Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 20 September 2015





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette


The ritual and the rejoicing

by Husna Inayathullah

Eid-al-Adha or Haj Festival as it is popularly known, is considered the Festival of the Sacrifice. It is also known as the Greater Eid, Eid e Qurban and is the second most significant religious holiday in the Islamic calendar, celebrated with great spirituality by Muslims all over the world.

Haj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of the five pillars of Islam and is hence a once in a lifetime obligation for Muslims who are physically and financially able.

In what is said to be the largest gathering of any single group in one place and a remarkable spiritual congregation, more than two million Muslims from every corner of the globe go to Mecca each year to perform, Haj, the rites of which include circling the Ka’aba seven times and going seven times between the hillocks of Safa and Marwa, as Hajra did during her search for water. In performing the Haj, a pilgrim follows the order of ritual that the Prophet Muhammad performed during his last pilgrimage.

Following this, the pilgrims stand together in Arafa and ask God for His forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Day of Judgment.

The end of the Haj is marked by Eid al-Adha on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijjah, which is the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Muslims in Sri Lanka will be celebrating Eid on September 24, 2015 according to the Colombo Grand Mosque.

Significant events

Two significant Islamic events took place in the history of Islam which represents Haj. They are the culmination of the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca and the sacrifice that Allah commanded Prophet Ibrahim of his beloved son, Ismail.

Allah had made the Haj mandatory upon mankind initially during the time of Prophet Ibrahim. The spread of idolatry across Saudi Arabia caused the rituals of Haj to become extremely distorted. Allah described the correct manner in which it was to be performed in the Holy Quran.

There are several rituals which constitutes the framework of Haj. These include performing Tawaf, which means circulating the Ka’aba seven times, Sa’i, which means walking between the mounds of Safa and Marwa seven times, supplicating to Allah at Arafat, the place where Prophet Muhammad gave his farewell speech, proclaiming the final seal of Islam where Muslims believe they will be resurrected on the Day of Judgment and stoning the pillars that symbolise Satan at Mina, the place where Satan repeatedly challenged Ibrahim to disobey Allah’s command to sacrifice his son.

Each of these rituals is a step in the pilgrim’s difficult journey towards spiritual cleansing. It is said a pilgrim’s prior sins will be forgiven when he or she executes these acts in a prescribed manner.

The final ritual the pilgrims must perform is the sacrifice of a domestic animal. It signifies the completion of these acts and is known as Qurban. In addition to denoting the completion of Haj, Eid-al-Adha honours the monumental sacrifice that was to be made by Prophet Ibrahim, who was ordered by Allah to sacrifice his beloved son Ismail as a test of obedience.

Eid-al-Adha exemplifies the charitable instincts of Muslims and embodies the values of discipline, self-denial and submitting to the will of Allah.

It is a joyous occasion marked with family traditions and celebrations.

During the festival of Eid al-Adha and the days preceding it, Muslims recite the Takbir. This is particularly the case on the Day of Arafat. The Takbir is the term for the Arabic phrase ‘Allahu Akbar’ translated as ‘God is the greatest’.

Eid-al-Adha is a time of remembrance of the trials of Prophet Ibrahim, a time to celebrate the end of Haj, and a time that men, women, and children of all ages greatly look forward.

Eid-al-Adha means…

We asked a cross section of Muslims what the Eid –al- Adha means to them

A celebration of sacrifice

Farwin Rahuman - Haj for me is a celebration of sacrifice, devotion and equality. This festival brings into our minds a few of the greatest individuals in Islam - Prophet Ibrahim, his son prophet Ismail and his mother Hajra. It is during this festival that thousands of Muslims visit the holy city of Mecca to perform Haj as one whole Muslim umma. This festival reminds me of the devotion that prophet Ibrahim and Ismail had towards Allah and also the undying faith lady Hajra had in our creator. While the pilgrims in Mecca clad in the same attire gathered for one single purpose reminds us of the unity we share irrespective of all our differences.

