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Books Section > The Religion of Islam > Hajj or Pilgrimage

Hajj or Pilgrimage:

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(Note: The superscript-numbers [e.g., intention2] that appear in the text [in pink] refer to the numbers of the explanatory footnotes that appear in this chapter)


European Views on Adoption of Pilgrimage by Islam:

As an institution Hajj 1 existed, before the advent of Islam, from a very remote antiquity. Modern European criticism takes the view that its adoption by Islam, with certain reforms, of course, was due to several causes which sprang up after the Prophet’s flight to Madinah. Chief among these causes are said to be the victory won by Islam at Badr which, it is opined, made the Prophet look forward to the conquest of Makkah, and the final rupture with the Jews, whom the Prophet had, at first, hoped to win over to his cause. Hughes advances this theory in his Dictionary of Islam under the heading "Ka‘bah’’:

"When Muhammad found himself established in al-Madinah, with a very good prospect of his obtaining possession of Makkah, and its historic associations, he seems to have withdrawn his thoughts from Jerusalem and its Sacred Rock and to fix them on the house at Bakkah as the home founded for mankind.... The Jews proving obdurate and there being little chance of his succeeding in establishing his claim as their prophet, spoken of by Moses, he changes the qiblah, or direction for prayer, from Jerusalem to Makkah. The house at Makkah is made "a place of resort unto men and a sanctuary.’’

Other European writers have advanced the same theory, and recently A.J. Wensinck has incorporated it into the Encyclopaedia of Islam. Writing under "Hadjdj’’, he says:

"Muhammad’s interest in the Hadjdj was first aroused in al-Medina. Several causes contributed to this, as Snouck Hurgronje has shown in his Mekkaansche Feest. The brilliant success of the battle of Badr had aroused in him thoughts of a conquest of Mecca. The preparations for such a step would naturally be more successful if the secular as well as the religious interests of his companions were aroused. Muhammad had been deceived in his expectations regarding the Jewish community in Medina and the disagreements with the Jews had made a religious breach with them inevitable. To this period belongs the origin of doctrine of the religion of Abraham, the alleged original type of Judaism and Islam. The Ka‘ba now gradually advances into the centre of religious worship, the father of monotheism built it with his son Isma‘il and it was to be a ‘place of assembly for mankind.’’ .... In this period also the Ka‘ba was made a kibla – This is the position of affairs in the year 2 of the Hidjra.’’

On the face of it, it appears to be a very plausible theory but it is in flat contradiction to historical facts. The battle of Badr was fought in the month of Ramadzan, in the second year of Hijrah, and the final rupture with the Jews came in the third year after the battle of Uhud; while the Ka‘bah was made a qiblah sixteen months after the Hijrah (Bu. 8:31), that is to say, about three months before the battle of Badr. The structure which, according to Hughes, Wensinck and Hurgronje, was built on the victory of Badr and the rupture with the Jews, the idea of formulating a doctrine of the religion of Abraham, the father of monotheism, as a prototype of Islam, Judaism and Christianity; of the sacredness of the Ka‘bah and its connection with the names of Abraham and Ishmael; of the Ka‘bah being made a qiblah and of the institution of Hajj with prospects of conquering Makkah; all this existed not only long before the battle of Badr but even before the Prophet’s flight to Madinah. The religion of Abraham as pure monotheism is mentioned in a chapter of the Quran (surah) belonging to the middle Makkah period, where Abraham is also called a hanif: "Surely Abraham was a model of virtue, obedient to Allah, upright (hanif).... Then we revealed to thee: Follow the faith (milla) of Abraham, the upright one (hanif), and he was not of the polytheists’’ (16:120-123). And again in a chapter belonging to the last Makkah period: "My Lord has guided me to the right path – a right religion, the faith (milla) of Abraham, the upright one (hanif), and he was not of the polytheists’’ (6:162). It is surprising to find Orientalists so learned ignoring such broad facts of history for the sake of a pet theory.

1 The word hajj means, literally, repairing to a thing for the sake of a visit (al-qasd li-l-ziyara) (R.), and in the technicality of law the repairing to Bait-Allah (the House of Allah) to observe the necessary devotions (iqamat-an-li-l-nusuk) (R.). Bait-Allah is one of the names by which the Ka‘bah is known; and nusuk means ‘ibadah (worship or devotion), or ta‘a (obedience); it is also the plural of nasikah meaning dhabihah (the animal that is sacrificed) (N.). From the same root and carrying the significance of ibadah, is mansik, and its plural manasik is particularly used to signify the acts of devotion prescribed in hajj. It is generally under the head manasik that injunctions relating to hajj are mentioned in collections of Tradition.

Sacredness of Makkah and the Ka‘bah Recognised in Earliest Revelations:

Similarly, the sacredness of Makkah and its connection with the names of Abraham and Ishmael, finds clear mention in the early Makkah revelations. In one of the earliest chapters, Makkah is described as "this city made secure’’ (95:3). In another equally early revelation, it is referred to simply as the City: "Nay! I call to witness this City – and thou wilt be made free from obligation in this City – and begetter and he whom he begot’’ (90:1-3); where, in the last words, Abraham and Ishmael are referred to. The Ka‘bah is called al-Bait al-ma‘mur, or the House that is visited in a revelation of the same period (52:4), while another revelation of the early Makkah period speaks of al-Masjid-al-Haram or the Sacred Mosque (17:1). The sacredness of Makkah is spoken of in still clearer words in revelations belonging to the middle Makkah period: "I am commanded only to serve the Lord of this City, Who has made it sacred, and His are all things’’ (27:91). The names of Abraham and Ishmael in connection with Makkah, its sacredness and the fact of its being a place of resort for men, also find mention in the middle Makkah revelations: "And when Abraham said: My Lord, Make this City secure, and save me and my sons from worshipping idols .... Our Lord, I have settled a part of my offspring in a valley unproductive of fruit near Thy Sacred House, our Lord, that they may keep up prayer; therefore make the hearts of some people yearn towards them and provide them with fruits.’’ (14:35-37).

Why the Ka‘bah was not made Qiblah Earlier:

The theory thus built up by European savants has no foundation whatever. The sacredness of Makkah and its great Mosque, the connection therewith of the names of Abraham and Ishmael, and the fact of Makkah being made a resort for men, are all themes of the earliest as well as the later revelations. It is true that the various commandments and prohibitions were revealed gradually, and that the command to make the Ka‘bah a qiblah was revealed at Madinah, but even this happened before the battle of Badr. Notwithstanding all that was said in the Quran with regard to the sacredness of Makkah and of the Ka‘bah, notwithstanding the fact that pilgrimage to Makkah had been ordained as a duty of the Muslims towards the close of the Prophet’s stay at Makkah, as shown later, notwithstanding even the fact that it was the Prophet’s own desire that the Ka‘bah should be made his qiblah (Bu. 2:30; 8:31; 65, sura 2, ch. 18), he continued to follow the qiblah of the last prophet that had passed away before him, that is, Jerusalem, and awaited the Divine direction. The Quran recognized the truth of all the prophets, including the prophets of Israel, and as Jesus was the last of those prophets and his qiblah the same as that of the Israelite prophets,2 namely, the temple at Jerusalem, which place was honoured by the Quran (17:1) as al-Masjid al-Aqsa (lit., the Remote Mosque), he retained it as his qiblah until he received an express revelation to turn towards the Sacred Mosque. Moreover, he did not receive that commandment when he was at Makkah among the polytheists when it might have been said that he was scheming to win over the Arabs; but it was after his coming to Madinah, at a time when relations with the Jews were still friendly, when the prospects of winning over the Arabs were as distant as ever, and when war with the Quraish at Makkah had become inevitable, that the Prophet received a revelation to turn to the Ka‘bah as the future qiblah of the Muslim world. For sixteen long months at Madinah, he had continued to pray with his back to Makkah, the avowedly sacred territory, because he would not do anything of his own desire. As soon as he came to Madinah, he felt the difficulty that he could no more, as at Makkah, turn his face to both places, to the Holy temple at Jerusalem and to the Sacred Mosque at Makkah; he realized that in turning his face to one he must turn his back on the other; and however much he desired that the Sacred Mosque at Makkah should be his qiblah, still he would not turn his back to the qiblah of the last prophet before him, until he received a Divine commandment to that effect.

