> The Story of Hajj
|The Story of Hajj
|The story of Hajj (Pilgrimage)
starts with an introduction about Prophet Ibrahim
|Ibrahim is a figure revered by Muslims,
Jews, and Christians alike as a righteous person
who lived over four thousand years ago. He is considered
to be the patriarch of monotheism, or "belief
in the One God," who sought a personal
relationship with his Creator.
Ibrahim left his native city of Ur in Mesopotamia
after voicing opposition to his people's polytheistic
practices, and eventually settled in Egypt with
his family. Later, he escorted one of his wives,
Hajar, and their infant son Ishmail, to a desolate
valley in Arabia and left them there, trusting in
God's promise to care for them.
Hajar, concerned about feeding her baby, began searching
the surroundings for food and water. According to
the Qur'an, in response to Hajar's prayers, a spring
miraculously gushed forth at Ishmail's feet to quench
their thirst. Hajar climbed nearby hills searching
for food and looking for caravans on the horizon.
Eventually, some passing traders stopped in the
valley, and asked Hajar's permission to water their
In time, the traders decided to settle in the little
valley, and eventually the settlement grew into
the city of Makkah. Ibrahim returned from time to
time to visit, and when Ishmail was about thirteen
years old, he and Ishmail constructed the Ka’bah,
an empty cube-shaped building, as a place dedicated
for the worship of the One God.
Eventually, Makkah became an important trading post
by the time of Prophet Muhammad, twenty-five hundred
|The Hajj (Pilgrimage)
|In commemoration of the trials of
Ibrahim and his family in Makkah, which included
Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son in response
to God's command, Muslims who can afford, make a
pilgrimage to the sacred city at least once in their
lifetime. The Hajj (Pilgrimage)
is one of the "five pillars"
of Islam, and thus an essential part of Muslims'
faith and practice.
Muslims from all over the world travel to Makkah.
Before arriving in the holy city, Muslims enter
a state of dedication known as ihram, by removing
their worldly clothes and put on the humble attire
of pilgrims, which is two seamless white sheets
for men, and simple white dresses and scarves for
women. The white garments are the symbol of human
equality and unity before God, since all the pilgrims
are dressed similarly. Money or status no longer
is a factor for the pilgrims. The equality of each
person in the eyes of God becomes paramount.
Upon arriving in Makkah, the pilgrims perform the
initial tawaf, which is a circular, counter-clockwise
procession around the Ka'bah. All the while, they
state "Labbayka Allahumma
Labbayk", which means "Here
I am at your service, O God, Here I am!"”.
The tawaf is meant to awaken each Muslim's consciousness
that God is the center of their reality and the
source of all meaning in life, and that each person's
higher self-identity derives from being part of
the community of Muslim believers, known as the
ummah. Pilgrims also perform the sa'i, which is
hurrying seven times between the small hills named
Safa and Marwah, reenacting Hajar's desperate search
for life-giving water and food.
On the first official day of Hajj (8th
of Dzulhijjah), millions of pilgrims travel
a few miles to the plain of Mina and camp there.
From Mina, pilgrims travel the following morning
to the plain of Arafat where they spend the entire
day in earnest prayer and devotion. That evening,
the pilgrims move and camp at Muzdalifa, which is
a site between Mina and Arafat. Muslims stay overnight
and offer various prayers there.
The pilgrims return to Mina on the 10th
of Dzulhijjah, and throw seven pebbles at a stone
pillar that represents the devil. This symbolizes
Ibrahim's throwing stones at satan (devil)
when he tried to dissuade Ibrahim from sacrificing
Then the pilgrims sacrifice a sheep, lamb, cow,
ox, or camel, reenacting the story of Ibrahim, who,
in place of his son, sacrificed a lamb that God
had provided as a substitute. The meat from the
slaughtered sheep is distributed for consumption
to poor and needy people in the community.
After the sacrifice, the pilgrims return to Makkah
to end the formal rites of Hajj by performing a
final tawaf and sa'i.
The Hajj is designed to develop God consciousness
and a sense of spiritual uplift. It is also believed
to be an opportunity to seek forgiveness of sins
accumulated throughout life. Prophet Muhammad had
said that a person who performs Hajj properly “will
return as a newly born baby” which
means “free of all sins”.
The pilgrimage also enables Muslims from all around
the world, of different colors, languages, races,
and ethnicities, to come together in a spirit of
universal brotherhood and sisterhood to worship
the One God together.
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