This beautiful journey through time is called ‘Hajj,’ an important pillar in the Islamic belief. Every able Muslim who has the finances after attending to family obligations is required to embark on this pilgrimage.
Connecting the past with the present, rituals unfold the tale of the forefather of Abrahamic faiths: Jews, Christians and Muslims; Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him), Abraham in the Bible.
This once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage traces back the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the last and final Messenger of God, and to relive the moments of Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and his sons Ishmael and Isaac from whose lineage comes all prophets (peace be upon them all) who brought the message of ‘Monotheism’ or ‘Oneness of God.’
Hajj pilgrimage is the largest gathering in the world, uniting different nations into one Muslim brotherhood. The simple white cloth worn by the pilgrims erases class, race, culture and different backgrounds, thereby bringing together the rich as well as the poor into one worship. This portrays everyone is equal before Allah Almighty except those who excel in piousness and good deeds. This state of mind also reminds the pilgrims the simplicity of how they were born and how they would die, in a simple piece of white clothing irrespective of the material things they seek in this world. The first ritual is circumambulating the cube-shaped structure, the Ka’baa, built by Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) and his son Ishmael. Seeing the Ka’baa before one’s eyes surely brings tears. Some cry hysterically after witnessing the object in the direction to which the Muslims pray five times a day until their death, from dawn to night, without seeing it and now standing right in front of it.
The Ka’baa is neither an object of worship nor are there any relics within it; it is simply empty. When Muslims worldwide perform ‘Salaath’ or the daily five times prayer, not only do they face the direction of the Ka’baa, but connects with each other along an invisible line from every corner of earth to the spiritual center of Islam. Whether a Muslim prays alone or as recommended in congregation, this common center links every worshiper who bows down to the one God, the Creator of humanity.
During this beautiful pilgrimage, Muslims recollect the supreme sacrifices made by Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) for the sake of his creator whom the Muslims call Allah Almighty just the way previous prophets called him in all Sematic languages used in the Middle East where all prophets (peace be upon all) lived.
Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) faced extreme trials and his family’s faith was tested by God’s commands, but his sincere submission and devotion to the creator, to the will of Allah Almighty, taught mankind a spiritual lesson; a lesson to people of faith who will come till the end of time. His unshaken spirit of faith in the relationship with God shows man the enormous inborn strengths he bestowed upon him to strive and struggle in the face of difficulties ultimately which will lead to a path straight and clear to his maker to whom he would one day return.
In the command of Allah to take his wife Hajarah (peace be upon her) and his son Ishmael (pbuh) to a dry and arid land, the valley of Bekkah thousands of years ago, little did he dream this blessed land would turn to be home to all the prophets whom God Almighty sent through his lineage.
Pilgrims also trace the footsteps of Hajarah (peace be upon her) who ran between two hills in search of water for her baby who was dying of thirst in the scorching sun. God in his last and final testament states he brought forth a spring for her and the baby for the utmost dedication of her husband towards his maker. This spring, to date, gives water to millions of people and is called “Zam Zam.” This water is universally accepted that it has amazing curative powers.
German Scientist Dr. Knut Pfeiffer said Zam Zam water dramatically increases energy fields in human cells. The faith of the family of Ibrahim (pbuh) was again tested so greatly by the command of God to sacrifice his beloved son Ishmael (pbuh). Though overcome with extreme grief, both the father and son complied with the will of God. The extent of that supreme sacrifice to forgo the most loving worldly possession for the sake of Allah Almighty was replaced by God in the commandment to sacrifice a lamb instead (Qur’an 37; 102-110).
On the final day of the pilgrimage, all pilgrims head towards mount Arafah, the mount of blessings. This mount is the place where the last and final Messenger of God Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) delivered his last sermon. Fasting is highly recommended for non-pilgrims on Arafah, the day before Haj.
“This day I have perfected you your religion, and completed my favour upon you, and approved for you Islam as your religion.” This verse was revealed by Allah Almighty on the day of Arafah to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Upon reading this verse in the Quran, the final testament to mankind, a Jewish man told Umar ibn Khattab “if this verse was revealed to the Jews we would celebrate this day.”
Ibrahim (pbuh) and his family is remembered, honoured and celebrated for their utmost sincere submission to their Creator. The generations after him till the end of time would witness and honour his supreme sacrifice in the face of hardship, solely for the sake of God Almighty. In it we see the grand plan of God for those who submit to his will.