Islam (Submission in English) has two major religious celebrations during the Islamic lunar year. The first occurs during the 9th lunar Islamic month, Ramadan, the Islamic month during which Muslims (submitters to the One God) fast daily from dawn to sunset as part of an effort towards self-purification and betterment. At the end of Ramadan , traditional Muslims observe a "traditional, not a religious" celebration, known as Eid ul-Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fast).
The second major Islamic celebration takes place during the time of the Hajj, or annual pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca). Hajj time is four lunar months according to the Qur'an, the Holy book of the Muslims (Submitters). The traditional Muslims celebrate a "traditional not religious" Hajj holiday during the Islamic month of DhulHijjah, a holiday known as Eid ul-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice). The Hajj consists of several ceremonies, meant to mainly symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and secondarily to commemorate the trials of prophet Abraham and his family. Over two million Muslims perform the pilgrimage annually.
In order to teach about the Hajj, teachers can photocopy the "Information for Students" pages of this site and distribute them to their students. After providing about 15 minutes to read the pages, teachers can use the provided questions to guide discussion and elicit responses from the students. Some suggested activities for students are also included in this article.
Information for Students
Abraham is a figure revered by Muslims (Submitters in English), Jews, and Christians alike as a righteous person who lived over four thousand years ago. His story can be found in the Bible as well as the Qur'an (the Muslim holy book). Abraham is considered to be the patriarch of monotheism, or "belief in the One God," who sought a personal relationship with his Creator. He left his native city of Ur in Mesopotamia after voicing opposition to his people's polytheistic practices, and eventually settled in Egypt with his family. Later, he escorted one of his wives, Hajar, and their infant son Ishmail, to a desolate valley in Arabia and left them there, trusting in God's promise to care for them.
Abraham returned from time to time to visit, and when Ishma'il was about thirteen years old, he and Ishma'il constructed the Kaabah (Kaaba), an empty cube-shaped building, as a place dedicated for the worship of the One God. Eventually, Makkah became an important trading post by the time of Prophet Muhammad, twenty- five hundred years later.
Qur'an teaches that Abraham is the founder of Islam (Submission to the One God) and the one who received all the rituals of Islam (Submission). The prophet Muhammed was told to follow the religion of Abraham
Hajj is the religious pilgrimage of the Muslims (Submitters in English) to Mecca in today's Saudi Arabia. It is observed by the Muslims (Submitters in English) during the four sacred months of the Islamic Lunar calendar. In response to God's orders to observe Hajj, the submitters (Muslims in Arabic) commemorate God and glorify Him continuously during this religious trip to Mecca. Submitters (Muslims ) make a pilgrimage to the sacred city at least once in their lifetime if they can afford it physically and financially. The Hajj is one of the "five pillars" of Islam (Submission), and thus an essential part of Muslims' faith and practice.
Muslims (Submitters) from all over the world travel to Mecca (Makkah) (in modern- day Saudi Arabia). Before arriving in the holy city, Muslims (Submitters) enter a state of consecration (dedication) known as ihram, by removing their worldly clothes and putting on the humble attire of pilgrims. It consists of two seamless white sheets for men, and simple white dresses and traditionally, scarves for women. The white garments are symbolic of human equality and unity before God, since all the pilgrims are dressed similarly. Money and status no longer are a factor for the pilgrims - the equality of each person in the eyes of God becomes paramount.
Upon arriving in Meccah (Mecca), pilgrims perform the initial tawaf, which is a circular, counter- clockwise procession around the Ka'bah. All the while, they state in Arabic "Labbayka Allahumma Labbayk," which means "Here I am at your service, O God, Here I am!" The tawaf is meant to awaken each Muslim's consciousness that God is the center of their reality and the source of all meaning in life, and that each person's higher self-identity derives from being part of the community of believers. Pilgrims also perform the sa'i, which is hurrying seven times between the small hills named Safa and Marwah, reenacting the Biblical and Quranic story of Hajar's desperate search for lifegiving water and food.
