notes have been prepared by the Council on Islamic
Education, a national, non-profit educational resource
organization, dedicated to providing information on Islam
and Muslims to Non Muslims.
has two major religious celebrations. The first occurs
after the completion of Ramadan, the Islamic month during
which Muslims (believers in Islam) fast daily from dawn to
sunset as part of an effort towards self-purification and
betterment. This holiday is known as Eid ul-Fitr (Festival
of Breaking the Fast).
second major Islamic celebration takes place during the
time of the Hajj,
or annual pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca). This week-long
event occurs two months and ten days after Ramadan ends,
during the Islamic month of DhulHijjah, and its
culmination is a holiday known as Eid ul-Adha (Festival of
Sacrifice). The Hajj consists of several ceremonies, meant
to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith,
and to commemorate the trials of prophet Abraham and his
family. Over two million Muslims perform the pilgrimage
annually, and the rest of the over one billion Muslims
world-wide celebrate the Eid holiday in conjunction with
order to teach about the important holidays of Islam,
teachers can photocopy the "Information for
Students" pages of this packet and distribute them to
their students. After providing 15-20 minutes to read the
pages, teachers can use the provided questions to guide
discussion and elicit responses from the students. Some
suggested activities for students are also included in
is a figure revered by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike
as a righteous person who lived over four thousand years
ago. His story can be found in the Bible as well as the
Qur'an (the Muslim holy book). Abraham is considered to be
the patriach of monotheism, or "belief in the One
God," who sought a personal relationship with his
Creator. He left his native city of Ur in Mesopotamia
after voicing opposition to his people's polytheistic
practices, and eventually settled in Egypt with his
family. Later, he escorted one of his wives, Hajar, and
their infant son Ishmail, to a desolate valley in Arabia
and left them there, trusting in God's promise to care for
concerned about feeding her young baby, began searching
the surroundings for food and water. According the the
Qur'an, in response to Hajar's prayers, a spring
miraculously gushed forth at Ishma'il's feet to quench
their thirst. Hajar climbed nearby hills searching for
food and looking for caravans on the horizon. Eventually,
some passing traders stopped in the valley, and asked
Hajar's permission to water their camels. In time, the
traders decided to settle in the little valley, and
eventually the settlement grew into the city of Makkah.
Abraham returned from time to time to visit, and when
Ishma'il was about thirteen years old, he and Ishma'il
constructed the Katbah, an empty cube-shaped building, as
a place dedicated for the worship of the One God.
Eventually, Makkah became an important trading post by the
time of Prophet Muhammad, twenty- five hundred years
commemoration of the trials of Abraham and his family in
Makkah, which included Abraham's willingness to sacrifice
his son in response to God's command, Muslims make a
pilgrimage to the sacred city at least once in their
lifetime. The Hajj is one of the "five pillars"
of Islam, and thus an essential part of Muslims' faith and
from all over the world, including the United States,
travel to Makkah (in modern- day Saudi Arabia). Before
arriving in the holy city, Muslims enter a state of
consecration (dedication) known as ihram, by removing
their worldly dothes and donning the humble attire of
pilgrims—two seamless white sheets for men, and simple
white dresses and scarves for women. The white garments
are symbolic of human equality and unity before God, since
all the pilgrims are dressed similarly. Money and status
no longer are a factor for the pilgrims - the equality of
each person in the eyes of God becomes paramount.
arriving in Makkah, pilgrims perform the initial tawaf,
which is a circular, counter- clockwise procession around
the Ka'bah. All the while, they state "Labbayka
Allahumma Labbayk," which means "Here I am at
your service, O God, Here I am!" The tawaf is meant
to awaken each Muslim's consciousness that God is the
center of their reality and the source of all meaning in
life, and that each person's higher self-identity derives
from being part of the community of Muslim believers,
known as the ummah. Pilgrims also perform the sa'i, which
is hurrying seven times between the small hills named Safa
and Marwah, reenacting the Biblical and Qurtanic story of
Hajar's desperate search for lifegiving water and food.
