Islam is a complete way of life. The righteous way that is chosen by ALLAH Almighty for Muslims to attain Jannah or Paradise. Being a selected way of life, ALLAH Almighty appointed and prescribed various festivals for Muslims to observe.
Man always wants and needs to socialize with other peoples in the society, and also observe communal gatherings that help bring back reminiscences of past events to help shape their future activities. Therefore, festivals, ceremonies and feasts have become an essential part of society and human life. Most of these ceremonies and festivals derive their origins from ancient practices, religious memorable events.
For Muslims, all religious ceremonies and festivals have their own special importance. In fact, at the end of different modes of ibadah (worship) comes a peculiar type of festival instituted by religion Islam for its adherents. The Friday prayer (Namaz-e-Jummah) is the weekly occasion celebrating the five daily prayers of the week; the Holy Ramadan fast culminates into the festival Eid-ul-Fitr, while the Hajj rites and rituals culminate into the Eid-ul-Adha festival.
Viewing festivity as an opportunity to rejoice in the form of visiting to relatives, loved ones and friends, then we may say there are two main Muslim festivals as set down in law of Islamic: Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. However, if it transcends to identifying with precedent events of divine and miraculous victories over enemies; such the victory of Hazrat Moosa (AS) over Pharaoh and his army, or weekly marking the end of an occasion like the Friday (jummah) celebration, then we can say that there are more than two occasions to celebrate in Islam.
First of all, let’s take a brief look at the stipulated permitted festivals in Islam.
Eid-ul-Fitr (the 1st day of month of Shawwal )
The obligatory thirty day fast of the Holy month of Ramadan culminates into a great and huge celebration. This marks the end of Holy Ramadan, the blessed month of fasting, and is a festival of enormous celebration. In Islamic and Muslim countries public holiday is declared on Eid-ul-Fitr.
Everyone dresses and get ready in their best clothes. They go to the masjid (mosque) to pray eid namaz together. Extraordinary celebration meals are served up especially sweets. Muslims not only celebrate the end of fasting, but they also thank ALLAH for the strength and help that ALLAH gave them throughout the Holy month of Ramadan to help them in practicing self-control of abstinence from drink and food.
Eid-ul-Adha ( the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah)
This is the other huge Islamic annual festival. It marks the end of the Hajj rituals or holy pilgrimage, Hajj is one of the basic 5 pillars of Islam, though it is celebrated by all the Muslims, not only those who are on the Hajj pilgrimage.
It is to memorize the time when Hazrat Ibraheem (AS) was ready to sacrifice his own son, Hazrat Ismaeel (AS) to prove obedience to ALLAH Almighty.
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Generally pilgrims either follow or precede the hajj, “the greater pilgrimage,” with the umrah, “the minor or the lesser pilgrimage,” which is certified by the Holy Quran and was also performed by the Prophet (PBUH). The Umrah, unlike the hajj, takes place just in Makkah itself and umrah can be performed at any time throughout the year. The ihram, talbiyah and the limitations or restrictions required by the state of sanctification are equally necessary in the umrah, which also shares three other main rituals with the hajj: the tawaaf (circumambulation), saaee and shaving or clipping the head hair. The performance of the umrah by pilgrims and visitors symbolizes ibadah (worship) for the unique sacredness of Makkah.
Before or after going to Holy Makkah, pilgrims avail the opportunity provided by the umrah or the hajj to visit the Prophet’s Mosque (Masjid-e-Nabwi) in Madina, the second holiest city in the history of Islam. Here. The visit to city Madina is not mandatory or obligatory, as it is not part of the umrah or hajj, but it is the city, which welcomed Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when He migrated there from city Makkah, is rich in visiting memories and historical sites.
In this city, loved by Muslims for many centuries, people yet feel the effect of the Prophet (PBUH) life. While making their tawaaf or circumambulation pilgrims may touch or kiss the Hajr-e-Aswad (Black Stone). This stone, first mounted in a silver frame back in the seventh century, has an extraordinary place in the hearts of all Muslims as, but perhaps the single most significant reason for kissing the hajr-e-Aswad is that the it is a Sunnah.
As pilgrims of diverse tongues and races return back to their homes, they carry with them cherished and exquisite memories of Hazrat Ibraheem (AS),Hazrat Ismaeel (AS), Bibi Hajra, and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They return with a sense of serenity and awe: awe or fear for their experience at Arafaat, when they felt closest to ALLAH Almighty as they stood on the place where the Prophet (PBUH) delivered his last sermon during his first and final pilgrimage; serenity for having drop their sins on that plain, and being therefore relieved of a heavy burden.
They also return back with a better understanding of the situation of their brothers in the religion of peace, Islam. Therefore is born a spirit of caring and kindness for others and an understanding of their own rich inheritance that will last all through their lives.
