During the pious celebration Mecca in Saudi Arabia, with which it is closely associated, swells with pilgrims. The origins of the holy place go back four thousand years when Ibrahim, an apostle of Allah, had to obey the orders of Allah and leave his beloved wife and infant in the desert.
They were saved when, in response to the lady’s prayers, Allah made a spring of water gush out from the ground where her baby stood. It was around the place from which the spring burst forth, today called the Zamzam Well, that Mecca sprang up.
Another miracle associated with Hajj involves the same characters. Here Ibrahim was asked by Allah to sacrifice his now grown up son. Both father and son willingly comply. However, at the final moment, God’s intervention sees that a lamb is sacrificed instead.
The sacred land of miracles is a Muslim’s spiritual oasis. Every Muslim is required to perform the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime provided health and finances permit. Although Mecca may be at the centre of Hajj celebrations, it is celebrated by devotees across the world. In Sri Lanka, the Muslim community marks the festival with religious
observations and fellowship on September 12. Festivities begin with a sermon at 6am at the neighbourhood mosque or at the Galle Face Green. It is followed by the sharing of food and visiting relatives.
Generosity is something greatly endorsed during Hajj times. The poor are donated
money or a meal to help them celebrate. This benevolence extends further with the the joy
of the festival being shared with non-Muslims. Friends are invited to indulge with the family, platters of delicacies are delivered to neighbours and colleagues. After all, the sharing of food ensures the spreading of joy and blessings.