2 It should be noted that the Christians themselves ceased to follow the qiblah of Christ.

When was Pilgrimage First Instituted:

The Hajj was a recognized institution in the first and second years of Hijrah before the commencement of the war with the Quraish. The second chapter which was, in the main, revealed in the first and second years of Hijrah, is full of directions relating to hajj, the context whereof shows clearly that fighting had not actually taken place, though prospects of a war were in sight. The months in which hajj is to be performed are thus spoken of: "They ask thee concerning the new moons; say, They are times appointed for men and for the pilgrimage" (2:189). And again: "The months of the pilgrimage are well-known" (2:197). Between these two verses, which speak of the months of hajj, occur the verses by which the Muslims were permitted to take up the sword to defend themselves: "And fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you" (2:190); from which it will be seen that the details of hajj were being given when fighting was as yet only permitted, and it was after that that the actual fighting began. The details, of hajj were, therefore, revealed before the battle of Badr. The rules of conduct to be observed when proceeding on hajj are also stated in the same context: "Whoever determines the performance of the pilgrimage therein, there shall be no immodest speech, nor abusing, nor altercation in the pilgrimage" (2:197). The running between the hills of Safa and Marwah (sa‘y) is spoken of in still earlier verses: "The Safa and the Marwah are truly among the signs of Allah, so whoever makes a pilgrimage to the House or pays a visit3 to it, there is no blame on him if he goes round them" (2:158). This permission was specifically granted because at the time there were two idols on the Safa and the Marwah. The going to ‘Arafat and Muzdalifah is also spoken of: "So when you press on from ‘Arafat, remember Allah near the Holy Monument" (2:198); and there is a clear injunction to accomplish the hajj: "And accomplish the hajj and the ‘umrah for Allah" (2:196).

The mention of these details of hajj is a proof that the institution of hajj had already been recognized as part of the laws of Islam. In fact, we find a Muslim, here and there, performing the hajj in the earliest days when, on account of some alliance, he deemed himself secure, it being impossible, of course, for the generality of the Muslims. Thus it is related of Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh that on account of his friendship with Umayya ibn Khalf, a Quraish chief, he went to Makkah to perform an ‘umrah after the Hijrah and before the battle of Badr -- that is, in the first year of Hijrah -- and had altercation with Abu Jahl, whom he threatened with cutting off the Quraish trade with Syria (Bu. 64:2). He would not have done so unless the institution of hajj had been adopted by Islam. Hence it is clear that hajj was instituted before the Hijrah took place, and while the Prophet was still in Makkah. The chapter entitled Al-Hajj was revealed towards the close of the Prophet’s career at Makkah4 and it was in this chapter that hajj was proclaimed to be an institution of Islam: "And proclaim to men the hajj:5 they will come to thee on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path, that they may witness benefits provided for them and mention the name of Allah on appointed days over what He has given them of the cattle quadruped, then eat of them and feed the distressed one, the needy. Then let them accomplish their needful acts of cleansing , and let them fulfil their vows and go round the Ancient House" (22:27-29). These verses leave not the least doubt that hajj was ordained as an Islamic institution before the Hijrah.

3 Hajj and ‘umrah, the latter of which is translated as the minor pilgrimage but which may more correctly be rendered as a visit, differ slightly. The ‘umrah may be performed at any time, while the hajj or the pilgrimage proper, can only be performed at a particular time. Of the ceremonies connected with the pilgrimage proper, the staying in the plain of ‘Arafat is dispensed with in the case of ‘umrah.

4 Rodwell is certainly wrong in placing this chapter among the latest Madinah revelations. The best authorities are agreed that it was revealed at Makkah, though some are of opinion that some of its verses were revealed in the early days at Madinah, but even this view is untenable. The verses relating to hajj, however, are not placed in this category. Muir puts this chapter at the close of the Makkah suras of the fifth period, and internal as well as external evidence shows this to be correct. A recent writer concludes his discussion as to the date of revelation of this chapter with the following words: "To conclude: Surah 22 is thoroughly homogeneous, containing no elements from the Madinah period. And (as was said a moment ago) much stronger evidence than has thus far been offered must be produced before it can be maintained that Makkan suras were freely interpolated after the Hijrah." (C.C. Torrey, The Jewish Foundation of Islam, p. 100).

5 This verse is preceded by one in which Abraham is spoken of: "And when We pointed to Abraham the place of the House, saying: Associate naught with Me, and purify My House for those who make circuits and stand to pray and bow and prostrate themselves." The words "Proclaim among men the hajj" are, therefore, generally understood to have been addressed to Abraham. Even if this view is accepted, it is equally an address to the Holy Prophet, for, as the context shows, the mention of Abraham is only by way of parenthesis ; and inasmuch as the pilgrimage is an ordinance common to both the Abrahamic and the Islamic faiths, the address is equally to both prophets.

Description of the Ka‘bah:

As the chief features of the hajj centre round the Ka‘bah, something must be said about this building and its name. The root-word Ka‘ba means it swelled or became prominent (LL), or it became high and exalted (‘ala-wa-rtafa‘a) (N) and the Sacred House is called Ka‘bah on account of its glory and exaltation (N). The Ka‘bah is a rectangular building, almost in the centre of the Sacred Mosque (Masjid al-Haram), whereof the front and back walls (north-east and south-west) are each 40 feet in length, and the two side-walls 35 feet each, the height being 50 feet, the four walls running north-west , north-east, south-west and south-east.

The four corners of the building are known by four different names, the north corner as al-rukn al-‘Iraqi (after ‘Iraq), the south corner as al-rukn al-Yamani (after Yemen), the west corner as al-rukn al-Shami (after Sham or Syria) and the east corner as al-rukn al-Aswad (after the Hajar al-Aswad, or the Black stone). The four walls of the Ka‘bah are covered with a black curtain called Kiswa (lit.; clothing). The door of the Ka‘bah is in the north –east wall, about seven feet from the ground, not in the middle of the wall but nearer the Black Stone. When the Ka‘bah is opened, a staircase is placed in front of it to enable the visitors to reach the entrance. Outside the building is an open space, called al-Hijr (lit., prohibited), marked by a semi-circular wall three feet high, running opposite the north-west wall of the Ka‘bah, the two ends of this wall being about six feet distant from the north and west corners of the Ka‘bah, and the central part about 37 feet from the wall. This part is also called al-Hatim (from hatama meaning it crushed), though Ibn ‘Abbas is reported as saying that it should not be called by that name, as this name was given to it in the days of Ignorance, and carried with it the superstitious association of throwing there one’s whip or shoe at the time of taking an oath (Bu. 63 :27). For the purpose of making circuits, the Hijr is included in the building. There are traditions showing that the Hijr was considered by the Prophet to be part of the building of the Ka‘bah (Bu. 25:42; M. 15:66). It was for this reason that ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubair included it in the building proper, but it was again left an open space when the Ka‘bah was rebuilt after him by Hajjaj.

In the east corner at the height of about five feet is the Hajar al-Aswad (lit.; the Black Stone) built into the wall. It is of a reddish black colour about eight inches in diameter, and is now broken into pieces held together by a silver band. The Maqam Ibrahim must also be mentioned in connection with the Ka‘bah. It means "the place of Abraham," and the name is given to a very small building within the Sacred Mosque, about five feet square, supported on six columns eight feet high. This name, handed down from antiquity from one generation to another, is a decided proof of the connection of Abraham with the Ka‘bah, and attention is drawn to this in the Quran in 3:96. But in 2:125, the words Maqam Ibrahim are used for the Sacred House itself.

