On Dec. 19, Muslims celebrated the occasion of the end of the blessed season of hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca.
Hajj, a duty to be performed once in a lifetime if one is financially and physically able, is of the five pillars of Islam, along with belief in one God, five daily prayers, fasting during the month of Ramadan and almsgiving to the poor.
Performed this year by nearly 2.5 million devotees, hajj consists of several rituals that symbolize the belief and devotion to one God through commemorating the trials of the prophet Abraham and his family. The pilgrimage also enables Muslims from all around the world — of different colors, languages, races and ethnicities — to come together in a spirit of universal brotherhood and sisterhood to worship God. This display of human equality in what is considered the world’s largest religious ceremony is what moved Malcolm X to abandon the racist beliefs of the Nation of Islam and adopt mainstream Islam instead.
Eid-ul-Adha, the festival of sacrifice, is a celebration marking the end of hajj which commemorates the prophet Abraham’s absolute devotion to God for his willingness to sacrifice his son on God’s orders as a test. Once Abraham demonstrated his devotion, a lamb was substituted as God’s expected mercy. The holiday is a time for family, friendship and goodwill as one of two major Islamic holidays, the other being Eid-ul-Fitr, the festival of feast, commemorating the end of fasting during Ramadan.
Local Muslims congregated at various mosques and locations. At the Los Angeles Convention Center, for example, nearly 4,000 Muslims gathered at 7:30 a.m. for the Eid prayer and sermon.
La Cañada Flintridge Muslims Asdullah Alamdari and Shahzad and Sobia Husnain made their hajj trip this year. Family and friends will soon be rejoicing their return home for completing this sacred journey of remembrance of and devotion to God.
LEVENT AKBARUT is a member of the steering committee for the Islamic Congregation of La Cañada Flintridge.