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The Hajj and Eid al-Adha
One fifth of humankind shares a single aspiration to complete, at least once, the spiritual journey called the Hajj. In Arabic, Hajj literally means “resolve” ie; to resolve to some magnificent duty.
Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Countless millions of Muslims, men and women from the four corners of the earth, have made the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam. In carrying out this journey they fulfill one of the five “pillars” of Islam (or central religious duties of a believer).
The Prophet Muhammed said, “He who performs the Hajj with no obscenity or evil practices will come out as a newly born baby free from all sins”. For the Muslims, the pilgrimage is therefore much more than something to be done. It is a sacred and revered journey. Yet without it they have less chance of getting into paradise.
The Hajj Spiritual Climax
Whether a pilgrim spends years walking from his nomadic home in Africa, or several hours on a plane from Asia, there is little doubt that the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, will be the spiritual climax of his life. The pilgrimage takes place every year to commemorate Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son (who Muslims believe was Ishmael, rather than Isaac). The Hajj pilgrimage takes place during the month of Dhu’l-Hijjah (Hajj). Highlights will be the coming to Mecca and circling the Kab’ah, then going to Mount Arafat and stoning the devil (Day of Repentance) and then celebrating Eid ul-Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice.
Before setting out a pilgrim should redress all wrongs, pay all debts and plan to have enough funds for his own journey and for the maintenance of his family while he is away. Certain Governments even allocate funds to assist pilgrims. Many religious rites are performed according to the Qur’an and tradition. The pictures we usually see are of a great throng of humanity circling the Ka’bah (a cubical structure made of stone). Their circling of the Ka’bah, the symbol of God’s oneness, implies that all human activity must have God at its centre. It also symbolizes the unity of God and man. It is circled seven times and a prayer is recited each time round. According to some traditions, the Ka’bah is the sole remnant of the original structure built by Abraham and Ishmael. While making their circuits pilgrims may kiss or touch the black stone. Perhaps the single most important reason for kissing the stone is that Muhammad did so.
Stoning of Satan
Another rite is The Stoning of Satan. According to the Qur’an, Satan tempted Abraham and Ishmael three times to stop the sacrifice. Each time they responded by throwing stones at Satan. As pilgrims throw seven pebbles at the three pillars, they remember the story of Satan’s attempt to persuade Abraham to disregard God’s command to sacrifice Ishmael. Throwing the pebbles is symbolic of a humans’ attempt to cast away evil and vice, the number seven symbolising infinity.
* While performing the Hajj a Muslim really seeks God. Many are known to have had visions of Jesus. Pray that they may also have visions of Jesus and turn to follow Him (Joel 2:28).
* Pray for divine appointments, that on their journey to Mecca Muslims would meet Christians who would witness to them.
* That God would put a desire in their hearts to look past their traditions and to look towards Jesus and what He has completed at the cross (John 4:23).