The father of humanity, Adam was created in Paradise and was then sent down to earth to complete his mission as the khalifah. We, as his progeny, have been assigned to continue the mission of preaching tawhid and to inherit the earth. Knowing our nature and fallibility, Allah has opened the perpetual door for forgiveness, and out of His greatest love and mercy, has opened many doors for His servants to achieve salvation and enter into Paradise,

“Allah calls to the Home of Peace, and guides whom He wills to the straight path.” [Surah Yunus, 10:25]

The Holy Prophet said,

If any one of you performs ablution, doing it well, and then says, after finishing the ablution, “I bear witness that there is no deity except Allah, He has no associate, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger,” then all the eight gates of Paradise will be opened for him, and he may enter through any of them. (Abu Dawud, no. 169)

Paradise has eight gates, and tawhid is the key to all the gates. Then, there are specific gates for prayer (Bab al-Salat, 2:227), gate for fasting (Bab al-Ryyan, Bukhari 1763), gate for zakah and charity, gate for jihad, gate for kadhimin, gate for al-iman, gate for dhikr (13:23-24), and gate for hajj.

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“Verily, those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, their Lord will guide them through their faith; under them will flow rivers in the Garden of Delight.” [Surah Yunus, 10:9]

Prayer is the venue for standing in humility and ask for forgiveness, and entrance to Paradise will be through the gate of Prayer. Fasting offers the opportunity to achieve taqwa, and so entrance to Paradise will be through the special gate of Ryyaan, which is reserved for the people of fasting. Zakah pertains to the wealth and net savings, to purify the wealth and to farther clean the living, and so entrance will be through its respective gate. Hajj is for the attainment of taqwa and to commemorate the udhiyah (sacrifice), the legacy of Ibrahim, and so entrance will be through its respective gate. Jihad is for to spread of Allah’s religion and to restraint the soul, and so entrance will be through its respective gate.

Hajj has a very special place in the life of a believer. It is an intense form of worship that demands certain physical fitness, financial affordability, and emotional stability. Which is why it is only obligatory once in a life time, for those who have the means to afford the journey. It calls those performing hajj to mend their conduct and to behave in accordance with the standards enjoined upon by the Qur’an and the Sunnah, both in public and private life. It is the summit of all worship.

As a pillar, hajj is closely related to shahadah (testimony of faith); while the shahadah is the declaration of tawhid, hajj depicts the history and practice of that principle. The inner theme of hajj is to declare our readiness to the service of Allah, to denounce polytheism, and to cherish the love of Allah above the love of the material world.

Historically, the call of all the Prophets, beginning with Adam, has been tawhid, with the objective to guide humanity to Allah’s Oneness. Hajj depicts the real time trials that were faced by some of the great Messengers and personalities, such as Ibrahim, Isma’il, Hagar, and the last Prophet and Messenger, Muhammad in achieving that goal. It took important segments of their lives to develop the manasiks (rituals) of hajj, under Divine Guidance.

“Our Lord, make us submissive to You, and our offspring a nation submissive to You, and show us our manasik, and accept our repentance. Truly, You are the One, who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.” [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:128]

Since the time of Adam, the Sacred House of the Ka‘bah (as the First House), has been the center of worship and a sanctuary of peace and security. As humanity’s ancient tradition, the entire progeny of Ibrahim, from both sides of his lineage, made pilgrimage to Makkah. (Ibn Kathir)

Over thousands of years of practice, since Ibrahim, the people began to veer the principle of Islamic Monotheism towards polytheism (shirk), and the manasiks were adulterated and replaced by pagan traditions. In pre-Islamic time, the pagan Arabs erected statues (Lat, Uzza, Manat, and Hubol) for the purpose of worship. Allah says,

“Have you seen Lat, and ‘Uzza, and another, the third, Manat?” [Surah al-Najm, 53:19-20]

They replaced the sincere etiquettes of tawaf with vulgar actions, going around the Ka‘bah naked, dancing, whistling, and clapping their hands. Allah said about them,

“Their prayer at the House (of Allah) is nothing but whistling and clapping of hands…”  [Surah Al Anfal, 8:35]

It was the inflexible efforts and sacrifice of Prophet Muhammad, who renewed the call for tawhid, and completed its message, which has been initiated by Adam, the father of humanity, and Ibrahim, the father of the believers. It was from the supplication of Ibrahim by which the Prophet was sent to preach and teach humanity, purifying them and protecting them from the spiritual degradation of polytheism.

