Dhul Hijjah and the Legacy of Sacrifice and Devotion
Dhul Hijjah, the final month of the Islamic year, is a sacred month when Allah (SWT) grants many blessings to us, especially in the first 10 days. As a time where no deed is more beloved to Allah (SWT) than one done during these blessed 10 days, it is also a time when we beautify our acts of worship towards Allah (SWT) to reap the most rewards from God.
But it is also in our elevated remembrance of Allah (SWT) that we honour the legacy of Dhul Hijjah and the sacrifice, trust and devotion shown to Allah (SWT) by our Prophet Ibrahim (AS), Ismail (AS) and Hajar (AS). Without the trials they were willing to face for the sake of God, we would not have the rituals of the important events of Hajj and Eid Al-Adha, which are integral to the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah.
Hajj and the Story of Hajar (AS)
Hajj, as one of the five pillars of Islam, is a vital aspect of Islam. During the 8th, 9th and 10th days of Dhul Hijjah, the month of the pilgrimage, Muslims from around the world come together to travel to the Ka’aba in Makkah to perform the sacred rituals of Hajj.
One of the most significant rituals of Hajj is the pacing between the hills of Safa and Marwa. Within the Quran, we are told:
“Behold! Safaa and Marwa are among the symbols of God. So if those who visit the House in the Season or at other times, should compass them round, there is no blame on them. And if any one obeys his own impulse to Good, be sure that God is One Who is Responsive, Knowing.” (Al-Baqarah 2:158)
Decreed as signs and symbols of Allah (SWT), Safa and Marwa are representative of His Divine Protection, Wisdom and Mercy in times we face conditions of material and worldly distress. This is also because the act of pacing between the two hills seven times commemorates the hardship of Hajar (AS), one of the wives of Prophet Ibrahim (AS).
Before Makkah became a thriving city, it was originally a dry and desolate land. It was in this desert where Allah (SWT) asked Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to separate from Hajar (AS) and Ismail (AS) as a test of their trust in His Divine Will. Ibrahim (AS) was initially hesitant to leave his wife and son in the desert, but it was only when Hajar (AS) told him to trust in Allah (SWT) that he agreed to go.
However, left in the arid desert, Hajar (AS) soon ran out of water and food to sustain herself and the infant Ismail (AS). Desperately, Hajar (AS) paced through the valley between the hills of Safa and Marwa, searching for signs of life, supplicating and calling out to Allah (SWT) for aid. It was through her struggle and devotion to God that the archangel Jibreel, the same angel who sent down Quranic revelation to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), was sent down to aid her. Soon after, water sprung from the ground beneath the feet of Ismail (AS), and the well of Zamzam was gifted to them.
With the steady supply of water, the previously uninhabitable land gave way to life. And when Ibrahim (AS) came back to Hajar and Ismail (AS), he was graced with the sight of a small, but burgeoning community, founded by his wife.
For the Makkah we know today, we owe it to Hajar (AS) for not just finding this site but also for her sacrifice, trust and communication with Allah (SWT) that brought the area to life. In her story and the rituals of Hajj, we reflect on the capacity of Hajar (AS) to trust and believe in Allah (SWT) and follow her example in cherishing His mercy, love and care for us.
Eid Al-Adha and the Story of Ibrahim (AS)
In Islam, we have two celebration festivals: Eid Al-Fitr, which signifies the completion of the holy month of Ramadan, and Eid Al-Adha, which follows the completion of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah.
On the celebration of Eid Al-Adha, in addition to Eid prayer and sharing happiness with loved ones, Muslims worldwide perform Qurban through the act of sacrificing an animal – sheep, goat, cow or camel – for the sake of Allah (SWT). An act of worship beloved to Allah (SWT) on this day, the reason we perform Qurban on Eid Al-Adha comes from the story of Ibrahim (AS) and his devotion and trust in the Divine Will of Allah (SWT).
One night, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) dreamt that Allah (SWT) told him to sacrifice Ismail (AS), his beloved son. At first, Ibrahim (AS) believed the dream was Shaytan playing tricks on him and immediately disregarded it. However, when the same dream came to him the following night, Ibrahim (AS) came to realise that the dream was, in fact, a message from Allah (SWT).
Ibrahim (AS) loved his son, Ismail (AS), but he had faith in Allah’s (SWT) plan and Divine Wisdom and did as he was instructed. Likewise, when telling his son about his dream and what Allah (SWT) had commanded him to do, Ismail (AS) reassured his father to follow the wishes of God and perform the sacrifice. In both their devotion and willingness to sacrifice for the sake of God, Allah (SWT) replaced Ismail (AS) with a ram, who was then slaughtered in his place.
In this story, we see that Eid Al-Adha is not just a celebration, but the remembrance of one of the greatest sacrifices in history. It is a festival where we commemorate and be inspired by the trust and belief Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and Ismail (AS) have in the Almighty and His Divine Mercy and Protection.
Indeed, Prophet Ibrahim, Hajar, and their son Ismail (may peace be upon them all) experienced many struggles and trials in their lives. But Allah (SWT) always came through and showered them with mercy and blessings for their steadfast belief and gratitude towards Him.
As such, the month of Dhul Hijjah is about honouring this legacy of sacrifice and devotion to Allah (SWT). In this chance to learn from and apply the spiritual journey of Prophet Ibrahim, Hajar and Ismail (may peace be upon them all) in our own lives, we should also take this time to be empathetic and supportive of the struggles of others. Through partaking in good deeds that truly improve our lives and the lives of others, we can be the difference that changes the world for the better in one of the most blessed months of the year.
Give for the sake of Allah (SWT)
Take advantage of the most rewarding days of the year; give your Qurban and increase your acts of Sadaqah before the ten days are over.