he Hajj is the greatest pilgrimage, which can be only taken in Dhul-Hajjah. This event only happens on a year, during the 12th month of the lunar calendar and the main events last up to 5-6 days. However, for some it can last for up to 9days if they participate in the Urmah, the lesser pilgrimage, which can also be taken at anytime. This expedition is an enormous gathering of every Muslim, male and female, who are of the adult age, physically, mentally and financially fit.
If however, they can’t make it for these reasons they can be excused from participating on this pilgrimage only if they have heartfelt intentions to do so, the duty in considered fulfilled. The Hajj is an emotional and spiritual journey for Muslims to Makkah, ‘the mother town’ (42:7), the centre of Islam. Whilst in Makkah one of the main focal points for Muslims on this pilgrimage is the Ka’bah which is also called the Baitullah, the house of God.
As the Hajj is the last on the 5 pillars, this makes it obligatory, the ‘duty of all men’ (Qu’ran 3:91), which in Arabic is called Fard and is to also be completed once in their life. The Hajj is the 5th Pillar of Islam and is probably the largest, most spectacular convention of people at any one time and is said to be the biggest gathering of people until the day of judgement. This holy journey is one of the most critical parts to the developments of Islam as it has been carried on through out fourteen centuries with the participation of over 2million Muslims from all over the world.
The Hajj is very important to Muslims because each place on the Pilgrimage is associated with historic events based around the 5 main prophets, not only Muhammad but also Adam and Hawwa (eve), Ibrahim (Abraham), his second wife Hajar, and their son Isma’il. Adam and Hawwa were the first humans to be created by Allah but were unfortunately separated from each other after being banished from Al-Jannah. They were left lost and unhappy for at least 200 years. The plain of Arafat is significant to the pilgrims as it was Adam and Hawwa were re-united and had prayed in genuine repentance to Allah for sins they had committed.
This happened on the 9th of Dhul-Hajjah, the second day of Hajj and is one of the highlights of the pilgrimage. Modern day pilgrims will also gather on the Mount of Mercy and beg for forgiveness. Muslims and also Christians and Jews believe that Ibrahim and Isma’il are two very important figures in their holy scriptures. However, in the Qu’ran it is said that they had re-constructed the Ka’bah as a place of worship for Allah. The significance of the Ka’bah is that it was built in the direct location of where Allah’s throne lies, which however, was originally built by Adam but was destroyed by the flood in the time of Nuh (Noah).
Beneath this sanctified box is where Muslims believe Allah had created the universe, which is why the Ka’bah is one of the central points in the Hajj. Modern pilgrims circle the Ka’bah several times during the pilgrimage on specific days as a sign of unity and world-wide fellowship of Muslims, which is called Ummah. Also in addition, Ibrahim, the friend of Allah plays another important part in the contribution to the journey. Ibrahim had vowed once to Allah that he would always put him first in his life. Allah tested Ibrahim’s faith to see whether he was obedient to his word.
Allah asked Ibrahim to sacrifice his only son, Isma’il, who had accepted his fate and was willing to allow his father to do so. On the way Shaytan (devil) appeared to tempt them, which he did 3 times for them to disobey Allah but they were reluctant to give in. This scene is re-constructed by modern pilgrims. Muslims travel to Mina where they fight off the devil like Isma’il had done when he threw little pebbles at him, however, the pilgrims throw stones at pillars instead which represent the ‘Greater Devil’.
After this there is a sacrifice of an animal, which is eaten and a majority of it is given to the needy. This ritual is performed as a reminder of when Ibrahim was given a ram to sacrifice by Allah instead of his son as he had proved he was willing to give up everything for Allah, even his son. The point of this ritual is to show pilgrims that they must be prepared and ready to give up many things for their God, as Ibrahim had once done. Also on the modern day pilgrimage, pilgrims re-enact Hajar’s – second wife of Ibrahim frantic search for water for both her and her son Isma’il.
The pilgrims walk briskly 7 times between the 2 hills Safa and Marwah. The story of Hajar is remembered not only because she was left in care of Allah by Ibrahim but also because of the well which was discovered. Hajar and Isma’il were both dehydrated and exhausted, she had prayed and waited for help but no one came so she took measures into her own hands. Hajar ran between the 2 exact hills 7 times in search of both help and water but there was none and even though never gave up hope.
After a while Jibrel (Gabriel) had appeared and showed Hajar to a spring which had appeared right where baby Isma’il had dug his heels into the sand, this well is now known as the Zam Zam well. This well is visited by the pilgrim were they drink or wash with the water as they say is it holy and has special healing powers. Muhammad, the most recent of the prophets had also helped restore the Hajj into tradition by reinstating the Ka’bah back to what he believe was its purpose, which was a house of worship to Allah.
Muhammad had also helped encourage the practice of the ‘kissing’ of the Black stone, which is just an act of respect for such as object, which is said to have been sent from heaven. This practice is still performed by modern pilgrims and as an effect of this the middle of the stone has been worn away through out the ages. All of these Historical stories are remembered by each Muslims during the pilgrimage and pilgrims also remember that participating in the Hajj is important as they are travelling in the foot steps of important prophets, which to them is seen as a righteous way of life.