Hajj: The Largest Annual Convention of Faith
By S Khan
Allah states in the Qur'an, "And announce to humanity, (O Abraham), the pilgrimage, and people will come from every part of the world by every means of transport." [Qur'an 22:27]. Indeed, centuries after Prophet Abraham's call, this call to journey to Hajj is still being responded to, in numbers larger than ever before; as intended.
Hajj in Perspective
- As an act , Hajj is fard/ obligatory (on those who are able): Human beings who are able to perform the pilgrimage are obligated by Allah to make the pilgrimage to the Ka'bah. [Qur'an 3:97]
- In significance, Hajj is a rukn/ pillar of faith: Islam is built on five (pillars):bearing witness that none s worthy of worship but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, the establishing of prayer, the giving of charity, fasting during Ramadan, the performance of pilgrimage to the Ka'bah for those who are able. [Bukhari]
- As a tradition, Hajj is a perpetuation of sunnate-Ibrahim(the practice of Prophet Abraham). It was Prophet Ibrahim(AS) who was commanded by Allah to announce: "Proclaim the Hajj, people will come from every part of the earth by every means of transport, to witness its benefits." [Qur'an 22:27]
- As a virtue, the one who completes a duly-performed Hajj is rewarded with Paradise. Prophet Muhammad said: Whosoever performs the pilgrimage appropriately without any vulgarity or impropriety returns from the pilgrimage as pure as the day of birth. [Bukhari]
Demonstration of Muslim Fraternity
The Hajj is that largest annual convention of faith where millions of Muslims gather in the holy land, merging as streams of devotees from every corner of the earth to become part of the sea of Believers spiritually swirling in human waves around the Ka'bah in tawaaf. Each individual pilgrim is like a drop in that ocean; a drop that always yearns to be part of that ocean. An ocean that knows no barrier of race, nor language, nor color, nor gender, nor age, nor time.
The Hajj ...
- demonstrates universal Islamic fraternity
- acquaints pilgrims with historical and spiritual environment of Prophet Ibrahim(AS), Haajar, Prophets Isma'il and Muhammad (peace be upon all of them).
- re-enacts fundamental aspects of our history
- reminds of the ÔGrand Assembly' on the Day of Judgment
The performance of prescribed rites (manaasik), at specified times, at particular places in a recommended manner is aimed at reflecting a wholesome demonstration of Muslim brotherhood and sisterhood. It familiarizes the pilgrim with the historic, spiritual and physical environment of Adam and Eve, Ibrahim, Isma'il, Haajar and of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon all of them).
Dimensions of Hajj
Each aspect of the pilgrimage serves as a religious and symbolic act, historical and social lesson that has both practical and spiritual dimensions:
- Ihraam- symbol of humility and equality
- Haram ash-Sharifat Makkah - a blessed place in the City of Ibrahim, Isma'il, Haajar and Muhammad (peace be upon them); the City of Revelation and City of the Ka'bah.
- Ka'bah- sanctified symbol of unity, established for the upliftment of humanity
- 'Arafah- a reflection of the Day of Judgment, a Day of Fraternity and Forgiveness
- Muzdalifah- preparation for struggle against internal and external enemies
- Jamaraatat Mina - symbolic battle against evil
- Udhiyah- sacrifice indicating selfless submission to Allah's command
- Tawaaf - waves in the ocean of humanity glorifying Allah
- Sa'yi - re-enactment of Haajar's selfless search for water to nourish her precious baby, Prophet Isma'il, the forefather of Prophet Muhammad .
Reflecting on the Lessons of Hajj
The essence of Hajj is the pilgrim's evolution toward a higher degree of submission to Allah. The performance of Hajj is an illustration of the potential strength of the community. It is a symbolic demonstration of unity and harmony; of equality and humility.
Performance of religious acts at prescribed times at particular places in a specific manner, where each act at each place has a purpose, and serves as a:
- reminder to the mindful
- lesson to the heedful
- exhortation to the faithful
- instruction to the dutiful
- source of reflection for the wise