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- Hajj or Pilgrimage -

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A Muslim scholar was once asked, “What will it be like to go before Allah (on the Day of Judgment)?” He answered, “For some it will be like a reunion with a long-lost loved one. For others it will be like a runaway slave being dragged back to his master.”

Hajj is a reminder that life is a journey.

The annual pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mekkah is an obligation once in a lifetime for Muslims who are physically and financially able to perform it. About two million Muslim go to Mekkah each year from all over the world. The annual Hajj is performed in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. Male pilgrims wear special simple clothes (2 pieces of unsewed white cloth) which strip away distinctions of class and culture so that all stand equal before Allah.

It also reminds Muslims of the white cloth they wear when they're dead. It also reminds them of the form in which they will be brought back to life on the Day of Judgment. The rites of the hajj, which go back to the time of Prophet Abraham (PBUH), include going around the Ka'ba seven times, and going seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwa as did Al Sayeda Hagar (Prophet Abraham's wife) during her search for water. The pilgrims later stand together on the wide plains of 'Arafat (a large expanse of desert outside Mekkah) and join in prayer for God's forgiveness, in what is often thought as a preview of the Day of Judgment.

The close of the hajj is marked by a festival, the 'Id al Adha, which is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts in Muslim communities everywhere.

The fact that Prophet Abraham (PBUH) built the Ka'ba means that it is quite ancient, but this verse implies that Prophet Abraham and his son Prophet Ismael peace be upon them) raised the House on foundations that were already there, which would make it even older.

Allah says in the Qur'an:

“The first House [of worship] appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah (Mekkah), a blessed place, and guidance to the people.”Qur'an (3:96)

“And remember [that] Abraham and Ismael raised the foundations of the House (Ka'ba), and they humbly prayed: Our Lord accept this from us, surely You are the All- Hearing, the All -Knowing.”Qur'an (2:127)

Many of the actions commemorated in Hajj are based on actions done by Prophet Abraham, his son Prophet Ismael (peace be upon them) and Prophet Abraham's wife Al Sayeda Hagar. Their actions were expressions of the readiness to sacrifice everything only for the sake of Allah.

Hajj also becomes a form of training of patience and endurance. For the pilgrimage to be accepted, a person must refrain from arguments and fighting. When more than two million people are crowded together there is bound to be jostling and long waits to use toilets, bathe, etc. It is a marvel that so many people gather every year without the brawls and rampages so common in any other types of gatherings.

The reward for performing Hajj properly and refraining from arguments, fights and lewd behavior is that the pilgrim will return home as free of sins as the day his mother gave birth to him.

Allah says in the Qur'an (Addressing Prophet Abraham (PBUH):

“And proclaim the Pilgrimage among people; and they shall come to you on foot and on every means from everywhere.”Qur'an (22:27)

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