Vol. 5 Num 574 Fri. January 06, 2006  

Importance and significance of Hajj

When the sacred lunar month of the Islamic calendar Zil-hajj knock at the door Muslims all over the world, particularly the eligible adult Muslims think of visiting the Holy Ka'ba, Harem Sharif and other holy places concerned. Since Hajj is one of the five "Rokons" (Pillars of Islam) and as it is obligatory on the part of all eligible Muslims to perform Hajj. They start making brisk preparations for visiting these holy places in Saudi Arabia including the Holy Ka'ba in Mecca and Masjid-e-Nabobi (the Mosque of Muhammad SM) in Media. As a matter of fact the very term "Hajj" means a journey to a Shrine and in case of Muslims of the world it is a pilgrimage to the Shrine that is the greatest place of worship, the Holy Ka'ba. An able bodied eligible adult Muslim must perform Hajj at least once in his life time.

We are aware of the selection of the site for the Sacred House of Almighty Allah and its construction by Prophet Hazrat Ibrahim "Khalilullah" (Friend of Allah) and his worthy son Prophet Hazrat Ismail (A), and we also know Hazrat Ibrahim's subsequent proclamation of pilgrimage asking people around him to visit the Holy Ka'ba. In Ayats 26 and 27 of Sura (Chapter) Hajj (the Pilgrimage) of Qur-an the Rabbul Alameen declares:

Ayat : 26 "Behold We gave the site, to Ibrahim of the (Sacred House) (saying): Associate not anything (in worship) with Me, and sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves (there in prayers).

Ayat : 27 "And proclaim the pilgrimage among men: they will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways."

When pilgrimage was proclaimed by Prophet Hazrat Ibraim (A) as clearly indicated in the aforesaid Qur-anic Ayat No. 27 "people came to it (Sacred House of Allah) from every quarter near and far on foot and mounted on camel after fatiguing journeys through distant mountain roads." This typifies the difficulties of travel which pilgrims disregard on account of temporal and spiritual benefits.

In this connection it would be worthwhile to quote below what a renowned commentator and translator of the Holy Qur-an Allama. Yusuf Ali has said while commenting on the said Ayat 27. He says: "Purity, prayers, honesty and faith are implied in pilgrimage; in sacrifice we express our gratitude and reverence to God and our desire to share food with our poorer brethren. Striving and fighting in defence of Truth when attacked are necessary as test of self-sacrifice."

It may be stated here that a pilgrim has to pass through a number of important stages and formalities right from the departure from the country. At the beginning when he leaves for Saudi Arabia, he has to put on a special unsewed loose dress called "Ehram" after shaving his head. And as and when he reaches the holy city of Mecca he has to circumambulate seven times the Holy Ka'ba, and to go round the Holy Ka'ba like this is called "Tawaf". Then from the city of Mecca the pilgrims go near two hills known as Safa and Marwa, and they run between these two hills in commemoration of Hazrat Hazra's (consort of Hazrat Ibrahim (A)) search for water to quench the thirst of her beloved infant son Hazrat Ismail (A). Here the pilgrims also collect water gushing out of the world famous Zam Zam well. From this place they go to historical plain of Arafah. They reach here on the 9thday of the month of Zil-hajj and all pilgrims offer their Zohar (mid-day) and Asar (afternoon) prayers together in this large field and while praying they beseech Benign Allah to forgive their sins.

Arafah has a special significance for here in this vast field the holy Prophet (peace be upon him), after realising that he would not live longer, said inter alia, standing on a hill top in his famous and historic farewell pilgrimage address to the vast concourse of people:

"(1) Do not join any partner with Almighty Allah;

(2) From now on father will not be punished for the offence of the son, nor the son will be punished for the offence of his father. In the same way no person will be punished for the offence of another person;

(3) Adultery is a heinous crime;

(4) Remember as you have your full rights over your wives, your wives have also similar rights over you;

(5) I leave behind two very important things for your guidance: one is Al-Qur-an and other is my Sunnah [Sayings of the Holy Prophet (pbut)] and if you stick to them then you will not be in difficulty."

And while in Mina on the following day, that is, on the 10th day of the month of Zul-hajj the pilgrims sacrifice animals in the name of Almighty Allah, it is in commemoration of the supreme sacrifice made by Prophet Hazrat Ibrahim Khalilullah of his beloved son Hazrat Ismail (A) at the behest of Lord Creator. His son was not however actually sacrificed and as desired by Merciful Allah a thick-tailed sheep was slaughtered instead of Hazrat Ismail (A). The sacrifice was symbolic.

After sacrificing suitable and unblemished animals on the day the pilgrims, before they return to their respective countries, once again visit the Holy Ka'ba in for circumambulation of Ka'ba and also visit the holy city of Medina in order to pay respect to the holy Prophet's (pbuh) Mosque and his 'Rowza' (the sacred grave).

Another very important aspect of the institution of the holy Hajj is that Muslims from all over the world assemble in the holy city of Mecca and it gives them a unique opportunity every year to exchange views, discuss their problems and find solution to the problems. Hajj also gives them an opportunity for increasing brotherly feelings among themselves. You will not find such a vast concourse of millions of Muslim devotees assembling at a particular place every year anywhere in this wide world. And why they do it? They do it because Almighty Allah desires it.

Kazi Aulad Hossain is a retired govt high official.