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Hajj and Eid Al-Adha 2010
When is Hajj and Eid Al-Adha, and what do Muslims do?
Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of the greatest religious observances in Islam. This year Hajj is expected to fall between November 14-18, 2010. Eid Al-Adha is a holiday at the end of the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca which is one of the greatest religious observance in Islam. This year Eid Al-Adha is expected to be on or around November 16, 2010.
The Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca is a central duty of Islam whose origins date back to the time of Prophet Ibrahim. It brings together Muslims of all races and tongues for one of life's most moving spiritual experiences. For 14 centuries, countless millions of Muslims, men and women from all over the world, have made the pilgrimage to Mecca, the birthplace of Islam. All Muslims are obligated to undertake it at least once in their lifetime if they can. In carrying out this obligation, they fulfil one of the five "pillars" of Islam, or central religious duties of the believer.
Eid al-Adha or Feast of Sacrifice is an important feast in the Muslim calendar. It concludes the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Mekkah). Eid al-Adha lasts for three days and commemorates Ibraaheem's (Abraham) willingness to obey God by sacrificing his son. Muslims believe the son to be Ishmaa’eel rather than Isaac as told in the Old Testament. Ishmaa’eel is considered the forefather of the Arabs. According to the Koran, God commanded him to offer his son as a sacrifice, which was the most difficult test for his faith.
The son obeyed his father’s accomplishment of God’s will. Just as Ibraaheem was about to slaughter Ismaa'eel God ransomed him for a ram. God revealed to Ibraaheem that this was a trial for him in which he succeeded.
Ibraaheem and his son, Ismaa'eel, then built the Sacred House of God, the Ka’bah, in Makkah (see Quran: 14:35–41). Prophet Ibraaheem established the rites of Hajj (see Quran: 22:26-30)
The feast re-enacts Ibraaheem's obedience by sacrificing a cow or ram. The family eats a third of the meal, a third is given to family and friends and the remaining third is given to the poor. Where this is not practical families may chose instead to donate the equivalent cost of the sheep to the needy in other parts of the world (the donation is equivalent to the cost of the sheep - £40-£80). There are prayers and sermons, mutual visiting of friends and neighbours, lavish meals, and the wearing of new clothes.