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Islam has two main celebrations. The first is after the completion of
Ramadan, the Islamic month during which Muslims fast daily from dawn
to sunset as part of an effort towards self-purification. This holiday
is known as Eid ul-Fitr.
The second main celebration takes place during the time of the Hajj,
or pilgrimage to Makkah. This week-long event occurs during the
Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah, and it's a holiday known as Eid ul-Adha.
The Hajj has several parts. Over two million Muslims perform the
Abraham is a person known by Muslims, Jews, and Christians as a person
who lived over four thousand years ago. His story can be found in the
Bible as well as the Qu'ran. Abraham is considered to be a person who
believed in one god who sought a personal relationship with his
Creator. He left his city after voicing opposition to his people's
polytheistic practices, and eventually settled in Egypt with his
family. Later, he took one of his wives, Hagar, and their infant son
Ishmail, to a valley in Arabia and left them there, trusting in God's
promise to care for them.
Hagar, concerned about feeding her young baby, began searching the
surroundings for food and water in response to Hajar's prayers, a
spring miraculously came out at Ishma'il's feet to fill their thirst.
Hajar climbed nearby hills searching for food. Eventually, some
passing traders stopped in the valley, and asked Hajar's permission to
water their camels. In time, the traders decided to settle in the
little valley, and eventually the settlement grew into the city of
Makkah. Abraham returned from time to time to visit, and when Ishma'il
was about thirteen years old, he and Ishma'il constructed the Kabah,
an empty cube-shaped building, as a place dedicated for the worship of
the One God. Eventually, Makkah became an important trading post by
the time of Prophet Muhammad.
In commemoration of the trials of Abraham and his family in Makkah,
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God's command; Muslims make a pilgrimage to the sacred city at least
once in their lifetime. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam,
and thus an essential part of Muslims' faith and practice.
Muslims from all over the world, including the United States, travel
to Makkah. Before arriving in the holy city, Muslims enter a state of
dedication known as ihram, by removing their normal clothes and dress
in two seamless white sheets for men, and simple white dresses and
scarves for women. The white garments are symbolic of human equality
before God, since all the pilgrims are dressed similarly. Money is no
longer a factor for the pilgrims - the equality of each person in the
eyes of God becomes more important.
When arriving in Makkah, pilgrims perform the tawaf, which is a
circular, anti clockwise process around the Ka'bah. Which as they are
going round say "Labbayka Allahumma Labbayk," which means "Here I am
at your service, O God, Here I am" The tawaf is meant to awaken each
Muslim's consciousness that God is the center of their reality and the
source of all meaning in life, and that each person being part of the
community of Muslim believers, known as the ummah. Pilgrims also
perform the sa'i, which is hurrying seven times between the small
hills named Safa and Marwah, reenacting the story of Hajar's desperate
search for water and food.
Next, on the first official day of Hajj, the two million pilgrims
travel a few miles to the plain of Mina and camp there. From Mina,
pilgrims travel the following morning to the plain of Arafat where
they spend the entire day in devotion. That evening, the pilgrims move
and camp at Muzdalifa, which is a site between Mina and Arafat.
Muslims stay overnight and say various prayers there.
Then the pilgrims return to Mina, and throw seven pebbles at a stone
pillar that represents the devil. This symbolizes Abraham's throwing
stones at Satan when he tried to tempt Abraham from sacrificing his
son. Then the pilgrims sacrifice a sheep, reenacting the story of
Abraham, who, in place of his son, sacrificed a sheep that God had
provided instead of Abraham's son. The meat from the slaughtered sheep
is given to family, friends, poor, widows and needy people in the
community. After the sacrifice, the pilgrims return to Makkah to end
the formal rites of Hajj by performing a final tawaf and sa'i.
Muslims believe the rites of the Hajj were designed by God and taught
through Prophet Muhammad. Muslims believe that since the time of Adam,
there have been thousands of prophets, including people like Noah,
Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and David, and that Muhammad was the final
prophet of God.
The Hajj is designed to develop God and a sense of spiritual
upliftment. It is also believed to be an opportunity to seek
forgiveness of sins made throughout life. Prophet Muhammad had said
that a person who performs Hajj properly "will return as a newly born
baby." The pilgrimage also enables Muslims from all around the world,
of different colors, languages and races, to come together to worship
the One God together.
Although only the pilgrims in Makkah can participate in the Hajj
fully, all the other Muslims in the world join with them by
celebrating the Eid ul Adha [eed ul ud-ha], or Festival of Sacrifice.
On the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah, Muslims around the world wear their nicest
clothing and attend a special prayer gathering in the morning. This is
followed by a short sermon, after which everyone stands up to hug and
greet one another. The traditional Eid greeting is "Eid Mubarak,"
which means "Keisha Holiday Blessings." Next, people visit each
other's homes and partake in festive meals with special dishes,
beverages, and desserts. Children receive gifts and sweets on this
In addition, like the pilgrims in Makkah, those Muslims who can afford
to do so offer domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of
Abraham's sacrifice. The meat is distributed for consumption to
family, friends, and to the poor and needy.
The Eid ul-Adha is a major religious event in the lives of Muslims.
Usually, communities celebrate tnis occasion over a period of several
Ramadan - the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, this is when
Muslims fast from dawn to sunset.
Eid ul-Fitr - Festival at the end of Ramadan, this is a celebration of
ending the month of fasting.
Dhul-Hijjah - the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, this is
when the Hajj takes place, from the 8th through 13th.
