Hajj: The Largest Annual Gathering
At this very moment, millions of Muslims from across the globe are undergoing preparations to visit the Holy City of Makkah, to undertake the epic Hajj pilgrimage, which takes place every year.
But in case your wondering what exactly is the Hajj and why do Muslims embark upon this journey every year; this should explain.
Well to begin, Hajj is, in fact, one of the five central pillars of Islam, upon which the religion is founded. It is an obligation upon every able-bodied and financially capable Muslim, both male and female, to be completed at least once in a lifetime.
The entire journey takes place over a period of several days in the Islamic lunar month of Dhul Hijjah and includes a series of symbolic rites and rituals. Many of which were in fact initiated by the great Prophet Abraham and then laid out directly by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ himself.
The center point of Hajj is the Kaaba, also known as God’s sacred house in Makkah. It was originally built by Prophet Abraham at a time where Makkah was nothing more than a secluded desert in the middle of nowhere. God nevertheless promised Abraham in the Quran that this desolated House would soon receive visitors from around the world in their masses, and today it’s quite clear to see that this promise is nothing short of a reality.
“And [mention, O Muhammad], when We designated for Abraham the site of the House, [saying], “Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaf (circumambulation) and those who stand [in prayer] and those who bow and prostrate. And proclaim to the people the Hajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass.”
The overall journey is said to be a purifying process by which a Muslim becomes closer to God through patience, perseverance, submission, and servitude.
The pilgrimage at times can also be physically enduring and God specifically urges Muslims in the Quran to exercise patience during the days of Hajj through avoiding any argumentation and sinful behavior.
Nevertheless, it is also an extremely humbling experience for pilgrims and one of the biggest life lessons on human equality. In its pure form, Hajj makes no distinctions between the rich and the poor; all people regardless of their social status are required to complete the same rituals under the same guidelines under the same hot sun. This includes all men being limited to two unstitched pieces of cloth and all pilgrims being prohibited from perfume, intimacy and many other luxuries of life.
Repentance and Reward
Hajj is also a long-awaited opportunity for many Muslims to obtain forgiveness for their lifelong sins and to return back to their homes with a cleansed heart. On the Day of Arafat, the most important day of the pilgrimage, pilgrims will, in fact, stand from noon to sunset begging for God’s mercy, forgiveness, and pleasure.
And as expected, the rewards for completing a Hajj pilgrimage are absolutely immense in the eyes of Allah.
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, in fact, informed us that:
“The one who performs Hajj properly, by abstaining from sexual intimacy, avoiding sin and leaving off argumentation; then he shall return from Hajj pure and free from sin, just as the day his mother gave birth to him.”
The Prophet ﷺ also informed us that:
“The reward for an accepted Hajj is nothing less than Paradise.”
We ask Allah to accept the Hajj of all pilgrims this year and that He makes their journey safe, blessed and accepted. And we ask Allah swt to grant us all the opportunity to fulfil the pillar of Hajj – this journey of a lifetime.