Muslim Americans Celebrate Eid-al-Adha
By Mona Shadia
CA


Eid prayers at the Los Angeles Convention Center

When seen from above, it's like an ocean of pilgrimage: nearly 2.5 million Muslims in white clothing, standing side by side and chanting, "I'm here, God, at your service."
On Saturday, Muslims gathered at the Corona-Norco Islamic Society ISCN to pray and celebrate Eid-al-Adha. Children were following in their elder's footsteps, running toward the mosque wearing colorful new clothing. Muslims sang, prayed and greeted one another and wished each other a blessed holiday and a blessed year.
"Hajj is a remembrance of the Prophet Abraham and his family's commitment to God," said Hussam Ayloush, executive director for the Southern California's Council on American Islamic Relations. "Every ritual of hajj is a remembrance to the dedication and strong faith and everything he went through."
Hajj is the last of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims are called on to perform hajj once in their lifetime if physically and financially capable.
And Muslims here at home and around the world join the pilgrims in Mecca by celebrating following the hajj.
"It feels good to be around the Muslims and it's a special event for us," said Suhale Sikander of Corona.
His 7-year-old son, Zayn, smiled while holding his hand and said, "I was praying."
For many, the celebration is a way to get together and to represent Muslims and Islam, said Asma Mansoor of Corona.
For Muslims, the Prophet Abraham is considered to be the father of Islam and the father of all prophets. His life and legend are remembered through the demonstration of hajj every year in Saudi Arabia, Ayloush said.
According to Muslims, through Abraham's life, God taught that man can struggle in life, but survive with strong faith and trust in God.
"God's reminder to us is if Abraham can do it, then you should be able to do it too," Ayloush said. "God could have shown it to us through an angel or a lesson of scripture, but God showed it through a human being with the same flesh and blood as us."
Mecca is the holiest city of Islam where Muslims believe the Prophet Abraham reconstructed the Kaaba with his son Ishmael. According to Muslims, the Kaaba was first built by Adam. Islam teaches that the prophet later stood along with his son and prayed to his one God and called on those who believe in God to come and pray. Mecca is also where Abraham placed Hager and his son Ishmael, and where the Prophet Muhammad was born.
Muslims visit the Kaaba, which is considered to be the first place of worship ever built on earth, Ayloush said. Muslims don't worship the Kaaba, but when praying they point toward the Kaaba.
"It provides the focal point of the beginning of Islam," Ayloush said. "According to Islam, the early followers of Abraham prayed toward the Kaaba, it's a central place."
During hajj, Muslims perform many rituals that symbolize the challenges Abraham went through and also some of the challenges and obstacles human beings face throughout their lives.
"Each of the rituals of the hajj is an attempt to remember and learn from the strong faith and the perseverance and trust in God that Abraham carried," Ayloush said.
Many who visit Mecca say their experience is indescribable, that the joy and the fulfillment is overwhelming and worth every minute of it, Ayloush said.
"It's so spiritually charging that it's difficult to describe," he said.
And every year, men and women dress in white clothing, circle the Kaaba and pray to God.
"When you go, you put your material life behind you - the poor, the rich, they all look the same - doing exactly the same rituals, walking side by side, chanting the same thing," Ayloush said.
During hajj, Muslims stand on Mt. Arafat, which is the highlight of hajj. Hajj cannot be complete without pilgrims standing together on Mt. Arafat as one.
Following hajj, Muslims celebrate Eid-al-Adha where they make sacrifice to God, as Abraham did, and they share it with the poor, Ayloush said.
"We sacrifice as a show of gratitude to God for saving the life of Abraham's son and for all the bounties he has bestowed on Abraham and us," Ayloush said.
And after all, Ayloush said, hajj cannot be separated from Eid-al-Adha as hajj in itself is a celebration and a joyous event.
"It's hard to separate Eid-al-Adha from Hajj. The celebration is in the middle of hajj; the actual celebration is hajj," Ayloush said.
(Mona Shadia can be reached at mona.shadia@dailybulletin.com or by phone at (909) 483-8541.Muslim community celebrates hajj, follows rituals of Eid-al-Adha. Courtesy Daily Bulletin.com)


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