For the past 14 centuries, muslims from all corners of the globe have made annual pilgrimages to Mecca – Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW’s) birth place and Islam’s devotional epicenter. All faithful muslims (both men and women) are expected to make the pilgrimage (Hajj) at least once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially capable, alongside other pre-requisites. The Hajj is the last pillar of Islam which vividly shows the equivalence of what humans will experience on the day of judgment. The mode of dressing of the pilgrims, the great assemblage at Arafat and the difficulties faced before the completion of the exercise reveals its glorification and how ephemeral the world is. The timing of the hajj is based on the muslim lunar calendar and the periodic event comes up in the 12th month of Dhul Hijjah every year (usually in the summer when temperatures soar high). This religious rite which originated in the 7th century was at its inception undertaken by foot or riding on horse/camel backs which makes it very tasking. However, with the advent of modern air transport, pilgrims can now travel for hajj with ease and participate several times in their lives. It’s so delightful to see muslims from all over the world unite in such a special place for an ordained pilgrimage made obligatory by the Almighty Allah for all muslims who can afford it. What matters is the attidudinal behavior of the pilgrims who have to be ready to endure the hardships associated with the spiritual exercise and also tolerate the attitudes of fellow pilgrims. After oil was discovered in 1938, the holy city of Mecca has undergone several transformations but despite all these, there are still lots of logistical challenges posed by the annual pilgrimage-Hajj. Overcrowding which translates to injuries and deaths (from pushing, shoving, heat exposure and sun stroke) remains at the top of the challenges. This challenge coupled with other rigors might continue to persist as Islam is a fast growing religion in the world.
More important than the faith to muslims is their intent to put it into practice and religion is so deeply woven into their lives that it regulates and gives purpose to their daily activities.
The prayer of every sincere pilgrim is to retain the validity of Hajj and Umrah forever. As all muslims kow that Umrah can be undertaken at any time of the year and this policy manages the overcrowding problem spurred by the Hajj pilgrimage to a reasonable extent. The prayer of every sincere pilgrim is to retain the validity of Hajj and Umrah forever. It should be noted that a successful hajj or umrah allows the pilgrims to be in a clean state and thus, must not return to the world of vanity. The prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself performed hajj and said “Umra is inserted in Hajj until the Doomsday”.It is also crucial for the pilgrims to maintain a personal hygiene and to keep themselves in the remembrance of Allah during their journey. To get the best out of Hajj and Umrah, the pilgrims are obliged to spiritually guide their loins so as not to become tainted in body and soul.More important than the faith to muslims is their intent to put it into practice and religion is so deeply woven into their lives that it regulates and gives purpose to their daily activities.