Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the five main institutions known as the five pillars of Islam. Islam does not prescribe to make pilgrimages to the graves of the righteous, nor to monasteries in search of saints’ help, nor to places where miracles occurred; Although some Muslims do so. Allah commands the Muslims Hajj to the Kaaba, which is located in the city of Mecca of Saudi Arabia. the Kaaba – simply means “House of God” is considered sacred because it was built by the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his Son (Ismail)for worshiping the Lord. The Almighty honored the prophet by making this House his and turning it into the epicenter to which all Muslims turn in prayer (salat). Today, believers perform the Hajj rites just as the prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) did, and after him the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
The pilgrimage refers to particularly worthy forms of worship. It is the purification from sins, as well as an indicator of high spirituality and sincere devotion to the believer. Any Muslim, who is allowed health and financial status, is obligated once in his life to make a pilgrimage to Mecca – the most sacred city of Islam. The pilgrimage begins a few months after Ramadan, on the 8th day of the month of Dhul-Hijjah – the last month of the year, according to the Muslim calendar, and ends on the 13th day. Once a year, Muslims from all over the world rush to Mecca to purify themselves, strengthen their faith and make sure once again that regardless of skin color, origin, wealth or poverty, all Muslims are equal and deserve the love and sympathy of others. About his impressions of the hajj and how hajj contributes to the establishment of harmonious relationships, Malcolm H. says this:
“Thousands of pilgrims awaiting the flight to Jeddah were dressed in exactly the same way. No one would have distinguished the king from a simple peasant. Wrapped in white clothes, we periodically repeated “Lyabbika Allahumma Labbayka!” “Here I am in front of you, O Lord!” Gathered in the plane were light, dark, red, yellow, blue-eyed, fair-haired … And I – with red curly hair felt like their brother !! We were one family! Honoring each other, we all praised one and the same God.
Then I first glanced at the new for the “white man”, and for the first time I realized that when speaking “white man” we first of all mean not the color of the skin, but the attitude to this person himself. In the United States, the term “white man” implies a certain approach to the blacks and the rest “not white.” In the Islamic world, people with bright faces were the most sincere brothers in relation to the rest. That morning my perception of the ‘white man’ changed dramatically.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered from all over the world. They were of different colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black Africans. However, we all performed the same ritual, demonstrating the spirit of unity and brotherhood. America must understand Islam, because this is the only religion that can rid society of the racial problem. During my trip to the Islamic world, I met, talked and even sat at the same table as those who in America would be considered “white,” but I did not notice anything of what is called the “attitude of white”; Because Islam has cleansed their mind of this. Never before have I seen such a genuine, devoid of all prejudice, brotherhood between people. “
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Thus, the pilgrimage unites the Muslims of the world into one multinational brotherhood. Every year, more than two million Muslims make hajj annually. This is the power that unites believers around the world through worship. Among the Muslims, it is customary to call the person who made the pilgrimage of the Haji. But this is more a cultural than a religious custom. And, finally, hajj is the proclamation of the unity of God – all pilgrims worship and fulfill the order of the One God.
In certain places on the way to Mecca (mikates) the pilgrim enters a state of purity, known as ihram. This is a state where some daily routine actions become forbidden. For example, it is forbidden to cut nails and hair, men should not cover their head, wear ordinary clothes, etc. Men wear special clothing for the state of ihra – two pieces of cloth wrapped around the body. All this makes the pilgrimage to Mecca and the month of Zul-Hijj sacred and even more reverential.
There are five stop-mikats on the way to Mecca: for pilgrims coming from Egypt, Medina, Iraq, Nejd and Yemen.
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Simple clothes symbolize the equality of all mankind in the eyes of the Lord, and the rejection of worldly attachments. After entering the state of ihram, the pilgrim goes to Mecca and waits for the beginning of the Hajj. On the 7th of the month of Zul-Hijj, the pilgrim is reminded of his duties, and during the next 4 days he visits the holy places outside of Mecca-Arafat, Muzdalifah, Mina; Sacrifices an animal in the same way as the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) did. After this, the pilgrim is allowed to shorten or shave off the hair. Then the pilgrim should throw stones at the three pillars in the valley of Mina, return to Mecca and make a sevenfold walk around the Kaaba in the Forbidden Mosque, then go seven ways between the hills of Safa and Marwa.
Since this article is only an introduction, it is impossible to fully convey the spiritual, as well as the historical importance of each pilgrimage rite.
In addition to Hajj (great pilgrimage) there is also a “small pilgrimage” – `umra. Unlike hajj, ‘umra is committed at any time of the year. The performance of Umrah does not relieve the Muslim from the obligation to perform the Hajj. Rituals of great and small pilgrimage are similar, and a Muslim can perform them both individually and together. Like hajj, umra begins with entering the state of ihram. The pilgrim passes the sacred Kaaba seven times, touching, if possible, to the Black Stone. He prays for Makam Ibrahim (the place of Ibrahim), drinks the sacred water of the source of Zam-Zam. Finally, it passes seven times between the hills of Safa and Marva, and, having shaved off or shortened the hair, completes a small pilgrimage. Fourth Pillar Of Islam: Fast In The Month Of Ramadan