Eidul Adha – Celebrating the Return to Enlightenment
Eidul Adha is the second great holiday for Muslims, occurring approximately three months after Eidul Fitr. The celebration takes place upon the completion of the rituals of the Hajj, as not surprisingly, the meaning and wisdom of this Eid celebration is intricately connected to the meaning of the Hajj rituals. The wisdom of connected to Eidul Adha is too vast to describe here, so we are providing a summary of the major ideas.
The Hajj is a religious duty that every Muslim strives to make at least once in his or her lifetime. It is a lifetime journey and you are only required to make it once, because if you truly succeed in making the journey that the physical pilgrimage to the Ka’abah symbolically represents, you will have reached the destination that Allah intended for the human being and that destiny will be with you always.
The vision of the Hajj is a sign of your journey and humanity’s journey towards universal understanding and universal family-hood. The big picture that we see is of one big human family gathered together with the Qiblah; the Ka’abah, with Allah’s direction for humanity at the center. From all over the world, we as individuals and we as the peoples of the earth are gathered around Allah’s direction for us and we envelope it as our nucleus, our center, as the heart of the human being.
The Ka’abah is a house, which brings to mind the human family (families inhabit houses), which is the building block and basic unit of society and civilization. The Qiblah; the direction that Allah’s wants humanity to turn towards and focus their face and attention to is tightly connected to the destiny of the human family. Yes, Allah’s guidance, HIS revelation, was brought to humanity by the Messengers of Allah for the purpose of bringing it to the paradise of peace and protecting it from the fire of falsehood’s consequences.
The Ka’abah is built upon the pattern of its cornerstone; which is the black stone. What is the black stone? It is a symbol of the original principle or nature of the human being as Allah created him. The human being who was created to dwell in the paradise of peace, but slipped and fell from his heavenly state and strayed from his or her original self and became lost under the weight and gravity of materialism. Prophet Abraham and then Prophet Muhammad picked that stone up and restored it to its rightful place as the cornerstone or foundation upon which the human family and thus, human society and civilization should be built and the Hajj is our lifetime journey to return to our original foundation and then ascend from there to the great destiny Allah intended for the universal human family.
There are several major rituals that are performed during the Hajj that are symbolic of great religious wisdom. We will briefly describe these rituals and a bit of their meanings.
The first step in this journey to the destiny is to put on the ih’ram (two pieces of white cloth). The word ih’ram comes from the word haram, which means ‘prohibited.’ The traveler removes all of his cultural clothing and returns to the clothing of innocence; the clothing we wore as little babies–white cloth of natural fiber with no dye in them. The idea is that to make this journey, you must return to the purity you once had as a new born into the world. You must be born again.
THE STATION OF ABRAHAM
Another ritual in the journey is find the station of Abraham, because our true journey begins there. What is the station of Abraham? It is the place where the innocence of our nature meets the evolution of rational thought. Abraham was a sincere believer and willing to do Allah’s will at all costs. But, he had wrong ideas about what Allah wanted from the human being. But the purity of his nature told him that something was wrong with his understanding, so he searched for understanding and through his struggles came to an understanding of Allah that brought him to tawheed (perception of the oneness of Allah), where his soul and his rational intellect were in harmony and agreement. From here, the correct journey to the destiny can proceed.
THE TAWAAF – 7 CIRCUITS
We must now strive to revolve our life around the original soul and nature Allah gave us; the innocence and purity that is the soil out of which the human can flourish as Allah intended. We must put the individual essence (black stone) and the human family (ka’abah), as Allah intended them to be, at the center of our life and make our complete movement in life revolve around serving Allah by serving the soul and the people HE has created. The seven, complete, 360 degree circuits represent the complete ability to journey through your entire life with Allah’s most precious creation at the heart of your concerns.
THE SA’EE – 7 RUNS BETWEEN THE TWO MOUNTAINS
This ritual is symbolic of the story of Hajar, who was left in the desert with her baby by Abraham with meager provisions. Out of concern for the survival of her baby, she ran to and fro, making seven trips, between two mountains looking for food and water and someone to help them in their predicament. Upon the completion of her seventh trip she returned and found that a well of water had sprung up out of the desert at the feet of the baby and this water allowed them to survive. The well of Zam Zam has been flowing ever since.
The Qur’an speaks of mountains as keeping the earth from shaking (16:15) and as places of security (15:92) and as a source of building homes (7:74) and great structures. In the life of the human being there are two great influences; the spiritual and the material, the moral and the rational. These are two great mountains in the life the human being and we must seek sustenance and help for our survival from both. The running back and forth indicates that there must be a strong effort made. If we make this effort to completely balance the spiritual and material sides of life, just as Abraham did, a well of wisdom will spring up from within our midst; right from under our feet, that will nourish and sustain us forever.
THROW STONES AT THE DEVIL
Another ritual is to gather stones and throw them at statues that symbolically represent the devil. Along the journey to the destiny are many obstacles which are in our way. Many of those obstacles are caused by our own personal iniquities and other obstacles are the result of the actions of other people. The large idea here is that the return to our original selves requires that we fight against the evil and excesses within ourselves and against the evil and excesses in our fellow men. We must defeat, rather than be defeated by, wrongdoing and wrongdoers in order to return to what Allah intends for humanity.
As we strive hard to return to our innocence and make Allah and what HE wants for the human being and human society the center of our daily travels and we struggle to find the balance between the material and the spiritual and we fight off the weakness of the self and the schemes of the wickedly wise and their cooperating victims, we seek Allah’s pleasure, mercy and guidance and HE helps us ascend up the mountain of light; Arafa.
Arafa means to recognize; to know. Climbing up the mountain of Arafa carries the message of ascending upwards to the top of knowledge, which is the achievement of enlightenment. After ascending up the mountain of knowledge and attaining enlightened wisdom, you must come back down into the valley where the people and make the sacrifice to feed the people.
ANIMAL SACRIFICE AND FEEDING THE PEOPLE
The completion of the Hajj is to sacrifice an animal and feed the people. This ritual is described as a commemoration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismael for the sake of Allah, but Allah moved his spirit to speak to his rational intelligence and he was inspired to realize that Allah does not want him to sacrifice his son. So, he sacrificed the goat to feed the people.
But there is more wisdom to consider. Attaining enlightenment at the top or highest regions of knowledge, requires that you return back to the people and feed them of the substance that you have learned. Don’t give the people baby food, give them meat so they can grow strong in knowledge.
In addition to this, there is another idea within the sacrifice of the meat. If you attain enlightenment, you will be able to sacrifice your animal desires, which enables the man or woman to share the wisdom unselfishly. Those who are blessed with knowledge and are not able to sacrifice or give up their carnal desires, will end up using their knowledge to exploit the people.
It is after coming down from the mountain with enlightenment that we celebrate its return to the earth or the valley; that is to the common person. We make that once in a lifetime journey and we come into the enlightened understanding of the meaning and purpose of the Hajj and then we bring that knowledge down from the mountain to the people and we sacrifice our own greed and desires for power and we give or feed that knowledge to the masses of the people.