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  2theadvocate > Columnists > Facets of Faith: Muslims mark holiday Adha 01/31/04

Facets of Faith: Muslims mark holiday Adha


The end of the Islamic annual pilgrimage, Hajj, is Monday-Thursday. A Muslim is required to make this trip once in a lifetime if money and physical abilities permit.

However, the festival that ends the Hajj is celebrated around the world. Eid-al-Adha is celebrated up to four days at the end of the pilgrimage. It is also known as the Festival of the Sacrifice because it commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God. It also marks the mercy that God showed them.

This festival is one of two major festivals in Islam. The other occurs after the annual fast of Ramadan. The second festival is Eid-al-Fitr, the Festival of Breaking the Fast. (The word Eid means celebration.)

The Muslim calendar is lunar-based and is shorter than the Gregorian calendar in common use. This means that holidays begin about 11 days earlier than the previous year. Because the lunar calendar is shorter, in 2006, Adha will occur twice: the first time on Jan. 10 and the second on Dec. 30.

Adha is celebrated with communal prayer in the morning. Many Muslims gather at a mosque for a sermon. The pilgrims in Mecca, as well as those in many other parts of the world, gather to slaughter an animal, to remember the ram that was provided as a substitute for Abraham's son. Some of the meat is kept, some is given to friends and relatives, the rest is given to charity.

The rest of the celebration is much like other holidays. Muslims gather in homes and mosques with festive food. Children receive gifts and sweets.

The holiday comes after the restrictions on the Hajj. Before the pilgrims enter Mecca, they perform a purity ritual. The men put on a garment made of two seamless pieces of white cloth. The women often dress in white, but wear clothing of their land. The Hajj is made of a series of ceremonies, each a symbol of basic parts of Islamic faith. The ceremonies are based on things that Scripture says happened to Abraham.

Today is one of those ceremonies: Waqf al Arafah. On this day, the pilgrims pray for forgiveness and mercy on the mountain Arafah, which is near Mecca.

Abraham is revered in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He is considered the father of all three of the major monotheistic (belief in one God) religions.

However, there are differences in the stories that are taught by the three religions.

In the story of the sacrifice, the Muslim version says that Abraham told Ismail that he had seen in a dream that Abraham was to offer Ismail as a sacrifice. Abraham asks what his son thinks about that, and Ismail agrees to it.

The Judeo-Christian version says that God told Abraham to offer Isaac, a different son, as the sacrifice. Abraham does not tell his son what is happening, just that they must travel somewhere to perform a sacrifice. When Isaac asks what the sacrifice is, Abraham tells his son that God will provide one.

In both stories, God recognizes the obedience of Abraham and provides a ram for the sacrifice.

To read the Christian and Jewish story, visit http://www.biblegateway.com/. Under passage search, type in Genesis 22:1-13.

To read the Muslim story, visit http://www.islamicity.com/QuranSearch/. Search for 37:102-113.

SOURCES:

http://www.cie.org/

http://www.islamicity.com/

World Religions, John Bowker

World Book

The Perennial Dictionary of Religion,Keith Crim, editor

The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion. Jonathan Z. Smith, editor Sacred Writing, Volume 1, Judaism: The Tanakh, and Volume 3, Islam: The Qur'an, Quality Paperback Book Club http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/

http://www.interfaithcalendar.org/

http://www.amaana.org/arch/ismail.htm

http://www.ummah.org.uk/

http://www.iiie.net/

http://www.cair-net.org/

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