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The twelfth month of the Hijra calendar is Thul Hijjah. This is one of the four sacred months, and is the month of the Hajj. The Hajj, or Pilgrimage, as it has become known in the West, is the time of year when Muslims from all over the world visit the Ka'ba in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
The Ka'ba is the first House built for the worship of the one GOD, ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, the GOD of all mankind. It was erected by Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Isma'eel (Ishmael), alaihim assalaam. Ibrahim's, alaihis salaam, faith in the LORD is well documented in the Noble Qur'an. Ibrahim, alaihis salaam, is described as being a nation by himself, due to his great faith in ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala.
Ibrahim, alaihis salaam, was instructed to take his wife Hajar, and son Isma'eel, alaihis salaam, to Makkah. At that time, Makkah was an unpopulated, barren desert. Ibrahim, alaihis salaam, obeyed the LORD's command and took his family to Makkah. As he left them there alone, sorrow overcame him. But he knew he was obeying the LORD's command, so he supplicated, asking the LORD to preserve his loved ones, to allow the desert to bloom and provide for them, and to have swarms of people come and visit them. The Hajj is part of the LORD's granting of Ibrahim's, alaihis salaam, supplication. For over 1400 years, Muslims from all over the world, visit Makkah every year, to perform the Hajj and visit the Ancient House of the LORD.
The first ten days of this month are best and most most loved days of the year. Muslims spend these days performing additional prayers, reciting the Noble Qur'an, and offering supplications to the LORD. Many Muslims fast during these first nine days. Of course, those who have been blessed with it, are in Makkah, performing the Hajj.
The ninth day of Thul Hijjah is a very special day. It is the day of 'Arafa. On this day, Muslims performing Hajj gather at the mount of 'Arafat, in one of the most important parts of the Hajj. They pray, perform supplications and give thanks to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, for all the blessings bestowed upon them. It is on this day that Adam and Eve, alaihim assalaam, met each other on earth for the first time, two hundred years after being expelled from Paradise. Muslims away from the Hajj, normally fast on this day.
The tenth day of the month signifies the beginning of Eid-Ul-Adha, the holiday of Hajj. Those performing the Hajj, have returned from 'Arafa, and now proceed to slaughtering a lamb or other suitable animal, in commemoration of Ibrahim's, alaihis salaam, act of obedience to the LORD. In a divinely inspired dream, Ibrahim, alaihis salaam, saw that he was sacrificing his oldest son, Isma'eel, alaihis salaam, for the sake of ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala. When he revealed this to his son, his son asked him to do as he was commanded and that he would be patient. As the blade passed over Isma'eel's neck, alaihis salaam, the LORD did not take the life of Isma'eel, alaihis salaam. The LORD provided a ram for the sacrifice, and preserved his two faithful subjects. Those away from Hajj also perform the sacrifice. Normally, they keep one third of the meat from the sacrifice, distribute one third to the needy and share one third with their neighbors.
Eid-Ul-Adha is a four-day holiday and celebration. It commences on the 10th day of Thul Hijjah and is celebrated in a manner similar to Eid-Ul-Fitr. It starts with a special holiday prayer, performed in congregation in the Masjid (Mosque) or other suitable place. It is a time of celebration, of visiting family and friends and of thanking ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, for all the blessings bestowed upon us. Fasting is prohibited during these days.