“Our Lord, send to them a messenger from amongst themselves, who will recite to them Your verses, teach them the Book and wisdom, and purify them. You are Almighty, All-Wise.” [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:129]

The Divine Response to Ibrahim’s supplication was,

“Thus, We have sent to you a Messenger from among yourselves, reciting to you Our revelations, purifying you, teaching you the Book and the wisdom, and teaching you what you did not know.” [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:151]

The pillar of Hajj is an embodiment of many rites (manasiks), which are also a reminder for the sacrifices needed to establish them. Each Hajj ritual depicts a physical and deep spiritual conviction. In performing the rites of Hajj, one goes back in time and place, connecting himself to these blessed historical personalities, treading upon the path they treaded, and nurtures his soul.

This spiritual journey begins with the intention for Hajj, wearing the ihram, and reciting the talbiyah. In doing so, a person leaves behind the material world, establishes the equality of humanity in life and death, (since two pieces of ihram also represent the shroud), declares the tawhid, and denounces polytheism. Thus, Hajj, although an individual journey, is a culmination of a historical journey that begins with Ibrahim, transcends the interval on either side of his family, and was finally renewed by the last Prophet, Muhammad, the descendant of Isma’il.

When a hajji (pilgrim) undertakes this journey, he embarks on a physical visit to Ka‘bah, the House of Allah, the closest place to Allah on the face of the earth, then it is if he is going back in time to simulate the established physical rites and to connect spiritually with those great personalities who established these rites.

Part I

Introduction to Hajj/’Umrah

The linguistic meaning of hajj is pilgrimage, which means to set out on a journey to a holy place. In Islam, ajj refers to the journey to visit the Ka‘bah in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, in the month of Dhul-Hijjah, for the purpose of Allah’s worship by performing certain rites commanded by Him.

The Ka‘bah is the reproduction of Baitul Ma’mur, the House of Allah in the highest heaven. It is directly under the Throne of Allah. Bait-al-Ma’mur is the House where the angels perform tawaf in the heavens, and the Ka‘bah is where humanity make tawaf in this world. Therefore, in the material world, the Ka‘bah is the closest place to Allah. It is the first House built for the purpose of Allah’s worship. Allah says,

“The first House [of worship] established for the people was at Bakkah, full of blessing and guidance for all the worlds. In it are clear signs. It is the Station of Ibrāhīm, and whoever enters it attains security. Pilgrimage to this House is a duty owed to Allah by all the people, those who can undertake it.” [Surah Ala-‘Imran, 3:96-97]

Hajj, a Pillar of Islam

Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and take place during the month of Dhul-Hijjah, which is the last month of the lunar year. Hajj and ‘umrah are obligations upon every Muslim (of age), who can afford the journey, to perform them. Allah says,

“Complete the ḥajj and ꜥumrah for Allah… Whoever intends to perform ḥajj, there should be no lewdness, misbehavior, or quarrelling during the ḥajj.” [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:196-197]

The Prophet said.

“Verily, Islam is built on five: testifying the fact that there is no god but Allah, establishing the prayer, paying the zakah, fasting in Ramadan, and pilgrimage to the House.” (Muslim)

“O people, Allah has made Hajj obligatory for you; so perform Hajj.” (Muslim)

A lesser form of Hajj is called ‘umrah, which can be performed at any time of the year, or it can be combined with Hajj; it is recommended to perform ‘umrah before or after Hajj. The Prophet said,

“An ‘umrah in the month of Ramadan, is equivalent to a Hajj, or equal to the pilgrimage performed in my company.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The Season of Hajj

Hajj is performed in the month of Dhul-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the lunar year:

“The ḥajj takes place during the well-known months. Whoever intends to perform hajj, there should be no lewdness, misbehavior, or quarrelling during the hajj. Whatever good you do, then Allah is aware of it. Provide well for yourselves, but the best provision is the consciousness of Allah. So be conscious of Me, you who have understanding.” [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:197]

The months of Shawwal, Dhul-Qa’dah, and Dhul-Hijjah (up to the tenth day) are set apart for the rites of Hajj. That is to say, the first rite may begin as early as the beginning of Shawwal, with people beginning their journey to Makkah. Before the days of advance transportation, people that would have to travel long distances would undertake the journey before the season of Hajj would began. They would performed ‘umrah and then remain behind to perform the formal Hajj.

