Hajj: Linking Muslims with the Abrahamic heritage

I have been on the pilgrimage to Mecca three times in my life: once during the annual hajj season and twice during the off-season. This has left me savvy as I try to negotiate the physical hurdles, including massive crowds and the heat, while performing the pilgrimage rituals.

With the pilgrimage I hope to refill my always empty spiritual cup by praying and reflecting in peace. The best time to visit the Kaaba and do this, I have come to realize, is after midnight.

The brass structure in front of the Kaaba contains the stone on which Prophet Abraham stood and called people to the House of God, called Muqame Ibrahim (Station of Abraham).

The Kaaba is the imperfect cube structure that is the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca and is at the epicenter of the pilgrimage rites. After midnight, the crowds thin out, the heat is less oppressive and I can have a little space to sit quietly on the steps of the courtyard surrounding the Kaaba and reflect.

The Kaaba, draped in black silk cloth embroidered with Koranic calligraphy, is brilliantly lit at night. Even late, scores of pilgrims are circling the structure. The sounds of the Koranic verses they are reciting wash over me like ocean waves. There is the faint odor of a detergent that was used to wash down the marble floor of the courtyard. The place is clean indeed.

I focus on the Kaaba, imagining the scene when it was being built. I try to see Prophet Abraham, by then an old man, and his son Ishmael, as they stood side by side building the structure, which the Koran describes as "The First House (of worship) appointed for mankind."

Hajj, an annual pilgrimage Muslims must perform once in their lifetime if they can afford it, is a journey to what Muslims believe is this first house of worship. The spot where Abraham stood to build the Kaaba is marked by a small structure called the "Station of Abraham." As they built the walls of the Kaaba, the Koran states, the prophet and his son prayed: "My Lord, make this a City of Peace."

Most people familiar with Islam may recognize hajj as one of its five pillars, but they may not know its primary association with Abraham. Several of the hajj rituals--such as running between the hills of Safa and Marwa, which are a few hundred yards from the Kaaba, and the stoning of the three pillars that represent the devil--are also linked to Abraham.

I thought about my fellow pilgrims running between the two hills in what was once a desert, re-enacting the desperate search for water by Ishmael's mother, Hagar.

I thought about us stoning the pillars, symbolically warding off evil, and emulating Abraham's stoning of the devil each of the three times the devil tried to stop him from fulfilling his duty to God.

And I thought about the celebration of Eid al-Adha, "the festival of the sacrifice," on the last day of hajj. The holiday commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his dearest possession, his son, at God's command.

Ziggurat in Ur - A form of temple tower common to the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians of ancient Mesopotamia.Situated near the town of Nasiriya, about 365 km south of Baghdad, Ur, which means a city in the Sumerian and Akkadian languages, is one of Iraq's most imposing ancient sites. It was the capital of the ancient civilization of Sumeria and the birthplace of Prophet Abraham "Ibrahim Al-Khalil" (peace be upon him),

Abraham's willingness to sacrifice all for God is admired by all three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And the theme of connecting the three religions as part of the Abrahamic tradition runs all through the Koran.

Jews and Christians are referred to as "People of the book." On more than one occasion the following verse appears in the Koran: "Verily they who believe and they who are Jews, Christians . . . whoever believes in God and the Last Day, and do that, which is right, shall have their reward with their Lord. Fear shall not come upon them and neither shall they grieve."

Prophet Muhammad wanted Muslims to remind themselves constantly of this link to Abraham. His companions asked him how they should invoke the blessings of God upon him. He replied, "(First) Say; May the blessings of God be upon Muhammad and his progeny" and then say "May the blessings of God be upon Abraham and his progeny." This invocation is part of Muslims' daily prayers.

The time I spent reflecting at the footsteps of Kaaba has reinforced my belief that it is essential for the "progeny of Abraham" to be conscious of their common heritage. Appreciation of this Abrahamic tradition can unite Jews, Christians and Muslims in attaining a dream of peaceful coexistence. Muslims are reminded of it during hajj and in their daily prayers. Sitting on the steps of the Kaaba, I found myself echoing Abraham with my prayer: Lord, bring peace to this world.

Javeed Akhter, is the Executive Director of the Chicago based International Strategy and Policy Institute and he is the author of the book "The seven phases of Prophet Muhammad's Life,"

Click Here to read book review of The seven phases of Prophet Muhammad's Life

Related Suggestions

The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Older Comments:
SARA123 said:
A nice illustrated explanation on #Kaaba and the #Hajj Watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKj0lXM_cNY&feature=youtu.be

May Allah accept our Hujjaj who have been to this year,s Hajj of 1433 Hijiri i.e 2012 and all our Muslim brothers and sisters all over the World .At the same time make dua Allah make us become the means of guidance to the entire mankind who are unfortunately in trouble and in great distress due to lack of hidayah.The Prophet (S.A.W) is reported in Hadith Sahih of Abu Dawud I guarantee abode within the boundary of Paradise for one who gives up arguing off even if he is in the right and a home in the middle of Paradise for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun (jokingly)and sublime portion (the best) for one whose conduct is excellent. Allahu Akbar Withdrawal from one's right in order to end dispute is a manly act,similarly avoiding telling lies for the sake of fun or joke goes contrary to the teachings of our beloved Prophet.How about moral excellence which carries alot of weight on the scale on the Day of Resurecction.Jabir (RA) reported the Messenger as saying the dearest and nearest among you to me on the Day of Resurecction will be one who is best in conduct. We must have good expectation about Allah as Rasulullah said three days before his demise None of you must die unless he has good expectations from Allah.We should be a symbol of guidance to the entire mankind who are all children of Adam and linking the Abrahamic heritage. May Allah make our Akhlaq to be like that of our beloved Prophet (S.A.W) who was the best example for the whole humanity.

