Why `Id al-Adha with Makkah?
Imam Dr. A. Rashied Omar
The debate over when to celebrate `Id al-Adha revolves around two opposing positions; those who argue that `Id al-Adha is not linked to the rites (manasik) of the pilgrimage (hajj) and those who contend that ‘Id al-Adha is inextricably connected with the hajj.
We believe that by celebrating ‘Id-al-Adha in unison with the pilgrims (hujjaj), we are giving this great day of happiness and joy its true meaning and significance. For on `Id al-Adha those who are not performing the hajj vicariously celebrate the achievement of the hujjaj who were present at the appointed time on the sacred plains of `Arafat in compliance with the most important symbolic ritual pertaining to the hajj. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has informed us in a hadith that: “The Pilgrimage is Arafah.” (Musnad of Imam Ahmad)
Classical Muslim scholars such as Ibn Taymiyya (d.1328) have long held the view that `Id al-Adha is one of the significant ways in which the non-pilgrims participate vicariously and thus share in the great blessings of the hajj. Celebrating `Id al-Adha the day after wuquf al-`Arafat is one of at least four ways in which non-pilgrims share in the great blessings of hajj. The other three are fasting on the day of ‘Arafat, the chanting of the takbir (extolling Allah) and the animal sacrifice (udhiya).
The fasting of the non-pilgrims on the day of wuquf al-‘Arafat is a highly recommended sunnah. In order to underscore the precise meaning and significance of fasting on the day of `Arafah one of the female companions by the name of Umm al-Fadl (may Allah be pleased with her) reports the following hadith:
People were in doubt over whether the Prophet (pbuh) was fasting on the day of ‘Arafah, and so I sent him some milk, while he was delivering his farewell sermon at ‘Arafat, and he (the Prophet) took it and drank it. (Bukhari and Muslim)
On the basis of the above hadith we can safely conclude that fasting on the day of `Arafah is not intended for pilgrims who are gathered on the sacred plains of `Arafat. Rather, fasting on the day of `Arafah is a way for non-pilgrims to participate indirectly in the hajj and to spiritually link with the hujjaj who are gathered at `Arafat.
Many well known jurists, such as Imam al-Baghawi (d.1122) and Imam al-Sarakhsi (d.1096), contend that the original Qur’anic ruling pertaining to the takbirat of the days of tashriq are primarily directed at the hujjaj (Q2:203 & Q22:28). As a result these and many other notable jurists within all of the four major sunni law schools have recommended that the non-pilgrims should commence and end their chanting of the takbirat in unison with the hujjaj.
Last but not least, the animal sacrifice (udhiya or qurban) on the day of `Id al-Adha and the subsequent three days of tashriq, is referred to in the Qur’an as one of the final rites of the hajj (Q22:28-29). These verses make it clear that after having sacrificed an animal the pilgrim may exit from his/her ihram (state of consecration). For the non-pilgrim, therefore, sacrificing an animal keeps alive the spiritual connection between the non-pilgrim and the hujjaj and is thus another way for non-pilgrims to participate indirectly in the hajj. The animal sacrifice by non-pilgrims on `Id al-Adha and the subsequent days of tashriq is intended to make Muslim hearts beat in unison with the hearts of the hujjaj gathered at the sacred places in Makkah.
In contemporary times, when it is possible to view the entire hajj via satellite television it is incumbent upon Muslims all over the world to synchronize their `Id al-Adha celebrations, fasting on the day of `Arafah, chant the takbir and perform animal sacrifice with the hujjaj in Makkah. This position is supported by many contemporary Muslim scholars, including Shaykh Jad al-Haq `Ali Jad al-Haq (d.1996), the former rector of Al-Azhar University in Cairo. In response to a fatwa on the issue requested by the Muslim Judicial Council in 1989, Shaykh Jad al-Haq responded as follows:
“… it is the duty of all Muslims no matter where they are on the earth of Allah to coincide with the Hujjaj on ‘Arafat in their standing and their celebration of `Id. Since this is so it is incumbent on all Muslims of South Africa and others to celebrate the blessed `Id al-Adha with all the hujjaj in Makkah, in spite of the different time factors …” (Sunday Times, 2 July 1989)
In conclusion, hajj is an expression of global Muslim unity in addition to it being a source of spiritual transformation for the individual hajji. It has an individual as well as a social objective. The latter can only be achieved if the Muslim Ummah is united in observing the hajj especially now that it has become possible to know in advance when the hajj is going to be performed. Linking our celebration of `Id al-Adha with the hajj also resonates strongly with our longstanding Cape Muslim cultural tradition in which it is colloquially known as labarang haji.