The chief rites of Hajj are concentrated around the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, specifically around the 8th, 9th, and 10th day. The 8th day is the Day of Assembly of the people in ihram in Mina, the 9th is the Day of ‘Arafah, and 10th is the Day of Ramy (stoning the Jamarat) and udhyia (sacrifice). Allah says,

“[So] that they may witness things that are of benefit to them, and mention Allah’s Name on the appointed days, over the livestock that He has provided for them. Then eat from them and feed the poor from among the people. Then let them complete their prescribed duties, fulfil their vows, and circumambulate the Ancient House.” [Surah Al-Hajj, 22:28-29]

The 11th, 12th, and 13th of Dhul-Hijjah are the days after sacrifice, and are called the Days of Tashriq, the extended days, for further worship and praise of Allah, business, education, and conferences. Staying in Mina for these days is optional, and the hujjaj can leave on the second or third day.

“Remember Allah during the appointed days. Whoever then hastens to depart after two days, there is no sin on him; and whoever stays, there is no sin on him, if he is conscious of Allah. Be conscious of Allah and be sure that you will be gathered before Him.” [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:203]

However, if there is a need to remain behind after the three days, such as to complete the slaughtering, and/or fasting (three days) [as Fidyah (ransom) for being ill (to complete the manasik), or having to have the scalp shaved (before completing the obligatory rites), because the scalp/hair had a disease], then one may extend his stay until the end of tashriq. Allah says,

“When you are in safety, anyone who wishes to perform ‘umrah followed by hajj must sacrifice an offering he can give with ease, but if he is unable to, then he should fast for three days during hajj and seven days after his return, making a total of ten days.” [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:196]

The Purpose of Hajj

The primary purpose of Hajj is the proclamation of tawhid (monotheism) and denouncement of polytheism.

“[Remember] when We showed Ibrahim the site of the House [saying], “Do not associate anything with Me, and purify My House…” [Surah Al-Hajj, 22:26]

This purpose is expressed in the talbiya, “Labbaika Allahumma labbaik, labbaika la-shirikalaka, ;abbaik. Innal hamda wan-ni’mata laka wal mulk, la sharika laka.”

Tawhid encompasses the belief in Allah and in worshipping Him alone. However, worshipping Him alone needs to be categorically established through the confirmation that He alone is the object of worship and negation of any association with Him.

The spiritual purpose of hajj is the attainment of taqwa. Hajj is much more than the physical preparation to undertake the journey along with the required provisions. In fact, the best provision for the journey, in addition to material provision, is the spiritual provision of taqwa (the love and fear of Allah) in the heart, manifested through our complete submission in following His commands and manasiks, not violating the symbols, and pleasing Him through our actions and behavior.

“Whatever good you do, then Allah is aware of it. Provide well for yourselves, but the best provision is the consciousness of Allah. So be conscious of Me, you who have understanding.” [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:197]

Thus, ajj is a worship that teaches us to rectify our conduct by avoiding sexual relationships, bad language, and quarreling, and it admonishes us to have taqwa, which is depicted in “fear and love of Allah”. The Qur’an emphasizes taqwa as the best provision, and it admonishes humanity to make taqwa the goal of all their worship. Allah says,

“People, worship your Lord, Who created you and those before you, so that you may become conscious of Him.” [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:21]

The Command for Hajj

The command for Hajj came in two stages: The first command came to Ibrahim when he was guided to Makkah (Bakkah) and shown the site of the Ancient House. He was commanded to denounce polytheism and to sanctify the House for those who go around it, and for those who stand, bow, or prostrate themselves (in prayer) there. He was asked to proclaim the pilgrimage to the people, and was assured that people will come to it on foot or on camels from distant places:

“Proclaim the hajj (pilgrimage) to the people; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every deep and distant mountain highway, [so] that they may witness things that are of benefit to them.” [Surah Al-Hajj, 22:27-28]

When Ibrahim was commanded to make the proclamation for hajj, he asked, “Lord, how can I convey this to people when my voice will not reach them?” It was said, “Call them and We will convey it.”

