With Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and Chrismika (for the family that is Jewish/ Christian) it seems like the world's religions are all celebrating something in December. Some might be curious as to the Muslim population. What do they celebrate? Well are holiday has already passed. We celebrated Eid nearly a month ago. But now another event has come upon the Muslim population. It is the time for Hajj.
Now most are probably looking at this paper with a question mark on their faces. But for some you might now what I'm talking about. Hajj is on of the basic duties of a Muslim. In the Five Pillars of Islam it is number 5. You must make Hajj but only if you have the money to make this incredible journey. Hajj's definition in itself deserves a book but its simplified definition is a pilgrimage that a Muslim makes at least once in their lifetime.
When one wants to make Hajj, they go to their local masjid (our equivalence of church) and ask the Imam (our equivalence of priest) about the travel offers there are for this journey. Hajj is very costly and that is why god has only made it mandatory on those who can go. Once a person has paid for his airline ticket and accommodations, he flies to Makkah. Makka is located in Saudia Arabia and is the birthplace of the holy prophet. This city is filled with holy sites for muslims. The plane stops at Jeddah (a small city on the outskirts of Makkah) where many muslims prepare to do Ihram. Ihram is where you take a shower and you cut your toenails and finger nails. You then where two pieces of white cloth that has no stitching what so ever. The man is not allowed to where any stitched clothes. This may seem odd but this is the way a human will be on the Day of Judgment. He shouldn't care about his outside appearance but his deeds. Women are allowed to wear whatever they want as long as it covers everything except the face and hands. After this crucial step, any bad thoughts, bad language, even the killing of a small ant will make your hajj unacceptable.
Hajj is meant to be a spiritual experience for people. When you are doing hajj you are doing things that certain Islamic figures did before. Hajj requires lots of patience and you must have a strong faith to complete it correctly. As you watch the Hujjaj (plural for people at hajj) doing the steps of hajj together, you see how they all look alike. Because of their clothes that they wear you cannot tell who is rich and who is poor. You cannot see if one is suppressed or one is heard. They are all equal in every way in the eyes of god. Hajj is meant to be a test for a Muslim's faith. I sit strong enough to withstand this pressure and hardship. If a person completes hajj appropriately than all his past sins are released. He/ She is a blank slate. It is like being born again. That is why when they get abck to their families they always are asked to pray for the people since god will listen to those with the least sins.
After Hajj we celebrate an eid which is called eid al-adha. This eid focuses on the story of prophet Ibrahim. He was commanded by god to sacrifice his son. He had to do what he was commanded even though the devil was telling him otherwise. As soon as he tried to sacrifice his son, the knife wouldn't cut. That is when an angel came down with a sheep and said to sacrifice it instead. To this day we sacrifice a sheep and feed the needy and hungry.
So while all of you enjoy your Christmas presents and dradels remember that we are celebrating too. We are celebrating our faith just like everyone else in the world.