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The Hajj is the fifth important pillar of Islam. Without some understanding of its historical significance, one cannot fully appreciate its importance and purpose. It is the story of a true believer, who, in the midst of dominant forces of disbelief and polytheism, proclaimed his b belief in the unity of God. Despite the unrelenting falsehood that prevailed all around him, he created an inspiring legacy by embodying the true spirit of faith and piety, self sacrifice and sincerity, devotion and love, obedience and submission to Allah and bequeathed to the world a center for the worship of Allah.

To commemorate the same event and revive the same spirit, Muslims from all over the world gather around the center, year after year, follow and repeat what their great leader, Prophet Ibrahim (A) had done centuries ago. In his tradition, covered in two pieces of seamless garments, they are seen moving round the Holy Ka'bah, running between the Safa and the Marwa, imploring Allah humbly in the plain of 'Arafat, slaughtering animals in His name and for His sake and repeating the same invocation, sitting and standing, in the morning and the evening:

"O Allah ! Your humble servants are present before You! All kinds of praise is due to You only. You Sovereignty."

Indeed, upholding this tradition is the Hajj.


Literally, "Hajj" means to have the intention of going on pilgrimage. As a term of Shari'ah, it defines the all embracing worship in which a Muslim visits the Holy Ka'bah at Makkah and carries out the prescribed rites of devotion and worship.

There are two kinds of worship in Islam: physical, such as the Salah and Sawm, and monetary, such as giving of charity and Zakah, etc. The Hajj combines both: it develops all the qualities which are intended and desirable in Islam, including sincerity and piety, humility and obedience, sacrifice and submission, etc.

The Ka'bah which is circumambulated by the pilgrims with great devotion, is the central Masjid towards which Muslims the world over turn their faces in prayer. During the Hajj, the pilgrim enjoys the privilege of offering all his Salah within the Ka'bah. From the time the pilgrim puts on Ihram garments, just like during Sawm, he endures spiritual training, day and night, thereby cleansing morals, abandoning the temptations of the flesh, inculcating patience and forbearance, love of Allah. Giving charity and Zakah is a means of cleansing the heart of love for mere worldly wealth for the sake of Allah. The Hajj serves the same purpose in that the pilgrim expends all his savings generously in the way of Allah w and offers sacrifices to win only His pleasure. Thus, Hajj utilizes all the means of establishing intimate relationships with Allah, self purification and spiritual development. However, in order to reap the maximum rewards, the Hajj must be undertaken with sincere intention and not merely as a ritual.

The Hajj requires complete submission to Allah w and taking special care to overcome all shortcomings and errors in all religious obligations by traveling abroad in the way of Allah w and visiting the holy places. In effect, one should return home reborn spiritually. The way one conducts his life after the Hajj is the actual measure of whether a person has truly benefited from the blessings of Hajj or has remained devoid of them. One whose later life does not bear any impact of Hajj cannot hope to overcome his weaknesses in any other way. The pilgrim, therefore, has to consciously weigh his intention before proceeding for the Hajj, perform each rite with full sincerity after reaching the Ka'bah and do his best to obtain all the benefits for which the Hajj has been enjoined as a duty in Islam.


A man came to visit Junaid Baghdadi, whose life reflected no change, even after having performed Hajj. Junaid asked him: "Where are you coming from?"

"Sir, I have returned after performing Hajj of the House of Allah", was the reply.

"So, have you actually performed Hajj?"

"Yes, Sir, I have performed Hajj ", said the man.

"Did you pledge that you would give up sins when you left your home for Hajj?" asked Junaid.

"No, Sir, I never thought of that", said the man.

"Then, in fact, you did not even step out for Hajj. While you were on the sacred journey and making halts at places during the nights, did you ever think of attaining nearness to Allah?"

"Sir, I had no such idea."

"Then you did not at all travel to the Ka’bah, nor did ever visit it. When you put on the Ihram garments, and discarded your ordinary dress, did you make up your mind to abandon your evil ways and attitudes in life as well ?"

"No, Sir, I had no idea of that."

"Then, you did not even don the Ihram garments!" said Junaid ruefully. Then he asked; "When you stood in the Plain of Arafat and were imploring Allah Almighty, did you have the feeling that you were standing in Divine Presence and having a vision of Him?"

"No, Sir, I had no such experience.

Junaid then became a liltle upset and asked: "Well, when you came to Muzdalifah, did you promise that you would give up vain desires of the flesh?"

"Sir, I paid no heed to this."

"You did not then come to Muzdalifah at all." Then he asked: 0"Tell me, did you happen to catch glimpses of Divine Beauty when you moved round the House of Allah?"

"No, Sir, I caught no such glimpses." "Then, you did not move around the Ka’bah at all." Then he said: "When you made Sa’i (running) between the Safa and the Marwa, did you realize the wisdom, significance and objective of your effort?"

"Sir, I was not at all conscious of this."

"Then you did not make any Sa’i!" Then he asked: "When you slaughtered an animal at the place of sacrifice, did you sacrifice your selfish desires as well in the way of Allah?"

