Published:  01:21 AM, 21 August 2018

Hajj, sacrifice and Bangladeshi Muslims

Muslims across the world believe that animal sacrifice during the Hajj to commemorate the sacrifice of Prophet Abraham of his son Ismael. When Prophet Abraham was about to offer his son as a sacrifice, Allah interfered and stopped him and provided him with a ransom instead.

The word Hajj means to intend a journey, which connotes both the outward act of a journey and the inward act of intentions. Muslims celebrate in several ways. A large feast is the high point of the day. The name of the holiday, Eid Al-Adha, means "The Feast of the Sacrifice." An animal is sacrificed, in much the same way that Abraham sacrificed a lamb.

It is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support family during their absence. It is one of the five pillars of Islam.

The Hajj at Mecca is the largest annual gatherings for the Muslims of the world. The Hajj is associated with the life of prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Prophet Abraham.

According to Islamic tradition, Prophet Abraham was ordered by God to leave his wife Hagar (Hagar) and his son Ishmael alone in the desert of ancient Mecca. In search of water, Hagar desperately ran seven times between the two hills of Safa and Marwah but found none. Returning in despair to Ishmael, she saw the baby scratching the ground with his leg and a water fountain sprang forth underneath his foot.

Later, Abraham was commanded to build the Kaaba to invite people to perform pilgrimage there. It was built with the help of his son Ishmail. The Quran refers it several times in several verses. It is said that the archangel Gabriel brought the Black Stone from Heaven to be attached to the Kaaba.

The basis Eid ul Adha come from this verse of Holy Quran:

"And complete the Hajj and 'umrah for Allah. But if you are prevented, then [offer] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And do not shave your heads until the sacrificial animal has reached its place of slaughter. And whoever among you is ill or has an ailment of the head [making shaving necessary must offer] a ransom of fasting [three days] or charity or sacrifice.

And when you are secure, then whoever performs 'umrah [during the Hajj months] followed by Hajj [offers] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And whoever cannot find [or afford such an animal] - then a fast of three days during Hajj and of seven when you have returned [home]. Those are ten complete [days]. This is for those whose family is not in the area of al-Masjid al-Haram. And fear Allah and know that Allah is severe in penalty."
This is mentioned in surah e AS-SAAFFAT  .

"O my Lord! Grant me a righteous (son)!" So We gave him the good news of a boy, possessing forbearance. And when (his son) was old enough to walk and work with him, (Abraham) said: O my dear son, I see in vision that I offer you in sacrifice: Now see what your view is!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do what you are commanded; if Allah wills, you will find me one practicing patience and steadfastness!" So when they both submitted and he threw him down upon his forehead, We called out to him saying: O Ibrahim! You have indeed fulfilled the vision; surely thus do We reward those who do good. Most surely this was a manifest trial. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. And We perpetuated (praise) to him among the later generations. "Peace and salutation to Abraham!" Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. Surely he was one of Our believing servants.

During Hajj, pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals: each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building and the direction of prayer for the Muslims, runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, drinks from the Zamzam well that goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, spends a night in the plain of Muzdalifa and performs symbolic stoning to the devil by throwing stones at three pillars.

The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three-day global festival of Eid al-Adha. More than a million animals at an average are being sacrificed in Saudi Arabia during hajj. On this day, Muslims populations of Bangladesh traditionally sacrifice animals to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to obey Allah's command. One-third of the meat is given to the poor, and the rest goes to the relatives and family holiday feast. Children get gifts to commemorate the holiday, and special prayers are said throughout the day, usually, in a morning special prayer.

Every year, millions of people leave capital Dhaka and other major cities for their ancestral homes in towns and villages to celebrate the Eid with their family members. Railway stations, bus and launch terminals become overcrowded for the last few days as holidaymakers headed for their destinations. Government declares national holydays for minimum three days for each Eid festival. 

The biggest Eid congregation takes place at Kishoreganj's Sholakia every year. Another 100,000 people attended the congregation at Faridpur's Bishwa Jaker Manjil. In Dhaka, the National Eidgah hosts the main congregation on that very day.

Eid prayers will be followed by slaughtering of animals throughout the country. The people pray to Allah for peace.  In Bangladesh too, tens of thousands of animal are being sacrificed. On this day, all the peaceful Bangladeshi Muslims forget violence and enmity. They love culturally entertain the others. We hope, all the people of the country will celebrate the day joyfully and will remain brotherly to each other in the later days after celebrating Eid-ul-Adha.    

The author is a freelance contributor

---Syed Hadiur Rahman

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