The Pilgrimage in Islam

The Pilgrimage in Islam

Al-Azhar Magazine – January 1973

Pilgrimage is a spiritual provision for the Muslim. It fills his soul with obedience, fear of God, repentance from sins, love for the memory of the struggle between right and wrong; and it reminds him of the overthrow of the idols and establishment of the worship of the One God. The pilgrimage fills his heart with the brotherly feelings because it bids him rememebr that all his brother Muslims are facing towards the same sacred spot; that he is one of a great company of believers; united by one faith, filled with the same hopes, reverencing the same things and worshipping the same God. It moreover may be considered a world Muslim conference for all Muslims; a conference that is called for by God for the noble purposes. There around and inside the Sacred House of ‘the land made safe’, the Muslim meets his brothers in religion from all parts of the world. Differences of colour, race and nationality are levelled off and real bond among them is sincere brotherhood. In the conference of pilgrimage Muslims meet in the service of Gof exchanging ideas, investigating their problems and strengthening the bonds of fraternity and unity. The pilgrimage also add to man’s knowledge and experience.

The Quran says: “And (remember) when We prepared for Abraham the place of the (holy) House, saying: Ascribe thou no thing as partner unto Me, and purify My House for those who make the round (thereof) and those who stand and those who bow and make prostration. And proclaim unto mankind the pilgrimage. They will come unto thee on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every deep ravine, That they may witness things that are of benefit to them, and mention the name of Allah on appointed days over the beast of cattle that He hath bestowed upon them. Then eat thereof and feed therewith the poor unfortunate”. (22: 26-28)

The pilgrimage was enjoined in the 9th year after hijrah. This is to be peformed in the first nine days of the month of Dhulhijjah. The Holy Quran honours the months of pilgrimage and calls them the sacred months becaue fighting, war and aggression were prohibited in those months since the building of the sacred House. The Holy Quran says :

“Lo! the number of the months with Allah is twelve months by Allah’s ordinance in the day that He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred: that is the right religion. So wrong not yourselves in them. And wage war on all of the idolaters as they are waging war on all of you. And know that Allah is with those who keep their duty (unto Him). ” (9: 36)

The months of pilgrimage are Shawwal, Dhul-Qa’ada, DhulHijja and Muharram. This tradition was meant to give security to the pilgrims and the visitors to Mecca.

The first thing to be done in the pilgrimage is the entry into the state of pilgrimage by “ihram”. Ihram has two aspects: the first is to declare the intention to perform the pilgrimage for the sake of God. The intention combined with casting o all seamed and sewen clothes and shunning all kinds of luxury, ornamentation, obscene talk and offences. As regards women pilgrims they are clad in a long garment reaching from hand to foot and revealing only theface and palm of the hands. The second aspect of Ihram is the call of “talbia”. Entering thestate of Ihram the pilgrim shall raise his voice and say “Here I am, o my Lord at your presence”. This is the sign of obedience to show himself completely to the ordinance of God.

The other important requirement is making circuits round the Ka’ba, called ‘Tawwaf’. When the Pilgrim reaches Makkah, goes round the Ka’ba seven times beginning from the side of the black stone. The next step is running between ‘Safa and Marwah’ seven times beginning with Safa and ending with Marwa. Then the pilgrim starts for going Arafat provided he reaches his destination on the 9th day of the month of DhulHijjah. The devotion of standing at Arafat is the most important of all pilgrimage actions, so that the Prophet said : “Pilgrimage is standing at Arafat”.

When the Pilgrim leaves Arafat he passes by the place known as “AlMuzadilfa”. The pilgrim reaches the are ‘Mina’ on the morning of the 10th day of the month of DhulHijja, in which the pilgrim casts seven stones known as “jamaratul Aqaba”. Then the pilgrim performs the sacrifice of a sheep, cow or even a camel according to the means of him. This ceremony concludes the pilgrimage and the pilgrim now is allowed to shave or cut short his hair and to replace pilgrims by usual dress.

Before leaving Mecca he has to perfom the circuits round the Ka’ba as a farewell circuit to the Sacred House. It is regarded as highly meritorious acts to drink of the water of the famous well known as “zamZam”, and go to Medina to visit the Mosque of the Prophet and to say Salam to the Prophet. Then the Pilgrim returns with heart felt pleasure and satisfaction.