We learn many good lessons

Nujla Inayathullah - This festival is celebrated to honour the sacrifice which was to be made by Prophet Ibrahim. The special act on this day is giving Qurban. We learn many good lessons from this festival. Even though it is a festival of sacrifice, we all spend this day with happiness with the rahmat of Allah the Almighty. There is no difference between rich and poor, every one of us celebrate this day wearing new clothes. Reciting ‘Takbir’ on this day is highly beneficial, in order to praise Allah. I am looking forward to celebrate Haj.

A time of happiness for all Muslims

Shafkhan Munzir - Muslims celebrate this festival to earn the blessings of Allah and seek forgiveness. On the day of Eid, I go to the mosque to listen to the sermon early in the morning and then offer Eid prayers, come back home and have breakfast with the family and then visit our relatives. We are encouraged to wear our best clothes and also distribute gifts to family, friends and neighbours with love. This is one of the most important festival of Islam and a time of happiness for all the Muslims around the world.

Journey to the heart of Islam

Nifraz Rifaz - Haj means a journey to the heart of Islam. One of the five pillars of Islam central to Muslim belief, Haj is the pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must make at least once in his lifetime if he is able. People pour into Mecca by land, sea, and air, while there is no force, allurement, propaganda, or any other urging factors. This reminds me f peace and equality. Although I will not perform Haj in Mecca this time I will use this time to connect with my friends, neighbours, and family.

Special for me

Mohamed Aashif - Haj festival always remind me of sacrificing. I am so happy that my uncle is performing Haj for the first time this year. I am also waiting eagerly to eat the watalappan my mother prepares. Getting dressed and going for prayers is really exciting. This year Haj festival is going to be special for me as for the last two years I was not with my family. I like to perform Haj one day and this is a dream that every Muslim has.

A moment of sharing

Thanzyl Al-Thajudeen - Haj is when every able-bodied Muslim who are blessed with enough money makes his or her journey at least once in their lifetime on a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city of Islam where Prophet Muhammad was born and is the ‘mother of all settlements’ [Quran (6:92, 42:5)]. Every year more than one and half billion Muslims across the world celebrate this Holy day as a moment of sharing their spiritual togetherness, responsibility, and devotion. I am eager to celebrate the Haj festival this time with my small family.

Quotas and agents

Minister of Muslim
Religious Affairs,
Abdul Haleem

Though the Haj pilgrimage is obligatory on all Muslims who are physically and financially able to do so, the quest to transform Mecca into some kind of construction wonder has meant that each country is subjected to a quota system, limiting the number of pilgrims from each country.

The quota for Sri Lanka this year was 2240. However, Minister of Muslim Religious Affairs, Abdul Haleem claims that due to the high demand a further 600 more pilgrims were added to the quota, and takes credit to securing the increase. Altogether 2840 pilgrims from Sri Lanka have left for Mecca this year.

Haj travel from Sri Lanka is a travel-agent-controlled affair from start to finish, with the agents determining the eligibility of the pilgrims. “The agents charge a huge amount from the pilgrims,” Haleem alleges.

The agents make the pilgrimage a complete package that includes accommodation, food and medical care. Often a cook and a doctor are included among the pilgrims. This time the Haleem’s ministry is sending two doctors to look after the pilgrims and he says there are also Sri Lankan volunteers in Saudi Arabia to look into their safety and security.

Making the pilgrimage is a costly affair for Sri Lankan Muslims, with the packages for the nearly month long visit, ranging from Rs 450,000 to 650,000 and above. Haleem accuses the agents of overcharging and says if the Ministry of Muslim Religious Affairs is able to control the Haj, the cost could be reduced significantly. “Maybe next year I will be able to put my plans into practice and then I will give the opportunity for at least 500 poor Muslims to perform Haj,” he promises.


Daily News & Sunday Observer subscriptions
eMobile Adz

| News | Editorial | Finance | Features | Political | Security | Sports | Spectrum | World | Obituaries | Junior |


Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2015 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor