembrance Abraham's
willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at God's command. The meat is
distributed to relatives and to the needy.
When the major portion of the pilgrimage is completed, Muslims worldwide
gather for communal prayers on the first day (March 16*) of Eid ul-Ad'ha
(eed-al-odd-ha), the second of the two major Muslim holidays.
NOTE - Because the beginning of Islamic lunar months depends on th eactuals
sighting of the new moon, the start date for Hajj and Eid ul-Ad'ha may
[Q & A]
DOES THE QURAN SAY ABOUT HAJJ?
A: In the Quran, Islam's revealed text, God says:
"Thus We settled Abraham at the site of the House (the Ka'aba) (saying):
'Do not associate anything with Me, and purify My house for those who
walk around it, and those who stand there (praying), and those who bow
down on their knees in worship. Proclaim the pilgrimage among mankind:
they will come to you on foot and on every lean (beast of burden); Let
them come from every deep ravine, to bear witness to the advantages they
have, and to mention God's name on appointed days.." Chapter 22,
Q: WHAT DO MUSLIMS
BELIEVE THEY GAIN FROM HAJJ?
A: The main benefit of Hajj for many people is the sense
of purification, repentance and spiritual renewal it instills. After
his Hajj, Malcolm X wrote in his autobiography: "...I have eaten
from the same plate, drank from the same glass, and slept in the same
bed (or on the same rug) - while praying to the same God - with fellow
Muslims whose eyes were bluest of the blue, whose hair was blondest of
the blonde and whose skin was whitest of the white. And in
the words and in the actions and in the deeds of the white Muslims, I
felt the same sincerity that I felt among black African Muslims of Nigeria,
Sudan and Ghana..In the past I permitted myself to be used to make sweeping
indictments of ...the entire white race...Because of the spiritual enlightenment
which I was blessed to receive as a result of my recent pilgrimage to
the Holy City of Mecca, I no longer subscribe to the sweeping indictments
of any one race. I am now striving to live the life of a true Muslim."
Q: WHY DOES
HAJJ BEGIN ON A DIFFERENT DAY EACH YEAR?
A: Because Dhul-Hijjah is a lunar month, it begins about
eleven days earlier each year.
Q: WHY DO MUSLIMS
SACRIFICE A LAMB OR OTHER ANIMAL DURING THE FESTIVAL OF EID UL-ADHA?
A: The sacrifice commenmorates the Prophet Abraham's readiness
to sacrifice his son, identified in Islam as Ishmael, at God's request.
This is not a blood offering. In the Quran God states: "Neither
their meat nor their blood ever reaches God, but heedfulness on your part
does reach Him." (Chapter 22, verse 37) The meat is distributed
to relatives and to the needy.
Q: IS HAJJ AN
OBLIGATION ON ALL MUSLIMS?
A: Yes, but only for those who are physically and financially
able to make the trip.
Q: WHAT ARE
THE MOST VISUALLY STRIKING ASPECTS OF HAJJ?
A: All pilgrims must do tawaf, or circling the Ka'aba.
This obligation creates a stunning scene as thousands of
people circle the building at all times of the day and night. Also,
the standing at Arafah on the 9th day of the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah
presents a scene in which several million people all dressed alike and
with the same intention to worship God, gather on a barren plain.
Q: HOW SHOULD
NON-MUSLIM FRIENDS AND CO-WORKERS INTERACT WITH SOMEONE WHO IS GOING ON
HAJJ OR CELEBRATING AT HOME?
A: Hajj is a high point in a Muslim's life. Questions
are welcome and congratulations are in order. Most communities welcome
visitors at Eid congratulations are in order. Most communities welcome
visitors at Eid ul-Adha prayers. Just ask a Muslim friend to act
as an escort and guide.
Celebrate End of Pilgrimage with Communal Prayers.
On March 16, Muslims in America will celebrate the end of the yearly pilgrimage
to Mecca, or Hajj, with communal prayers at locations around the country.
(More than 6,000 Americans are expected to take part in this year's pilgrimage.