In the month of DhulHijja in the tenth year after Hijrah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) decided to go for pilgrimage, and he made an announcement to the Muslims, inviting to join him. It is related that nearly a hundred thousand Muslims from throughout Arabia joined the Prophet on that pilgrimage.

When they arrived at Mecca, the Prophet stood on the Mountain of Arafat and addressed the Muslims. He gave a sermon which is known as the ‘Farewell Speech”, in which he emphasized many Islamic principles. We will cover this sermon in detail later.

It is related that the Day of Arafat fell that year on a Friday and therefore they called it Al Hajj Al Akbar, the Greates Pilgrimage. Muslims always felt happy when the Day of Arafat falls on a Friday because of the blessing of that day.

On that particular day, the Prophet received the revelation of a verse from the Holy Quran which said that his mission was completed. Some Muslims, like Abubakr (may Allah bless him) understood this and could not stop themselves from crying.

This verse says: “this day I Perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion)” (4: 3)

When Abu Bakr heard this, he cried because he felt that the Prophet would soon leave this life.

In connection with this verse it is related that a Jewish man once said to omar Bi Khathab:

“There is in your Book a verse, which, if it had been related about us, we should take the day on which it was revealed as a festival”. And the man recited the verse. Omar answered: “ By Allah, I know where and when that verse was revealed; we take the day in which it was revealed as two festivals, for it was revealed on the day of Arafat, and on a Friday, both of which are festivals for every Muslim”.

On that day when the Prophet was standing on Mount Arafat with the muslims gathered around him, he mounted his camel and asked the people for their attention. He asked someone to repeat what he had said to give a chance for everyone to hear. He started his sermon by Praising God, and said, which means:

“O people listen carefully to what I am going to tell you, for I don’t may be I will not meet you after this in this place.

O people, know that robbery and bloodshed are not proper for anyone. You will soon see God, and He will caution you about your deeds. Theman with whom anything has been left in trust must return it to its owner.

You must renounce robber and theft once and for all.

O people, Satan can not hope hereafter that he will be worshipped in yourland. For the sake of your faith be warned against him.

The earth has come full circle and has returned to the sape and form that on the day of creation, the heavens and the earth received.

The number of months in god’s eyes is twelve, four of which are sacred; they are DhulQa’da, Dhulhijjah, Shawwal and Muharram, which follow wach other and one single month, which I s Rajab which comes between Jamadi and Shaban.

O people, you have rights over your wives, and your wives have rights over you. On your wives it is encumbent that they should not violate their conjugal faith, nor be guilty of any evil act. If they areso guilty, God permits youto send them away. Act kindly towards your wives, for they are prisoners in your hands and have npower of their own. You have taken them as trust from God and by the words of God you have made them lawful for yourselves.

Then people, use intelligence and wisdom in the understanding of the words I shall say to You. I have given you that which will always be your guide if you have recourse to it. That is, the Book of God, and sayings of Muhammad, His Prophet.

O people, listen to my words and think deeply about them.

Know that ever Muslim is the brother of an other Muslim, and that all Muslims are brother to one another.

No property of a man is lawful for his brother unless it has been given to him freely, so do not do injustice to yourselves.

O God, have I truly proclaimed your commands?

“yes o prophet of god!” cried the gathering, “ you have proclaimed to us the commands of God”.

The prophet then raised his eyes to heaven. “O God”, he said, “You yourself be our witness this day”.

Another translation of this sermon adds these sentences:

“O people, all of you are children of Adam, and Adam was created from dust. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for an Arab over another Arab, or for a white over a non-white. All of you are equal. The men honoured in the sight of God are those who fear God Most.”

These are the main points which the Prophet touched in his speech. The Prophet made it clear that usury is forbidden and robbery is forbidden. The rights of wives are defined, and men must be just with their wives and must consider them as a trust in their hands and must do Good for them. Brotherhood and equality is the way of Islam, and the only way for the people to be in a good deeds and pure hearts.

These important points were emphasized by the Prophet in the last year of his life, and he died nearly three months after his speech.

It is an example for us Muslims to follow, and we should do our best to study the life and actions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), because they are a light to guide us.