Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The End of the Hajj

I have written so much about the Winter Solstice and nothing about the Hajj. This year, the Hajj occurred during the Yuletide season and concluded yesterday in Makkah. Throughout the world, Muslims are celebrating the blessings of this season, in the lunar month that is named for the Hajj. One of the last rituals is the sacrifice of a goat in commemoration of Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son. The Eid Al Adha or the Feast of the Sacrifice is one of the primary festivals in Islam. Allah did not require this ultimate sacrifice but the willingness of Ibrahim as well as the mercy of Allah is remembered in this rite. In mosques throughout the world, as Yves reminded me in his blog entry, Muslims join in spiritual solidarity with all those fortunate enough to have made the actual pilgrimage this year.

The various rituals involved in the Hajj are powerful and encompass almost every facet of spiritual power. Pilgrims to Makkah celebrated the solar New Year in the shadow of the Kaaba in this year's Hajj. People who have made the Hajj are transformed by it. To combine the two traditions, solar New Year with the performance of one of the Islamic Pillars of Faith must have been a truly extraordinary experience. Rather than attempting to fit the Eid al Adha into the solar New Year, why not be willing to celebrate both fully? Why does contemporary society feel that time spent on traditional holidays is time wasted? Why not have more days to celebrate? A holiday is a day on which one should count ones blessings. Instead, too many people are worried about the next job assignment or something equally transient. Even though the Eid al Adha is a three-day festival traditionally, practical matters often intervene in the lives of Muslims as much as they do in the lives of those practicing other faiths. (Incidentally, the Islamic New Year should begin in this solar month this year, on 20 January. The Islamic lunar Calendar depends on an actual sighting of the Crescent. There is an immediate and real connection with our universe in that, unlike a mere calculation based on numbers.)


Fleming said...

"Why not have more days to celebrate?"

Hear, hear! I hope you read my "Hooray for Boxing Day" post of Dec. 26 (PEGASUS).

Freyashawk said...

I read all your posts. In contemporary urban society, we have been robbed somewhat of our natural knowledge of festival days and nights, because our physical ability even to see the moon and stars is limited by artificial lights.

I long for the country, for the unobscured sight of the moon in her phases, for an unrestricted view of the stars in their constellations.

Islamic festivals are based on the phases of the moon and every one is aware of the precise location and appearance of the Sun and Moon at all times. Prayer times are based on the location of the Sun and change from day to day as the times of dawn and dusk change. This gives a worshipper a very direct and real connection with both heaven and earth.