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Shi'a Pundit

Devoted to the viewpoint of Islam of Muhammad SAW and Amir ul-Mumineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib SA, in the Shi'a Fatimi Ismaili Dawoodi Bohra tradition.

December 18, 2007

Yaum al-Arafat and Eid ul-Adha.

Today, by the reckoning of the Fatimid lunar calendar, is Yaum ul Arafat, the 9th of Zil-hajj.

Below is an aerial view of the great tent city of Mina outside Mecca where the pilgrims live:

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And here is an aerial image of mount Arafat itself:

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Tomorrow is Eid al-Adha, arguably the more important than Eid al-Fitr after Ramadan (though Eid al Ghadir, the third Eid, has a significance all its own). Andrea Useem of interviews Asma Mobin-Uddin about a children's book the latter wrote about Eid al-Adha, and I found this to be particularly insightful:

RW: Eid al-Adha, in religious terms, is supposed to be the biggest religious holiday of the year for Muslims. In the U.S. however, Eid al-Fitr is often a “bigger deal.” Why is this? Is it a problem that Eid al-Adha is somewhat neglected?

Mobin-Uddin: The religious practices that lead up to these two holidays have a different immediacy for Muslims in America. Eid al-Fitr follows the month of fasting in Ramadan, Eid al-Adha occurs toward the end of the Hajj pilgrimage.

For Muslims who are fasting in Ramadan, the rigors of the fast are very real and very personal. People deny themselves and work hard to observe this period of abstinence and spirituality. As a result, there is a sense of personal accomplishment after the month, and the celebration that follows feels like a reward for the commitment and self-denial they chose to engage in during Ramadan.

However, in some ways, the celebration, sacrifice and spirituality that is happening leading up to Eid al-Adha is most real for those who are actually on the Hajj pilgrimage themselves or who perhaps have loved ones there. The rest of the people may feel more of a distance between themselves and the celebration. In short, the sacrifice leading up to the holiday for many is not as personal, so the reward of the holiday may not seem as sweet or appreciated.

I am fasting today and my thoughts and prayers are with the pilgrims gathered upon the plain of Arafat today.


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Nahj-ul Balagha

About Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit was launched in 2002 during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The blog focuses on issues pertaining to Shi'a Islam in the west and in the Islamic world. The author is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Bohras adhere to the Shi'a Fatimi tradition of Islam, headed by the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS).

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