Hajj and Umrah
The Hajj is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so. The Hajj (Arabic: حج "pilgrimage") is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission Allah.
The Hajj takes place during the twelfth Islamic month known as Dhu al Hijjah. The Hajj is a required duty of all Muslims, who are physically and financially able. It must be performed at least once in their lifetime. If you are unable the Quran says: [002.196] Perform the pilgrimage and the visit (to Mecca) for Allah. And if ye are prevented, then send such gifts as can be obtained with ease, and shave not your heads until the gifts have reached their destination. And who ever among you is sick or hath an ailment of the head must pay a ransom of fasting or almsgiving or offering. And if ye are in safety, then whoso ever contented himself with the visit for the pilgrimage (shall give) such gifts as can be had with ease. And whoso ever cannot find (such gifts), then a fast of three days while on the pilgrimage, and of s even when ye have returned; that is, ten in all. That is for him whoso folk are not present at the Inviolable Place of Worship. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is severe in punishment.
Umrah or little hajj as it is called, is not an obligation, nor does it count as your Hajj. The rituals are similar but are shortened and fewer in number. Umrah can be done anytime of year but your reward is greater during Ramadan. During Umrah you visit the Ka'bah, perform Tawaf [circling] around it, walking between Safa and Marwah seven times.
The History of Hajj starts with Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh). Ibrahim (pbuh) was instructed by Allah to take his son Isma'il (pbuh), who was still a baby and his wife Hajirah from Kin'an to Hejaz. Hejaz was located deep in the desert of Arabia. It was a barren and waterless place. Ibrahim (pbuh) placed Isma'il (pbuh) on the ground near were the Ka'bah stands today. Beside him he placed a bag filled with dates and skin of water. He started to walk away. Hajirah called him, begging him not to leave them. He did not listen. Finally she asked him if Allah had commanded him to leave them there. Ibrahim (pbuh) told her yes. She to had faith in Allah, that if this is the will of Allah, she knew that no harm would come to them. He left them in the desert with a sorrowful heart, placing their lives in the hands of Allah.
In time she and Isma'il (pbuh) ran out of supplies, she had begun running between the two hills, in search of people or subsidence. Seven times from the hill of Safa to Marwah she ran in her quest of water. Isma'il (pbuh) became so thirty, that he began crying and kicking the ground with his heels. The ground were his heels had hit, a small spring rushed miraculously forth from the ground. This water is still running to this day it is known as the Zam Zam water.Years later Allah also commanded Ibrahim (pbuh) and his son Isma'il (pbuh), to build the Ka'bah in Mecca. To serve as a House of worship for Allah. Isma'il (pbuh) and Ibrahim (pbuh) began to call people to prayer at the Ka'bah. The Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) asked his son to bring a good stone to mark the corner of foundation. So that for all times this place would be marked, as Allah had commanded. The black stone was placed in the corner. It is said to have come directly from the heavens. The stone was known as Hajar al-Aswad. When they completed the Ka'bah, both of them prayed to Allah for acceptance of their service.
Thousands of years passed and the Ka'bah fell to ruin. The people of Mecca had turned to idol worshipping. The Ka'bah was turned into a house for storing idols. The authority in Mecca was divided among the ten senators who constituted the governing body of the Arabian Commonwealth. A storm had ripped threw Mecca, damaging many of the building's including the Ka'bah. A group of young men from each tribe had assembled in shifts to repair the Ka'bah, afraid that it would collapse. even though most of Mecca worshiped idols, many of them felt the Ka'bah was the only remaining connection to the Prophets of the past. The project was half way completed, and was time to replace the Hajar al-Aswad (the black stone). The tribes began to argue on who should have the honor. They all decided, the next one to enter the courtyard would decide the matter for them. The first to come was Muhammad (pbuh), the people cried out ‘Al Ameen, he will decide’.
Muhammad (pbuh) listened to the tale of what happened. Then he got a large sheet and placed the black stone on it with his bare hands. He asked the chiefs of each clan to take hold of the cloth and then carry it to the wall. When they reached the wall he told them to raise it up high. Muhammad (pbuh) again took the stone with his hands and placed it in position. The tribes we’re all very pleased with his wisdom. Muhammad (pbuh) had averted a war between them.
Many years passed and Muhammad (pbuh) was receiving the divine message, and was teaching others of the oneness of Allah. They we're living in Medina and the number of the Muslims had increased immensely, they decided they would travel to Mecca ad make the first pilgrimage. A huge number of Muslims led by Muhammad (pbuh) entered the city of Mecca. The idolaters became nervous not knowing what the intention of the men were and decided to meet with them. This would result in the non believers and the Muslims coming together to sign the treaty of Hudaybiya. The treaty simply put is this: The Muslims could not enter the Ka'bah that year. They would be allowed the following year and according to the agreement, the city would be vacated by the non believers. They would pitch their tents on the hills surrounding the holy precinct. The Muslims were disappointed but they performed their ritual sacrifices at their encampment, and returned to their homes. The Prophet assured them, they may return the next year.
