Happy Hari Raya Haji

by Belle Waring on September 1, 2017

Happy Hari Raya Haji/Eid al-Adha to all our Muslim readers! I live very near a huge mosque, and all the parking in the opposite lot is taken up, and all the street signs are full of locked bicycles, and the sidewalk is bordered with scores of scooters and motorcycles, and you can hear the call to prayer for a change. Normally Singapore more or less mutes it in the name of religious harmony—that is to say they forbid loudspeakers so the muezzin is singing alone, and so desperately quiet over the traffic noise and the inevitable jackhammering going on in Singapore at all times. The Indian ceremonies in which someone is blowing on a conch is frankly louder, and don’t get me started on drumming in Chinese temples or lion dances at CNY. I feel as if the men with the white caps that indicate they have been on the hajj have a little swagger today. Today on my hike I noticed the other men have generally worn embroidered and beaded black caps to keep up appearances. For those of you who don’t know, the feast celebrates both the ending of the hajj and the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail. Ibrahim and Ismail are said to have made the Kaaba later at the source of the miraculous spring which appeared when the earth was struck by the angel Jibra’il (or alternately much earlier where Hagar collapsed in prayer after wandering, in the hopes of saving her child from death from lack of water). It’s called the Zamzam Well, which is literally the coolest name ever. The day includes the sacrifice of a big valuable animal which is divided for a ritual feast, in commemoration of the ram substituted for Ismail. Lots of the many Singaporean Muslims with family in Malaysia travel there for the feast, where the cows or sheep or goats are more easily available (though of course they are shipped into mosques here.) People raise funds for charity also. Anyway, happy day!

{ 12 comments }

1

ZoroastrianKurd 09.01.17 at 1:41 am

Historical accounts reveal Kaaba was a polytheistic temple before Muslims conquered it and turned it into center of their religious practice. Kinda funny, except for the extermination of traditional Arab gods and goddesses.

2

Belle Waring 09.01.17 at 3:08 am

Yeah, I was going with the official story here in honor of harmoniousness.

3

JD 09.01.17 at 7:22 am

For those of you who don’t know, the feast celebrates both the ending of the hajj and the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail.

Ismail?

Surely it’s Ibrahim’s younger son we want here…

4

Pseudo-Gorgias 09.01.17 at 11:39 am

Regarding reply 1: Muslims probably view their conquest of Mecca as a restoration of the temple to its original use. Also, things change, all the time. Sometimes better and sometimes for the worse. I’m willing to entertain the idea that Islam mostly changed things for the worse. But replacing Arab paganism isn’t really strong evidence of that proposition.

5

Pseudo-Groggy 09.01.17 at 11:47 am

Also it from a cursory Google it seems the Quran disagrees with the Genesis account of Abrahams temptation.

See also Paul’s description of the law as “mediated by angels” in Galatians or Stephens speech in acts, which also disagrees with Old Testament accounts.

6

Robespierre 09.01.17 at 3:10 pm

Three cheers for totalitarian superstitions, I guess.

7

Placeholder 09.01.17 at 7:21 pm

“Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this Ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors.

I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Mecca. I have made my seven circuits around the Ka’ba, led by a young Mutawaf named Muhammad. I drank water from the well of the Zam Zam. I ran seven times back and forth between the hills of Mt. Al-Safa and Al-Marwah. I have prayed in the ancient city of Mina, and I have prayed on Mt. Arafat.

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.”

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
(Malcolm X)

8

Belle Waring 09.01.17 at 9:45 pm

3: It doesn’t actually mention him by name in the Quran by Muslims think it’s Ishmael.

6: Three cheers for wishing your neighbors down the street happy holidays.

9

chris y 09.02.17 at 9:49 am

Eid mubarak!

10

James 09.02.17 at 2:40 pm

What is it with Singapore and the jack-hammering? I’m sure I can hear it nearly every Saturday at my place, it drives me mad. I’m sure if someone did an economic analysis it would find that the cost in lost productivity (precious rest for all those hard working employees, impacts on study for Singapore’s long suffering students) would outweigh the benefits for construction and road maintenance on weekends, especially considering Singapore’s density which means at least hundreds of people are impacted every time a jack hammer is used.

11

Shane Donohoe 09.05.17 at 2:34 pm

Belle, I keep meaning to say. The energy and imagery in your writing are always wonderful. Thank you.

For this observing it – Happy day!

12

Moz of Yarramulla 09.05.17 at 10:11 pm

Yep, Eid is a busy time where I live too. I live in Sydney, Australia and ride through Lakemba (50% Muslim) and later past the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque, which takes over a nearby sportsground for Eid and produces a solid block of pedestrians for about a kilometre of my ride. Astonishingly, people still try to drive past/to that festival (it’s not on good through roads, the road designers are not complete idiots). But as a religious festival tourist, I prefer Diwali. The food is better for someone who doesn’t eat meat or wheat :)

Arguing about the fine print of other people’s religions is always a funny thing. On the one hand great, you might learn a bit and it doesn’t matter if you’re wrong because it doesn’t affect you. On the other, when you use being wrong as a reason to affect people who follow the religion, that’s not good. When your president practices ritual cannibalism lecturing other people about the unacceptable parts of their traditions doesn’t make a lot of sense. End communion, then we can talk.

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