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Tuesday 28th of June 2022
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The Spirit of Sacrifice

The Spirit of Sacrifice

--And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is Taqwa (piety, righteousness)” (Quran 2:197). The number of holidays that are celebrated in the religion of Islam can be counted on one hand, actually two fingers.

This year has already seen the passing of the Holy Month of Ramadan that was followed by the first celebration, known as Eid al Fitr. The second celebration is known as Eid Al Adha and falls during the month of Dhul Hijjah, on the lunar-based Islamic calendar, and is currently upon us.

 

The significance of the holiday actually began ten days ago on the first day of Dhul Hijjah and lasts up until the tenth. These ten days have been revealed, in the Holy Quran, to be the most beloved to God Almighty. They are a time for fasting, good deeds and increased acts of worship. And they are also a time when Muslims from around the globe board planes, automobiles, buses and ships to travel to Makkah to perform the journey of a lifetime, known as the Hajj. The Hajj is Islam’s most sacred pilgrimage and is one of the five pillars of Islam that all Muslims of means must perform at least once in their lifetime.

 

An estimated 2.5 million Muslims from around the globe are attending the Hajj this year, fulfilling this auspicious rite of the Islamic faith. Known as “Hajjis”, Muslims attending the Hajj wear near identical unsewn robes while prostrating themselves in sheer adoration and awe, in front of the audience of God. On the 8th day, Muslims begin to perform the rituals of Hajj and the 9th is the Day of Arafat.

 

Muslims at the Hajj spend the day in sincere worship and repentance for their sins, thus praying to God for forgiveness for their shortcomings. Muslims at home also spend the day in quiet reflection and often fast as a means of solidarity with their Muslim brethren attending the Hajj.

 

There is no other religious celebration in the world like the Hajj, where kings and beggars are equals in the sight of God. The trappings of this world are stripped away to reveal the fleeting nature of our existence and to cement the bond between Muslims. Each Muslim brings only their piety and the sincerity residing in their hearts.

 

Once the rituals of Hajj have been completed, Muslims celebrate Eid Al Adha, which begins right after the early morning Eid prayers. The holiday commemorates Prophet Abraham’s willingness to slaughter his own beloved son, Ishmael, simply because God commanded him to do so. As Abraham readied his blade on Ishmael’s neck, the Angel Gabriel appeared and said that God had accepted the sacrifice even though not a drop of blood was shed. The angel brought a Ram to be slaughtered instead. Following the Eid prayers, Muslims around the world slaughter an animal, such as a lamb or goat.

 

The sacrifice is not only a way to remember Prophet Abraham’s sacrifice but is also a ritual in charity. The meat from the slaughtered animals is distributed to poor families in need of food. The animal sacrifice is not mere sport or ritual. The person slaughtering the animal must ensure that they use a sharp knife and swift movements so that the animal does not suffer. The sacrifice helps the less fortunate members of society to have healthful meat on their dinner plates. The thousands of tones of meat cultivated from the animals sacrificed by Muslims attending the Hajj is distributed all over Saudi Arabia. It is either canned or frozen and is distributed for free as it would be a sin to sell it. Muslims who did not attend the Hajj distribute the meat from their sacrifice to members of their family and local food centers or charities.

 

Eid Al Adha is not only a religious celebration but it is also a social call to action that brings Muslims together in the worship of God Almighty, while lending a helping hand to the less fortunate.

 

 

By: Sumayyah Meehan

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