It has been mentioned that when he made the call, the mountains lowered themselves so that his voice could reach all the corners of the earth, as well as those who were still in their mother’s womb and in their father’s loin. All hear the call, and the response came from everyone in the cities, deserts, and countryside, those for whom Allah has decreed that they will make the pilgrimage. This will last until the Day of Resurrection, and the people will continue to come while declaring the tawhid of Allah and denouncing polytheism as they utter, “O Allah, at Your service. O Allah, at Your service.” [Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ikrimiah, Sa’id Ibn Jubayr, At-Tabarani,18:605-607)

Since the time of Ibrahim, the hajj has been celebrated by humanity on fixed days during the prescribed month of the year. Thus, pilgrimage has been an annual tradition since ancient times. According to Ibn Kathir, Ibrahim’s progeny, from both his sons (Isma’il and Isaac), would regularly perform the hajj. This tradition still continues today amongst the Muslim. Not only do the people visit the Sacred Precinct on a yearly basis for the hajj, but also throughout the year for the ‘umrah and for trade, all because of the safety and security that it has been blessed with.

The second command for hajj came when it became a pillar of Islam in 9 A.H. (631 CE), during which the Muslim had gathered in Makkah to perform hajj. That year, Abu Bakr was designated as the leader on behalf of the Prophet to lead the people in hajj. He had left Madinah for the hajj when the command had been revealed making hajj obligatory. Thus, the Prophet sent ‘Ali to meet up with Abu Bakr and relate to him and the pilgrims that hajj has become a mandatory a pillar of Islam. When ‘Ali reached Abu Bakr, he relayed the information to Abu Bakr, who then gave him permission to relate the injunction to the Pilgrims (that from that year onwards the Hajj is mandatory and is a pillar of Islam). This took place on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah, and it was called the great day of Dhu-Hijjah.

The great days of the pilgrimage are the 9th day (the day of Arafa) or the 10th day (the day of Sacrifice) of Dhul-Hijjah. Allah says,

“A declaration from Allah and His Messenger to all the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage: Allah is free from obligation to the idolaters, and so is His Messenger.” [Surah At-Taubah, 9:3]

The ProphetSAAW made his first Hajj the following year, 10 AH (632 CE), and it has been termed as al-Hajj al-Wida, the Farewell Pilgrimage. On the day of ‘Arafah, he delivered the Last Sermon:

“Verily your blood, your property are as sacred and inviolable as the sacredness of this day of yours, in this month of yours, in this town of yours. Behold! Everything pertaining to the Days of Ignorance is under my feet completely abolished. Abolished are also the blood-revenges of the Days of Ignorance. The first claim of ours on blood-revenge, which I abolish, is that of the son of Rabi’a b. al-Harith, who was nursed among the tribe of Sa’d and killed by Hudhail. The usury of the pre-Islamic period is abolished, and the first of our usury I abolish is that of ‘Abbas b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib, for it is all abolished. Fear Allah concerning women! Verily you have taken them on the security of Allah, and intercourse with them has been made lawful unto you by words of Allah. You too have right over them, and that they should not allow anyone to sit on your bed whom you do not like. But if they do that, you can chastise them but not severely. Their rights upon you are that you should provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner. I have left among you the Book of Allah, and if you hold fast to it, you would never go astray. And you would be asked about me [on the Day of Resurrection], what would you say? They said, ‘We will bear witness that you have conveyed [the message], discharged [the ministry of Prophethood], and given wise counsel.’” He then raised his forefinger towards the sky and pointing it at the people [said], “O Allah, be witness. O Allah, be witness,” three times.” (Muslim)

While the Prophet was coming down from Mount Arafat to the plain of Arafat, the proof of divine testimony was revealed to him. The revelation was that the Religion of Islam was perfected, divine blessings (on the believers), have been completed, and He has chosen Islam as the religion of the Muslim Ummah.

“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My blessing upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5:3]

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Mohammed Siraj Uddin

Mohammed S. Uddin graduated from medical school in 1968 and completed his training in internal medicine and gastroenterology in New York. He taught in medical school and practiced gastroenterology for nearly four decades. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. He is a fellow of the Americal College of Gastroenterology and the American College of Physicians.Full BIO

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