Eid ul Adha and Transforming Diversity

Towards Intercultural Competence: Gathering and meeting others on common ground has the potential to change and transform the people who are part of this journey… 

The Islamic holiday of Eid ul Adha takes place on the final day of the Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and is celebrated in Canada this year on July 10. During Eid, people wish each other a happy Eid via the traditional greeting of Eid Mubarak, people wear new clothes, and communities celebrate by gathering for prayers, exchanging gifts and visiting each other in the spirit of the holiday.

This Festival of The Sacrifice, what we call Eid ul Adha, is rooted in and is a part of the Pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj. Occurring on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah, the pilgrimage culminates in this celebration and in reflecting on my life as a Canadian that celebrates the country’s official policy of multiculturalism, I also view our country’s diversity against a backdrop of the Hajj season in my religious calendar.

I cannot help but see the similarities between Canada as a nation that welcomes people from so many different cultures and ethnicities and the reality that this spirit of multiculturalism and diversity is also present during the Hajj. People from all over the world come together for a short period of time and meet in one place to fulfill their Islamic religious obligation, and in the course of their time together, encounter each other on common ground. We Canadians also encounter each other on common ground and live together while  valuing and celebrating our differences.

The gathering and meeting others on common ground has the potential to change and transform the people who are part of this journey. One of the most well known and famous people who was transformed by the Hajj was Al Hajj Malik al Shabazz (Malcolm X),  who went to Mecca on pilgrimage and encountered Muslims of different backgrounds and cultures having the shared experience of a journey together on common ground. In his autobiography, Malcolm X spoke about and said: 

“There are Muslims of all colors and ranks here in Mecca from all parts of this earth.

During the past seven days of this holy pilgrimage, while undergoing the rituals of the hajj [pilgrimage], I have eaten from the same plate, drank from the same glass, slept on the same bed or rug, while praying to the same God…..with fellow‐Muslims whose skin was the whitest of white, ……Their belief in the Oneness of God (Allah) had actually removed the ‘white’ from their minds, which automatically change their attitude and behavior toward people of other colors.”

The opportunities that our Canadian diversity can bring can also transform the people on our shared journey. Accepting and celebrating our differences, seeking equity and common purpose in a shared goal is the catalyst for transformation. While the Hajj is a spiritual and religious event, our journey in a country that values and celebrates our differences can transform our society and our own lives.

Imam Michael Abdur Rashid Taylor is Past Secretary of the Canadian Council of Imams. He holds a Master of Theological Studies degree from Regis College of the University of Toronto and is a graduate of the Rotman School of Management’s Leadership Development Program.

He has over 25 years in management and frontline service in multifaith environments that includes the Canadian Armed Forces, correctional, academic, institutional, religious and community settings. He also has a current private practice focused on wellness and  self care approaches for busy professionals.

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