Every year, millions of Muslims around the world make a journey to the holy city of Mecca to perform the Hajj, that is obligatory once in a lifetime, but only for those with means and if their circumstances permit. The Hajj is one of the five pillars on which Islam is built on. People at home celebrate Eid al-Adha, “the feast of sacrifice,” that commemorates the end of the Hajj.
Every year, around 2 million people attend the Hajj. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials of Hajj of Saudi Arabia made a critical decision to limit the number of pilgrims only to around 1,000 from different nationalities already present in Saudi Arabia, respecting all safety measures and physical distancing by following the recommendations of trusted global institutions such as the World Health Organization. It also issued guidelines for safe Eid al-Adha addressing social distancing at prayer and public gatherings that included best practices for sacrifices and distribution of charity to the poor.
These circumstances remind us about the story of how God commended prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, Ismail, as a test of faith. A similar story is told of Ibrahim and Isaac, as they were known, in the Hebrew Torah and Christian Old Testament. This story has institutionalized the practice of sacrifice, patience and obedience in Islam and continues to be honored by 1.8 billion Muslims each year.
This upcoming Hajj pilgrimage and Eid al-Adha will be a testament to the harmony between safety and faith and will serve as proof that protecting one another is truly part of faith.
Elias Merzoug, Clay Middle School student and member of Boy Scout Troop 202