Hajj - Not a two-week vacation

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Highlights Topics: Hajj, Mecca Views: 12309

The hajj is a set of rituals that take place in and around Mecca every year, beginning on the eight and ending on the thirteenth day of the last lunar month, Dhu'l-Hijja (The Month of the Hajj). Mecca was a sacred center long before Islam, and according to Muslim belief, Adam himself built a sanctuary at Mecca. Eventually it was rebuilt by Abraham, and by the time of the appearance of Islam, the Kaaba (cube) had long been a place of pilgrimage for the Arab tribes. The Koran and the Prophet modified and resanctified the rituals performed at the Kaaba, making them a pillar of the religion.

Muslims are required to make the hajj once in their lifetimes, but only if they have the means to do so. To understand some of the significance of the hajj, one needs to remember that steamships, airplanes, and buses are products of the past hundred years. For thirteen hundred years, the vast majority of Muslims made the journey to Mecca on foot, or perhaps mounted on a horse or a camel. It was not a matter of taking a two-week vacation, and then back to the office on Monday morning. Rather, for most Muslims the hajj was a difficult journey of several months if not a year or two. And once the trip was made, who wanted to hurry? People stayed in Mecca or Medina for a few months to recuperate and to prepare for their return, to meet other Muslims from all over the Islamic world, and to study. Often they stayed on for years, and often they simply came there to die, however long that might take.

Today, one can go to Mecca in a few hours from anyplace in the world. Some people decide to do the hajj this year because they did Bermuda last year. In the past, most Muslims had to fulfill strict conditions in order to make the journey. In effect, they had to be prepared for death. They had to assume that they would never return, and make all the necessary preparations for that eventuality. One of the conditions for making the hajj is that people have to pay off all their debts. If a man wanted to make the hajj, but his wife did not want to accompany him, he had to make sure that she was provided for in the way in which she was accustomed. He had to see to the provision of his children as well, and anyone else for whom he was responsible.

Traditionally, the hajj was looked upon as a grand rite of passage, a move from involvement with this world to occupation with God. In order to make hajj, people had to finish with everything that kept them occupied on a day-to-day basis. They had to answer God's call to come and visit Him. The hajj was always looked upon as a kind of death, because Koran repeatedly describes death as the meeting with God, and the Kaaba is the house of God. The hajj, in short, was a death and a meeting with God, and the return from the hajj was a rebirth. This helps explain why the title "hajji" ("one who has made the hajj") has always been highly respected throughout the Islamic world. Hajjis were looked upon as people who were no longer involved with the pettiness of everyday life. They were treated as models of piety and sanctity, and no doubt most of them assumed the responsibilities toward society that the title implies, even if some took advantage of the respect that was accorded to them.

Excerpted from the book "The Vision of Islam" by Sachiko Murata and William C. Chittick.


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  12 Comments   Comment

  1. Aayankhan

    Rafiq-ul-Haramayn a famous significant preparation for those hoping to perform the Pilgrimage. It is a regulated, useful, complete, and stand-out manual for the Hajj and Umrah. It fuses: English, Arabic transliteration of duas. One of the principle books u would take everywhere in the midst of Umrah & Hajj. It's so helpful!

  2. Yohan Yishai from Bhutan

    Quote:" Mecca was a sacred center long before Islam, and according to Muslim belief, Adam himself built a sanctuary at Mecca. Eventually it was rebuilt by Abraham, and by the time of the appearance of Islam, the Kaaba (cube) had long been a place of pilgrimage for the Arab tribes." Unquote.

    Such beliefs are unfounded scripturally since there is contrast in the personality of Adam and Abraham. They did not do the same thing, in principle. Adam had a self willed wife that looked for godliness in disobedience. Abraham's wife Sarah was obedient to her husband and abode with him always. She did not beget children by another even when they remained barren to their old age. Eve begot Cain who is said to be from the evil one although she declared that she got him from God. Cain was the first murderer on earth that killed righteous Abel.

    Abraham's children are not known to have killed each other, although begotten from different mothers. The children of devil hate the children of Abraham but Jesus Christ, Abraham's promised Son possessed the gate of His enemies, to subdue them forever. The above quote is sensational and emotional, capable of disillusioning the unlearned. The Scriptures of truth has to guide the blind to safety instead of taking away the eyes from those that see and leading them to disaster!

  3. Babandi A. Gumel from U.K

    The Taqwa that used to be associated with the Hujjaj is unfortunately now fading.The way people are looking forward to go to Hajj making it a kind of vacation looking for the best hotel 4 star 5 or whatever hotel you name it does not augur well. It is not in the spirit of Hajj i.e making sacrifice.In actual fact it does not remind us of the simple life of our beloved Rasulullah and his companions instead it portrays and depicts the life of mordern cities be it Miami, Tampa,London,Washington or New York

    rather than simple Makkah and Medinah the two best cities in the World.They got this title not because of their mordern amenities but because of the people who used to reside in them i.e Rasululah and his companions. The Kaaba still has that awe and Medinah still retains its serenity due to the presence of Rasululah and the people of the city have the same qualities of the Ansar helpers although to a lesser degree than their previous ancestors or dwellers in the olden days.In fact the Hajj of the sixties and seventeith or eighties or even nineteth had much more resemblence of the Hajj of the beloved Prophet Alahis salat Wa Salam.People did not consider it a burden then to sacrifice for the sake of Deen unlike today making it like a two week vacation which is very unfortunate.This is why Rasulullah said the best generation is my generation,then those who follow them and those who follow them.The more closer a person was to the time of Rasulullah the more closer we are to the Sunnah of our beloved Nabi (S.A.W).May Allah give us taufiq to follow the footsteps and ways of the Prophet (S.A.W) to the minutest details.