History of the Ka‘bah:

The Ka‘bah is stated in the Quran to be "the first House (of Divine worship) appointed for men" (3:95), In one place it is called al-Bait al-‘Atiq or the Ancient House (22:29). It is also called al-Bait al-Haram (5:97), or al-Muharram (14:37) which carries the same significance as al-Haram, both meaning originally al-mamnu‘ min-hu or that which is forbidden; in other words, a place whereof the sanctity must not be violated. There is nothing in the Quran, or the Tradition to show when and by whom the Ka‘bah was first built; but it is said to have been rebuilt by Abraham and Ishmael: "And when Abraham and Ishmael raised the foundations of the House: Our Lord! Accept from us" (2:127). An earlier revelation makes it clear that the Ka‘bah was already there when Abraham left Ishmael in the wilderness of Arabia: "Our Lord! I have settled a part of my offspring in a valley unproductive of fruit near Thy Sacred House" (14:37). It appears from this that Ishmael had been purposely left near the sacred House; it was, in fact, under a Divine commandment that Abraham took this step (Bu. 60:9). It would seem that the Ka‘bah was then in a demolished condition and was afterwards, when Ishmael grew to manhood, rebuilt by Abraham and Ishmael as stated in 2:127. In a long tradition of Ibn ‘Abbas, speaking of Abraham leaving Ishmael and his mother near the Ka‘bah, it is said: "And the House was then rising above the surface of the earth like a mound, the flood waters passing to its right and to its left" (Bu. 60:9). The tradition then goes on to narrate how long after this, when Ishmael had grown to manhood and was a married man, Abraham came to pay a visit to him and told him that Almighty God had commanded him to build a house at the place where the mound was, and how the father and the son built the Ka‘bah. Besides being in a ruined condition, it seems to have had idols placed in it and Abraham was required to purify it of these. "And We enjoined Abraham and Ishmael, saying: Purify My House for those who visit it and those who abide in it for devotion and those who bow down and those who prostrate themselves’’ (2:125). Nearly the same words occur in an earlier revelation (22:26).

The Ka‘bah was again rebuilt by the Quraish6 when the Prophet was a young man, and he personally took part in its building, carrying stones on his shoulders. During the construction a dispute arose as to who should place the Black stone in its place. Every tribe was desirous of having this honour accorded to its representative. Finally a settlement was arrived at, namely that the decision of the man who made his appearance first in the Ka‘bah should be accepted by all. Fortunately, the man who appeared first was Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and there was an outcry that al-Amin (the Faithful one) had come. The prophet decided this dispute with his usual sagacity, placing the stone in a cloth with his own hands, and then asking a representative of each of the tribes to hold a corner of that cloth and lift the stone to its position, the Prophet himself fixing it in position. The Ka‘bah remained as it was built by the Quraish until the time of ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubair, when the building having been damaged by the Umayyad army which had besieged Makkah, ‘Abd Allah decided to rebuild it, instead of repairing it, including the open space of Hijr in the building itself. But after the fall of ‘Abd Allah, Hajjaj again rebuilt it on the foundations of the structure erected by the Quraish. And the building to-day rests on the same foundations.

6 The leading tribe of Makkah.

Al-Masjid al-Haram:

The Ka‘bah stands in the centre of a parallelogram whose dimensions, as given in the Encyclopaedia of Islam, are as follows:
N.-W. Side 545ft., S.-E side 553 ft., N.-E. Side 360 ft., S.W. Side 364 ft. This area is known as al-Masjid al-Haram or the Sacred Mosque, the famous mosque of Makkah. The name is met with in pre-Islamic literature (En. Is.). In the Quran this name occurs in revelations of the early Makkah period, as in 17:1. The area of the Sacred Mosque contains, besides the Ka‘bah, the Maqam Ibrahim and the building over the fountain of Zamzam. The Sacred Mosque was the centre of all administrative activities before Islam, as within it was situated the Makkan Council Hall (Dar al-Nadwah) where all important matters regarding the weal or woe of the people were settled. Since the advent of Islam, the Sacred Mosque has been the pivot of the intellectual activities of Makkah, and the whole Muslim world looks upon it as its central point.

Historical Evidence of Antiquity of Ka‘bah:

The Quran claims the Ka‘bah as the first house of Divine worship on earth, and all available historical evidence upholds this claim. It is sufficient to quote Muir.7 "A very high antiquity must be assigned to the main features of the religion of Mecca... Diodorus Siculus, writing about half a century before our era, says of Arabia washed by the Red Sea, ‘there is, in this country, a temple greatly revered by the Arabs.’ These words must refer to the Holy House of Mecca, for we know of no other which ever commanded such universal homage... Tradition represents the Ka‘bah as from time immemorial the scene of pilgrimage from all quarters of Arabia:–from Yemen and Hadhramaut, from the shores of the Persian Gulf, the deserts of Syria, and the distant environs of Hira and Mesopotamia, men yearly flocked to Mecca. So extensive a homage must have had its beginnings in an extremely remote age".

7 Life of Mahomet. P. xc.

Abrahamic Origin of Chief Features of the Pilgrimage:

Not only does Muir recognize "a very high antiquity" for the Ka‘bah but also for "the main features of the religion of Mecca," that is to say for the main features of hajj. In fact, as he says, the sacredness of the territory around Makkah and the fact of its being a centre of pilgrimage, can only have come down from time immemorial, for there is no tradition or record showing that it was introduced at any time within historical memory. Some of the ceremonial is undoubtedly due to Abraham as for instance the running between Safa and Marwah (Sa‘y) which is in commemoration of Hagar’s running to and fro to seek water for the baby Ishmael, or the sacrifice which is in commemoration of Abraham’s endeavour to obey the Divine commandment which, he thought, meant the sacrifice of Ishmael. The circumambulation (tawaf) of the Ka‘bah, however, must have existed before Abraham. But all the main features of the hajj, as existing at the advent of Prophet Muhammad, were undoubtedly based on the authority of Abraham. Such at any rate was the tradition, and such is the statement of the Quran, for the order was given to Abraham and Ishmael: "And Ishmael: "And when We pointed to Abraham the place of the House, saying: Associate naught with Me, and purify My House for those who make circuits and stand to pray and bow and prostrate themselves. And proclaim to men the pilgrimage (hajj)" (22:26, 27). Thus Abraham not only rebuilt the Ka‘bah and purified it of all traces of idolatry, but he also enjoined hajj with its main features which were therefore based on Divine revelation. Elsewhere, Abraham and Ishmael are spoken of as praying to God: "And show us our ways of devotion" (2:128). The Arabic word for ways of devotion is manasik, the very word which throughout the collections of Tradition, is adopted for the devotional acts of hajj. And it was by Divine revelation that Prophet Muhammad was led to adopt them.

The only change introduced into the features of hajj, after Abraham, seems to have been the placing of idols in the Ka‘bah and other important places of the hajj. Thus two idols, the Usaf and the Na’ilah, were placed on the hills of Safa and the Marwah, respectively (IJ-C. II, pp. 26, 27). The Ka‘bah itself had within it 360 idols, all of which were thrown out by the Prophet at the conquest of Makkah. Some other minor changes were introduced. For instance, the tribes of Quraish and Kananah, who styled themselves the Hums, as a mark of their strength and vehemence, used to stay at Muzdalifah, thinking it beneath their dignity to join other pilgrims in going forth to the plain of ‘Arafat. This distinction was evidently an innovation on the part of the more powerful tribes: and as Islam tolerated no distinctions, they were ordered to go forth to ‘Arafat along with the others. Another change was the prohibition to go naked while making circuits round the Ka‘bah (Bu. 25:66). Another tradition shows that before Islam people did not leave Muzdalifah, where the night was passed, until they saw the sun shining. The Prophet abolished this practice and ordered the march from Muzdalifah to begin before sunrise. It may be that the polytheists of Arabia connected it in some way with the worship of the sun and the change may have been ordered to destroy "a solar rite;" but evidently it was to facilitate matters for the pilgrims to enable them to start immediately after saying their morning prayers, that time being more suitable for moving from one place to another as the heat of the sun was avoided. This also seems to be the reason why the march from ‘Arafat was deferred till after sunset.

