Hajj & Eid al-Idha: Pilgrimage & Festival

The 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah (the Month of Hajj) is called the Day of Arafat [in 2007, December 18]. This day is the culminating event of the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The Day of Arafat falls on the 2nd day of pilgrimage rituals. At dawn of this day, nearly 2 million Muslim pilgrims will make their way from Mecca to a nearby hillside and plain called Mount Arafat and the Plain of Arafat. It was from this site that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, gave his famous Farewell Sermon in his final year of life.

During the entire day, from dawn until sunset, Muslim pilgrims stand in earnest supplication and devotion, praying for God's abundant forgiveness. Tears are shed readily as those who gather make repentance and seek God's mercy, recite words of prayer and remembrance, and gather together as equals before their Lord.
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Muslims around the world who are not participating in the pilgrimage often spend this day in fasting and devotion.

Eid al-Idha, also called the big holiday, falls approximately 70 days after Eid ul-Fitr and is celebrated in honor of the prophet Abraham when he intended to sacrifice his son Ismail as a proof of his loyalty to God. Eid ul-Adha is translated into English as "The Feast of Sacrifice", when Muslims all over the world present an animal (usually a cow or a sheep) sacrifice as a gratitude action for God saving the Prophet Ismail's life.

The slaughtered animal meat is divided into thirds, one for the person who is presenting the beast, one to be distributed to his poor relatives, and the last third for the needy, regardless of their religion, race, or nationality. As with Eid ul-Fitr, there is an early morning prayer for the Eid, and celebrations are extended for Four days.

It falls [in 2007, December 2] two months and 10 days after the Little Feast [Eid al-Fitr, at the end of Ramadan]. Those who are economically able to make a pilgrimage to Mecca do so just before this date, on the Hajj.


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