by Arsalan Iftikhar
From literally every corner of the planet, we will soon witness millions of old Algerian men, Indonesian toddlers, young American women, Syrian newlyweds, Sudanese mothers and Pakistani fathers perform a two-week pilgrimage that culminates itself at the holiest shrine in the epicenter of the Muslim world known as the Hajj pilgrimage.
For those people blessed with the ability to complete this annual pilgrimage, it will be the spiritual zenith of their lifetime and the over 2.5 million people each year makes it one of the largest annual human congregations on the face of the earth.
The ancient rites of Hajj have been passed down through the annals of Islamic history. First and foremost, the pilgrimage serves as a constant reminder of our own human mortality and innate personal fallibility. Furthermore, each of the different rites of Hajj exemplify the stories of our beloved prophets.
During this time, every Muslim pilgrim’s focused aspirations must be to recreate the experiences of the Prophet Abraham, whose selfless sacrifice has no parallel in the history of humankind. Hajj also symbolizes the lessons taught by Abraham’s son, Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him), whose example of obedience and submission have not be duplicated by any living being. Finally, the Hajj pilgrimage is epitomized by the lessons of Islam’s final prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him), who firmly stood on the plains of Arafat and proclaimed the completion of his prophetic mission and reiterate the equality of all mankind, regardless of race or creed.
We Muslims commemorate the end of Hajj with the holiday known as Eid Al-Adha ("The Sacrifice Feast" in English) which honors the willingness of Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son as an act of submission to God's command. As most people know- before he sacrificed his son- God intervened by sending the Archangel Gabriel to place a sheep in his son's place.
For millions of Muslims every year, the Hajj pilgrimage is a symbolic journey to God and a spectacular assembly that represents the equality of humankind. In today's political climate, we should remember that the family of Abraham were also refugee immigrants and their trials are well-documented in the Torah, Bible and the Holy Quran. Each one of these holy books conveys a "Golden Rule" theme of hospitality towards refugees, migrants and give us constant reminders to care for marginalized people.
In the footsteps of Abraham, let us strive to renew our commitment towards humanity during this upcoming Hajj season. We should renew this humanitarian spirit of service, sacrifice and selfless generosity which were taught to us by all of God's great prophets by sharing our wealth with those less fortunate than us.
Arsalan Iftikhar is founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and brand ambassador for Penny Appeal USA.