Asceticism Combined with Secularism:

Islam discourages asceticism in all its aspects. It condemns monkery outright, and speaking of the Christian practice, the Quran says: "And as for monkery, they innovated it – We did not prescribe it to them" (57:27). Yet Islam lays the greatest stress upon the spiritual development of man, and its four main institutions -- prayer, zakat, fasting and hajj -- introduces workable ascetic formulae into the daily life of man -- an asceticism which is quite in keeping with the secular side of life. The five daily prayers require the sacrifice of a small part of his time and, without in any way interfering with his everyday life, enable him to realize the Divine that is within him. The institution of Zakat demands the giving up of a small portion of his wealth without interfering with his right to property. Fasting requires the giving up of food and drink but not in such a manner as to make him unfit for carrying on his regular work or business. It is only in hajj that asceticism assumes a marked form, for the pilgrim is required not only to give up his regular work for a number of days for the sake of the journey to Makkah, but he must, in addition, give up many other amenities of life, and live more or less, the life of an ascetic. The hajj is however, a function which generally comes only once in a lifetime, and, therefore, while leading a man through the highest spiritual experience, it does not interfere in any appreciable degree with the regular course of his life. Thus does Islam make a man pass through an ascetic course of life without neglecting his secular duties.

Levelling Influence of the Pilgrimage:

No other institution in the world has the wonderful influence of the hajj in levelling all distinctions of race, colour and rank. Not only do people of all races and all countries meet together before the Holy House of God as His servants, as members of one Divine family, but they are clad in one dress -- in two white sheets -- and there remains nothing to distinguish the high from the low. There is a vast concourse of human beings, all clad in one dress, all moving in one way, all having but one word to speak, labbaika Allah-umma labbaika, meaning here are we, O Allah! Here are we in Thy Presence. It is hajj alone that brings into the domain of practicality what would otherwise seem impossible, namely, that all people, to whatever class or country they belong, should speak one language and wear one dress. Thus is every Muslim made to pass once in his life through that narrow gate of equality which leads to broad brother-hood. All men are equal in birth and death; they come into life and pass out of it in the same way, but hajj is the only occasion on which they are taught how to live alike, how to act alike and how to feel alike.

A Higher Spiritual Experience:

The description of hajj by European writers takes notice only of its outward actions and has never tried to discover their real significance and inner value. The details of hajj will be discussed later on, but looking broadly at the scene at Makkah during the hajj days, one is struck in the first place by the unity which is achieved among the discordant elements of humanity. Deeper than that, however, lies another value of hajj, and this is the higher spiritual experience which is made possible by this unique assemblage of men, the experience of drawing nearer and nearer to God till man feels that all those veils which keep him away from God are entirely removed and he is standing in the Divine presence. It is true that God does not live in Makkah, nor is the Ka‘bah the House of God in a material sense; true, too, that a Muslim is taught to hold communion with God in a remote corner, in solitude, in the dead of nights, and thus all alone he goes through the experience of drawing nearer to God; but there is yet a higher spiritual experience to which he can attain in that vast concourse of men assembled in the plain of ‘Arafat. Every member of this great assemblage sets out from his home with that object in view. He discards all those comforts of life which act as a veil against the inner sight. He is required to put on the simplest dress, to avoid all talk of an amorous nature and all kinds of disputes, and to undergo all the privations entailed by a journey to a barren land like Arabia, so that he may be able to concentrate all his meditation on the Divine Being. The comforts of life are undoubtedly a veil which shut out the other world from human sight, and sufferings and privations certainly make a man turn to God. To concentrate all one’s ideas on God, not in solitude but in the company of others, is thus the object of hajj. A man may have the company of his wife and yet he must not have amorous talk with her; he may be in the company of his adversary, yet he is not allowed to have any quarrel with him; and all this that he may have a higher spiritual experience, the spiritual experience not of the hermit who is cut off from the world, not of the devotee holding communion with God in the corner of solitude, but of the man living in the world, in the company of his wife, his friends and his foes. The higher significance of a man’s spiritual experience in an assemblage is evident from another point of view as well. That there is a mysterious communion from one heart to another is an undeniable truth; it is recognized even by the materialist. Therefore the company of a man who is inspired by similar feelings and who is undergoing a similar experience would undoubtedly give additional force to the spiritual experience of each one of such companions. Take the case of hundreds of thousands of people, all inspired by the one idea of feeling the presence of the Divine Being, all concentrating their minds on the One Supreme Being Who for the time is their sole object; and add to this the mighty effect of the outward unity of them all clad in the same two sheets, crying in one language what is understood by all, labbaika Allah-umma labbaika -- "Here we are, O Allah! Here are we in Thy august presence." Their appearance, as well as the words which are on their lips, show that they are standing in the Divine presence, and are so engrossed in the contemplation of the Divine Being that they have lost all ideas of self. Europeans who have observed this wonderful scene, but who have yet not gone deep enough into its inner significance, have wondered that, in this vast concourse of humanity, there are sobbings on every side, there are tears flowing from every eye, but perhaps they have never given a thought to the inner change which thus affects them outwardly. So engrossing is the Divine presence in which they feel themselves to be that they quite forget that they are in the midst of an assemblage; they forget even themselves, and the Divine presence is all in all to them. God is surely not in Makkah to the exclusion of other places, yet that vast assemblage at Makkah sees Him and feels His presence as if He is actually there in their very midst. Such is the higher spiritual experience of the pilgrims to Makkah, the experience not of the hermit shut up in his closet, cut off from the world, but the experience of a mighty concourse gathered together in one place.

On whom is Pilgrimage Obligatory?

Hajj is obligatory on every adult, only once in his life, and its performance oftener is voluntary (AD. 11 :1). The obligation to perform the hajj is further subject to the condition that one is able to undertake a journey to Makkah: "And pilgrimage to the House is a duty which men owe to Allah -- whoever can find a way to it" (3:96). The ability to undertake the journey depends on various circumstances. There may be a physical disability, such as renders a man unable to bear the hardships of the long journey. For instance, a very aged man was deemed to be exempt from the obligation (Bu. 25:1). Or, the disability may be due to financial reasons, as when a man has not got sufficient provisions for the journey as well as for the dependents whom he leaves behind. The condition of taking sufficient provisions for the journey is laid down in the Quran: "And make provision for yourself, the best provision being to keep one’s duty" (2:197). It is related that people from Yaman used to come for pilgrimage without any provisions with them, saying that they were mutawakkil (people trusting in God), and when they came to Makkah, they resorted to begging (Bu. 25:6).

There is also an express prohibition against vowing to go for pilgrimage on foot. When the Prophet saw such a man performing the journey in distress, and was told that he had vowed to make the pilgrimage on foot, he said, Allah does not need that this man should punish himself thus, and ordered him to get on the back on an animal (Bu. 28:27). Similarly a vow to walk barefooted to Makkah was annulled by the Prophet (AD. 21:19). This shows that a man must have sufficient provisions to reach Makkah comfortably. Danger to life may also be a reason for freeing a man from the obligation of hajj. The Prophet himself and many of his companions could not perform a pilgrimage after the flight to Madinah, because their lives would not have been safe at Makkah. And when ultimately the Prophet undertook a pilgrimage (‘umrah) with about 1,400 Companions in the sixth year of Hijrah, he was not allowed to proceed beyond Hudaibiyah which was outside the limits of the Haram, and had to come back without performing a pilgrimage.


