Eid al-Adha 2021: A Message from the Imam
Assalamu alaikum my dear beloved community,
The days of Dhul Hijjah have already entered upon us. They are considered the best 10 days of the year, and the Prophet ﷺ taught us that fasting on the 9th (the day of ‘Arafa) atones for 2 years of sins—all of this symboling a “second chance” after Ramadan. Of course, these days are centered around the pilgrimage, or Hajj, to Mecca.
In addition to being one of the 5 pillars of Muslim religious praxis, the Hajj reminds us of a very fundamental principle that runs through the spirit of our entire worldview: what unites us is faith and submission to the One true Creator, Allah, despite the multiplicity of our forms and experiences. This reminds us that no amount of wealth, power, or class, much less race or ethnic belonging, indicates any form of superiority towards one another. Why is this one of the most fundamental lessons of Hajj? Because there can never be unity—and by extension community which is central to preserving our faith—while arrogance rests in our hearts over superficial, material markers.
We talk about unity a lot as a community. Oftentimes, it is only paid lip service. It’s great for speeches and sermons. Yet many of us misunderstand the concept and assume it means our mosques or ethnic attire must look the same. In reality, unity is when our hearts are freed from its spiritual illnesses that cause us to see the diversity of our human experience to be a hindrance, as opposed to a nourishing and enriching reality Divinely designed.
And in reflecting upon the importance of unity and pilgrimage, we cannot underestimate the power of spiritual community. The time of Hajj reminds us how important that is. One is not allowed to simply go whenever they feel convenient to the Hajj; they are commanded to go at a set time like everyone else so that we are forced to encounter those different than us, and learn from their presence and being.
Lastly, even though we have not been given the honor and privilege to attend Hajj this year due to Covid, know that the ultimate pilgrimage is the one each one of us can do no matter where we are. Our Beloved ﷺ taught us: “the Muslim is the one who other Muslims feel safe from—in both speech and action. And the [true] pilgrim is the one who leaves behind that which God has forbidden.” In other words, this is the spiritual pilgrimage: realigning oneself to God’s will and abandoning and even immigrating away from all that brings us away from God.
المسلمُ من سَلِمَ المسلمونَ من لسانهِ ويدهِ، والمهاجرُ من هجر ما نهى اللهُ عنه
As my sabbatical in Egypt comes to an end, I reflect upon my return to America. As one of my dear mentors once reflected, in some ways, America itself is one giant Hajj. We are the most diverse Muslim community on the planet, facing so many challenges while at the same time basking in unprecedented privilege, trying to figure it all out together.
And together, we shall.
I am excited to be seeing all of you again soon, and continuing the spiritual pilgrimage of Islam, Iman, and Ihsan with all of you—one that we must travel each day, recommitting ourselves to the holistic principles of our faith, and being each other’s greatest support in doing so.
Allah keep you all safe and happy in God’s remembrance.
With anxious anticipation and excitement,
Your servant and Imam, Ahmad Deeb
Imam and Director of Religious Affairs
Islamic Center of Greater Toledo
To volunteer at this year’s Eid al-Adha celebration go here. We are in need of volunteers before and after the celebration.