Eid ul-Adha - Festival that takes place during the Hajj. On the 10th
of Dhul Hijjah, this is in commemoration of the sacrifices of Abraham
and his family.
Abraham - a prophet and person known by all Muslims, Jews, and
Christians alike as the father figure of monotheism.
Hajar - one of Abraham's wives, who, along with her infant son
Ishma'il, were settled in Arabia by Abraham.
Ishma'il - the elder son of Abraham, who helped Abraham build the
Ka'bah when he was thirteen years old.
Arafat -This is a place where pilgrims travel to take part in Hajj.
There pilgrims offer prayers throughout the day.
Makkah (Mecca) - the sacred city of Muslims, in modern day Saudi
Arabia, where the Ka'bah is located.
Mina - this is a place where pilgrims camp, which is located on the
outskirts of Makkah. Muzdalifa - a place where pilgrims stay overnight
and pray during the Hajj. Safa and Marwah - these are two hills near t
Hajj - the annual pilgrimage (spiritual journey) to Makkah, performed
by two million Muslims every year.
Ihram - a state of dedication in which Muslims remove their worldly
clothing and put on the simple, white attire of pilgrims. This
symbolizes a state of purity and human equality. Ka'bah - an empty
cube-shaped structure built as a house of worship by Abraham and
Ishma'il, for the worship of the One God.
"Labbayka Allakumma Labbayk" - a statement which pilgrims call out
while performing the Hajj, which means "Here I am at your service, O
God, Here I am"
Sa'i - one of the rites of the Hajj, in which pilgrims hurry between
two hills, Safa and Marwah, reennacting Hajar's desperate search for
food and water.
Tawaf - one of the rites of the Hajj, in which pilgrims move in a
circular, anti clockwise movement around the Ka'bah.
Ummah - the entire Muslim community around the world, which comprises
over one billion people of every race, color, etc.
Other Words and phrases
"Eid Mubarak" - a greeting used by Muslims during the Eid holidays. It
means "Holiday Blessings!"
Monotheism - belief in One God.
Polytheism - belief in many gods.
Qur'an (Koran) - the holy book of Muslims
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What is the significance of the Hajj?
The Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. It is a reenact of the
experience of Prophet Abraham and his wife Hagar and of the migration
of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina and his return to Mecca eight
years later. It is also the re-establishment of the Ka'bah as the
House of worship of the One God and the heart and center of all
Muslims of the world. Religiously, the Hajj provides spiritual comfort
The male pilgrim's wear two unsown white cloths which must be worn
when entering the sacred city of pilgrimage and it symbolizes the
weakness, dependence, and equality of people. The Kab'ah symbolizes
God's house. The Black Stone in one of its four corners symbolizes
God's right hand, the kissing of which symbolizes a Muslim's pledge of
faith to the king. The anti-clockwise moving round the Ka`bah
represents human hearts towards their spiritual centre. Drinking the
zam zater gives a taste of the waters of Paradise. The walking back
and forth between the mountains of Safa and Marwa reenact the steps of
Hagar, looking for water in the desert to save the life of her infant
son, Isma`il. The day that Muslims spend on the plain of Arafat
symbolizes humans waiting for judgment the Day, The throwing of stones
at the three pillars at Mina represents when Abraham was fighting
temptation from Satan.
What difficulties might there be for a Muslim performing Hajj
Discomfort, sickness, swindlers, road bandits (in the past),
unexpected material straits, fatigue, and other tests. "Travel is
tribulation," "In travel character is revealed" (Arabic proverbs). It
is said that pilgrimage conditions as a whole give clues as to one's
spiritual standing, within the ranges of extreme difficulty indicating
divine displeasure, to uncommon ease indicating divine acceptance.
Spiritually dormant travel companions are one of the worst
difficulties, although not equally felt as others and also the danger
when the Muslim's throw stones at the three pillars
How might participating in Hajj affect the life of a believer?
'A True pilgrimage is really a journey within' do you agree?
For us humans, a true pilgrimage is a journey within and without as we
are a combination of body and soul. In the moral sense, Hajj is
definitely a migration away from bad sins and swearing ,etc to good
Some people don't believe that it is a 'journey within'. The point of
Hajj is to get closer to God but if he is not present then what's the
point of going on Hajj. Because he knows what you think of him, He is
everywhere and therefore close to you, wherever you are. Muslims would
not agree with this because they don't mean to be physically close to
him. They want to be close to his heart and his soul. Christians don't
have to go on a pilgrimage, but some do out of choice. I think that
they would agree that Hajj is unnecessary because you don't need to
prove yourself to God. As long as you beleive in him that's all that
matters that all that matters for a Muslim.
Some Muslims would not agree with this because it is their duty to
God, it's one of the five pillars. A Muslim who has completed Hajj
would feel forgived of sins. Therefore they would lead a better life.
Another point they make is that if God orders it to be done then there
must be a good reason for doing it. They believe that God is present
but they want to show their true love towardds Allah.
Non-religious atheists and Muslims would think it was a waste of time.
God is not present, he doesn't even exist.
I disagree, I think that if the Muslims feel Hajj is necessary, I
think that's o.k but I also believe that they don't need to show their
love towards god. This is because God is everywhere so he knows to
what lengths a Muslim would go for Him. So I believe that a true
pilgrimage is really a journey within and some times a Muslim would
try to show there love for Allah but not really mean it. Allah only
cares bout there intention so there's no point showing love if you
don't really want to.