Eid and the Hajj (Guest Entry)

To conclude our commemoration of Eid, Tarek Amr from Egypt joins us on Inside Islam as a guest blogger to write about Eid, the hajj, and symbols associated with the feast of sacrifice. Tarek is a bilingual blogger who writes about technology in English on Gr33nData and in Arabic on another site called Kelmeteen, or “a few words.” His social, religious, and non-technical writing is posted on Not Green Data. Last, Tarek also writes and translates for one of the best online resource for content from around the world Global Voices Online on an ongoing basis.

Tarek addresses an aspect of Eid al-Adha that we have yet to mention in this series: the fact that the holiday also marks the end of hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. For those interested in a visual look at this year’s celebration in Mecca, The Big Picture presents “The Hajj and Eid al-Adha.” Welcome, Tarek.

Symbols of Eid Around the World

by Tarek Amr

It was early in the morning somewhere in the Middle East, when Amina, a ten years old girl, woke up and went to her father’s room to wake him up. Today is the tenth of Zul-Hajja and it is Eid El-Adha. They have to go to pray in the mosques now then get back to their home to sacrifice that sheep that they bought last week and kept in their home’s backyard.

It was late in the afternoon somewhere in Europe, when Alan, a ten years old boy, was watching the television with his parents and saw footage of millions of people covered with white cloth and revolving around some building in Mecca. There were also other videos of other people sacrificing sheep and calves in other parts of the Muslim World.

By the end of that day, both Amina and Alan were aware that at that time of the year, Eid El-Adha is celebrated across the whole Muslim World. They both learned that at that day hundreds of millions sacrifice animals at that part of the world. They also knew that in that day some Muslims go to practice pilgrimage – Hajj – in Mecca. But they had many questions in the minds. They both were wondering why people sacrifice animals like this. Why do they cover themselves in white cloth and revolve around El Kaaba during Hajj.

They both had dozens of questions in their minds; they kept asking their parents, and went online to search for answers or find books that may answer their questions till they knew that it all started thousands of years ago when Ibrahim (Abraham) was order by Allah (God) to sacrifice his own son, Ismael (Ishmael). Ibrahim hadn’t have any children till he got really old, and he was really attached to his son. Ibrahim went to tell his son about that divine order, and the son as well as his parent agreed that they have to submit to Allah’s will.

At that moment Allah rewarded them both with a sheep to sacrifice instead of Ismael. We sacrifice sheep till now and give their meet to the poor ones. We do so as a symbol of submission to Allah’s will. We all have our own Ismael’s, some are attached to their sons like Ibrahim, some others are attached to their wealth, fame, etc. And that’s why we do sacrifice sheep every year in order to remind ourselves with that thousands years old incident and to learn to submit to Allah’s will even if it is against ours.

They also kept reading and asking till they knew that white cloth is called Ehram. Changing your own clothes with the Ehram is the first step of Hajj. Our clothes are always a symbol of our identities in this life. The quality of our clothes may reflect our wealth; their style can reflect what we do, where we come from, etc. And that’s why people do put on the Ehram, in order to be all equal.

Also in Islam people are seen as a combination of body and soul, where body is the part that bounds us to earth and to our life on it, while soul is our heavenly part, and that’s why the Ehram looks like the cloth people are covered with when they die, and putting it on is a symbol of getting rid of our mortal part and evolving towards our heavenly part. They then orbit around the Kaaba, which is also known as the House of Allah. Millions of people orbit around the Kaabe in the same time all of them wearing the same clothes and moving as a single unit.

The Hajj is a multi-day trip that people are required to do at least once in their entire life as long as they are capable of doing it. And that trip if filled of many symbols and it needs many books in order to elaborate its inner values. I am sure I cannot describe it in one or two posts, and I am sure I am not aware of every single detail of it and their meanings, but it’s always a pleasure to read more and more about it and get to know its details and symbols more, and it is even better to go practice it yourself someday and feel the pleasure of Hajj.

More on Eid:

Three guest bloggers joined Inside Islam to commemorate Eid this year. Naeem Mayetas wrote Thursday’s guest entry. In it he shared his Eid experiences growing up in South Africa. Another blogger from ProductiveMuslim wrote a post yesterday on Abraham’s story of sacrifice.