The following year, the Muslims left there home and headed for Mecca. The non believers evacuated the city per the agreement and watched the strange sight. They saw the Muslims perform the rituals of Umrah, all clad in white robes, quiet and somber in behavior. There was no music, dancing, drinking or noise. Their hearts were stirred by the discipline and organization of the Muslims. In accordance with the treaty, the Muslims left Mecca at the end of three day's.
Even with the peaceful conduct of the Muslims, many of the disbelievers among the people still wanted to cause harm. They breached the contract, by killing members of the Muslim alliance. No peace talks could be met at these actions. Muhammad (pbuh) collected a large army and entered the city of Mecca. Unable to stop the army of Muhammad (pbuh), the Quraish had no choice but to surrender.
The city that had humiliated, and caused them so much pain, now lay at their mercy. He warned them to accept Islam. The head of Quraish agreed and was the first to accept. He informed the others of the mercy of the Muslim's. Muhammad (pbuh) declared that anyone who came forward and accepted Islam would be forgiven of their past crimes. They came forward in great numbers accepting Allah as the truth and Muhammad (pbuh) as His Messenger. In the light of such a momentous achievement the believers went to the homes that they had lost and reunited with their family. The Profit declared that Mecca would know be known as a sanctuary for all people.
During one year in the month of Pilgrimage, the Prophet banned the pilgrimage of any idolatry from that year on. He had his cousin Ali read this proclamation aloud. At the end of the year the Prophet entered the Ka'bah and joined Ali to break the idols. They cleaned the ground and prepared for the first prayer of the Muslims. Bilal, called the first Adhan in a melodious style that brought tears to the congregation. In light of all that had transpired in the last few years they prayed, thanking Allah for all of his mercy. Subhana wa Ta'ala
Muhammad (pbuh) took his final pilgrimage in the year 632. A vast sea of Muslims joined him. The number was between ninety thousand to one hundred and forty thousand people. Before completing the Hajj he addressed the assembly from the top of Mount Arafat. He told them to cherish their lives. To remember the oaths that they took to provide protection to their wives, and that couples have rights over each other. Not to forget that on the day of judgment they would be held accountable for actions good and bad. To take care of their slaves, see that they feed and cloth them only in things that they themselves would use. To also treat them well because they are the servants of the Lord and are not to be harshly treated. To remember their prayers and that all Muslims belong in one brotherhood, never take from your brother without his consent. Then he told them, to tell the people that were not there, everything he said. Then he asked Allah to verify that he had fulfilled his message and accomplished his work. The Muslims cried out: "Yea, verily you have." The Prophet (pbuh) again exclaimed: "O Lord, I beseech You, bear witness to it." The Muslims finished the Hajj with stronger vigilance, then returned to their homes in Medina.
It was at Khum-e-Ghadir, about half way to Medina when Jibril brought the last revelation from Allah. The Prophet (pbuh), after receiving the message immediately stopped the caravan and called the Muslims together. He then announced to the people that he was to leave them soon, and they should follow the two things he was leaving behind, Allah's Surahs and his teachings. Muhammad (pbuh) told them the message. "This day, we have perfected your religion and perfected you in My grace. "
It was shortly after his last Hajj that the Prophet (pbuh) fell sick and passed away We remember Ibrahim (pbuh) and Isma'il (pbuh), by performing the rituals around the Ka'bah. Circling the Ka'bah four times and then three times recalling how they turned the Ka'bah into the sacred place of worship and peace. We also remember the running of Hajirah as she searched for water for her son, by rapidly walking seven times back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah.
Reasons for Hajj and Umrah
Performing the hajj is our chance to wash ourselves of our sins, and bring our hearts closer to Allah. Since the time of our Prophets Ibrahim (pbuh) and Muhammad (pbuh), Muslims from every race, culture, class and region of the world come to Mecca to unite in prayer, and praise Allah. Proving their obedience to Allah. Bringing about an equality to all Muslims sister or brother. Stripping them of all wealth and placing them in simple white garments and sandals.
The Quran says [002.197] The pilgrimage is (in) the well-known months, and who ever is minded to perform the pilgrimage therein (let him remember that) there is (to be) no lewdness nor abuse nor angry conversation on the pilgrimage. And what so ever good ye do Allah knows it. So make provision for yourselves (Hereafter); for the best provision is to ward off evil. Therefore keep your duty unto Me, O men of understanding. The Hajji (one who is performing hajj) may not commence in the following activities during hajj:
- engage in sexual relations
- shaving of hair, cutting of nails, or wearing jewelry
- perfume, colognes, or scented oils or soaps
- killing of living things including hunting
- fighting, arguing, or annoying one another
Men are only allowed clothing without stitches, (ihram cloth). The garment consists of two sheets of white cloth that are not hemmed. They are held together with a belt at the waist. Females wear white or black dress with head covering. Women must not cover their face.
The end of the pilgrimage is marked by a festival, the Eid al-Adha, or the festival of sacrifice. Eid al-Adha lasts for four days. Eid is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts. Muslims also commemorate this occasion by sacrificing an animal and sharing its meat among family, friends and the needy as a special act of charity. The festival is celebrated throughout the Muslim world as a remembrance of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) and his willingness to sacrifice everything for God, including the life of his son Isma'il (pbuh).