Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, brings together Muslims of all races and creed to adopt two unidentifiable white pieces of cloth in an awesome demonstration of Islam’s total disregard of insignificant issues like race, social position and nationality. Annually, several million people make the pilgrimage to Makkah from every corner of the globe, providing a unique opportunity of those different nations to meet one another, making it the largest gathering in the world. It is a clear-cut act of worship, but also it is symbolic and represents the spirit’s return to its place of origin. Hajj is an essential duty (fardh) for all Muslims, who are physically and financially able to perform it.
“In it (Makkah) are Signs Manifest; the Standing place of Ibrahim; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah, those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures.”
(Al Imran 97)
The rites of Hajj begin and end at the Ka’bah, the first house of worship built for mankind, built by Adam (AS) and restored by Ibrahim(AS) and his eldest son Isma’il (AS). However, the apex of the journey is reached eight miles away, where Muslims stand and pray near a hillock by the name of ‘Mount of Mercy’, within a desert plane. The Pilgrimage is regarded as being the fifth and Final Pillar of Islam, its seal, as well as the completion of surrender and the perfection of religion. It was during the Pilgrimage that Allah sent down the revelation:
“Today I have perfected your religion for you, and completed My grace upon you, and approved Islam as your religion.”
(Al Maidah 3)
Allah has prescribed certain rites that a pilgrim should uphold for his pilgrimage to be correct. The primary condition is intention (niyyah), while the others will be mentioned in their places. The meaning of the pilgrimage (Hajj meaning effort) is to leave all worldly activities aside and go forth to meet Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala). The purpose of Hajj is to develop consciousness of Allah (SWT) and also spiritual upliftment. It is also an opportunity to atone sins collected throughout life. Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) had said that a person who performs Hajj properly will return as (sinless as), a newly born baby.
It also a reminder of the Grand Assembly on the Day of Judgement when people will stand equal before Allah (SWT), waiting for their Final Destiny, and where no superiority of race or stock can be claimed. It is also a reminder of the fact that Makkah alone, in the whole existing world, has been honored by Allah as the center of monotheism since the time of Ibrahim , and that it will continue to be the center of Islam, the religion of pure monotheism, till the end of time.
Allah may guide us, protect us and grant us ability to work with sincerity and steadfastness. May Allah make this fountain of knowledge spread to the four corners of the world and may it be a source of His pleasure.