Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is obligatory to perform Hajj at least once in your lifetime.
According to the Islamic Calendar, Hajj begins on the eighth day of Dhul Hijja and ends on the thirteenth day of the same Islamic month. There are many rituals in the performance of Hajj and these may be completed over the course of the 5 days. Every year, millions Muslims participate in this holy pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
At the time of Prophet (PBUH), Hajj was made compulsory for the Muslims to perform once in their lifetime. The overarching aim of the Hajj is to strengthen one’s faith and purify him or her of sins. Allah mentions the benefits of Hajj as:
“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 has bestowed upon them. Then eat thereof and feed therewith the poor unfortunate.” (Quran 22:28)
The rites of Hajj were laid down in current form by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). These rituals signify the sacrifices (Qurbani) and the complete submission to Allah (SWT) by Prophet Ibrahim (RA). Thereafter, every act performed in Hajj, from performing Tawaaf and Saa’i to stoning the wall of Satan, is the reminder of the faith one should have in Allah, as shown by Ibrahim (RA).
In a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah, the Prophet (PBUH) also mentioned the significance of Hajj:
“Allah’s Apostle was asked, ‘What is the best deed?’ He replied, ‘To believe in Allah and His Apostle (Muhammad)’. The questioner then asked, ‘What is the next (in goodness)?’ He replied, ‘To participate in Jihad in Allah’s Cause.’ The questioner again asked, ‘What is the next (in goodness)?’ He replied, ‘To perform Hajj (Pilgrim age to Mecca) ‘Mubrur, (which is accepted by Allah and is performed with the intention of seeking Allah’s pleasure only and not to show off and without committing a sin and in accordance with the traditions of the Prophet).” (Bukhari 2:25)
On the 10th of Zil Hajj, Eid al Adha (Bakra Eid) is celebrated. It is the day when Muslims slaughter animals, generally a sheep, a goat or a camel, remembering the sacrifice of Ibrahim (RA). Ibrahim (RA) intended to slaughter his son Ismail (RA) on Allah’s orders, but Allah replaced Ismail with a sheep just when Ibrahim was about to go ahead with the sacrifice. This submissive act of faith by Ibrahim (RA) as an integral part of Haj as it signifies trust and total surrender to the will of the Almighty.
Hajj (Muslim Pilgrimage) is meant to be an empowering event in a Muslim’s life, thereafter, it is needed to be performed in a manner prescribed by Allah as each act is historically significant and meaningful.