What is Hajj?
Every year, in the beginning of the month of ZilHijja
in the Muslim calendar, a great international gathering of Muslims is held at Makka in
Arabia, where they pledge that there is only One God for the whole of humanity and that
all persons are equal, regardless of race, nation, wealth or status. This occasion is
known as the Hajj (pronounced rather like the word judge, with h
being read in place of j) or the Pilgrimage to Makka. The pilgrim goes to Makka at
great personal sacrifice, and gives up many comforts of life while there. From his
hardship, he learns the lesson that man has to sacrifice his desires if he is to attain
nearness to God and to establish a worldwide brotherhood of equality and love.
Please outline the chief features of
All pilgrims, at the commencement of the three days of the
Pilgrimage, put on the same simple dress of two sheets of cloth. Thus all distinctions of
wealth, position and family are removed during the Hajj by making every person appear the
same outwardly. The Hajj itself consists of a number of acts of worship and remembrance of
God, which are performed by the individual in the company of the vast congregation. Two of
the most important of these devotions are the tawaaf (making circuits around the
Ka`ba, the simple fourwalled building which Muslims all over the world face in prayer),
and the gathering of the pilgrims in a plain called Arafa to glorify God.
What is the significance of these acts?
These acts of worship are the highest spiritual experience.
By going around the Ka`ba, the pilgrim expresses the greatest love for the One God because
this building is the greatest and oldest memorial to the purest form of belief in One God.
Going around the Ka`ba is as if to say that one's life should revolve around belief in One
God. In the gathering at Arafa, there is a vast ocean of humanity, people of all colours,
races, nations, languages, walks of life, the rich and the poor, the 'high' and the 'low',
but all are exactly alike, wearing the same simple clothes, remembering God in the same
way. From this, the pilgrims carry back home the lesson of the equality and brotherhood of
mankind, which can only come through belief in One God.
Do Muslims worship the Ka`ba, or believe
that God lives there?
No, definitely not. How can they worship the Ka`ba when, in
fact, they go there to remember that God is One? And, according to Muslim belief, God is
everywhere in this universe of ours, so He cannot live in any one place or building. The
Ka`ba is an ancient memorial to the belief in One God, being associated with the Prophets
Abraham and Muhammad (peace be upon them) who taught this belief most vigorously. It is a
venue for the gathering of all nations, at which they come together and remember that only
this belief can unite them. Though God is everywhere, yet when hundreds of thousands of
people make the greatest sacrifice to gather in one place just to worship Him, that place
rightly deserves the title of the 'House of God', as the Ka`ba is called.