[CENTER] [CENTER]Three months after Ramadan comes the season of the great Pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj), the
birthplace of Islam, where an ever-increasing number of men and women converge each year, from every possible corner of the earth. The origin of the Hajj, the Fifth Pillar of Islam, dates back to the Prophet Ibrahim (AS)
and brings together Muslims of all races and tongues to don two simple white cloths in an impressive display of Islam's disregard for racial or national divisions. Each year nearly several million people make the pilgrimage, making it the largest temporary gathering on the globe. It is an act of recollection and worship, but also a symbolic act representing the spirit's return to its homeland-one of the central elements of the Muslim life. Hajj is an imperative duty (fard) for all Muslims physically and financially able to perform it .
97. In it are ***ifest signs (for example ) the Maqam (place) of Ibrahim (Abraham ) ; whosoever enters it, he attains security . And Hajj ( pilgrimage to Makkah ) to the House (Ka'bah ) is a duty that ***kind owes to Allah , those who can afford the expenses ( for one's conveyance, provision and residence ); and whoever disbelieves [I.e. denies Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah ), then he is a disbeliever of Allah ] , then Allah stands not in need of any of the Alamin (***kind , jinn , and all that exists)
holy Qur'an Al-Imran 37
Rites of the Pilgrimage
God has prescribed certain rites that a pilgrim should observe properly for his pilgrimage to be accepted.
proceed to meet the Lord. The primary condition is purity of intention (niyyah). The other obligatory rites are:
1)Ihram. Before arriving in the holy city, Muslims enter a state of consecration (dedication) known as ihram, by removing their worldly clothes and donning the humble attire of pilgrims, two seamless white sheets for men, and simple white dresses and scarves for women. The white garments are symbolic of hu*** equality and unity before God, since all the pilgrims are dressed similarly. Money and status no longer are a factor for the pilgrims - the equality of each person in the eyes of God becomes paramount. They are also expected to observe the rules of ihram, which are not to have ***ual relationships, not to kill insects or animals, and not to remove any hair from the body
2)Tawaf al-qudum. Upon arriving in Makkah, pilgrims perform the initial tawaf, which is a circular, counter- clockwise procession around the Ka'ba. All the while, they state "Labbayka Allahumma Labbayk," which means, "Here I am at your service, O God, Here I am!"
The tawaf is meant to awaken each Muslim's consciousness that God is the centre of their reality and the source of all meaning in life, and that each person's higher self-identity derives from being part of the community of Muslim believers, known as the ummah. Pilgrims also perform the sa'i, which is hurrying seven times between the small hills named Safa and Marwah, re-enacting the Biblical and Quranic story of Hajar's desperate search for lifegiving water and food.the Qur'an says about Safa and Marwa:
159. Verily , As-Safa and Al-Marwah ( two mountains in Makkah ) are of the Symbols of Allah . So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or 'Umrah (pilgrimage ) of the House ( the Ka'bah at Makkah ) to perform the going (Tawaf ) between them (, As-Safa and Al-Marwa) . And whoever does good voluntarily , then verily , Allah is All-Recogniser, All-Knower .
holy Qur'an Al Baqara 258
Millions have performed Tawaf during Hajj, circumnavigating the Ka'aba seven times while praying
3)Next, on the first official day of Hajj (8th of Dhul-Hijjah), the two million pilgrims travel a few miles to the plain of Mina and camp there. From Mina, pilgrims travel the following morning to the plain of Arafat where they spend the entire day in earnest supplication and devotion. It is said that when God forgives a sin for one servant at the place-of-standing (the plain of Arafat), He forgives it for everyone there who is guilty of it.
4)That evening, the pilgrims move and camp at Muzdalifa, which is a site between Mina and Arafat. Muslims stay overnight and offer various prayers there.
5)Then the pilgrims return to Mina on the 10th, and throw seven pebbles at a stone pillar that represents the devil. This symbolises Ibrahim's throwing stones at Satan when he tried to dissuade Ibrahim (AS) from sacrificing his son. Then the pilgrims sacrifice a sheep, re-enacting the story of Ibrahim (AS), who, in place of Ismael (AS), sacrificed a sheep that God had provided as a substitute. Pilgrims shave their head or trim it and take off Ihram garments. All Ihram restrictions are lifted except for the ban on ***ual intercourse.
6)Thus the slaughtering of a sheep is another obligation, the meat of which is distributed among family, friends, and the poor and needy in the community.
7)After the sacrifice, the pilgrims return to Makkah to end the formal rites of Hajj by performing a final tawaf and sa'i. After Tawaf al-Ifada (final tawaf) , all restrictions are lifted
29; Then let them complete their prescribed duties ( ***asik of Hajj ) and perform their vows , and circumambulate the Ancient House ( the Ka'bah at Makkah )
holy Qur'an Al-Hajj 22
8)They should also drink from the water of ZamZam and perform two rakahs of Prayer at the place known as Maqam Ibrahim (AS), the place where Ibrahim (AS) and his son Ismael (AS) stood and prayed after building the Ka'ba.
10)Once the Hajj has been performed, Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Adha, three days of celebration throughout the Muslim world.
If the rites (1), (2), (3) and (7) have been performed, then the basic rites are said to have been observed. Even if the other rites are not performed properly, the pilgrimage is said to have been performed. Muslims believe the rites of the Hajj were designed by God and taught through the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
The Hajj is designed to develop God consciousness and a sense of spiritual upliftment. It is also believed to be an opportunity to seek forgiveness of sins accumulated throughout life. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had said that a person who performs Hajj properly "will return as a newly born baby [free of all sins]." The pilgrimage also enables Muslims from all around the world, of different colours, ********s, races, and ethnicities, to come together in a spirit of universal brotherhood and sisterhood to worship the One God together.
The Last Sermon
When the Prophet Muhammad performed his own Hajj, a few months before his demise, he then uttered from above the Hill of Mercy (Jabal ar-Rahmah) a sermon which constitutes the Charter of Hu***ity in Islam. Some 140,000 Muslims had came that year, , to listen to this testament of their Prophet, which may be analysed as follows:
(i) he recalled the basic elements of Islam, viz., belief in the One God with no icons or other material representation;
(ii)equality of all Muslims without discrimination on account of race or class, and there being no superiority to one over any other except by the individual excellence in the matter of piety and fear of God;
(iii)sacrosanct character of the three fundamental rights of each and every hu*** being concerning his person, his property and his honour;
(iv) prohibition of transactions involving interest - big or small;
(v) prohibition of vendetta and private justice, obligation of treating the womenfolk well;
(vi)constant redistribution and circulation of the private wealth to avoid accumulation in the hands of a few (by means of the Law of obligatory inheritance, restrictions on wills and prohibition of interest, ***.);
(vii)emphatic restatement that the Divine Revelation alone should be the source of law for our conduct in all walks of life.
The pilgrims are made to hear this same sermon every year, [on the Day of Arafat, 9th Zul-Hijjah, and it is] recited from above this same sacred Hill of Mercy, at 'Arafat.[/CENTER]