    We should not be saying this only Sunnah as Sunnah is more beloved to Allah than the whole World.

  4. Ismael Ocen from Uganda

    I was delighted to read from your article about Hajj. As a convert ti Islam an left no choice but appriciate your work. What I have observed with our religion is the infiltration of western cultre in it. This is making our work as calphet Of prophet Muhammad (SWS) difficult. Orginally Hajj is the fulfilment of the five pillers of Islam, today most poeple go there as a show off or as spies.

    i want urgue Muslims in world to remain firm and should always remember to asked question like; What makes you a Muslim?

    What differentiate a Muslim from a non Muslim?

    What makes us different from other religion or religious practices?

    Unpon anwering the said question you will realise that Islam is found on principle of peace follwing the five pillers in which its built.

    May Allah guide us through this error where temptation is becoming a daily thing (Ameen)

  5. su'ad from canada

    Asalaamu'Alaikum,

    Insha'Allaah Allaah protect us in this world and in the HereAfter... Ameen

  6. DABRE TAHIRU IMORO from Ghana

    As-salaamu alaikum and Eid Mubarack,

    I very much appreciate the message and be very much grateful if you could kindly offer me some of your teaching and learning materials for Da`wat.

    I am a Da`i and the Chief Executive Officer/Manager of Progressive Cooperative Onion Farmers & Traders Society Limited,and also teach at Hijrah Islamic School,Nima.

  7. Nasir A from US

    Yes, as most Muslims have turn hajj into a vacation or a shopping spree. As the economic conditions of most allows them to visit Mecca, Medina more than once in theri life time.

    Hajj must be taken serious and its rituals

    must be followed. Airplane has made it easier to travel before it was ships and quite expensive task.

  8. ahmed asgher from bahrain

    The writers should have acknowledged the fact that today there are over a billion Muslims in the world and it is not practical to have them congregate in Mecca at the same time. Think of Indonesians, Turks, Iranians, Malaysians and others who are on the waiting list for years to go to Mecca. There is a long waiting list and quotas placed by the Saudi Government. Majority of Muslims dream of going to Mecca but God in His own love for us made it conditional upon us being debt free!! How cool is that. Can you ask someone who you love to come and visit you but only when he can afford it purely because you do not wish to put him in difficulty? OR would you visit a loved one ONLY when you can afford it? How blessed we can be when we can think of God with every breath. Only then we would be making free pilgrimage with every breath. It is us who find strength in our faith when we embark on pilgrimage in unison and Mecca is a truly holy place where God's energy can be felt. Glory be to Allah whose presence can be seen everywhere the believer looks.

  9. Mehran Yusufzai from US

    Saleem, though I am guilty of at least one of the things you mentioned, paying interest on the house I purchased, I agree with you, Islam is not a box of chocolates that you can pick and chose the rules you like or are convenient to you and discard the rest. I tried renting, as I am responsible for not just my wife and 4 children but also both of my aging parents, I was forced to rent a house with at least 3 bedrooms in a very lower middle-class neighborhood. However the rent, $ 3000.00 was not affordable and I was going broke. Then the landlord started harassing and threatening us because I demanded that he fix up the place as per the contract. Well after many court battles, insults, intimidation, though I won the case, I had no other choice but to look for another place. The only option open to me was to buy a house with a low down payment. I tried Islamic banking, but their payments scheme was basically the same as a regular bank - only called by another name. So I ended up getting a conventional mortgage. Sadly there are no "Real Islamic banks" in the US at all. So now I am trying to pay off my loan, and my payments are now manageable. But I hope to Allah Subhanotalah, I can get rid of this burden on my soul. It's a bad thing I have done out of necessity. Sameena you ought to be ashamed of yourself. If you cannot or refuse to conform your life to Islamic principals, then at least do not make any snide or sarcastic remarks about people who are speaking the truth. Do you think Sameena, that by living in the US, Allah Subhanotalah has somehow exempted you from his rules? Have some dignity and self-respect, or else you are neither here no there. And one more thing, either wear the hijab or don't. But really don't make a mockery of it. I see sisters dressed in the same tight jeans and small tops as non-Muslim women but with one religious difference - the Hijab. What hypocrisy. So you can show your body but not your hair and ears? Why bother?

  10. Mujeeb Ahmed from USA

    This is my first time reading the work of Dr. Sachiko Murata and/or Dr. William C. Chittick (note, Islamicity did not spell his name correctly.)

    I found the article illuminating and thought-provoking, especially in this electronic and inforation age, when our lives are moving much too fast. Because life is so short, one should take time to reflect -- in the Islamic sense -- as the authors have reiterated, and remind oneself that The Hajj should be performed only in true obedience to Allah (SWT).

    Thank you both Drs. Sachiko Murata and William Chittick !! May Allah be pleased with your good works in propagating Islam.

  11. Sameena from US/india

    Saleem, why are you in the US? You and your kind belong in Saudi Arabia.

  12. saleem from usa

    I remember when i was goin for umrah in ramadan, one of my cousin here in usa, asked me why are you goin there for 10 days its a waste of time, it only takes a day or two for umrah and that should be enough.

    since then i have started to look at these kind of muslims who have least regards for holy places and their virtues as CULT within muslims.

    who live in mortage houses in west and drive cars on interest payments, have no respect for mosques and dont care about the etiquettes in mosques, have least respect for hijab. dont care about zabiha halal or not.

    borthers and sisters this is the CULT one needs to watchout for and they are everywhere especially in the west.