The pilgrims go back happy with joy and hope, for they have fulfilled ALLAH’S earliest injunction to all humanity to undertake the pilgrimage Hajj or umrah. Above all, they return back to their homes with a prayer on their lips and in hearts.
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The Hajj is based on a pilgrimage that was earliest even in the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the 7th Century. It is believed that Hazrat Ibraheem (AS) was ordered by ALLAH Almighty to leave His wife Bibi Hajra and His infant son Hazrat Ismaeel (AS) alone in the desert. Though he was gone, the infant became thirsty, and Bibi Hajra (AS) ran back and forth about seven times in searching of water for her son Hazrat Ismaeel (AS). The angel Hazrat Jibraeel (AS) digs his foot or the tip of his wing along the ground, and water amazingly sprang out. This source of water is well known as the Well of Zamzam.
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Makkah, Saudi Arabia. It is the major pilgrimage in the whole world, and is the last and the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious responsibility that should be carried out at least once in a lifetime by each and every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to perform it. The Hajj is an expression of the unity of the Muslim, and their submission to ALLAH Almighty.
The pilgrimage starts from the 8th to 12th day of Zil-Hijjah, the 12th and very last month of the Islamic calendar. Ihram is the name of getting in to the special state that Muslims have to carry while on the pilgrimage.
Prior to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) era, every year tribes from all across the Arabian Peninsula would unite on Makkah, as part of the pilgrimage. The precise imaan (faith) of the tribes was not important at that period, and Christian Arabs were as expected to make the pilgrimage same as the pagans. Muslim historians refer to the period before Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as jahiliyyah, the “Days of Ignorance”, in which the Holy Kaaba contained hundreds of idols, totems of every of the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula, with many idols of pagan gods such as Hubal, al-Lat, Manat, Al-‘Uzzá, and also several representing Mary (Maryam) and Jesus (Isa).
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was known to often perform the Umrah, even before Prophet (PBUH) began receiving revelations. Traditionally, Muslims would meet at different meeting points in other big cities, and then carry on towards Makkah, in groups that might contain tens of thousands of pilgrims. Two of the most well-known meeting points were in Damascus and Cairo.
In 631 CE, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) led his followers from city Medina to Makkah, it was the initial Hajj that is to be performed by Muslims unaccompanied. Prophet (PBUH) cleansed the Holy Kaaba and destroyed all the idols and also re-ordained the structure as the house of ALLAH Almighty. Performing Hajj was a dangerous journey for early pilgrims; Ibn Jubair noted the skeletons of the pilgrims who had died and lost their lives because of thirst during the sacred journey.
As other hadiths also exist that clearly mention that performing Umrah in Ramadan is equivalent to Hajj, it should not the mandatory task for all muslims to perform Hajj as he is able to perform it. This is only to give additional value to the month of Ramadan to perform it.
There are different scholarly opinions on the significance of Umrah in Ramadan. Some scholars state that Umrah is also obligatory and the other scholars indicate that it is not mandatory but to do it is most good.
Verily similar to Hajj you cannot perform Umrah in Ramadan if you neglect your family and social obligations. Though you need to get more blessings in the month of Ramadan however you cannot neglect your families and other obligations of work and kin. You cannot neglect parents or children to go to Umrah in Ramadan.
Another mistake that many parents do is that they do take their children for Umrah but neglect their time and need in Umrah. You cannot neglect their needs at all; you should focus on it also.
We encourage parents to take their kids to Umrah with following certain obligations and activities to be more kind full. To give the Umrah experience to kids is a spectacular and unique trip for them and make a habit for them. Going to the holy place in the holy month is a milestone and a most memorable experience for children and acting in a good way.
Like to share with you some of the amazing stories that I have been able to accumulate over the years of that have finally been able to make that trip to Makkah in Ramadan. Ramadan is one of the most blessed months in the Muslim Calender of the whole year. It holds a special meaning, value and attributes significantly to the overall social and well being of the societies at all.
Ramadan has always been a sharing event among Muslims. Millions around the world take refuge with Allah from the evil and the bad characteristics in this month. Muslims all over the world pray to Allah and ask forgiveness of their sins. In the whole month Muslims fast and say prayers. The objective of all the prayers, worships and the fasting is for Allah. You want to ensure that you spend your time reading the Quran and being good to your kin and family and all the mankind.
Due to the importance of Ramadan, people want to anticipate in the beautiful procession of Umrah in this month. It is just adding or even multiplying your good deeds in the good actions. What a beautiful way to spend Ramadan to act well. Imagine the opportunity to be close to the holiest shrines and places during the holy month of ramadan. It is a rare opportunity and must be availed by people especially muslims across the world. I take pride in the fact that the loved meaning and significance of Umrah has captured by all muslims during Ramadan.
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