As Salaam Alaikum, Eid Mubarak.
May Allah (swt) increase our unity and dissolve our
restricting differences. Takbir!

I must say this was one of the most beautiful
articles I've read. Very well written and the
essence of it kept me engaged to the end.

Thank you for sharing your experience.


No body is a child of God as He is not the Father of anybody nor is He the Uncle or Nephew or Grandfather or Husband of anyone.There is no God but God. Muhammad,Moses or Jesus Abraham were all Prophets of God who is alone and has no partner the Abrahamic heritage.No body should be worshipped except Him the only Creator of the whole Universe and no body has the right to be adored or worshipped except God and He alone who has no partner.Or People of the Book let us come to terms with you that we should worship nobody except God and we don't take anyone as Lord (wether Jesus or Muhammad Abraham or Moses or any body) except Him God alone which was taught by Abraham the real founder and Champion of Monotheism that included Judaism.Christianity and Islam.Islam strictly follows the teachings of Abraham worshppping without any image.This is the simple message of Islam which Yohan Dahal wants distort accusing me and Noor unnecessarily.

Peaceful co-existence was and is always the deep craving of the upright mankind. But when people churn out unrest by disturbing the ground of peace distorting the already established order as evidenced above, peace becomes a farce thing on earth, mirage for the weary travelers on the deserts, boon for those that way lay and rob the tired travelers.


His companions asked him how they should invoke the blessings of God upon him. He replied, "(First) Say; May the blessings of God be upon Muhammad and his progeny" and then say "May the blessings of God be upon Abraham and his progeny." This invocation is part of Muslims' daily prayers. (Author)

This distortion of Order and disrespect of the already established blessings is one of the major causes of suspicion and disunity to this very day.

Whereas noor says [The real "Christians" and "Jews" shared our beliefs], it would have been other way round like "We share the beliefs of real Christians and Jews". Moreover, it is inappropriate to use the word "real" to address the children of reality. It should have been "realized" instead, for we are the children of God (real personality for the believer): some have realized and others have not realized.

Babandi A. Gumel mentions:
1. Then he said Well Banu Maleeh is worshipping the angels, the Christians worship Jesus (Isa) and the Jews worship Ezra.
2. Christianity and Islam virtually have followers all over the World but only Islam sticks to that monotheistic heritage of Abraham.

The above are personal views or interpretation of one person about the others. I do not know what Banu Maleeh do but am sure that we Christians do not worship Isa as son of man but as the salvator, the Son of God. His name Y'Shua means God the Savior. So we worship only God who saves from judgment and damnation through Isa (Jesus) the mediator.

Jews neither worship Ezra either way to the best of my knowledge. Ezra was a Jewish National figure representing restoration after their captivity and destruction of the Temple. So they worship, like Christians, the God who restores and builds after destruction. Let there none come in between us in our devotion to God and worshipping Him cooking up false interpretations.

Sorry, it is not shared belief when all three of "us" believe in different things

The real "Christians" and "Jews" shared our beliefs

When the Verse "Lo you (idolaters) and that which you worship besides Allah are fuel of Hell.Thereunto you will come" was revealed it clearly distressed The Quraish idolaters.When they complained to one of the elders called Ibn Azabari he called the Prophet and asked him as to whether this verse was specifically refering to their idols or anything being worshipped besides Allah? He said anything that is worshipped besides Allah.Ibn Az Zabari then said by the Lord of this House (Kaaba) you have been defeated.Don't you think that the angels are righteous slaves (of Allah)? The Prophet said of course.Then he said Well Banu Maleeh is worshipping the angels,the Christians worship Jesus (Isa) and the Jews worship Ezra.The people of Makkah then raised hue and cry (meaning they had the upper hand).Then Allah revealed "Lo those unto whom kindness has gone forth before from Us" (namely the Angels,Jesus and Ezra) they will be far removed from thence.The point being made is the followers of monotheist religions Judaism Christianity and Islam inherited common heritage of Abraham who shunned idolatery.Although unfortunately due to ignorance instead of worshipping the real true God worship the saintly figures in the name of Jesus,Ezra,Mary or all other saintly people.The idolaters thought not only them and their gods would be fuel of Hell according to their folly but (these saintly figures).But Allah in His Mercy exempted these innocent Creatures.So let us come together to revive the heritage or legacy of Abraham which is avoiding the worship of anything besides Allah whether an Angel,a prophet,Saintly figure human being or Jinn nobody is worthy of worship except HIM Allah the Creator Sustainer and Cherishor of the Universe .Simple Message of Islam there is no God but God and Muhammad like Jesus,Moses or Abraham is also the Messenger of Allah.So only Christianity and Islam vertually have followers all over the World but only Islam sticks to that monotheistic heritage of Abraham.