Throughout the world, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha on this day. This is the second of the two major holidays in Islam each year. Over the next two to three days, the pilgrims return to Mecca and perform the tawaf and the sayee, and drink from the ancient spring known as Zamzam, said to have been created by the child Ismail, which continues to flow today. Today the water is brought from the well of Zamzam, purified, cooled, and pumped into the Mosque via a tap.
There are no other requirements for performance, people are free to shop in the malls, or take tours, except that a final act before leaving Saudi Arabia is to perform a final tawaf. After Hajj, pilgrims often return home with renewed faith and are given honorific titles of Hajji. According to legend, Allah sent Muhammad to perform the Hajj in remembrance of the Quranic version of the biblical story of Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael.
Abraham is the patriarch of the three great Abrahamic religions of the Western world: Islam, Judaism , and Christianity. As told in the book of Genesis in the Torah, Abraham's first wife, Sarah, could not conceive, and she arranged for Abraham to sleep with their Egyptian slave girl and Pharaoh's daughter Hagar, in order for him to have sons. Hagar had a boy, named Ishmael; after that, God made it possible for Sarah to conceive and she had a boy named Isaac. Ishmael, called Ismail in Quranic records, is the ancestor of the Prophet Muhammad.
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The version in Genesis says that Sarah had Hagar and Ishmael thrown out of Abraham's house, and they wandered the desert. The versions provided by the Quran and Muslim scholars are similar, except that Abraham Ibrahim takes his wife Hagar Hajira or Hajar and Ishmael Ismail into the desert, where he leaves them, returning to Canaan. She collapses and prays to Allah for deliverance.
Ismail strikes his foot in the ground and finds the spring later called Zamzam , and they are saved and found the city of Mecca.
Ibrahim returned to Hajira and Ismail and, rejoicing that they survived the ordeal, Ishmael and Ibrahim build a shrine the Ka'aba at that place. The Quran says that Abraham must sacrifice his son; Islamic scholars say that son is Ismail Genesis says that son was Sarah's son Isaac.
The devil tempts Ibrahim three times, telling him that he should not sacrifice his son, but Ibrahim persists. Before he can kill his son, Allah intervenes and an unspecified "great sacrifice" is made instead. The Hajj always takes place between the eighth and 12th day of Dhul-HIjjah "The Month of the Pilgrimage" in Arabic , which is the last month in the Muslim lunar calendar. Matching Gregorian dates are not precisely predictable from year to year.
The Muslim calendar or Hijiri Calendar is used to determine the dates of religious events and observances, and the timing of the months is based on astronomical observation— Islamic astronomers and mathematicians are famous for their brilliance.
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Any new month can only begin when a waxing crescent moon is seen shortly after sunset. Lunar calendars are 11 days shorter than solar ones, so each festival starts 11 days earlier in the year than the previous year. The date of the Hajj, which falls in the last lunar month, is not determined until an authoritative body—in this case, Saudi Arabia's High Judicial Court—can see the waxing crescent moon in the sky shortly after sunset on the 29th day of the previous month.
If the sky is obscured by clouds or other astronomical forces the new month must begin a day later.
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For financial and business uses and rather than relying on visual sightings, Saudi Arabia bases its calendar on a calculated astronomical moon. The Tabular Islamic calendar is days long, broken into 12 months with predetermined lengths and adjustments for leap years. But the precise starting day of the Hajj is still not determined until eight days before the Hajj is set to begin. Estimated Gregorian dates for the next few years have been calculated by several sources, but they don't coincide and the dates are tentative.
In , only , people attended the Hajj; people were discouraged from taking photographs and cameras were even confiscated. Then, as now, the Hajj is a requirement, it is the fifth pillar of Islam, and it is required that each individual Muslim do so, if he or she is healthy and wealthy enough to make the pilgrimage during their adulthood. During the following two or three days, the pilgrims shuttle back and forth between Mina and Mecca, performing at least six more stonings in Mina and at least one more tawaf and say in Mecca.
The first day of the Hajj
National or local dress is gradually resumed, symbolizing the gradual return to the profane world. Properly performed, the hajj absolves the pilgrim from all previous sins.
However, the hajj is valid only if God accepts it—a judgment that cannot be known with certainty. A valid pilgrimage requires the sincere intention niyah of coming closer to God. If the intent is spiritually sound, most breaches of ritual formality can be corrected via additional animal sacrifices in Mecca or special acts of charity and fasting after returning home.
The hajj often serves as a rite of passage, coinciding with life events such as adulthood, marriage, career change, retirement, illness, or death. It may serve as an initiation for new converts to Islam or as spiritual rejuvenation after a personal crisis or loss. The hajj links pilgrims with Muslims around the world symbolically, ritually, and politically.
As a celebration of the annual reunion and renewal of the worldwide community of Muslims ummah , it is the most powerful reminder of Islam's ideal of unity across space, culture, and time. The government of Saudi Arabia currently oversees the hajj. Many Muslims have encouraged the Organization of the Islamic Conference OIC to establish an international agency to centralize and regulate hajj management so as to avoid favoritism, resentment, and heightened conflict among parties, regions, classes, and ethnic groups.
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