on the first official day of Hajj (8th of Dhul-Hijjah),
the two million pilgrims travel a few miles to the plain
of Mina and camp there. From Mina, pilgrims travel the
following morning to the plain of Arafat where they spend
the entire day in earnest supplication and devotion. That
evening, the pilgrims move and camp at Muzdalifa, which is
a site between Mina and Arafat. Muslims stay overnight and
offer various prayers there.
the pilgrims return to Mina on the 10th, and throw seven
pebbles at a stone pillar that represents the devil. This
symbolizes Abraham's throwing stones at Satan when he
tried to dissuade Abraham from sacrificing his son. Then
the pilgrims sacrifice a sheep, reenacting the story of
Abraham,who, in place of his son, sacrificed a sheep that
God had provided as a substitute. The meat from the
slaughtered sheep is distributed for consumption to
family, friends, and poor and needy people in the
community. After the sacrifice, the pilgrims return to
Makkah to end the formal rites of Hajj by performing a
final tawaf and sa'i.
believe the rites of the Hajj were designed by God and
taught through prophet Muhammad. Muslims believe that
since the time of Adam, there have been thousands of
prophets, including such well-known figures as Noah,
Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and David, and that Muhammad was
the final prophet of God.
Hajj is designed to develop God consciousness and a sense
of spiritual upliftment. It is also believed to be an
opportunity to seek forgiveness of sins accumulated
thoughout life. Prophet Muhammad had said that a person
who performs Hajj properly "will return as a newly
born baby [free of all sins]." The pilgrimage also
enables Muslims from all around the world, of different
colors, languages, races, and ethnicities, to come
together in a spirit of universal brotherhood and
sisterhood to worship the One God together.
only the pilgrims in Makkah can participate in the Hajj
fully, all the other Muslims in the world join with them
by celebrating the Eid ul Adha [eed ul ud-ha], or Festival
of Sacrifice. On the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah, Muslims around
the world wear their nicest clothing and attend a special
prayer gathering in the morning. This is followed by a
short sermon, after which everyone stands up to hug and
greet one another. The traditional Eid greeting is "Eid
Mubarak," which means "Holiday Blessings."
Next, people visit each other's homes and partake in
festive meals with special dishes, beverages, and
desserts. Children receive gifts and sweets on this joyous
addition, like the pilgrims in Makkah, those Muslims who
can afford to do so offer domestic animals, usually sheep,
as a symbol of Abraham's sacrifice. The meat is
distributed for consumption to family, friends, and to the
poor and needy.
Eid ul-Adha is a major religious event in the lives of
Muslims. Usually, communities celebrate tnis occasion over
a period of several days.
- the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, during
which Muslims fast from dawn to sunset.
ul-Fitr - Festival at the end of Ramadan, in celebration
of ending the month of fasting.
- the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, during
which the Hajj takes place, from the 8th through 13th.
ul-Adha - Festival that takes place during the Hajj, on
the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, in commemoration of the
sacrifices of Abraham and his family.
- a prophet and righteous person revered by Muslims, Jews,
and Christians alike as the patriarch (father figure) of
- one of Abraham's wives, who, along with her infant son
Ishma'il, was settled in Arabia by Abraham.
- the elder son of Abraham, who helped Abraham build the
Ka'bah when he was thirteen years old.
- a place where pilgrims travel to as part of the Hajj.
There pilgrims offer prayers throughout the day.
(Mecca) - the sacred city of Muslims, in modernday Saudi
Arabia, where the Ka'bah is located.
- a place where pilgrims camp, located on the outskirts of
Makkah. Muzdalifa - a place where pilgrims stay overnight
and pray during the Hajj. Safa and Marwah - two hills near
- the annual pilgrimage (spiritual journey) to Makkah,
performed by two million Muslims every year.
- a state of consecration (dedication) in which Muslims
remove their worldly clothing and don the simple, white
attire of pilgrims. This symbolizes a state of purity and
human equality. Ka'bah - an empty cube-shaped structure
built as a house of worship by Abraham and Ishma'il, for
the worship of the One God.
Allakumma Labbayk" - a statement which pilgrims call
out while performing the Hajj, which means "Here I am
at your service, O God, Here I am!"
- one of the rites of the Hajj, in which pilgrims hurry
between two hills, Safa and Marwah, reennacting Hajar's
desperate search for food and water.
