Muslims’ pilgrimage and Eid: Celebrations of Abraham
By Tamim Saidi
Muslims’ Pilgrimage and Eid are celebrations of Abraham’s life and his struggles. Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice), which is the second of Muslims’ major annual celebrations, will be celebrated around the world, including Minnesota, around November 27, 2009 (and about 10 days earlier each year thereafter).
The two eids, Eid of Sacrifice and Eid of Ramadan, are joyous celebrations for the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world, and are as significant to the Muslims as Christmas is to Christians.
The Eid of Sacrifice and the pilgrimage (Hajj) are both celebrations and commemorations of the incredible sacrifices made by Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him, as his way of submitting to God, including his willingness to sacrifice his young son for the sake of God. Both of Abraham’s sons, Ishmael and Isaac, are considered prophets of God, and Muslims believe Prophet Muhammad is a descendant of Prophet Abraham through his son, Ishmael. Muslims also revere Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) and Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) as prophets and messengers of God, and descendants of Prophet Abraham through his son Isaac (peace be upon him).
Abraham, who is widely known as the “father” of the three major monotheisms – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – has a lofty position for the Muslims. Five times a day, Muslims around the world send blessings and salutations on Abraham and his family, in their prayers.
The Qur’an, Muslims’ holy book, calls Abraham “a man of Truth, a Prophet” (19:41), “a model, devoutly obedient to God (a Muslim) and true in Faith” (16:120), “forbearing, compassionate” (11:75), and “the most tender-hearted” (9:114). Muslims believe it was Abraham who gave the name of “Submission” (Islam, in Arabic) to this religion. Muslims consider Abraham (peace be upon him) and his family “Muslims,” a Muslim literally meaning someone who is a monotheist and willingly submits his or her will to the will of God. Muslims also consider all of the prophets, including Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) and Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), and those who truly followed them, as “Muslims.”
Although not identical, the story of Abraham in the Qur’an has a lot in common with the story of Abraham in the Bible.
The descendants of Abraham – Jews, Christians and Muslims – make up more than two-thirds of the world population. With so much in common, in this season of remembrance of Abraham, it serves humanity well for all of us to focus on our similarities rather than on our differences.
Tamim Saidi is an American Muslim and an active member of the Muslim community in Minnesota.