For those in Mecca, certain Hajj rituals continue for several additional
days). The prayers, and the holiday that follows are called Eid ul-Adha
(eed-al-odd-ha), or "festival of the sacrifice." Eid ul-Adha
commemmorates the Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael
at God's command. The holiday is celebrated with the prayers, small gifts
for children, distribution of meat to the needy and social gatherings.
(Each year, some
two million Muslims go on Hajj. There are an estimated six million Muslims
in America and 1.2 billion worldwide. Demographers say Islam is one of
the fastest growing religions in this country and around the world.)
March 16 - The prayers are held in the early morning.
The Eid prayers are held either in local mosques or in public facilities
designed to accommodate large gatherings.
Each year, Muslims from America and many different countries come to the
prayers in colorful dress. The prayers themselves are quite visual, with
worshipers arranged in neat rows and bowing in prayer in unison. Participants
exchange embraces at the conclusion of the prayers.
Because this is a religious service, reporters and photographers of both
sexes should dress modestly. That means no shorts for men or short skirts
for women. Some communities may ask female reporters and photographers
to put a scarf over their hair while in the actual prayer area. Photographers
should arrive early to get into position for the best shots. Photographers
are also advised not to step directly in front of worshipers and to seek
permission for close-up shots. Shots of shoes removed for prayer, and
rear-angle shots of prostrating worshipers are considered cliched and
& A ABOUT ISLAM AND AMERICAN MUSLIMS
A: Islam is not a new religion. It is the same truth that God revealed
to all His prophets (Adam, Noah, Moses, Jesus, etc.) throughout history.
Islam is both a religion and acomplete way of life. Muslims follow a religion
of peace, mercy and forgiveness.
ARE MUSLIMS AND WHAT DO THEY BELIEVE?
A: Muslims believe in One, Unique, and Incomparable God, creator
of the universe. They believe in the Day of Judgement and individual accountability
for actions. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets beginning with Adam
and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses,
David, Solomon, and Jesus. God's eternal message was reaffirmed and finalized
by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on them all). One becomes a Muslim by
saying, "There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger
of God." By this declaration, the person announces faith in all of
God's messengers. There are an estimated 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide.
No more than 20 percent of largest Muslim population is Indonesia.
IS THE QURAN?
A: The Quran is the record of the exact words revealed by God through
the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad in Arabic. It was memorized
by Muhammad and then dictated to his companions. The text of the Quran
was cross-checked during the life of the Prophet. The 114 chapters of
the Quran have remained unchanged through the centuries. Translations
of the meaning of the Quran exist in almost all languages.
ARE THE "FIVE PILLARS" OF ISLAM?
A: 1) The Declaration of Faith - This consists of the two sentence
declaration described above. 2) Prayer - Muslims perform five obligatory
prayers each day. Islamic prayers are a direct link between the worshiper
and God. Islam has not hierarchical authority or priesthood. A learned
Muslim chosen by each congregation leads the prayers. 3) Zakat - One of
the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God
and that wealth is held in trust by human beings. Zakat, or charitbale
giving, "purifies" wealth by setting aside a portion for those
in need. This payment is usually two and a half percent of one's capital.
4) Fasting - Every year in the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan, Muslims
fast from first light until sunset. The fast is another method of self-purification.
5) Pilgrimage - A pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj, is an obligation for those
who are physically or financially able.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN MUSLIM COMMUNITY?
A: There are an estimated 6 million Muslims in America. The Muslim
community in America is made up of people from a wide variety of ethnic
backgrounds and national origins. There are almost 2,000 mosques, Islamic
schools and Islamic centers in America. Muslims are active in all walks
of life. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in this country
and around the world.
ABOUT MUSLIM WOMEN?
A: Under Islamic law, women have always had the right to own property,
receive an education and otherwise take part in community life. Men and
women are to be respected equally. The Islamic rules for modest dress
apply to both women and men equally. (Men cannot expose certain parts
of their bodies, wear gold or silk, etc.) If a particular society oppresses
women, it does so in spite of Islam, not because of it.
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