Hari Raya Haji
Hari Raya Haji, meaning ‘great day of the haj’ in Malay, is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year and considered the holier of the two. It honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismael as an act of obedience to God’s command. But, before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead.
In general, people celebrate by rising early to pray, going to mosque to hear a sermon, wearing new clothes, visiting family and friends, and eating a large, festive, meat-heavy meal. An animal, usually a sheep, is sacrificed ritually and divided into three parts. One share is given to the poor and needy so they can also celebrate Hari Raya Haji, another is kept for home, and the third is given to relatives. Mosques may also be decorated with lights, gifts exchanged, and firecrackers are sometimes set off at night. Non-Muslims are frequently invited to meals as a way to introduce them to Islamic culture.
To fulfill one of the Five Pillars of Islam, Muslims may also go on pilgrimage to Mecca to perform the Hajj.
The festival is known as Eid al-Adha in Arabic, the ‘feast of the sacrifice’.
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