The Islamic Lunar calendar is made up of twelve months, Zulhijjah being the last month of the calendar is one of the four sacred months in Islam. It is during Zulhijjah that Muslims observe two of the most important and celebrated events in Islam, Hajj and the celebration of Eid al-Adha.
Hajj, the great pilgrimage, an annual gathering which has been taking place since the days of the prophet Ibrahim, Allah s.w.t mentions in the Quran in Surah Al-Hajj verses 26 to 27:
“ And [mention, O Muhammad], when We designated for Abraham the site of the House, [saying], “Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand [in prayer] and those who bow and prostrate. And proclaim to the people the Hajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass. ”
Allah s.w.t commanded prophet Ibrahim to make the first call to Hajj, with a promise that it will be answered from all corners of the earth. Thus, from the time Prophet Ibrahim made the call to hajj, the city of Mecca has played host to thousands and thousands of pilgrims. Even during the time of Jahilliyah when the Kaaba was decorated with idols, the Quraish Arabs whom were the custodians of Mecca, would ensure safe passage and shelter for all who came.
“And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House for whoever is able to find thereto a way.” – Ali Imran verse 97.
It was not until the arrival of the prophet Muhammad who brought with him the message of Islam was the Kaaba cleansed of idols and the call to hajj was restored. Hajj became one of the pillars of Islam, and as such, it is tasked upon every Muslim who has the strength and financial means to travel to observe the Hajj pilgrimage.
The journey to Hajj taxes the body and soul. The physical requirements of Hajj such as the tawwaf, the run from Safa to Marwa, the stay in Arafah and the climate of Mecca necessitates that a pilgrim be healthy and fit to travel, he must also be financially secure to sustain the cost of Hajj. Although much focus is stressed on physical and financial preparation, it is important to remember that the essence of Hajj is deeply rooted in spirituality.
Hajj taxes the soul by emphasizing on self-control, training the mind to focus on one singular objective: the constant awareness and remembrance of Allah. It is through this maxim can the essence of Hajj be truly reflected in the form of piety. Hajj is not simply a grand spectacle of pilgrims, it is the gathering of Muslims from all walks of life, mixture of nationality, language and culture united under this single maxim. Hajj showcases how Muslims united in awareness and remembrance of their Creator, gather annually to glorify Him – it is a bond that surpasses all boundaries.
The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) mentioned in his last sermon during Hajj Al-Wida’:
“O People, listen to me in earnest, worship God, perform your five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan, and offer Zakat. Perform Hajj if you have the means. All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; a white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white; [none have superiority over another] except by piety and good action (ihsan).”
Ihsan in Ibadah is “to you worship Allah as if you were seeing Him, for if you don’t see Him, He sees you.” Thus Ihsan in Hajj, is to embody the essence hajj in oneself, a constant awareness of Allah in our hearts and minds reflected through our actions and mirrored in our character. Hajj offers us the opportunity to start anew, a chance at redemption, Abu Hurairah narrated that he heard Prophet (peace be upon him) say:
Written by: Muhammad Asyraf Kasim
” Whoever performs Hajj and does not commit any obscenity or transgression shall return [free from sins] as he was on the day his mother gave birth to him.” (Al-Bukhari)
Edited by: Syara Rahmat Muhammad Asyraf received his early education at Madrasah Al-Junied Al-Islamiah for his primary, secondary and pre- university level. He was a former intern at Safinah Institute and a recent graduate of Al-Azhar university majoring in Islamic Jurisprudence.