“Verily, the first House (of worship) appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing, and a guidance for mankind.”
— Quran, Chapter 3 (Aale-Imran) verse 96
By: Ibrahim Alalou
Muslims from all over the world strive to make the journey of a lifetime.
We as Muslims believe that the Hajj( Pilgrimage)
is the fifth pillar of Islam . It is a mandatory obligation on behalf of those who are capable physically and financially. If you cannot afford it or incapable because of ill health or insufficient funds then you are exempted from doing so.
I was very lucky to make the journey this year and it was an astonishing one by all measures. You prepare for the journey over a few months period. You have to make sure that you pay all your debts and ask forgiveness from other people whom you heart verbally and unintentionally. If you have financial obligations you have to make sure that they will be paid on time without further delays. You are obliged to make the proper arrangements for all dependent family members to have proper funds to spend while you are away. We believe that Allah will forgive all your sins and wrongdoings if you perform the Hajj sincerely and wholeheartedly.
But people will not forgive you unless you grant them their rights. So it is a win win situation for you after all. It is a cleansing process for the heart and the soul. It is the shower of a lifetime. Once you perform it as prescribed you go back home free of sins as a baby just born.
When you arrive in Mecca and watch the Kaaba for the first time you feel the overwhelming sensation of the holy place. Imagine for a second how the Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail built it a long time ago in total supplication to the command of Allah. Then Allah asked him to invite people to perform the Hajj. He said” Oh Allah how will they hear me? “.Allah said: You make the call and I will deliver it.”
Pilgrims performing Tawaf.
“And remember Ibrahim and Ishmael raised the foundations of the House (With this prayer): “Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-knowing.”
— Quran, Chapter 2 (Al Bakarah) verse 127
You make the Tawaf(walking around the Kaaba for seven rounds counterclockwise) while asking for Allah forgiveness and reciting some verses of Quran or common duaa(prayers).
You remember your family members and ask Allah to give them their wishes according to his will. Then you make the walk between the Safa and Marwah seven times in remembrance of Hagar while she was searching for water to quench the thirst of her baby the prophet Ismail when the angel Gabriel hit the ground and the zamzam was bursting. She was so scared to lose the precious water in the scorching sand and said “ zam zam” in Arabic which means to save the water so she can haul it and give it to her crying baby. The well is still working and millions of Muslims drink from it every year. When they drink from it they ask Allah for their wishes and take samples from this blessed water to their countries to share with their relatives and loved ones.
The Station of Ibrahim (Maqam Ibrahim)
It is the most sensual experience any Muslim performs in a lifetime.
Imagine the gathering of 2.5 million people at the same time and place near Mecca (20 km east of Mecca) at the mount of mercy (Arafat) to perform the main component of the Hajj ritual where the prophet Muhammad stood and delivered his farewell sermon to the Muslims who accompanied him to the Hajj toward the end of his life.
“Muslims also say that it is also the place where Adam and Hawa(Eve) reunited on Earth after falling from Heaven, and where Adam was forgiven, hence it is known as the “Mount of Mercy”. A pillar is erected to show the place where the aforementioned took place.”(wikipedia).
The plain of Arafat during the Hajj.
Everything runs smoothly in total harmony and peace. Men are dressed in 2 white sheets in remembrance of the clothes that the dead are wrapped in after washing and perfuming before putting them in their graves. The picture speaks for itself. Regardless of the scorching heat you watch people from all ages and races speaking hundreds of languages beg Allah for his mercy and offerings. When the day is over at sunset they move to Muzdalifah to collect the small stones to throw at Satan in a symbolic gesture where you get rid of your sins and renew your faith to become a better person living in peace with other people and creatures.
Then you go back to Mecca to make the tawaf of ifadha after returning from Arafat and the walk between the Safa and Marwah. Finally you cut your hair as close as possible and are rewarded with the forgiveness and mercy of Allah.
This is a brief description of the Hajj journey for people who are not familiar with this ritual. But I think no words are worthy and capable of delivering the real feeling of the whole experience unless you engage in it yourself.
Happy Eid and nice wishes of peace and mercy on all people all over the world.