Hajj 2016: Five-day pilgrimage begins on September 10

The 2016 Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is a five-day ritual beginning on Saturday, September 10 and ending on the 15th.

Hajj is an annual piligrimage to Mecca for millions of Muslims from all over the world.

In 2016, Hajj, one of the world’s largest gatherings, is to begin on Saturday, September 10.

The dates of the pilgrimage were confirmed by Hajj authorities in Saudi Arabia on September 1 based on the sighting of the Moon.

hajj

Hajj 2016

On the third day of Hajj each year, Muslims celebrate the Eid al-Adha, Islam’s holiest festival.

In the Islamic calendar, Hajj begins on the eighth day of the Dhu al-Hijjah lunar month, and ends on the 13th day of Dhu al-Hijjah. The religious rituals of the Hajj pilgrimage, however, can be completed in five days.

For Muslims, the Hajj re-enacts the actions of the Prophet Muhammad in his “farewell pilgrimage” in AD632, and is a central pillar of the Islamic faith meant to cleanse the faithful of sin and bring them closer to God.

American writer spends year debating Holy Quran with Muslim scholar

What happens when an American writer and a madrassah-trained scholar debate the Holy Quran in a bid to find interfaith understanding? A powerful journey to help bridge one of the greatest divides shaping our world today.

If the Oceans Were Ink is American writer Carla Power’s story of how she and her longtime friend Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi decided to tackle the “ugly stereotypes and persistent misperceptions” that were dividing their communities.

“People are going back to the basic texts, and they’re stripping away centuries of culture and tradition and looking for what they see at the heart of the religion,” she says.

Power provides readers with details of her year with sheikh Akram and how the Quran provided her with many moments of grace. “I found comfort in how small I felt reading the text, as when I considered the images of the ‘lord if the heavens and the earth and everything in between, and Lord of all points of the sunrise.’  Even as a nonbeliever, I still found myself taking refuge in the Quran classes as a clam inlet from daily life.”

Carla Power

Power notes the greatness of the Quran by highlighting the triviality of worldly matters like the “close on Wall Street, the exam score or dress size, even happiness itself” that seemed nothing next to the fact that from God we come and to God we return. She describes this as “constant reminders of one’s own puniness and powerlessness.”

She also shares a personal experience that made her realise the essence of the word InshAllah. “When my mother died, I remember thinking how sensible it was, the Muslim practice of saying InshAllah after every plan, every promise, no matter how minor, since only God can be sure whether next Wednesday’s lunch date will indeed be kept. It was a comfort, in a season of grief, to hang out with a community that honored this world’s certainties.”

On her understanding of namaz, she writes about it as a symbol of devotion to God. She mentions studies on the postures of Muslim prayers by scientists who have concluded that they encourage calm and flexibility. While standing straight strengthens the arrangement of muscles in the body, bowing helps stretch out the lower back and hamstrings, and sitting after prostration keeps joints mobile. In relation to this, Power notes how “Akram’s prayers have rendered him culturally supple, too, stretching his humanity in surprising ways. The act of return, to his prayer mat, to his Quran and his classical text–has often afforded an expansion of his worldview, not a restriction of it.”

She beautifully describes the sheikh offering his prayers and the meaning attached to his every move. She writes, “In standing, kneeling, bring his forehead to the earth, then standing again, his attention returns to his origins and destination, which are one and the same.” She also shares the words of the sheikh, who connects the experience to a “feeling of returning to the arms of your mother, when you are a child.”

The author explains the meaning of existence for the sheikh revolves around God, in the shape of a circle. The circle has God at its end, beginning, and every point in between. This sheds lights on his belief that “from Allah he has come, and to Allah he will return,” with everyday circling back to God.

On starting her Quran lessons, as she was able to understand its message, she realised that it is more than just a book. Instead, she reflects on its reach to Muslims around the world as a “metaphor of return. It is a place to which the faithful return, again and again.”

She explains, “I’d come a long way from earliest encounter with the Quran, but I still hadn’t understood that it was far more than a much-revered book. Over the course of the year, I began to see that the Quran was not merely a set of pages between two covers. Calling it a book, something one can read from beginning to end, embalms it in expectations. It was just another way of limiting it into something small: an amulet, a manifesto, an instruction guide, a political tool. In the life of a Muslim like Sheikh Akram, its meaning is much more diffuse.”

On questioning the sheikh about how to better understand the Quran, she shares his response, “Read. Keeping reading the Quran. Read it, and read it again. Return,” echoing the command that Prophet Muhammad had heard upon revelation.

The Oldest Quran Found – Could Be From Time Of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Part of what is believed to be the world’s oldest Quran has been discovered in a somewhat unlikely place…Birmingham.

The manuscript found at the University of Birmingham among other Middle Eastern books and documents was found by a PhD researcher, who suggested further tests.

When radiocarbon dating was used on the text, written on either sheep or goat skin, it was found to be at least 1,370 years old, making it the oldest recorded script.

It was found that the probability of the text coming from between 568 and 645 was higher than 95%.

Oldest QURAN

The text is the oldest recorded Quran manuscript recorded

This could actually date it during the life of the Prophet Muhammad, who is generally thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632, according to the university.

