The first nine days of Dhul Hijjah (the ninth month in the Muslim calendar) are nearly upon us, a most blessed time leading up to the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Millions are converging in Makkah and its surrounding areas for the pilgrimage. You probably know someone departing for the holy pilgrimage, and may have received messages asking for forgiveness or invitations to send in prayers to be uttered in Makkah, Muzdalifah, Mina, Arafat and Madinah.
For other Muslims worldwide, the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah are blessed as well, with promises of multiplied rewards for good deeds done during these days. We are encouraged to fast, especially on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah – the day of Arafat, with the promise that our sins of the past year and of the year to come will be forgiven by fasting on this day. The Day of Arafat is when pilgrims performing the Hajj gather on the plains of Arafat outside Makkah to pray, which is considered to be the heart of the Hajj.
The days leading up to the Hajj and the holiday of Eid ul Adha are some of the most important holy days of the year for Muslims, though often the world’s attention is captured more by Ramadan. Eid ul Adha commemorates the story of the Prophet Abraham, who was asked by God to sacrifice his son as a testament of his belief and loyalty. That son was replaced by a sheep at the last minute.
Whereas in Ramadan, Muslims gather worldwide as a community to fast, pray, meet for iftaars and Tarawih prayers and extoll the beauty and importance of Ramadan in social media, that sense of community online and offline can feel less in Dhul Hijjah, when the worship may not center around congregational activities. But why should it be so? Let’s come together and encourage each other to reflect and pray and to reap the blessings of these days.
Let’s come together for the Hajj season and discover that which is common among all of us, and that which is unique to each of us.
Share your stories with us here at Altmuslim. What do you find beautiful, difficult or peaceful about these days? What are your Eid ul Adha traditions? Are you doing anything special to grow more spiritual during this time? Do you feel a disconnect in your community? Do you have some news or political analysis amplified by the days of Dhul Hijjah? Have you performed the Hajj? Do you want to go for the Hajj? Tell us about it. Share your stories and reflections with us.
We can’t promise to publish everything we receive, but we will do our best to provide a compelling literary (and video) Dhul Hijjah/Eid ul Adha experience.
Send your submissions to Dilshad D. Ali (managing editor of the Muslim Channel and editor of Altmuslim at Patheos) at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also tweet at her @DilshadDAli. As a guideline, please try and keep submissions no longer than 800 words. We will be editing your pieces as needed. We will also need a short two-line bio about you (with any relevant links or social networking links). If the piece you submit has been published elsewhere, please provide the original link.