Next, the pilgrims travel a few miles to the plain of Mina and camp there. From Mina, pilgrims travel the following morning to the plain of Arafat where they spend the entire day in earnest supplication and devotion. That evening, the pilgrims move and camp at Muzdalifa, which is a site between Mina and Arafat. Muslims stay overnight and offer various prayers there.
Then the pilgrims return to Mina , and throw seven pebbles at a stone pillar that represents the devil. This symbolizes rejection of the polytheistic views of Satan. Then the pilgrims sacrifice an animal e.g. sheep. The meat from the slaughtered sheep is distributed for consumption to family, friends, and poor and needy people in the community. After the sacrifice, the pilgrims return to Mecca to end the formal rites of Hajj by performing a final tawaf and sa'i.
Submitters (Muslims) believe the rites of the Hajj were designed by God and taught through prophet Abraham and the other prophets all the way to Muhammed. Submitters (Muslims) believe that since the time of Adam, there have been many prophets and messengers, including such well-known figures as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and David, and that Muhammad was a messenger of God and the final prophet and that Qur'an is His Final scripture.
The Hajj is designed to develop God consciousness and a sense of spiritual uplift. 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 the One God together.
Traditional Muslims celebrate on the 10 th day of the 12 th Islamic month what they call Eid ul Adha [eed ul ud-ha], or Festival of Sacrifice. This is a traditional holiday that has no religious support or requirement in the Qur'an. The traditional Eid greeting is "Eid Mubarak," which means "Holiday Blessings." In some Muslim countries the Eid ul-Adha is a major event. Some communities celebrate this occasion over a period of several days.
Ramadan - the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, during which Muslims fast from dawn to sunset.
Eid ul-Fitr - Traditional festival at the end of Ramadan, in celebration of ending the month of fasting.
Eid ul-Adha - Traditional festival that takes place during the 12 th Islamic calendar month, the month of Dhul Hijjah, in commemoration of the sacrifices of Abraham and his family.
Abraham - a prophet and righteous person revered by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike as the patriarch (father figure) of monotheism. He is the founder of Islam (Submission)
Hajar - one of Abraham's wives, who, along with her infant son Ishma'il, was settled in Arabia by Abraham.
Ishma'il - the elder son of Abraham, who helped Abraham build the Ka'bah when he was thirteen years old.
Arafat - a place where pilgrims travel to as part of the Hajj. There pilgrims offer prayers throughout the day.
Makkah (Mecca) - the sacred city of Muslims (Submitters), in modern-day Saudi Arabia, where the Ka'bah is located.
Mina - a place where pilgrims camp, located on the outskirts of Mecca.
Muzdalifa - a place where pilgrims stay overnight and pray during the Hajj.
Safa and Marwah - two hills near the Ka'bah.
THE HAJJ - Hajj - the annual pilgrimage (spiritual journey) to Mecca to commemorate God It is mandatory only on those Muslims (Submitters) who can afford it physically and financially. It is performed by two million Muslims every year.
Ihram - a state of consecration (dedication) in which Muslims remove their worldly clothing and wear the simple, white attire of pilgrims. This symbolizes a state of purity and human equality.
Ka'bah (Kaaba)- an empty cube-shaped structure built as a house of worship by Abraham and Ishma'il, for the worship of the One God.
"Labbayka Allakumma Labbayk" - a statement which pilgrims call out while performing the Hajj, which means "Here I am at your service, O God, Here I am!"
Sa'i - one of the rites of the Hajj, in which pilgrims hurry between two hills, Safa and Marwah, reenacting Hajar's desperate search for food and water.
Tawaf - one of the rites of the Hajj, in which pilgrims move in a circular, counter-clockwise procession around the Ka'bah.
Monotheism - belief in One God.
Polytheism - belief in many gods.
Qur'an (Koran) - the holy book of Muslims