"Sir, I failed to give any attention to that!"

"Then, in fact you offered no sacrifice whatever."

"Then when you cast stones at the Jamarahs, did you make a resolve to get rid of your evil companions and friends and desires?"

"No, Sir, I didn’t do that."

"Then, you did not cast stones at all", remarked Junaid regretfully, and said:

"Go back and perform Hajj once again, giving due thought and attention to all the requirements, so that your Hajj may bear some resemblance with Prophet Ibrahim’s Hajj, whose faith and sincerity has been confirmed by the Qur’an :

"Ibrahim who carried out most faithfully the Commands (of his Lord)."


Both the Qur'an and the Sunnah have explained in detail the wisdom of enjoining the Hajj, its role in religion and its importance in general. The Qur'an says:

"Allah has, therefore, a right on the people that the one who can afford to reach the House, should perform Hajj there: and the one who disobeys (this Commandment should know that) Allah is All Sufficient and does not stand in need of any creature of the worlds."
(Ale-Imran 3:97)

This verse implies two points:

(1) the performance of Hajj is a duty enjoined by Allah on the Muslims; all those who possess the means of reaching the House of Allah are bound to fulfill this duty. This verse enjoins Hajj as an imperative duty on the Muslims. According to 'Ali (R), Rasulullah (S) declared the Hajj to be Fard when the above verse was revealed to him (at-Tirmidhi).

In Sahih Muslim, there is a Hadith to the effect:

"O People! The Hajj has been enjoined on you as a duty, so perform Hajj."

(2) The other important point implicit in the verse is that failing to perform the Hajj even though the means to do so are available will be considered an act of disbelief. Rasulullah (S) has said:

"The person who in spite of possessing necessary means for Hajj and a conveyance that can carry him to the House of Allah does not go for Hajj, may die as a Jew or a Christian, for according to verse 97 of Ale `Imran, performing of lajj by such a person is a duty enjoined on him by Allah."
(Jame' Termezi)

In other words, Rasulullah (S) has likened those who fail to perform the Hajj for no good reason to the Jews and Christians. This stern warning in the severest words reinforces Allah's indifference and displeasure towards such people. Obviously, such people cannot be blessed with faith and guidance, which can only be granted by Allah.

Hasan has reported that 'Umar bin al Khattab (R) said: "I have resolved to dispatch a few persons to the cities (which are now in the Islamic State) for the purpose of seeking out people who, in spite of possessing necessary means, are not coming to perform the lajj; then I would levy Jizya on them, because they are not Muslims, they are not Muslims!" (Al-muntaqi)

In view of the great importance and excellence of the Hajj in Islam, Rasulullah (S) repeatedly emphasized its merit to his followers, showing them the various ways to perform it. For instance, he has said:

"The person who came on pilgrimage to the House of Allah, then neither committed an indecent sexual act, nor indulged in any disobedience to Allah, will return home as pure (of sins) as he was on the day his mother bore him."
(Sahih al-Bukhari, Muslim)

1. "The people who come to perform the lajj or `Umrah are the guests of Allah: if they pray to Allah (their host) for something, He will grant their prayers, and if they implore Him for forgiveness, He will forgive them." (Ibn Majah)

2. "Do continue performing the Hajj and `Umrah, for both the lajj and `Umrah cleanse one of poverty, indigence, and sins as a furnace purifies iron, gold and silver of impurities, and the recompense of Hajj Mabrur is nothing but Paradise " (at-Tirmidhi, an-Nisai). (Hajj Mabrur is the Hajj which is performed with full consciousness and regard for all conditions and prerequisites, and which is free from all sorts of disobedience to Allah.)

3. "Before a person who has performed the Hajj enters his house, you should greet him, shake hands with him and request him to pray to Allah SWT for forgiveness of your sins, because his own sins have already been forgiven." (Musnad Ahmad)

4. According to Hussain (R), a person said to Rasulullah (S), "Sir, I have a weak body and a weak heart." Rasulullah (S) said: "You should fight a battle in which there is no danger to life at all." The man asked: "Sir, what is that battle in which life is not at all exposed to danger?" Rasulullah (S) replied: "You should perform the Hajj!" (at-Tabarani)

5. 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas (R) reported that a man was riding his conveyance when suddenly he fell down and died in the Plain of Arafat. Rasulullah (S) said: "Wash his body and bury him in the Ihram garments, leaving his head and face uncovered: he will rise on the Day of Resurrection reciting Talbiyah." (Bukhari, Muslim)

6. Abu Dharr (R) reported that Rasulullah (S) said: "Prophet Daud implored Allah, saying: 'My Lord! What reward will be bestowed upon the people who come to visit Your House?' Allah replied: `O Daud! They are My guests: it is their right that I should forgive their errors and sins in this world, and when they meet Me. I should forgive them much." (at-Tabarani)

By Muhammad Yusuf Islahi (Everyday Fiqh Vol. 2)