The Muslim Hajj – Expats Going “Home”

Borrowing from the web page of the Islamic Network Group, here’s something that people everywhere ought to be aware of this week.  The event is past, but the consequences will occur this week and beyond.

January 8, 2006 – January 11, 2006Hajj (Annual Pilgrimage to Mecca)The Hajj, or annual pilgrimage to Mecca, consists of several ceremonies meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, such as submission, brotherhood, and unity, and to commemorate the trials of the Prophet Abraham and his family. Required once in a Muslim’s lifetime, over two million Muslims perform the pilgrimage annually.January 10, 2006
Eid-ul-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice)

Holiday occurring on the third day of the Hajj, lasting four days. It commemorates the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, who was replaced by a lamb. 

Every Muslim hopes to “make Hajj” at least once in his/her life.  Forever after, they can be called a “hajji”, which is an honor.  A local paper here in Arizona featured local Muslims and how they planned to celebrate the Eid al-Adha.  There will have been similar observances in many communities and in many countries.

I mentioned consequences.  With all respect to the Hajj, whenever two million people get together suddenly, and many of them from poor countries, there are considerable health risks.  While working in Abu Dhabi, I was sent on an urgent mission to a medical center in Saudi Arabia to get vaccine for spinal meningitis when an outbreak followed closely on the heels of the Hajj.  Let me know what you see, good and bad, of the aftereffects of this year’s Hajj.

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