Hajj: Journey of a Lifetime

Image courtesy http://www.aalamtravels.lk

Image courtesy http://www.aalamtravels.lk

Linguistically, Hajj means ‘to set out with the intention of religious zeal or return to a sacred place’. It also means simply heading to a place for visiting. In Islam, it refers to heading to Makkah for performing the rites of pilgrimage. Allah (swt) mentions in the Quran: “And perform properly (i.e. all the ceremonies according to the ways of Prophet Muhammad (sa)), the Hajj and Umrah (i.e. the pilgrimage to Makkah) for Allah.” (Al-Baqarah 2:196)

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is obligatory on every adult Muslim, who is physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, to perform Hajj at least once in a lifetime. Hajj is the largest annual Muslim gathering. Person going for Hajj must make necessary arrangements for his family in his absence. Financial and physical ability is referred to as Istitah and Muslim who falls in this criterion is called a Mustati.

The history of Hajj dates back to Prophet Ibrahim (as), which is around 2000 years before the birth of Prophet Isa (as).

Hajj commences from the eighth and ends on the twelfth of Dhul-Hijjah, which is also the last month of Islamic calendar. It was performed by Prophet Muhammad (sa) in the seventh century and is followed by his Ummah.

Historical significance of Hajj

The history of Hajj dates back to Prophet Ibrahim (as), which is around 2000 years before the birth of Prophet Isa (as). Ibrahim (as) was ordered by Allah (swt) to leave his wife Hajar and son Ismail (as) alone in the desert of Makkah. Hazrat Hajar ran back and forth between the mountains of Safa and Marwah in search of water and asked Allah (swt) for His help. Ismail (as) hit the ground with his feet as he cried. At that very moment, Allah (swt) answered her prayers and sent down His angel Jibrael (as) to dig a well underneath where Ismail (as) was hitting his feet, and Zam-Zam well miraculously sprang forth. Later, Ibrahim (as) was commanded by Allah (swt) to build Kabah and invite people to perform pilgrimage. These events are mentioned in Quran in verses 2:124 to 2:127 and 22:27 to 30. Angel Jibrael (as) brought the Black Stone “Hajr-e-Aswad” from heaven to be attached to Kabah.

Allah (swt) mentions in the Quran: “Verily! As-Safa and Al-Marwah (two mountains in Makkah) are of the symbols of Allah. So it is not a sin on him who perform Hajj or Umrah (pilgrimage) of the House (the Kabah at Makkah) to perform the going (Tawaf) between them (As-Safa and Al-Marwah). And whoever does good voluntarily, then verily, Allah is All-Recogniser, All-Knower.” (Al-Baqarah 2:158)

Abu Bakr (ra) was sent by Prophet Muhammad (sa) to lead the first Hajj in the ninth year after Hijrah. After Prophet Muhammad (sa) returned from the battle of Tabuk, he appointed Abu Bakr (ra) to lead three hundred Muslims to Makkah and instruct them about the rituals of Hajj.

The divine revelation descended upon the Messenger of Allah (swt) with some important verses from Surah At-Taubah. Prophet (sa) sent Ali Ibn Abu Talib (ra) to Abu Bakr (ra), so he could pass on Allah’s (swt) message (i.e., the Quranic verses) to the pilgrims in the season of Hajj.

Our Prophet’s (sa) last justful sermon

Abu Bakr (ra) led the pilgrimage in the ninth year with three hundred Muslims. In the following year, the Prophet (sa) performed Hajj with more than one hundred thousand Muslims. Prophet Muhammad (sa) delivered his last sermon, also known as “Khutba-e-Hajjatul-Wida, on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah in the tenth year after Hijrah. The sermon was delivered in the valley of Mount Arafat. It was a delivered more than fourteen centuries ago, yet it reflected the best example of eloquence and wisdom. It was as humane, rational and favourable to justice and equality as any message could be.

Abu Hurairah (ra) has narrated that the Prophet was asked: “Which is the best deed?” He said: “To believe in Allah (swt) and His Apostle.” He was then asked: “Which is the next (in goodness)?” He said: “To participate in Jihad in Allah’s (swt) cause.” He was then asked, “Which is the next?” He said: “To perform Hajj-e-Mabrur.” (Bukhari)

Hajj is considered the best Jihad for women.

There are three forms of Hajj:

  1. Hajj At-Tamattu (Interrupted): This is where a pilgrim assumes Ihram for Umrah only, during the months of Hajj, which means that when he reaches Makkah, he makes Tawaf and Sai for Umrah. Then he shaves or clips his hair. On the eighth day of Dhul-Hijjah, the pilgrim assumes Ihram again for Hajj only and carries out all of its requirements. Pilgrims performing this form of Hajj are called Mutamatti.
  2. Hajj Al-Ifrad (Single): This is where a pilgrim assumes Ihram for Hajj only. When he reaches Makkah, he performs Tawaf for his arrival and Sai for Hajj. He does not shave or clip his hair as he does not disengage from Ihram. Instead, he remains in Ihram until after he stones the Jamratul-Aqabah on the Eid day. It is permissible for him to postpone his Sai for Hajj until after his Tawaf for Hajj (i.e., Tawaf Al-Ifadhah). Pilgrims performing this form of Hajj are called Mufrid.
  3. Hajj Al-Qiran (Combined):This is where a pilgrim assumes Ihram for both Umrah and Hajj, or he assumes Ihram first for Umrah, then makes his intention for Hajj before his Tawaf for Hajj. The obligations on one performing Ifrad are the same as those on one performing Qiran, except that the latter must slaughter; whereas the former is not obligated to do so. Pilgrims performing this form of Hajj are called Qarin.

The best of the three forms is Tamattu. It is the form that the Prophet (sa) encouraged his followers to perform.

Hajj is considered the best Jihad for women. Aisha (ra) has narrated: “I said: ‘O Allah’s Apostle (sa)! We consider Jihad as the best deed.’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘The best Jihad (for women) is Hajj Mabrur.’ (Bukhari)

Hajj is performed, as it was performed and prescribed by Prophet (sa).