- one of the rites of the Hajj, in which pilgrims move in
a circular, counter-clockwise procession around the Ka'bah.
- the entire Muslim community around the world, which
comprises over one billion people of every race, color,
Mubarak" - a greeting used by Muslims during the Eid
holidays. It means "Holiday Blessings!"
- belief in One God.
- belief in many gods.
(Koran) - the holy book of Muslims
& SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES
reading the information provided, the following discussion
questions can be used for a written or oral activity.
(Appropriate answers are indicated in parentheses)
What are the two major religious celebrations in Islam,
and what important events do they correlate with? (Eid
ul-Fitr correlates with Ramadan, Eid ul-Adha correlates
with the Hajj)
the concept of a lunar calendar. Because the lunar
calendar is shorter than the Gregorian calendar, even
though the Islamic date for Eid ul-Adha remains the same
every year (10th of Dhul Hijjah), the holiday falls 11
days earlier every year in the Gregorian calendar. In
1996, the Eid tentatively falls on April 28. What days
will it fall on in 1997 and 1998, according to the
sighting of the new moon? (April 18 and April 7)
is the Hajj, and how many Muslims participate every year?
(annual pilgrimage to Makkah; two million)
what do the ceremonies of the Hajj symbolize? (They
symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith,
such as monotheism, and commemorate the trials of Prophet
Abraham and his family.)
do Muslims, Jews, and Christians view Abraham? (He is a
figure revered by these three religious groups because he
is considered to be the patriarch of monotheism, who
sought a relationship with the One God.) 6.How did the
city of Makkah come to be? (Hajar,once left in a desolate
valley in Arabia, began searching for water. In response
to her prayers, a spring gushed forth. Eventually, some
traders stopped in the valley to water their camels, and
over time decided to settle there. This settlement became
the city of Makkah.)
is the significance of the Ka'bah, and who was it built
by? (The Ka'bah was built by Abraham and his elder son
Ishma'il as the first house of worship dedicated to the
worship of the One God.)
often must a Muslim perform the Hajj? (at least once in
what way do the pilgrims change their physical appearance
before embarking on the Hajj? (Muslims enter a state of
consecration, ihram, by removing one's worldly clothes and
donning the attire of the 5 pilgrims - two seamless white
sheets for men and simple white dresses and scarves for
What is the significance of the white garments of the
pilgrim? (They are symbolic of human equality and unity
What are other ceremonies that pilgrims must perform
during the time of the Hajj? (tawaf, sa'i, and travelling
to other locations close to Makkah.)
the importance of the Hajj. (Muslims believe it was
designed by God (Allah) and taught through Prophet
Muhammad to make each pilgrim aware that he or she has a
unique and personal responsibility to seek truth and to
pursue justice by promoting good and opposing evil in
did Prophet Muhammad say about the Muslims who perform the
Hajj properly? (A pilgrim who performs the Hajj properly
will "return as a newly born baby [free of all
What does the pilgrimage enable Muslims from all over the
world to do? (It enables them to come together in a spirit
of universal brotherhood and sisterhood to worship the One
What is one of the lessons learned by a Muslim on the
Hajj? (The equality of all people, regardless of wealth or
status, is an essential and important part of Islam.)
does Eid ul-Adha take place? (10th of the Islamic lunar
How do Muslims celebrate the Eid holiday? What is the
significance of the celebration? (Muslims celebrate by
dressing in their nicest clothes, gathering for a special
Eid prayer, then greeting one another with "Eid
Mubarak". Later, they visit one another's homes to
share meals, and give gifts. The significance of Eid lies
in remembering Abraham and
his family's sacrifices.)
Interview a Muslim who has been to Hajj. Ask them if and
how their life has changed as a result. (Teachers may also
want to invite a representative from the local Islamic
Center or masjid (mosque) to speak about the spirX of Hajj
and Eid ul-Adha.)
what it would be like if everyone in your school,
including teachers, dressed in the white pilgrim's garment
for one week.
a mini-Hajj in your classroom. Culminate it with an Eid
party with lots of treats. Allocate some of your treats
for the poor and needy.
Courtesy of Council On Islamic