All About Hajj and Eid in Arabic Language and Culture
Updated: Aug 23, 2019
Feasts and holiday celebrations play a big part in Arabic cultures. Whether you are of Arab descent or have visited an Arab country during a festive season, you would certainly recall the impressive meals and beautiful traditional dresses, alongside the hustle and bustle of vendors and buyers in the streets.
While traditions do vary distinctively from country to country, there are many common Arabic words that are used for "festive" purposes. I would not be able to cover all of them here, but I'll mention a few ones that could be helpful to you if you are learning more about the Arabic language or culture.
Let's start with Eid. The word "Eid" commonly refers to either: Eid Al Adha or Eid Al Fitr. Eid AL Adha corresponds to the "Festival of the Sacrifice", commemorating Prophet Ibrahim’s (Peace be upon him) willingness to sacrifice his son to God and also has a significant relationship with the Hajj or pilgrimage season; while Eid Al Fitr, is the festival marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Both are also referred to as "Eid Al Kabeer" or "The Big Eid" and "Eid Al Sagheer" or "The Small Eid".
The most basic saying in Arabic would be "Eid Mubarak" or "A Blessed Eid".
A common saying in Arabic which means: Wishing you goodness every year, goes as follows:
Kullu ‘aamin wa anta bekhair (to a male) – كُلُّ عامٍ وأَنْتَ بِخَيْر
Kullu ‘aamin wa anti bekhair (to a female) – كُلُّ عامٍ وأَنْتِ بِخَيْر
Kullu ‘aamim wa antum bekhair (to a group) – كُلُّ عامٍ وأَنْتُم بِخَيْر
*This could also be used for Happy New Year or the New Year (Eid Ra's As-sana عيد رأس السنة).
Now let's go more into detail about Hajj.
What is Hajj? It is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, that Muslim adults are expected to make at least once in their lifetimes, and it is one of the five pillars of Islam (shahada or declaration of faith being the first; salat or the daily prayers; zakat or charity; sawm or fasting of Ramadan رَمَضان; and finally Hajj or pilgrimage). The conditions for going on Hajj, which also means in Arabic "intend to a journey", are being mentally, physically, and financially able. Completing this important spiritual journey is commemorated by earning the title "Hajj" (for a male) and Hajja (for a female).
Did you know that every year two to three million Muslims from all over the globe make this spiritual journey or Hajj to Mecca? The pilgrims wear very simple clothes, and commit to religious activities like prayer and reading the holly Quraan, as well as specific Hajj related rituals. The journey takes five days and revolves around spiritual purification, and committing to greater humility and unity among Muslims. It is regarded as a chance to clear previous sins and seek redemption, beginning a fresh new start in one's life.
The specific rituals followed at Hajj were established by the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him), as well as based on the teachings of the Quraan. It is mentioned in the Quraan that Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) was ordered by God to leave his wife Hajar and son Isma'il in the desert of Mecca. Hajar was then desperately looking for water and ran seven times between the two hills of Safa and Marwa الصَّفا والمَرْوَة (As-safaa wa Al-marwa), finding no water. Then, when she returned to her son in despair, she saw him scratching the ground with his legs and then a water fountain sprang forth, which became now known as the "Well of Zamzam" بِئْرُ زَمْزَم (Bi'ru Zamzam). Pilgrims make sure to stop and visit this well during Hajj, drink from it and even take some back home to share with loved ones.
Ihram إحرام (Ihraam) is the state of purity that Muslims enter into when they first arrive into Mecca. Men are required to change and wear their Ihram clothes ملابِسُ الإِحرام (malaabisu al-ihraam), which are basically two simple white seamless sheets wrapped around their bodies and simple sandals. This reinforces the idea of humility and equality at Hajj, where everyone is the same, no matter their financial background or other. Women usually dress in white clothes, and only show their faces and hands. Some things are not allowed during Hajj, such as cutting nails and hair, or engaging in any sexual activities, or arguing and fighting.
How actual Hajj is performed in steps (with translation and transcription of key words and phrases):
1- Entering the state of Ihram upon arriving in Mecca الإِحْرام (Al-Ihraam).
2- Performing Tawaf upon entry طَوافُ القُدوم (Tawaafu Al-Qudoum).
3- Performing Sa'ee between Safaa and Marwa السَّعي بَيْنَ الصَّفا ومَرْوَة (As-sa'ee bayna As-safaa wa Marwa).
4- Staying overnight in Mina المَبيتُ في منى (Al-mabeetu fee Meena).
5- Day at Arafa الوُقوفُ في عَرَفة (Al-wuqoufu fee A'rafa).
6- Night at Muzdalifah المَبيتُ في المُزْدَلِفَة (Al-mabeetu fee Al-muzdalifa).
7- Devil stoning in Mina رَميُ جَمْرَةِ العَقَبَة (Ramyu jamrati al-'akaba).
8- Animal sacrifice ذَبْحُ الهُدى (zabhu al-huda).
9- Hair trim and remove pilgrim's Ihram الحَلْقُ والتَّقْصير (Al-halqu wa at-taqseer).
10-Return to Kaaba for Tawaf and Sa'ee طَوافُ الإِفاضَة/ السَّعي بَيْنَ الصَّفا ومَرْوَة (Tawaafu al-ifaada/ As- sa'ee bayna As-safaa wa Marwa).
11- Return to devil stoning رَمْيُ الجَمَرات (Ramyu al-jamaraat).
12- Farewell Tawaaf طوافُ الوَداع (Tawaafu al-wadaa').
Tawaf represnts walking counter clockwise seven times around the holly Ka'ba. Performing Sa'ee between Safaa and Marwa is done by running seven times between both mountains, just as Hajar did when she was searching for water, in the Quraanic story.
Stopping at Mount Arafat الوُقوفُ بِعَرَفَة (Al-wuqoufu bi-A'rafa) is important as it is where the Prophet gave his last sermon.
Stoning the devil رَمْيُ الجَمَرات (Ramyu al-jamaraat) is symbolic, where pilgrims actually throw pebbles or stones at three walls, know as "Jamarat". This also symbolizes the story of how the devil tried to mislead prophet Ibrahim (Peace be Upon him) and how the Prophet fought him off by throwing stones at him, on three occasions.
The animal sacrifice "Udhiya" أُضْحِيًة also symbolizes the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim, who was willing to sacrifice his son for God, and then was eventually spared by God who ordered the prophet to sacrifice a ram instead.
Eid AL Adha عيد الأضحى is the tenth day of the Islamic month of Zou Al-Hijja ذو الحِجَّة. It is marked by three days of celebrations and the animal sacrifice.
Al-umra العُمْرَة means performing the same rituals; however at any time during the year and not during the fixed time of Hajj; and this is a non-compulsory ritual. It is also a prominent form of religious tourism for Muslim, seeking peace and spirituality.
Finally, what to say to someone who has completed Hajj and came back home?
حَجّاً مَبْروراً وذنْباً مًغْفوراً وسَعْياً مَشْكوراً.
(Hajjan Mabrouran wa Zanban Maghfouran wa Sa'yan Mashkouran)
May God accept your Hajj, grant you forgiveness, and reward you for your efforts.
I hope the article was useful and informative. (source used for Hajj rituals: www.islamichelp.org.uk)
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