The word ‘umrah is derived from ‘amara meaning he inhabited a place or paid a visit to it, and in the terminology of Islam ‘umrah means a visit to the Ka‘bah. It differs from hajj in two respects. It the first place, hajj cannot be performed except at the fixed time, while ‘umrah may be performed at any time; Shawwal, Dhi-qa‘d 8 and ten days of Dhi-l-Hijjah9 are particularly spoken of as months of hajj (2:197; Bu. 25:33), so that a man can enter into the state of ihram10 for hajj only in these months, while the actual devotions of hajj are limited from the 8th to the 13th Dhi-l-Hijjah. Secondly, the going to ‘Arafat and the assembling there is dispensed with in the case of ‘umrah, while it is an essential part of hajj. Another difference is that the sacrifice of an animal as the concluding act is essential to hajj but not so in the case of ‘umrah. The ‘umrah may be performed separately, or along with hajj, when it is like a parallel devotion to the latter. Though hajj is spoken of oftener in the Quran, yet there is an express injunction to accomplish both: "And accomplish the hajj and the ‘umrah for Allah" (2 :196). Tradition also speaks of wujub al-‘umarh, or the obligatory nature of the ‘umrah, and Ibn ‘Umar is quoted as saying: "There is no man but on him rests the obligation of the hajj and the ‘umrah", while Ibn ‘Abbas said that the ‘umrah is the companion of hajj in the Book of Allah (Bu. 26:1). In one tradition it is said that ‘umrah in Ramadzan is equivalent to hajj (Bu. 26:4). According to another, ‘umrah is not obligatory (Tr. 9 :86). But any one who performs the hajj can easily perform the ‘umrah.

There are two ways in which hajj may be combined with ‘umrah, tamattu‘ and qiran. Tamattu‘ (lit., profiting) consists in combining the hajj and the ‘umrah in such a manner that the pilgrim should enter a state of ihram in the months of hajj with the intention of performing an ‘umrah, and get out of that state after the performance of the ‘umrah, again entering into a state of ihram in the days of hajj. Thus between the ‘umrah and the hajj, the pilgrim profits by living in his ordinary condition and is not bound by the strict rules of ihram, and for this he is required to make a sacrifice, or fast for three days in the hajj and seven days after returning from hajj (2:196).11 "The qiran (lit., uniting together) consists in entering into a state of ihram in the months of hajj with the intention of performing both hajj and ‘umrah, and not getting out of that state until both have been performed, or entering into a state of ihram in the months of hajj with the intention of performing an ‘umrah, and remaining in the same state until the hajj is also performed. Thus the difference between tamattu‘ and qiran is that in tamattu‘ there is a break in the state of ihram, while in qiran that state is continuous. When hajj alone is performed, it is called ifrad (lit., to isolate a thing). With the two differences pointed out earlier, whatever is said below concerning hajj applies also to ‘umrah.

8 The two lunar months immediately preceding the month in which hajj is performed.

9 The lunar month in which hajj is performed.

10 For a complete description of the state of ihram see page 392.

11 Snouck Hurgronje’s theory regarding tamattu‘ has been incorporated into the Encyclopaedia of Islam by A.J. Wensinck under the heading Ihram: "According to Snouck Hurgronje’s suggestion... the restrictions which were imposed by the ihram became too severe for Muhammad, so that during his stay in Mecca before the hadjdj he conducted himself in a secular fashion. As his followers looked askance at him for this, the revelation in Surah 2:192) is said to have been given." The authority referred to in the concluding words is not stated, but as a matter of fact there is no such early authority. It must have been some other critic of the same type. The Prophet performed hajj, after coming to Madinah, only once, and this was also his last hajj, and it was only about eighty days after this that he died. There is not the flimsiest ground for supposing that the verse speaking of tamattu‘ was revealed on that occasion. On the other hand, there is the clearest evidence that this verse had been revealed prior to the battle of Badr, more than eight years before the last Pilgrimage.

There is also evidence to show that the Holy Prophet did not on this occasion break the continuity of the ihram. Thus the long hadith which speaks of the Prophet having entered into a state of ihram for ‘umrah and hajj, says, after speaking of the performances of his ‘umrah: "Then nothing which was forbidden to him became lawful to him until he performed his hajj and sacrificed his offering (hady, or the animal brought for sacrifice) on the day of sacrifices, then he returned and made circuits of the House, then everything which was forbidden to him became lawful to him, and the people who had brought their offerings with them as the Prophet had done, did the same as was done by the Prophet". (Bu. 25:104). The restrictions of ihram becoming too severe for the Prophet, the looking askance of his Companions and the revelation of 2:192 (2:196, according to our computation) on this occasion, are all inventions of an ingenious brain, which, instead of being exposed by Wensinck have been gladly incorporated into a standard work like the Encyclopaedia of Islam, and yet the same learned writer in his index of Hadith, Handbook of Tradition, admits, under the heading Ihram, that the Prophet did not give up the state of ihram in combining hajj and ‘umrah: "Muhammad makes use of tamattu‘ but does not abandon the sacred state at Makkah."


The state into which the pilgrim is required to put himself on the occasion of hajj or ‘umrah is called ihram (from haram meaning prevention or forbidding), or entering upon a state in which a particular dress is put on and certain acts, ordinarily lawful, are forbidden. When the Prophet was asked as to what dress the muhrim (the man entering into a state of ihram) should put on, he replied: "He should not put on a shirt or a turban or trousers or a cap, nor a dress coloured by wars (red) or saffron (yellow); and if he does not find shoes, let him put on leather stockings (khuffain)" (Bu. 3:53). Another tradition describes his own dress in the state of ihram as follows: "He wore his unsewed waist-wrapper (izar) and his unsewed outer garment covering the upper part of the body (rida’) (Bu. 25:23). The ihram dress, therefore, consists of two seamless sheets, a sheet reaching from the navel to below the knees and a sheet which covers the upper part of the body. Both these sheets must preferably be white. As regards women, they can wear their ordinary clothes, and ‘A’ishah held that there was no harm if a woman pilgrim wore cloth dyed black or red or wore boots (khuff). She further held that a woman should not cover her face or wear a veil in ihram (Bu. 25:23). Change of clothes during ihram is not forbidden, according to one authority (ibid.). But even women must wear simple dress. The object is to remove all distinctions of rank, and this is done, in the case of men, by making them all wear two seamless sheets, and in the case of women by requiring them to give up the veil, which was a sign of rank. Probably the ihram dress of two seamless sheets dates back from Abraham, and the simple patriarchal dress has been preserved in hajj to give men a practical lesson in simple living.

Before donning the ihram dress, the pilgrim must take a bath and utter talbiyah, facing the Qiblah. The practice is also to say two rak‘ahs of prayer, but all that is related of the Prophet is that he entered a state of ihram after saying two rak‘ahs of the early afternoon prayer. During the state of ihram, and even before that, from the beginning of the journey to Makkah, no amorous discourse is allowed and sexual intercourse is therefore also forbidden: "So whoever determines to perform the pilgrimage therein, there shall be no amorous speech, nor abusing nor altercation in hajj" (2:197); nor is the use of scent allowed in the state of ihram, nor shaving, nor the paring of nails. The cares of the body are sacrificed for a few days to devote greater attention to the cares of the soul, and this is a practical lesson which serves a useful purpose on many occasions in one’s life.

