The Effects of Hajj on The Life of Man
Al-Azhar Magazine – February 1970
Islam introduces, through its institution, a workable formula for the development of human life in its all aspects. The four main institutions of Islam, Salath (prayer), Zakath (poor-dude), Fasting and Hajj (pilgrimage) have individual and collective values. But Hajj has a deeper value of spiritual and social experience which is made possible by this unique assemblage of people of all races, colors and all countries, concentrating all one’s ideas on God the-Almighty, the Real Lord of the worlds, and the Cherisher of the humankind, as members of one Divine family. There remains nothing to distinguish the high from the low, but they are all clad in one dress, all moving in one way all having but one word to speak: “Here we are O Allah! Here we are in Thy presence”. No other institute in the world has the wonderful influence of the Hajj in leveling all distinctions of race, color and rank.
The institution of Hajj brings into the domain of practicality what would otherwise seem impossible, namely that all people to whatever class or country they belong, should wear one dress, speak one language and meet together in one place with one aim. This leveling influence of Hajj teaches the pilgrims how to live on one way, how to act in one way, and how to feel in one way. All men are equal in birth and death; they come into life in one way and they pass out of it in one way. Thus Hajj is the only occasion on which every Muslim made to pass, at least once in his life through that narrow gate of equality which leads to broad brotherhood of humanity.
Another value of Hajj lies in its higher spiritual experience. It is made possible by this unique journey which is drawing people nearer and nearer to God till one 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 a Muslim is taught to be in the remembrance of God Who is nearer to him than him than himself, and to concentrate all hi ideas and deeds on His orders and instructions. In Hajj there is a deeper spiritual experience; every member of this great assemblage, sets out his home with one object in view. He discards all those comforts of life which act as a veil against the inner sight, putting on simplest dress avoiding all talk of an amorous nature and all kinds of disputes and undergoing all the privations entailed by a long journey. So that he may be able to concentrate all his meditation on the Divine Being, not in solitude but in the company of others.
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. This higher significance of Hajj is an undeniable truth. There is a mysterious way from heart to another; it is recognized even by the materialists. Now take the case of hundreds of thousands of men and women all inspired by the one idea of feeling the Presence of Divine Being, all concentrating their minds on the One Supreme Power Who for the time is their sole object. Their appearance, as well as the words which are on their lips, show that they are standing in the Divine presence. Such is the higher spiritual experience of the Hajj. This experience will lead the pilgrims to the inner change which thus effects them outwardly.
The Hajj is an obligatory function every adult, only once in his life time. The obligation to perform the Hajj is further subject to the condition that one is able to undertake the journey to Mecca. As the Holy Quran says:
“وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ حِجُّ ٱلۡبَيۡتِ مَنِ ٱسۡتَطَاعَ إِلَيۡهِ سَبِيلاً۬ۚ”ۚ ( ٩٧ – آل عِمرَان)
It means: “And pilgrimage to the House (the Sacred Mosque at Mecca) is incumbent upon men for the sake of Allah, (upon everyone), who is able to undertake the journey to it.” (3:96)
The ability of undertake the journey depends on various circumstances. Who is unable to undertake such a journey due to a physical disability, such as renders a man unable to bear the hardships of the long journey, or a financial disability, as when a man has not get sufficient provision for the journey as well as for the dependents to be exempt from the obligation.
The word ‘Hajj’ means, literally repairing to a thing or a place for the sake of a visit. And in the technicality of Islamic Law the repairing to the Sacred House (Kaba) of Mecca to observe the necessary devotions. As an institution Hajj existed, before the Advent of Prophet Muhammed, from a very remote antiquity.
The sacredness of Mecca and the Ka’ba recognized in earliest revelation. Its connection with the name of the Father of the Prophet’s Ibrahim (Abraham), is a well known historical fact. We find clear mention of it in the early Mecca revelations. In one of the earliest suras (chapter), Mecca is described as: “The land made safe” (95:3). An another early revelation, speaks of Ka’ba as follows:
إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيۡتٍ۬ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِى بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكً۬ا وَهُدً۬ى لِّلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ فِيهِ ءَايَـٰتُۢ بَيِّنَـٰتٌ۬ مَّقَامُ إِبۡرَٲهِيمَۖ( -٩٦ ) آل عِمرَان)
It means: “lo! The first sanctuary appointed for mankind was that at Becca (Mecca), a blessed place, a guidance to the people, wherein are plain memorials (of Allah’s guidance); the place where Abraham stood up to pray…” (3:96)
The names of Abraham and Ismail in connection with Mecca, its sacredness and the fact of it being a place of resort for men, also find mention in the Holy Quran:
وَإِذۡ قَالَ إِبۡرَٲهِيمُ رَبِّ ٱجۡعَلۡ هَـٰذَا ٱلۡبَلَدَ ءَامِنً۬ا وَٱجۡنُبۡنِى وَبَنِىَّ أَن نَّعۡبُدَ ٱلۡأَصۡنَامَ -٣٥ ) إبراهیم)
It means: “And when Abraham said: ‘My Lord! Make this city secure and save me and my sons from worshipping idols.” (14:35)
The mention of Abrahamic connection with Mecca and Ka’ba, is a proof that all the main features of the Hajj, as existing at the advent of the Prophet, were based on the authority of Abraham.
Abraham not only rebuilt the Ka’ba and purified it of all traces of idolatry but he also enjoined Hajj with its main features which were therefore based on Divine revelation.
The details of Hajj will not be discussed here but the whole atmosphere of Hajj is a demonstration of the Greatness of God and equality of men.