Great Pilgrimage (Al-Hajj)

Mr. Mahmoud Ashour
Vice Consul - Ministry of Al-Azhar Affairs

The journey to the sacred house of Allah, to perform the duty of pilgrimage -Al-Hajj, is one of the most blessings that Allah (swt) honors with his righteous devotees and is the path to seek Allah’s good pleasure and forgiveness. Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran in chapter Ali-Imran 96-97: "The first house (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka, full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings. In it are signs manifest; (for example), the station of Abraham whoever enters it attains security, pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah, those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any his creatures"

The meaning of Allah’s saying "The first house (of worship) appointed for men" is that it is the greatest and most sacred house of worship appointed by Allah (swt) to be "guidance for all kinds of beings": headed at by all people in their prayer.
That is why Apostle Mohammed (pbuh) said: "No travelling for Mosques except for three: the sacred Mosque, my Mosque, and Al-Aqsaa Mosque".

Allah’s saying "In it are signs manifest; (for example), the station of Abraham whoever enters it attains security" meaning it has clear evidences to prove it’s sanctity, greatness, and increased favor. From these signs, the station of Abraham (pbuh), which is the rock that he used to stand on it to build the house. Also, the great black rock, and Multasem and Hadim, and blessed Zamzam spring and others.

Allah’s saying "pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah, those who can afford the journey" means that pilgrimage is the duty of men who can afford the journey financially and healthily, and can be secured in the way. Pilgrimage is the path for Allah’s good pleasure, and forgiveness. For Allah removes from us our stains of evil (the most heinous and the least). The Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said: "Those who pilgrim without committing obscenity, nor wickedness, return back like the day his mother gave birth to him with no sins".

Pilgrimage is one Islamic ritual that has a great effect on strengthening the connections between all Muslims, to know each other and work on their general well-fair and religious affairs. After the pilgrimage season is over, everyone goes back to his home having opinions and benefits that make him feel the might of the Islamic brotherhood. Like the great Arafa stance, where all being are gathered with un-clothed heads and bodies a dry desert .. lacking all features of luxury, devoted, submitted, compliant to the king of all kings .. the owner of Might and Grandeur .. there devoutness to Allah appears in it’s ideal figure, and deity of Allah becomes full-blown. Hearts shake for the dignity and gravity of this scene, and souls are defeated from the fear of Allah .. and people remember the great day of the doomsday. That is why prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said: "Al-Hajj (pilgrimage) is the stance of Arafaa".

Whenever a man intend (by the aid of Allah), to travel for the sacred duty of pilgrimage, let him be empowered by Allah, and consider reasons and evidences verily and faithfully. The first thing he must do is to offer faithful repentance to Allah (swt), and work on making the money he spend in this journey to be lawful and sanctified with no suspicions about it, for Allah is good who does not accept but good.

Let him be malleable, flexible, and generous as said by Apostle Mohammed: "The believer is malleable, flexible, and generous". That is the definition of a true believer, let him never deviate. Let him alms-give as much as he can and avoid arguments and debates to conform to what Allah said in Al-Baqarah –197: "For Hajj are the months well-known, if any one undertakes that duty therein, let there be no more obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the hajj and whatever good ye do, (be sure) Allah knowth it. And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear Me, O ye that are wise!"

When the pilgrim arrives to Jeddah, let him remember what scientists and historins said that the grave of our great grandmother Hawaa (Eve) is located there. Let him pray for her and may her soul rest in peace, and realize that all people are brothers children of Adam and Eve, and are all equal in everything, no favor of one over another except by faith,
Allah-fearingness, and good deeds. As said by Prophet Mohammed (pbuh): "All of you are from Adam, and Adam is from earth, the most honorable from you to Allah, is the most devoted".

All Muslims have agreed upon that the Messenger that Abraham (pbuh) has prayed for is our Master Mohammed (pbuh). Mohammed is the prayer of Abraham coming true, and the glad tidings of Prophet Jesus. From the sayings of prophet Mohamed: "I am the prayer of Abraham and the glad tidings of Jesus, and the dream of my mother when she gave birth to me, and seen a light coming out illuminated from it the palaces of Syria". He (pbuh) meant by saying "the glad tidings of Jesus" what Allah (swt) said in Chapter Al-Saff – 6:
"And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: (O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the law (which came) before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmed.) but when he came to them with clear sign they said: (This is evident sorcery)"

In these blessed days, the hearts of the people are gathered to remember Allah and unify him, then these rituals pass over, and the memory of it’s splendor remains in the souls, renewing in this great annual Muslims assembly in one region and emphasizing what Allah said in chapter Al-Anbiaa – 92:
"Verily, this Brotherhood of yours is a single Brotherhood, and I m your Lord and Cherisher, therefore serve me (and no other)".

That is the constant idea that the mission of Islam is based upon, never changed and Muslims with their different paths never disagree about, the idea of unifying. Unifying Allah and being faithful to him. And unifying the Muslim nations. The history never realized a better or more superb call than this divine call for unity, that Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) adopted to rescue people from the darkness and defeat, to light and victory. In the stance of Arafaat, Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) sent Ali to the people to read in this historic day what Allah said in chapter Al-Touba 3:
"And an announcement from Allah and His Messenger, to the people (assembled) on the day of the great Pilgrimage – that Allah and His Messenger dissolve (treaty) obligations with the Pagans. If then ye repent, it was best for you; but if you turn away, know ye that ye cannot frustrate Allah. And proclaim a previous penalty to those who reject faith".

That is a decisive day in the history, in this a declaration from Allah and his Prophet in determination and strength that the nation of injustice and despotism has vanished and will never rise up again. And that Allah and his prophet will never accept that from the pagans anymore. In that decisive day the Islam has declared his identity and power, so it deserves to be honored and considered a great day for the only God Allah whom we worship. Muslims take it their feast and spend it in praying and remembrance of Allah, and being grateful to him for rescuing humans from the darkness and ignorance, and blessing them with Islam.

The memory of the perfection and completion of Islam is attached to the great pilgrimage day and Adha (Corban) feast. It is narrated that someone of the people of the book (Christian or Jewish) came to Omar Ibn El-Khatab, may his soul rest in peace, and told him: "You have a verse in Quran, that if it has been revealed on us, we would have taken the day of it’s revelation as a feast". Omar said: What is it? He said: It is in the chapter al-Maaida – 3:
"This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion".
Omar said to him: We did, I know the day this verse was revealed, it was revealed on Allah’s Apostle Mohammed (pbuh) on the stance of Arafaa, and it became a feast for the people and it is named by Apostle Mohammed (pbuh): the day of perfection and completion of Islam.

Verily, this feeling of unification and harmony that make all people come out with one heart for one purpose, is the scene of pilgrimage to the sacred house of Allah. With this soul of social unification, in this sanctified region, we can achieve power for our Muslim society and protect it from the greed that watch for disasters for us and epidemics and diseases that can harm non-unified groups. There is nothing that can make the hearts scare and fear as much as scattering. And there is nothing that can assure the hearts and cause self-confidence and joy as much as adherence to Allah’s path and brotherhood in Allah and for Allah.

In these blessed days that we live, the days of pilgrimage, Muslims reply the call of Allah to pilgrimage and comply the call of Abraham, when he was commanded by Allah to call for pilgrimage as narrated in the chapter Al-Hajj 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".