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Reflecting on Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca


08 16 18

 

 

By Nageen Khan, My Central Jersey
 
Last summer, for the first time in more than 15 years, I celebrated Eid ul-Adha with my extended family. At 8 a.m., chattering and dressed in our finest, we drove to the East Brunswick soccer field, where prayers were being held. The sun was already bright and hot, and the ground was a sea of colors and glitter.

This Eid will be a little different. Not only are my relatives celebrating at home in London, but my parents will be noticeably absent. This year, they are going on Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims must do at least once in their lives.

Eid ul-Adha is the second of two Muslim festivals. It falls on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hajjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. Those in Mecca are honoring the legacy of the Prophet Abraham by circling the House of God that Abraham and his son Ishmael built. Other rites of the Hajj include crossing two hills, Safa and Marwa, that Abraham’s wife Hagar ran across, searching for water; and sacrificing a goat as a reminder of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God.

The most important part of Hajj is the day of Arafat. The day before Eid, more than two million pilgrims in Mecca gather at the Mountain of Arafat to pray from sunrise to sunset.

Muslims not performing Hajj mark the day by fasting from dawn to sundown. It is a day of worship, a day on which God promises to answer all prayers; but it is also a day of community, a day on which Muslims remember the people of Prophet Abraham and pray for the present and future generations to come, no matter where they are.

When my sisters and I break our fast this Arafat, we will be thinking of our parents, praying together with millions of people hundreds of thousands of miles away. And when we will gather to pray on Eid the next morning, we will be surrounded by our friends and community, by our cousins’ greetings through FaceTime, and by our parents’ prayers from Mecca.

Nageen Khan is a volunteer for Why Islam, a nonprofit organization of Islamic Circle of North America dedicated to providing accurate information about Islam, dispelling common misconceptions, and promoting peaceful co-existence. Contact her at nageenk@gmail.com. For more information, call 877-WHY-ISLAM or visit whyislam.org.

Article Courtesy: My Central Jersey