Islam’s estimated 1.6-billion strong global “Ummah” (community), including in the Philippines, will celebrate Eid’l Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, today, Saturday.
The Islamic festival comes as pilgrims continue their spiritual journey, returning to Mina, the tent city five kilometers away from Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Over two million pilgrims – around 1.4 million from various parts of the world – came from the plains of Arafat, nine kilometers from Mecca, where they spent Friday for “Uqof” (Standing in Arafat), the paramount point of the pilgrimage. They passed by Muzdalifah for more prayers and to pick up pebbles for the “Stoning the Devil” ritual in Mina.
At least 6,700 Filipino hajjis have joined the pilgrimage, their travel to Mecca in September facilitated by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
Today, October 4, 2014, a Saturday, corresponds to Dhul Hijjah 10, 1435, in the Islamic Hegirah calendar. Eid’l Adha is celebrated annually every 10th of Dhul Hijjah, the 12th month of Hegirah.
In Manila and various other parts of the Philippines, as in countries around the world, Muslims will be going to mosques and open areas to perform the early morning Eid prayer.
Aleem Ahmad Said Basher, chairman of the Imam Council of the Philippines (ICOP), said Eid’l Adha commemorates the Prophet Abraham’s (Ibrahim in Islam) sacrifice of his son (Ismael for Muslims; Isaac for Christians) to show his unwavering faith in and obedience to God.
He said in Metro Manila the devotees will be performing the Eid prayers today at the Rizal (Luneta) Park in Manila, at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City, at the Blue Mosque in Maharlika Village, Taguig City, and at the Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila, among others.
“We will be praying for peace, for unity, for understanding, and for harmony of all peoples around the world,” said Basher.
He said each one will greet each other “Eid Mubarak” (Blessed Festival).
The hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam, which physically- and mentally-capable male and female Muslims are obliged to perform once in a lifetime.
A five-day religious event, hajj takes after the pilgrimage first performed by Islam’s messenger, the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Allaihi Wassalam.
With the men dressed in the seamless two-piece white garb called “ihram” to symbolize purity, the pilgrims started the first stage of the hajj on October 2 as they ascended to Mina from Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, for a night of prayer.
On the second day, Friday, they moved to Arafat, where they stayed until sunset as they prayed and sought forgiveness and mercy from Allah (God in Arabic), vowing to repent, enjoin good, and forbid evil.
While in Arafat the pilgrims also prayed for peace.
Islamic religious leaders said that if Allah accepts their pilgrimage, the hajjis return to their country with a clean slate, like new-born babies.
In Mina, after celebrating Eid’l Adha, the second of Islam’s only two major festivals, and sacrificing a cow or goat for them to eat and give the rest of the meat to the poor, they will continue the stoning ritual at three “jammarat” (stone pillars or walls) representing Satan.
Much of the hajj rituals commemorate the ordeals of Abraham (Ibrahim in Islam) during his and his wife Hajar’s stay in the arid desert of what is now the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The stoning rituals represent Abraham’s rejection of Satan’s temptation. The “saie” (running seven times between the hills of Safah and Marwah (now within the Masjidil Haram (Grand Mosque) in Mecca, represents Hajar’s search for water in the Arabian desert.
“Tawaf” (going around, or circumambulation of, the Ka’abah) seven times inside the Grand Mosque is performed on the Station of Abraham.