What does Hajj mean? The essence of Hajj is, man’s evolution toward Allah. It is a symbolic demonstration of the philosophy of Creation of Adam. To further illustrate this, it may be stated that the performance of Hajj is a simultaneous show of many things; it is a “show of creation”, a “show of history”, a “show of unity”, a “show of the Islamic ideology” and a show of the Ummah.
The following conditions prevail in this “show”. Allah is the transcendent stage manager. The theme portrayed is the actions of the people involved. Adam, Ibrahim, Hajar, and Satan are the main characters. The scenes are Masjid-ul Haram, the Haram area, Masa, Arafat, Mashars and Mina. Important symbols to take note off in this show are the Kaaba, Safa, Marwa, day, night, sunshine, sunset, idols and ritual of sacrifice. The clothing and make up are Ihram, Halgh and Taqseer. Lastly, the player of the roles in this “show” is only one; and that is YOU!
Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, young or old, black or white, you are the main feature of the performance. The role of Adam, Ibrahim and Hajar in the confrontation of Satan with Allah is played by you. As a result, you, individually, are the hero of the “show”.
Annually, Muslims from all over the world are encouraged to participate in this great “show” (Hajj). Everyone is considered equal. No discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or social status is made. In accordance to the teachings of Islam, "All are one and one is all".
Hajj imbeds in us the Quranic concept "whosoever kills a human being other than (in punishment) for manslaughter or causing corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all humanity, and whoso saved the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all humanity." [5:32] As soon as the pilgrim enters the state of Ihram (the mental and physical readiness to begin the Hajj) any form of harm to human or animal life is forbidden.
Yet the enemies of Islam continue to deliberately wage a campaign against Islam. They attack it by denying that Islam recognizes the human being as an individual endowed with special rights and values.
If we limit the concept of Hajj to the status of merely a duty we have missed the show. As Ali Ibn Abi Talib said: If Islam is a lamb fur-coat, it is put on inside out.
Living on a day to day basis, the person lacks direction. His aim is only to live. What exists is a dead spirit in a living body. However, the Hajj experience alters this unhealthy condition!
Once you decide to perform Hajj and take the necessary steps, you are on the road to the actualization of Hajj. Before going to Hajj you reside in your home calm and reposed. Upon entering the state of mind for Hajj, you arise and move away from your routine environment.
Hajj is the antithesis of aimlessness. It is the rebellion against a damned fate guided by evil forces. The fulfillment of Hajj will enable you to escape from the complex network of puzzles. This revolutionary act will reveal to you the clear horizon and freeway for migration to eternity toward the Almighty Allah.
Adapted from a section of the book "Hajj" by Dr. Ali Shariati. Translated by Dr. Ali A. Behzadnia