Miqat or Muhill:

The state of ihram, as described above, may be entered upon at any time during the months of hajj, after the journey is undertaken; but as it would be too inconvenient to remain in this state for a long time, the law has fixed certain places on the different routes to Makkah, on reaching which the pilgrims enter upon a state of ihram. Such a place is called miqat (from waqt meaning time) meaning an appointed time, or a place in which a certain action is appointed to be performed. The miqat is also called a muhill (from ahalla meaning he raised his voice), which signifies the place of raising voices with talbiyah. The talbiyah consists in saying aloud labbaika Allah-umma labbaika, meaning or Here am I, O Allah! Here am I in Thy august presence." 12 As soon as the state of ihram is entered upon, with the determination to devote as little attention to the cares of the body as possible, the spiritual aspect of hajj is brought to mind by all the pilgrims crying aloud that they are in the august Divine presence. The place where ihram is entered upon is, therefore, also the place where voices are raised aloud for the remembrance of God, and the miqat, is, for that reason, also called the muhill. The several places appointed for ihram are: Dhu-l-Hulaifa for pilgrims coming from the direction of Madinah, Juhfa for those coming from Syria and Egypt, Qarn al-Manazil for those from Najd, Yalamlam for those from Yaman (among which are included all pilgrims from India, Pakistan, Indonesia and other countries, proceeding by boats via Aden) and Dhat ‘Irq for those from Iraq (Bu. 25:7-13). For all places within these limits, the miqat is the place from which the pilgrim starts, and for the people of Makkah, the miqat is Makkah itself (Bu. 25:7).

12 The full talbiyah runs thus: Labbaika Allah-umma labbaika, la sharika la-ka labbaika; inn-al-hamda w-al-ni‘mata la-ka- w-al-mulka la-ka la sharika la-ka, which means "Here am I, O Allah, here am I in Thy presence; there is no associate with Thee, here am I; surely all praise is Thine and all favours are Thine and the kingdom is Thine, there is no associate with Thee" (Bu. 25:26).


The word tawaf is derived from tafa (he went round a thing), and in the technical language of Islam it means making circumambulation of the Ka‘bah. The command to perform the tawaf of the house is contained in the Quran in a Makkah revelation: "And let them go round the Ancient House" (22:29). In the devotional acts of hajj, tawaf occupies the most important place, being the first act of the pilgrim on his arrival at Makkah and his last act when he leaves the holy place. Bukhari heads one of his chapters as follows: "He who makes circumambulations of the House on his arrival in Makkah before he goes to his abode, then offers two rak‘ahs of prayer, then goes out to Safa" (Bu. 25:62). Under this heading he reports the tradition of Ibn ‘Umar, which says "that the Prophet made circumambulations on his first arrival in hajj and ‘umrah, then offered two rak‘ahs, then went to and fro (tafa) between Safa and Marwah." The pavement on which the tawaf is made is called the mataf. The tawaf is performed by going round the Ka‘bah, as near the walls of the sacred building as possible, but on the north-western side, keeping close to the small semicircular wall, as the Hijr is included in the mataf. Before the tawaf, it is necessary to make ablutions (Bu. 25:77), if possible to take a bath. Men and women perform tawaf, together, the women keeping apart from the men, but women are not allowed to go inside the Ka‘bah until it is emptied of men (Bu. 25:63). Before Islam, some people used to make tawaf naked; but Islam forbade it (Bu. 25:66). The tawaf made on arrival is called tawaf al-qudum (the tawaf of arrival), the tawaf made on departure is called tawaf al-wada‘ (the tawaf of departure), and the tawaf on the day of sacrifices (yaum al-nahr, or the tenth of Dhi-l-Hijjah) is called tawaf al-ziyarah (the tawaf of visit), this last being one of the necessary devotional acts of hajj (Bu. 25:129), while the first two are not obligatory though they are generally resorted to.

The tawaf begins at the Hajar al-Aswad (the Black Stone) which is kissed (Bu. 25:55), but even the making of a sign over it is sufficient (Bu. 25:59, 60). The Prophet used to kiss both the rukn al-yamani and the Hajar al-Aswad, but many Companions are reported as kissing all the four corners of the Ka‘bah (Bu. 25:58). In going round, the Ka‘bah is kept to the left, and seven rounds are made in all. The first three rounds are made at a fast pace (raml), and the remaining four at an ordinary pace (Bu. 25:62). But, if necessary, the tawaf may performed while one is riding on the back of an animal. The Prophet performed the tawaf in his Farewell Pilgrimage on the back of a camel, and allowed Umm Salma to do the same on account of her illness (Bu. 25:73). The doing of an act or speaking, if there is necessity for it, is not forbidden in tawaf (Bu. 25:64,65). Prayers or supplications may be addressed to God in the course of tawaf. The Prophet is reported to have prayed thus: "Our Lord! grant us good in this life and good in the Hereafter and save us from the punishment of the fire"13 (AD.11:49). Menstruating women should postpone the tawaf, and the sa‘y between Safa and Marwah, for the duration of the menses. For those who enter upon ihram for both hajj and ‘umrah’ at the same time (hajj qarin), the first tawaf al-qudum) is sufficient (Bu. 64:79; AD.11:51). But in the case of tamattu‘, a second tawaf must be performed when the ihram for hajj is entered upon.

13 Rabba-na ati-na fi-l-dunya hasanat-an wa fil-hkhirati hasanat-an wa qi-na ‘adhab al-nar.

The Black Stone:

Reference has already been made to the Hajar al-Aswad (lit., black stone), in the history of Ka‘bah, where its description is given, and under the heading "Tawaf," where it is stated that it is kissed by the pilgrims as they pass by it in their circumambulations. There is not the least indication to show where this stone came from and when it was placed there, but as it was there before the advent of Islam and was even kissed, it must have been there at least from the time of Abraham, as the main features of the hajj are traceable to that patriarch. Yet it is remarkable that though the Ka‘bah had 360 idols within its walls before the coming of Islam, the Black Stone was never regarded as an idol by the pre-Islamic Arabs, nor was it ever worshipped by them like the idols of the Ka‘bah. The fact that the practice of kissing it in the course of circumambulations has been retained, has been turned by Western critics of Islam into an argument that Islam retains remnants of pre-Islamic idolatry. There are even critics who are of opinion that the tawaf of the Ka‘bah itself is an idolatrous practice. But a cursory glance at facts is enough to show the absurdity of this view. Among the innumerable objects which were taken for gods by the pre-Islamic Arabs, the Ka‘bah and the Black Stone are the only two which are conspicuous by their absence, notwithstanding the reverence which the Arab mind had for them before Islam. The Ka‘bah was known by the name Bait Allah or House of god, and there was belief prevalent among them that no enemy could destroy it. It was due to this belief that when Abrahah14 attacked Makkah, ‘its people took to the surrounding hills, offering no resistance, and when Abrahah asked ‘Abd al-Muttalib15 why he did not request him to spare the Ka‘bah, his reply was that the Ka‘bah was the House of God and He would take care of it. Yet, notwithstanding all this reverence, the Ka‘bah was never worshipped. It, no doubt, contained idols, yet it was the idols that were worshipped, and not the Ka‘bah; and the same is true of the Black Stone. It was kissed but it was never taken for a god, though the Arabs worshipped even unhewn stones, trees and heaps of sand. And the Muslims, to say nothing of the Prophet, were so averse to idolatry that when they saw two idols, the Usaf and the Na’ilah, on the hills of Safa and the Marwah respectively, they refused to make the sa‘y between these two mountains, until a verse was revealed: "The Safa and the Marwah are truly among the signs of Allah, so whoever makes a pilgrimage to the House or pays a visit to it, there is no blame on him if he goes round them both" (2:158). The words used here "there is no blame on him" clearly show that the Muslims thought that there was a sin in going round places wherein idols had been set. Evidently they had not the same scruples about the Ka‘bah as the idols in the Ka‘bah were shut up in the building, while those on the Safa and the Marwah were not only exposed to view but even touched by the pilgrims. The Muslims so hated idolatry that they could not brook the thought of idols being connected in any way with their religious practices. How could they think of worshipping the Ka‘bah and the Black Stone, which even the idolaters had never worshipped? Had the idea of idolatry been connected in the least with the circuits round the Ka‘bah and the kissing of the Black Stone, the Muslims would never have resorted to those practices. They had no hesitation in turning their backs to the Ka‘bah when on reaching Madinah they were required to take Jerusalem for their qiblah of prayer. And it has just been shown that the Prophet once made circuits of the Ka‘bah on the back of a camel; he also touched the Black Stone with the rod in his hand; all of which goes to show that the Muslims never entertained the idea of the worship of these things, nor was their attitude towards them at any time that of the worshipper towards the object of his worship. The Black Stone was not kissed alone; the Prophet kissed both the Black Stone, which is in the Eastern corner, and the Yaman corner, while some of the Companions kissed all the four corners of the Ka‘bah.

