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During the season of Hari Raya Haji, financially and physically able Muslims are required to perform the hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. The holiday of Hari Raya Haji marks the end of the hajj pilgrimage season.
Hari Raya Haji (hajj celebration day) is an event observed by Muslims all over the world to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim to follow Allah’s command to sacrifice his son Ishmael. As Ibrahim was about to strike his son, Allah stopped him and revealed that it was a test and a ram was to be sacrificed instead. Hari Raya Haji is also known as the Feast of the Sacrifice.
At Hari Raya Haji, the sacrifice of four-legged animals such as lambs, goats or cows, is performed to commemorate this event. The animals are killed according to the proper religious rites and meat is then distributed to the family, neighbours and to the less fortunate in the community. However, making the sacrifice (korban) is not a compulsory religious duty but an obligation for those who can afford it.
During the week of the hajj, pilgrims gather in Mecca to perform a series of rituals such as walking counter-clockwise seven times around the Ka’bah (cube-shaped structure covered in black cloth which serves as the Muslim prayer direction), kissing the Black Stone in the corner of the Ka’bah, drinking from the Zamzam well and throwing stones as a symbolic act of stoning the devil. Upon completion of the pilgrimage, the men will earn the title ‘haji’ and the women ‘hajjah’.
Although it may seem to be a more subdued celebration as compared to Hari Raya Aidilfitri (the Feast of Breaking the Fast), Hari Raya Haji is a very important celebration for Muslims to reaffirm their faith in Allah and give thanks to the blessings he has showered upon them
For those Muslim’s outside Malaysia this festival is known as Eid Al Adha.
For all those Malaysians celebrating this day Selamat Hari Raya Haji, and for all non Malaysians celebrating this day – Eid Mubarak!