QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 27 Sept) – Today (Sept. 24). we join the Muslim world in celebrating the eidu l-adha (Day of Sacrifice) in the year 1436 AH or 2015.
More than two million people are now in journey performing their haj or pilgrimage in the Holy City of Makkah. Millions of people are also now in congregation in many countries, in many communities performing the eidu l-adha prayer.
It is amazing that after many centuries since the time of Prophet Ibrahim (AS), today, the haj continues to be the most vibrant expression of Islamic faith with multitude of peoples across the world responding to their obligation to perform the haj.
In this regard, this verdant verse of the Holy Qur’an has never waned its veracity in describing the hajsince then until our time when it says:
“And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men: they will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways (Haj: 27).”
From our vantage point today, it is almost unimaginable how despite very primitive means of travel in the past, people throughout centuries could be attracted to go for haj and converge themselves in Makkah doing the same rituals.
Now, try to compare the haj – with very advanced transportation, communication, and accommodation and other travel amenities. We could surely say how privileged the generation of akhiru z-zaman – the generation of our time – to have been blessed with the comfort in performing the haj.
There is something constant that connects past and present generations to the haj: the will to perform the fifth pillar of Islam and thus to complete one’s obligation as Muslim (one who submits to the Will of Allah).
Moreover, the cleansing function of haj on one’s sin is an equally important drive – the reason why Muslims’ desire to perform haj remains through out centuries.
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:
“A person who performs the pilgrimage during which he neither indulges in lewdness nor abuses, such a person returns (form the pilgrimage duly purified) as if born by his mother on that very day. (Raja’a kayawma waladathu ummuhu).
This tradition of haj therefore is more than enough for us to express our thanks and gratitude that we still reach this period of our lives to perform the fifth pillar of Islam and that we are still around praying the eidu l-adha prayer together with fellow brothers and sisters in Islam.
It is indeed a sobering experience that the way to have cathartic or cleansing effect of haj is for thehujjaj or pilgrims to simply undergo the rituals of the haj that are essentially defined with difficulty and struggle by Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and Prophet Ishmael (AS) and his mother.
In fact, as one traces the life of Prophet Ibrahim (AS), what surfaces generally is the indomitable adherence to the command of Allah (SWT), the courage to question the prevailing social order, and the willing enthusiasm to build the Ka’aba (the House of Allah) as a center of worship for mankind. All of these, and among others, were realized with difficulty and struggle on the part of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his son Prophet Ishmael (AS)
Several centuries later and with numerous generations after Prophet Ibrahim (AS), the haj tradition continued to attract countless people to flock to Makkah. But through time, the social environment has dramatically changed characterized with what is generally known as jahiliyyah or ignorance leading Prophet Muhammad (SAW) during his time to launch reform purposely to surface once again the teaching of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) including those related to the haj.
In both cases – the lives of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) – share a common denominator: they were punctuated with difficulty and struggle.
As generally known, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) like Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was despised by his own people; he was forced to migrate from his birthplace; he had to seek help from other people.
When Prophet Muhammad (SAW) liberated Makkah, what he did primarily was to cleanse the Ka’aba from idolatry and reinstituted the haj to its original tradition.
Thus, while eidu l-adha – the Day of Sacrifice – is known generally as connected to the story of sacrifice about Prophet Ibrahim with his son Ishmael, by looking at the larger frame the lives of these prophets, theirs are actually characterized with sacrifice and struggle.
Yet, by mere engagement of haj rituals, today’s pilgrims with all the comfort of modern travels are able to have cleansing-from-sin experience.
Indeed, how privileged the generations of akhiru z-zaman relishing the supposed cleansing effect of hajout of the sacrifice and struggle of great prophets!
It is the reason why, we said, we could do nothing but express our thanks and gratitude to Allah (SWT) and His prophets. [MindaViews is opinion section of MindaNews. Eidu l-adha khutbah (first part) delivered at the Balay Kalinaw, UP Diliman on 24 September 2015. Julkipli Wadi is Professor of Islamic Studies, University of the Philippines].