14 Governor of Yaman.

15 Grandfather of the Prophet.

Significance Underlying Tawaf of the Ka‘bah:

To say that tawaf of the Ka‘bah is a remnant of idolatry is to force a meaning on idolatry which it has never borne. Circumambulation of an object which is considered sacred is met with in the history of the Israelites, "where the altar is circumambulated once on the first six days and sometimes on the seventh" (En. Is., art. Tawaf), yet no critic has ever asserted that the altar was worshipped by the Israelites. And, of all men, the Muslim would be the farthest from the idea of idol-worship in his tawaf of the Ka‘bah, when he feels himself in the presence of the One God, crying aloud, labbaika Allah-umma labbaika, la sharika la-ka labbaika, "Here am I, O Allah! here am I in Thy presence, there is no associate with Thee, here am I." From the time when he is still at a distance of several miles from Makkah, to the time when he leaves the Holy city, there is but one phrase on his tongue, one idea in his heart, there is no associate with God. How could he at the same time entertain the idea of idol-worship? And what is tawaf itself? It is going round about the House which is an emblem of Divine Unity, the place from which sprang the idea of Divine Unity, the place which would always be the centre for all believers in Divine Unity. All ideas of the pilgrim at that time are concentrated upon one theme, the theme of Divine Unity. The pilgrim forgets everything and remembers only the One God. He forgets even his own presence, and to him the august Divine presence is all in all. That is the tawaf.

Significance Underlying Kissing of the Black Stone:

That the Ka‘bah was rebuilt by Abraham is an historical fact. The Black Stone has been there ever since the Ka‘bah has been known to exist, there is not the least reason to doubt. That it was a stone sent down from Paradise, or that it was originally white and became black on account of the sins of men, there is no reliable tradition to indicate. The Black Stone is, in fact, the corner-stone of the Ka‘bah, and stands there only as an emblem, a token that that part of the progeny of Abraham which was rejected by the Israelites was to become the corner-stone of the Kingdom of God. The Psalms contain a clear reference to it: "The stone which the builders refused is become the head-stone of the corner" (Ps. 118:22). Ishmael was looked upon as rejected and the Divine covenant was considered to have been made with the children of Isaac only. That was the Jewish view, and it was due to the fact that Ishmael was placed by Abraham near the Ka‘bah. And again while prophet after prophet appeared among the Israelites, no prophet appeared of the progeny of Ishmael, and hence the Jewish belief that Ishmael was rejected became stronger. Yet it was from the progeny of Ishmael that the last Prophet, "the head-stone of the corner" in the words of the Psalmist, was to arise, and the black Stone, whencesoever brought, was placed as the corner-stone of the Ka‘bah, as a sign that the rejected Ishmaelites were the real inheritors of the Divine Kingdom. And while David referred to it as " the stone which the builders refused," Jesus spoke of it more plainly in the parable of the husbandman, telling the Israelites that the vineyard, which in the parable stands for the Kingdom of God, would be taken away from them and given to "other husbandmen;" that is, to a non-Israelite people: "Did ye never read in the Scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?" (Mt. 21:42); "The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof " (Mt. 21:43). That by the rejected stone in the prophecy was meant a rejected nation is made clear by Jesus Christ. That rejected nation was no other than the Ishmaelites is borne out by history. And in the whole world there is only this unhewn stone, the stone "cut out of the mountain without hands," (Dan. 2:45), that is the corner-stone of a building which in point of importance stands unique in the world.

The Sa‘y:

Sa‘y means running, and in the Islamic terminology it signifies the running of the pilgrims between the two little hills situated near Makkah, called the Safa and the Marwah. In the devotional acts of hajj, it occupies a place next to the tawaf. In fact, in the case of ‘umrah, the minor pilgrimage as it is called, tawaf and sa‘y are the only functions of importance, and the ‘umrah therefore ends with the sa‘y unless of course there is an animal to be sacrificed when ‘umrah alone is to be performed. The sa‘y is spoken of in the Quran: "The Safa and the Marwah are truly among the signs of Allah, so whoever makes a pilgrimage to the House or pays a visit to it, there is no blame on him if he goes round about them" ( 2 :158). The word used in the Quran is not sa‘y but a derivative of tawaf (yattawwafa). These two hills were the scene of Hagar’s running to and fro in quest of water for her baby Ishmael, when she was left there by Abraham (Bu. 60:9). They have thus become monuments of patience under the hardest trials, and it is in connection with the teaching of patience that the tawaf of Safa and Marwah is spoken of in the Quran, as the context of 2:158 would show. Between these two hills there is now a street with houses and shops on both sides.

The Hajj Proper -- March to Mina:

Tawaf and sa‘y are the individual acts of every pilgrim when he first arrives at Makkah, whether he intends to perform the ‘umrah or the hajj, or unites hajj with ‘umrah (qiran) or combines the two (tamattu‘). In case it is simply an ‘umrah or in case of tamattu‘, the pilgrim emerges from the state of ihram after performing the ‘umrah, the hajj proper beginning on the 8th of Dhi-l-Hijjah when the whole body of pilgrims moves together. It is called the yaum al-tarwiyah.16 The pilgrims who have got out of the state of ihram on account of tamattu‘, again enter into ihram on the morning of the 8th, and so also do the residents of Makkah who wish to perform the pilgrimage (Bu. 25:81). The whole body of pilgrims then moves to Mina, a plain which is midway between ‘Arafat and Makkah, about four miles distant from the Holy City. The way into this plain which is about a mile long goes over a hill which is called the ‘Aqabah, famous in the history of Islam because of the two pledges taken there by the Prophet from the Madinah Muslims. To the north side rises Mount Thabir. During the hajj proper, the pilgrims’ longest, and in fact the only, stay, is in Mina. Mina must be reached before noon, so that the early afternoon prayer, Zuhr, may be said there. The night is also passed in Mina, and next day, the 9th Dhi-l-Hijjah, at midday the pilgrims move to the plain of ‘Arafat.

16 Lit., the day of watering or satisfying the thirst, because on that day the pilgrims provide themselves with water for the following days (N.), or because the commencement of the hajj proper means the satisfaction of spiritual thirst.

‘Arafat and the Wuquf:

‘Arafa or ‘Arafat is the name of the plain which is situated to the east of Makkah at a distance of about nine miles. It is derived from ‘arf or ma‘rifah, which means knowledge of a thing, and ma‘rifah especially means the knowledge of God. The name given to this plain seems to be based on the fact that here men assembled together, as equals in all respects, are best able to know their God. This plain is bounded on the east by the lofty mountains of Ta’if, while northward rises a small hill of the same name, ‘Arafat, about 200 feet above the level of the plain. The Jabal al Rahmah (lit., the mountain of mercy), on which is the pulpit from which the sermon is delivered, is situated to the east, sixty steps of stone leading to the top. Leaving Mina at noon on the ninth Dhi-l-Hijjah, the pilgrims reach ‘Arafat in time to say the Zuhr and ‘Aœr prayers combined, after which the Imam delivers a sermon (Khutbah) from the pulpit on the Jabal al-Rahmah. The pilgrims’ stay in ‘Arafat lasts only from afternoon till sunset and is known as wuquf (lit., halting or standing still), but so important is the place it occupies in the devotional acts of hajj, that hajj is considered to have been performed if the pilgrim reaches ‘Arafat in time on the 9th Dhi-l-Hijjah, but if he is unable to join in the wuquf, the hajj is not performed. The whole time of the pilgrims, from afternoon till sunset, is passed in glorifying God and crying aloud labbaika Allah-umma labbaika. Before the advent of Islam, the Quraish and certain other tribes, who claimed superiority over the other Arab tribes, did not go to ‘Arafat, hence the injunction in the Quran levelling down this distinction: "Then hasten on from where people hasten on" (2:199).


