The Hajj of Muslims is not simply a visit to the holy place or shrine, as pilgrimages is understood in Christianity; nor is it a participation in a ritual as understood in Judaism. The Hajji’s timing is absolutely fixed, and it can not be performed except the eighth, ninth and tenth days of the last month of the Muslim year (Dhul-Hajja). It is a binding upon the Muslims to perform it on the prescribed days and time. If any Muslim makes journey to Ka’ba except these days, it will not be called a Hajj. The Hajj is performed by millions of Muslims of the world every year. It is indeed a unique act in Islam with unlimited benefits and advantages and the examples of it is not found in any religion. The benefits of the Hajj as mentioned in the “Holy Quran” are obscure, indefinite, unlimited and general which can not be classified. They are not limited to one area but are related to matters of both this world and the next also. Allah says in the “Holy Quran” “The months for the Hajj are well known .if anyone undertakes that duty during them, let there be neither obscenity, nor wickedness nor wrangling during the Hajj. And whatever good you do, Allah knows it. Take provision with you for journey, but the best of provision is righteous conduct. So fear me, you who are wise (Surah Al-Baqr, Verse-197). The pilgrim in Mecca has no thought for who or what he or she has left behind, because one has the sole purpose of humbling himself before Allah, his Creator, and to attain the spiritual connection with his Lord, forget about all worldly interests and commitments. He is for that period of time totally committed to Allah. Perhaps the most significant point regarding the Pilgrimage is that all women are dressed alike, and all men are dressed alike. They are all clad in a particular type of attire called Ihram. King or peasant, rich or poor, black or white, there is no distinction. There is no distinction of race, color, class and rank during the Hajj.
The “Holy Quran” commands that the Hajj be made during the well known month and it is a duty faithful owe to Allah. The command is clear, direct and plain and explicit about the advantages or benefits of pilgrimage. The Hajj brings in a Muslim a change which is purely spiritual and religious. It purifies his soul and spirit and makes him dear before Allah. It changes the future for the next world and keeps him away from evil intentions and actions. Moreover, the Hajj revives Islamic traditions and revives the faith and belief for the Muslims in Allah, Prophet Mohammed (SAW) and the Holy Quran. It is an occasion of supreme joy for the Muslims because Allah calls them to His House. Those who are called are fortunate because their lot is mutated. Their all sins are washed and they have a kind of rebirth and their religious and spiritual faith is regenerated and rejuvenated. They find solace, peace and experience divine power and influence. It gives them a change to retreat and uphold their religious duties and obey Allah as their ancestors have done in the past. It reminds them that they have to spread light and follow the path shown by Prophet Abraham (AS) and Prophet Mohammed (SAW). It gives them also a choice to forget about the past blunders and re-start their lives with piety, grace and work for the fraternity and unity. It also signifies that Allah shows His kindness to change their lives and win His blessings.
The Hajj has unlimited benefits for the life hereafter which can not be understood and explained. The Prophet Mohammed (SAW) says, “The pilgrim intercedes for four hundred of his relatives and is as sinless as on the day his mother gave birth to him”. It is believed that between one Umbra and another, all sins are redeemed, while the reward for the blessed Hajj is nothing short of paradise (Janat). The Hajj does not only have benefits for the next world but for this world also. During the Hajj, the Muslims of the world get in touch with each other and get better acquainted with conditions, news and affairs from near and far. They pledge and enter into agreements and assist one another in their religious and worldly matters. They cooperate with each other and pledge to become one. They understand each others conditions in their countries and avow to eradicate the sufferings of the Muslims in their countries. They also at times have an understanding for the commerce after their religious duties. The occasion of Hajj serves as a major unifying influence in Islam and the most effective common bond among the diverse believers. The socializing influence of such a gathering of the brotherhood of Muslims from the four corners of the world is hard to over estimate. The central focus of the Hajj is Ka’ba which is Qibla for all the Muslims of the world towards which they bow and pray. The Ka’ba itself is a symbol of unity and fraternity for the Muslims even though they live in divergent corners of the world. It is believed that Ka’ba was first constructed by Adam (AS) and them his son Shaist (AS) and in the last Hazarat Ibrahim (AS) along with his son Hazrat Ismaiel (AS). The Quran says nothing about the remote origin of the Ka’ba but it is explicit on the subject of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) as the builder of Allah’s Sacred House. Once the building of Ka’ba was completed, Allah ordered Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) to make public proclamation of the pilgrimage to be performed there. Allah says in the Holy Quran, “Announce to the people the pilgrimage. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every deep and distinct highway that they may witness the benefits and recollect the names of Allah in the well known days (ayyam ma’ lumat) over the sacrificial animal” (AL-HAJJ verse 26-27).“The Quran also Says” , “And remember Abraham raised the foundations of the House, yes and Ismail too (saying) accept this from us, for indeed You are on All hearing and All knowing” (Al-Baqr verse 125-127). The Quran is our most certain testimony to the significance of the Hajj. Our beloved Prophet Mohammed (SAW) taught us the importance of the Hajj in our lives. He followed the religion of Prophet Abraham (AS) and extended it to us. He was concerned not only with reforming the beliefs, ways of life and practices of his people but also brought Islam and made it a great religion for us to follow. But do we follow it now in the right perspective? We observe that every year millions of people make pilgrimage to Ka’ba and learn and practice the true spirit of Islam. The Muslims in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Jordan, Kashmir, America, England , Spain , Africa, Burma, Arab Emirates, etc are seen in Mecca on the occasion of the Hajj- it is a great scene to watch that all Muslims, Black and white, rich and poor, Arab and Non-Arab are together and there is a scene of fraternity everywhere. They forget that they are from different countries, religions, cultures and belong to different colors. They demonstrate oneness and promise to be united for the cause of Islam. They pray for the upliftment of Islam and determine to help to put an end to the sufferings of the Muslims everywhere in the world. They voice and weep and feel to help Ummah for it is a just cause and a duty they owe to Allah and Prophet (SAW).But it is observed that after the flight from Allah’s House to the respective countries or places, the cause and the spirit of the Hajj. Some of them may be changed in their personal acts but it is observed that their approach to the sufferings of the Muslims remains unchanged. The unchanged behavior and approach of the Muslims is responsible for the segregation and division of their Ummah in the world. They have become mute spectators to the suffering of the Muslims in Guantamaloo, Afghanistan, Palestine, Pakistan, Iraq, and in other parts of the world. It is a great tragedy that we are dominated by sinister forces everywhere in the world. We have become like a derelict ship which is aimlessly floating in the murky waters of life. The so called Muslim leaders are the sellers of our culture, community and religion. Our beloved Prophet Mohammed (SAW) earned hostilities for our sake, the most dangerous path he trod for our sake and all for our sake. He (SAW) sacrificed everything for the establishment of the Islamic system and then created a new era of history, prepared a great nation, brought forth new worlds of thought and knowledge, and put us above every civilization. We have one Allah, one Prophet (SAW), and religion and so it becomes our moral duty to understand the purpose and objective of the Hajj.
(The author is Director Academics at J&K Board of School Education. Views are his own, firstname.lastname@example.org)