Millions of Muslims around the world have been making pilgrimages to celebrate Eid ul-Adha, which begins today. Eid ul-Adha means ‘Feast of the Sacrifice and is different to Eid al-Fitr, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan.
Eid celebrations in Islam are the holiest in the Islamic calendar, with Eid ul-Adha being the most widely celebrated and holiest of all. The Muslim celebration of Eid ul-Adha honours the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son to show submission to Allah’s command.
Just when Ibrahim was about to kill his son Ishmael upon Allah’s command, God put a sheep in his place. Muslims use Eid ul-Adha to celebrate Ibrahim’s complete obedience to the will of God and is a reminder of their own willingness to sacrifice anything to follow God.
Two million Muslims gathered at Mount Arafat yesterday for a vigil to atone for their sins, then descended to Muzdalifa to prepare for the final stages of the annual haj pilgrimage.
Pilgrims clad in white robes spent the previous night in an encampment at the hill where Islam holds that God tested Abraham’s faith by commanding him to sacrifice his son Ismail and where the Prophet Mohammad gave his last sermon.
Other worshippers who had been praying in the nearby Mina area ascended in buses or on foot from before dawn as security forces directed traffic and helicopters hovered overhead.
Some of the faithful carved out seats on the craggy hillside, carrying umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun. Others filled nearby roads, with temperatures approaching 40°C.
Men and women from nearly every country in the world gathered side by side, some crying on their neighbour’s shoulder.
An elderly Syrian pilgrim sitting on the hilltop shouted out, ‘Oh God, take revenge on the oppressors’. Others assembled around him responded, ‘Amen’. Awfa Nejm, from a village near Homs, said: ‘We ask God to protect Syria and its people and return it to the way it was before.’
Amin Mohammed, 27, from Nigeria said he was praying for peace in his country.
Saudi Arabia said more than 2.3 million pilgrims, most of them from outside Saudi Arabia, had arrived for the five-day ritual, a religious duty once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford the journey.[Source: Metro]