The Jakarta Post
October 14 2013
If you enter Muslims’ homes you may encounter large wall displays, either carpets or photographs, depicting the Kaaba, the simple black cube in Mecca surrounded by an endless chain of humans.
Artists have yielded more artistic images than the standard wall displays, but they share the same fascination with the large cube draped in black and embroidered lovingly with gold thread.
The structure provides the direction of prayer for some one billion Muslims. Many circulate, or perform Tawaf, around the Kaaba at the peak of Haj, the mandatory pilgrimage for all able-bodied Muslims.
The Kaaba reminds Muslims of the Prophet Muhammad’s battle against idolatry, as he destroyed all statues that were objects of worship inside the black structure.
The peak of pilgrimage falls on Tuesday in Indonesia, as Muslims commemorate Eid ul Adha (the Islamic Day of Sacrifice), when the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) was about to sacrifice his son on God’s command.
Instead, God replaced Ismail (though the Bible says it was the elder Isaac) with a ram just as the ultimate sacrifice was to be made.
Muslims not on pilgrimages also join the commemoration by sacrificing meat to give to the poor, depending on whether they can afford a goat or a cow, for instance, and conduct fasting for two days ahead of Eid ul Adha.
If the festivities and reenactment of Abraham’s sacrifice can bring some peace to the bloodshed in nearby Syria, for instance, it is tempting to wish for more days in the calendar that can bring Muslims together.
But apparently, upon returning from the Haj we are embroiled again in our local loyalties and conflicts.
My cousin went on the Haj a few years ago and said: “When we are in Mecca we see people praying in diverse ways. When we’re back why do we fight over these differences?”
Political rivalries abound in many Muslim-dominated nations, with the faithful pointing to western conspiracies that attempt to make their states look bad. This just adds to the confusion, with everyone hollering about “Islamic solidarity”.
The wave of humanity descending on Mecca every year is overwhelming, as Muslims of various colors and creeds perform the Haj together. Friends and relatives recite how the experience brings tears to their eyes.
As I have not been on pilgrimage, I can only guess that the personal experience of deep spirituality is much easier, and more essential, for one to relate to than the confusing sense of “Islamic solidarity”, even though millions blend together for a few weeks.
Given all our conflicts and wars, even among people of one faith, one writer reflected over the life of Abraham and raised the question of whether we treated our religions as idols, a practice Abraham and Muhammad sought to abolish.
Both gained many enemies in trying to convince their people of the futile worship of idols — the story goes that Abraham was even cursed by his own father, whose main occupation was crafting the statues of the gods.
Abraham, revered by Jews and Christians, apart from Muslims, is referred in Islamic teachings as “the righteous one” or Hanif.
Being religious, writes Sarah Josef in Emel, a British Islamic magazine, is surely “not about whether we are Jews, Christians or Muslims, it is about whether we are righteous, upright people.”
Accusing anyone defending their faith of idolatry sounds insulting, but maybe she has a point when we consider all the religious-sounding people around us who bicker about faith.
Many of us are not well versed in religious teachings and are not religious, but the sight of Tawaf is one of devotion and peace and as onlookers we only wish that devotion and peace will last longer and be spread beyond Mecca.
Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/10/14/Eid ul-adha-and-a-wave-humanity-all.html