The great Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj has begun and will culminate with Eid al Adha on Saturday, October 4.
So why are these two Muslim celebrations important, and what do Muslims do to celebrate them?
Hajj is not actually one single day, but instead a holy pilgrimage that is taken to Mecca, which is in Saudi Arabia. Hajj is celebrated based on moon sightings and is estimated to take place this year October 1 – 4. Mecca is so holy, that you’re only allowed to enter if you’re Muslim. Historically, this pilgrimage has always been carried out because that is the route that Haggar, the second wife of the Prophet Abraham – or Ibrahim – took when she and her son were cast off by Abraham's first wife, Sarah. Sarah became jealous of Haggar because she was able to bear their husband a son, whereas Sarah could not. Haggar prayed out to Allah for protection, and he took her to Mecca.
The journey of Hajj is very specific, and it is a great way for Muslims from all over the world to come together, and celebrate the goodness of Allah for protecting Haggar and her son. A Hajj pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam, which means that it is expected that every Muslim will go on a Hajj pilgrimage at least once in their life.
Eid al Adha is very different. Centered once more again Abraham, and the story of when Allah asked Abraham to sacrifice his own son. Abraham’s willingness to give up what was most precious to him was pleasing to Allah, and he gave Abraham permission to keep his son by having an angel present him with a sacrificial ram at the last moment. When Muslim people celebrate Eid al Adha, many of them will purchase a goat or sheep and sacrifice it, giving the vast majority of the meat to charity. Others will give money directly to the poor and or to other charities that they support.
In 2014, Eid al Adha will take place on Saturday, October 4.