Arabic Sitemap Question & Answers Email Home Search Introduction Islam Heritage Science Environment Technology Health an Islamic Perspective Ethics Bioethics Biography Psychology Encyclopedia Muslim Scientists Healthnews IOMS

<Home> <Islam> <Islamic Pilgrimate Hajj and Festival Eid Al-Ad'ha Q&A>

Islamic Pilgrimage "Hajj"
&
Festival of Sacrifice "Eid Al-Adha"

"Hajj" 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.

The Obligatory and optional activities of "Hajj" include:

* Entrance 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 vary.

HAJJ [Q & A]

Q: WHAT 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, verses 26-28.

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.

Click For
Reflection From The HaJJ

Eid Al-Adha

Americaln Muslims Celebrate End of Pilgrimage with Communal Prayers.

WHAT: 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.)

WHEN: March 16 - The prayers are held in the early morning.

WHERE: The Eid prayers are held either in local mosques or in public facilities designed to accommodate large gatherings.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: 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.

NOTE: 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 inappropriate.

Q & A ABOUT ISLAM AND AMERICAN MUSLIMS

Q: WHAT IS ISLAM?
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.

Q: WHO 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.

Q: WHAT 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.

Q: WHAT 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.

Q: WHAT 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.

Q: WHAT 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.

For More Information, Click Here