David Thomas, a professor of Christianity and Islam at the University of Birmingham,told the BBC: “According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad PBUH received the revelations that form the Koran, the scripture of Islam, between the years 610 and 632, the year of his death.”

“The person who actually wrote it could well have known the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. He would have seen him probably, he would maybe have heard him preach.

“He may have known him PBUH personally – and that really is quite a thought to conjure with.”

Eid Ul-Adha or Eid Ul Azha

Although only the pilgrims in Makkah can participate in the Hajj fully, all the other Muslims in the world join with them by celebrating the Eid ul Adha [eed ul ud-ha], or Festival of Sacrifice. On the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah, Muslims around the world wear their nicest clothing and attend a special prayer gathering in the morning. This is followed by a short sermon, after which everyone stands up to hug and greet one another. The traditional Eid greeting is “Eid Mubarak,” which means “Holiday Blessings.”

Next, people visit each other’s homes and partake in festive meals with special dishes, beverages, and desserts. Children receive gifts and sweets on this joyous occasion.

 

In addition, like the pilgrims in Makkah, those Muslims who can afford to do so offer domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Prophet Ibraheem’s sacrifice. The meat is distributed for consumption to family, friends, and to the poor and needy.

The Eid ul-Adha is a major religious event in the lives of Muslims.

The Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) Last Sermon or Khutba

This sermon was delivered on the Ninth Day of Dhul Hijjah 10 A.H.
in the ‘Uranah valley of Mount Arafat’ (in Mecca).

After praising, and thanking Allah he said:

“O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and TAKE THESE WORDS TO THOSE WHO COULD NOT BE PRESENT HERE TODAY.

 

O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your LORD, and that HE will indeed reckon your deeds. ALLAH has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has Judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn ‘Abd’al Muttalib (Prophet’s uncle) shall henceforth be waived…

Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.

O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.

O People, listen to me in earnest, worship ALLAH, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.

Remember, one day you will appear before ALLAH and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

O People, NO PROPHET OR APOSTLE WILL COME AFTER ME AND NO NEW FAITH WILL BE BORN. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the QURAN and my example, the SUNNAH and if you follow these you will never go astray.

All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O ALLAH, that I have conveyed your message to your people”.

Inspired by Abraham to Vote

At age 16, I began to see the Prophet in the sun and the moon. On early mornings I’d lay across my bed and muse at the sunlit dust specks floating across the rays of light, wondering if some of them had once been kicked up by the camels of the Prophet Muhammad’s caravan (peace and blessings upon him).

Nasheeds, or Islamic songs like Dawud Wharnsby‘s “Sunshine, Dust & the Messenger,” introduced me to this way of thinking as a Muslim adolescent growing up in Skokie, Ill. The Muslim community reinforced this love for and connection to the Prophet. On the day of his birth (in January, this year) Muslims across the globe will come together to sing nasheeds and recite prayers for the Prophet.

When protests against “Innocence of Muslims” erupted, I found my mother more saddened than angered. This is because she, and many Muslims like her, have grown up reading about the Prophet’s life. We feel connected to him –we emulate him. We imagine what it would be like to walk in his midst. We stare up at the sky and see the same crescent that guided him more than 1,400 years ago.

Although you’ll find few Muslims adopting the WWJD mantra, a degree of reverence extends to Jesus and all other Prophets. I think of Surah Ta-Ha and the life of Moses on Passover and Surah Maryam and Jesus’ birth on Christmas.

Most recently, I recalled the story of Abraham. The end of October marked the days of Eid ul-Adha, the holiday celebrating the end of the Hajj pilgrimage — a rite through which Muslims follow milestones in the story of Prophet Abraham and the life of Prophet Muhammad.

As a Muslim kid, I always looked forward to Eid as a time to visit lots of family and receive Eid money from our elders. Now, as an adult, there are other reasons to look forward to Eid. Muslims are called upon to sacrifice a goat or other animal and to parcel the meat to the less fortunate, and as a working professional I am blessed with the opportunity to partake in this rite.

What made this Eid extra special was the opportunity I had as an Illinois resident to participate in early voting. After attending the morning Eid prayer at the masjid, my family and I drove down to the local polling place, and in our glittery Eid clothes, hijabs and prayer caps, we fulfilled the second big religious obligation of the day.

As much as Eid is about celebration and sacrifice it is also about responsibility. Sharing food with one’s neighbor and the less fortunate, completing the Hajj pilgrimage, checking-in with friends and relatives are all duties of a Muslim. This year, I added one more to the list.

In the spirit of Muslims, Christians and others who fought for just leadership as part of the Arab Spring and the Prophets whose sense of duty knew no bounds, I voted for the next President of the United States (and others on the ballot).

It is my hope that whichever candidates they choose, Muslims across the country will kick up the dust and stand under the same sun that warmed the faces of Prophets Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and Abraham to continue the legacy of responsible, civic duty on Election Day.

Holidays like Eid that recall the lives of the Prophets make me happy to be a Muslim. Today, I am reminded of why I’m happy to be a Muslim American.

Usra Ghazi  Usra Ghazi  Campus Outreach Manager, Interfaith Youth Core

Follow Usra Ghazi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@UsraGhazi