After sunset the pilgrims leave ‘Arafat, and stop at Muzdalifah (from zalf meaning nearness), which is so called because by staying there nearness to God is sought (N.) In the Quran it is called al-Mash‘ar al-Haram (lit., the Sacred Monument), and the remembrance of God at that place is specially enjoined: " So when you press on from ‘Arafat, remember Allah near the Holy Monument, and remember Him as He has guided you, though before that you were certainly of the erring ones" (2:198). It has also received the name of al-Jam‘ (lit., the place of gathering together). On reaching Muzdalifah, the pilgrims say their Maghrib and ‘Isha’ prayers, combining the two (Bu. 25:96). There the night is passed, and then after saying the morning prayer at an early hour the pilgrims leave for Mina. Those who are infirm are allowed to leave even before the morning prayer (Bu. 25:98). Before Islam the pilgrims did not leave until the sun shone on the Mount Thabir (Bu. 25:99) It may be that the idea of sun-worship was in some way connected with this custom.

Yaum al-nahr in Mina:

Thus the pilgrims again reach Mina on the morning of 10th Dhi-l-Hijjah, which is called yaum al-nahr (lit., the day of sacrifices), being the day which is celebrated as the ‘Id al-Adzha all over the Muslim world. After saying the ‘Id prayers in Mina, the animals are sacrificed,17 the pilgrims then return and perform the tawaf of the Ka‘bah. This is called tawaf al-ifadza and with it, the pilgrim emerges from the state of ihram, by having his head shaven or his hair clipped. But before the sacrifice there is another small act of devotion called the ramy al-jimar, which will be described presently. Though the pilgrim leaves the state of ihram after the tawaf al-ifadza, yet he must return to Mina again, for it is in Mina that the hajj ends.

17 The subject of sacrifices has been fully dealt with in the chapter on Prayer, Section 8.

Ayyam al-tashriq:

The pilgrims are required to stay in Mina for three or at least two days after the yaum al-nahr, that is, on the 11th, 12th and 13th Dhi-l-Hijjah. This stay is required by an express injunction of the Quran, where the ending of the devotional acts of hajj is thus spoken of: "And remember Allah during the appointed days. Then whoever hastens off in two days, it is no sin for him, and whoever stays behind, it is no sin for him, for one who keeps his duty. And keep your duty to Allah, and know that you shall be gathered together to Him" (2:203).

The "numbered days" referred to here are the two or three days that are spent in Mina after the yaum al-nahr, and they are known by the name of ayyam al-tashriq or the days of tashriq. The word tashriq is derived from sharq signifying east; but, according to some, these three days of pilgrimage are given the name tashriq because one of its meanings is spreading out flesh in the sun for the purpose of drying it, and the flesh of the sacrificed animals was dried during these days to form part of provision for the journey (N.). Another explanation is that they were so named because the animals were sacrificed after the rising of the sun, which is also one of the meanings of tashriq (N.). But, again, tashriq also means going east (LL.), and Mina lies to the east of Makkah; or it may have a deeper spiritual significance in that it also means being beautiful and shining in the face (LL.). In pre-Islamic days, after the performance of hajj, men used to boast of the greatness of their fathers when they gathered together in ‘Ukaz and other markets. Islam discontinued this and set apart these days for the glorification of God.

Ramy al-jimar:

During the last day of hajj, the 10th Dhi-l-Hijjah and the three tashriq days, the pilgrims are required to cast stones at certain fixed places. This is know as ramy al-jimar (ramy meaning throwing, and jimar, pl. of jamrah, meaning small stones). Each of the three places in Mina, where stones are thrown, is also called Jamrah, because of the throwing or the collection of stones there. Of the three Jamrahs, that nearest to Makkah is called JamrahAqabah, being situated on the ‘Aqabah; the second Jamrah wusta or the middle Jamrah, is near the Mosque of Mina; and a little further on is the third, the Jamrah sughra, or the smallest Jamrah. The practice of the Prophet is thus described. On the yaum al-nahr he threw stones in the forenoon, and in tashriq days in the afternoon (Bu. 25:134). Again, while a start was made with Jamrah ‘Aqabah on the yaum al-nahr, the order was reversed in the tashriq days. The number of stones thrown at each Jamrah was seven, and every stone thrown was accompanied with takbir (Bu. 25:138). It is also related that after throwing stones at the first Jamrah he proceeded a little further, and then stood for a long time raising both hands for prayer and facing the Qiblah; then he went to the second Jamrah and after throwing stones there again proceeded a little further, then stood for a long time raising both hands for prayer facing the Qiblah, and last of all he came to the last Jamrah and departed after throwing stones there (Bu. 25:142). It is true that in the hajj many pre-Islamic practices were retained, but as has been shown above, the origin of these practices is traceable to Abraham, and every one of them carries with it a spiritual significance. The whole atmosphere of hajj is a demonstration of the greatness of God and the equality of man. The hajj is, as it were, the final stage in man’s spiritual progress. Yet in spiritual advancement the temptations of real life must not be forgotten, and the throwing of stones draws attention to the temptations of the Evil one. To live in perfect peace is the message of Islam, but there is no peace of mind for the man who is tempted by evil. The throwing of stones teaches the lesson that man must learn to hate evil and that the Evil one should be kept distant -- a stone’s throw. The nearer a man gets to temptations, the more likely he is to yield, and the best way of avoiding them is to keep them at a distance. The throwing of stones is, moreover, a reminder of the spiritual fight which man must wage against evil.

Other Activities allowed in Pilgrimage:

Though hajj is meant to bring about an ascetic experience in man’s practical life, yet so closely combined are the ascetic and secular experience in Islam, that the utilizing of the pilgrimage to Makkah for secular purposes is not excluded. The Quran, while enjoining the making of sufficient provision for the hajj journey, adds: "It is no sin for you that you seek the bounty of your Lord" (2:198). The seeking of bounty is accepted here by all commentators as meaning the seeking of increase in one’s wealth by means of trade in the pilgrimage season. Explaining this verse, Ibn ‘Abbas says that Dhu-l-Majaz and ‘Ukaz were markets for trade in the pre-Islamic times. The Muslims however did not like the idea of mixing up the spiritual lessons of Pilgrimage with material advantages, until this verse was revealed which allowed the carrying on of trade in the pilgrimage season (Bu. 25:150). These markets were held in or near ‘Arafat, from the beginning of Dhi-Qa‘d till the 8th Dhi-l-Hijjah, when pilgrimage began. The Quran thus not only allows the carrying on of trade in the pilgrimage season, but in a way recommends it by calling it a "bounty of your Lord." It is easy to see that, even if trading is allowed in the pilgrimage season, this great assemblage of Muslims from all quarters of the world may also be made the occasion of other advantages of a material or cultural nature, and it should serve the purpose of unifying the Muslim world and removing misunderstanding between nation and nation. World-wide conferences are held on many occasions, and this should, in the new conditions of the world, be a regular feature of the hajj, and the best minds among the various nations should on this occasion discuss all problems affecting the Muslim world, not the least important of which is the advancement of Islam itself.



Books Section > The Religion of Islam > Hajj or Pilgrimage


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