The Purpose of Hajj
The purpose of the Hajj is to answer the call of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) when he commanded Prophet Ibraheem (عليه السلام) to make the call:
“And proclaim to mankind the Hajj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Hajj)” [Quran: Surah al-Hajj 22: Ayah 27].
And, in answer to that call every pilgrim goes to do the Hajj. The call of Hajj is also an invitation from the Lord of the Worlds, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and all those who go in answer to that call are the guests of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) during the time they are in Makkah or undertaking the Hajj itself. Thus Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has made the Hajj an obligation, and an act of worship, and a means of salvation. The rites of Hajj are prescribes as a means of attaining that, as Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says concerning the animal sacrifice that is offered on Hajj:
“It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is your piety that reaches Him.” [Quran: Surah al-Hajj 22: Ayah 37].
The Hajj is a Symbol of Tawheed, Unity and Oneness
- Hajj is the symbol of Tawheed from the first moment the pilgrim enters ihraam. Jaabir ibn Abdullah (رضي الله عنه) said, describing the Hajj of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم): “Then he started to say the words of Tawheed, ‘“Labbayka Allaahumma labbayk, labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk. Inna al-hamd wa’l-ni’mata laka wa’l-mulk, laa shareeka lak (Here I am, O Allaah, here I am. Here I am, You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise and blessings are Yours, and all sovereignty, You have no partner).’” [Muslim, 2137].
- The pilgrim persists in worshipping and remembering Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) during the days of Hajj, moving from one sacred place to the next, from one action to another. This is a kind of intensive training in worship and remembrance of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى).
- The Hajj is a reminder of the Hereafter when all the people come together in one place in Arafah and elsewhere, with no differentiation between them. All of them are equal in this place and no one is better than anyone else.
- Hajj is a symbol of unity, because Hajj makes all people the same in their clothing, deeds, rituals, qiblah and the places they visit. So no one is better than anyone else, king or peasant, rich or poor, are all the same.
- So the people are equal in terms of rights and duties. They are equal in this sacred place, and differences in colour and nationality do not matter; no one has the right to differentiate between them.
- Unity of feelings, unity of rituals. Unity in purpose, unity in action. Unity in words. As the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or of a non-Arab over an Arab, or of a white man over a black man, or of a black man over a white man, except in terms of taqwa [piety]. The people are from Adam, and Adam is from dust.” [al-Tirmidhi (3270); Graded hasan by al-Albani].
- Everyone undertaking the Hajj or Umrah needs to enter the ihraam from the miqat, a predefined station at which one changes into Ihram, and beyond which it is not permitted to pass without doing so. This is a physical expression of worship to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and of submission to His commands and laws. No one passes the miqat without entering ihraam. This confirms the unity of the ummah (Mulsim nation, community) and its following one system with no differentiation or exemptions with regard to the definition of the miqats.
Coming Together as One Ummah
- People from all over the world come together as one people, united in harmony for the purpose of Hajj.
- The Hajj was established for us in order to unite us through our collective worship, so we come together in faith and love, and the worship of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) alone.
- The Hajj strenghtens the bonds of brotherhood, as represented in the words of the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم): “Your blood, your honour and your wealth are sacred to you as this day of yours in this month of yours in this land of yours is sacred.” [Bukhari, 65; Muslim, 3180].
- More than two million Muslims all standing in one place, wearing the same clothes, sharing one aim, with one slogan, calling upon one Lord and following one Prophet... what unity can be greater than this?
Guests of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)
- Pilgrims are the Guests of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) as the Prophet informed us:
- The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: "Pilgrims [i.e. those performing Hajj] and those performing Umrah are Allah's guests; their prayers are answered and their supplications for forgiveness are granted.” [An-Nasai and Ibn Majah].
- The mere thought that one is the guest of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) is humbling. The gathering of Hajj is not at the invitation of any government or organization or king or president, rather it is the invitation of the Lord of the Worlds, Who has made it an occasion on which the Muslims meet on a footing of equality in which no one is superior to anyone else. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says: “And proclaim to mankind the Hajj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Hajj). "That they may witness things that are of benefit to them (i.e. reward of Hajj in the Hereafter, and also some worldly gain from trade)” [Quran: Surah al-Hajj 22: Ayah 27-28]
- It is narrated from Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) said: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The guests of Allah are three: the warrior for the sake of Allah, the pilgrim performing Hajj and the pilgrim performing ‘Umrah.” [Al-Nasaa’i (2578); Graded sahih by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i, 2464].
While Malcolm X was in Mecca performing his pilgrimage, he wrote to his assistants: "They asked me what about the Hajj had impressed me the most. . . . I said, `The brotherhood! The people of all races, colors, from all over the world coming together as one! It has proved to me the power of the One God.' . . . All ate as one, and slept as one. Everything about the pilgrimage atmosphere accented the oneness of man under one God."
Forgiveness of Sins
- A perfect Hajj wipes away all the past sins of a person, Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: "He who performs Hajj seeking Allah's pleasure and avoids all lewdness and sins (therein) will return after Hajj free from all sins, just as he was on the day his mother gave birth to him." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
- Amr Ibn Al-Aas (رضي الله عنه)narrates, “When Islam entered my heart, I went to the Messenger of Allah and said: ‘Give me your hand so that I may pledge allegiance to you.’ The Prophet spread his hand, but I withdrew mine. He said, ‘What is wrong Amr?’ I said, ‘I want to make a condition.’ ‘And what is that?’ he said. I said, ‘That Allah will forgive me.’ Then the Messenger of Allah said, ‘Did you not know that Islam wipes out what came before it, and that Hijrah wipes out what came before it and that Hajj wipes out what came before it!’” [Muslim].
- Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه)narrates: “I heard the Prophet say, ‘Whoever performs Hajj and does not commit any Rafath (obscenity) or Fusooq (transgression), he returns (free from sin) as the day his mother bore him’”. [Bukhari].
A Shared History with the Prophets
- A sense of connection with the Prophets from our father Ibraheem (عليه السلام) who built the House, to our Prophet Muhammad the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and his respect for the sanctity of Makkah. When the pilgrim visits the sacred places and performs the rituals, he remembers the visist of those pure Prophets to this sacred place.
- Muslim (241) narrated that Ibn Abbaas (رضي الله عنه) said: We traveled with the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) between Makkah and Madeenah, and we passed by a valley. He said, “What valley is this?” They said, “The valley of al-Azraq.” He said, “It is as if I can see Moosa the Messenger of Allaah (عليه السلام) putting his fingers in his ears beseeching Allah, reciting the Talbiyah and passing through this valley.”
Then we traveled on until we came to a mountain pass. He said, “What mountain pass is this?” They said, “Harsha or Lift.” He said, “It is as if I can see Yoonus on a red camel, wearing a woollen cloak, the reins of his camel made from fibres of date-palm, passing through this valley reciting the Talbiyah.” [Muslim (241)].
- Prophet Eesa (عليه السلام) will come down at the end of time and will perform pilgrimage to this House, i.e. in Makkah, and he will declare his belief in Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) alone (Tawheed). The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, the son of Maryam (the son of Mary, i.e. Jesus) will certainly pronounce the Talbiyah for Hajj or for Umrah, or for both in the valley of Rawha.” (Narrated by Muslim, 1252). The valley of Rawha’ is a place between Makkah and Madeenah.
[Translator’s note: The Talbiyah is a prayer recited by pilgrims going to Makkah. It may be translated as follows: “Here I am at your service, O Allah, here I am. Here I am at Your Service, You have no partner, here I am. All praise and blessings are Yours, and all dominion. You have no partner.”]