Earlier, around two million white-robed Muslims converged at Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabi as the hajj, the world’s largest annual pilgrimage, peaked at the site of the Prophet Mohammed’s (pbuh) last sermon.
“Michelle and I extend our greetings for a happy Eidul Azha to Muslims worldwide and wish safe travels to those performing hajj,” Obama said in a statement. “This year, nearly three million pilgrims from more than 160 countries, including the United States, have gathered in Mecca and neighboring sites to perform the hajj rituals and stand together in prayer.”
Eidul Azha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, follows the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. It commemorates the willingness of biblical patriarch Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael and during the period Muslims distribute food to the poor.
Obama said last week during a visit to Indonesia that his administration was on the right path to improving relations with the Islamic world but there was still a lot more work to do. In his message Monday, the US leader said the religious holiday serves as “a reminder of the shared values and the common roots of three of the world’s major religions.” “On behalf of the American people, we extend our best wishes during this Hajj season. Eid Mubarak and Hajj Mabrour,” he added, using the traditional holiday greetings in Arabic.
US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton also extended her wishes to the Muslim community, saying “as Muslims around the world complete the Hajj and acknowledge Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, I extend my best wishes to you and the people of Pakistan. The spirit of this holiday serves as an important reminder of the values we all share – the importance of faith and family – and millions of American Muslims will join Muslims around the world in prayer, contemplation and respect. Whether around a dining table in Bagdad, Arizona, or Iraq, families will share meals together and celebrate Eidul Azha. As I look to the year ahead, I hope we will all share the blessings of happiness with our loved ones, and peace and prosperity with our fellow citizens”.