The Purpose of Hajj
The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam.The ritual of hajj is not any different from any other ritual of Islam. These rituals are acts of worship and must be dedicated to the name of God alone (6:162). The Quran stresses in a number of verses that the only purpose of hajj is to commemorate the name of God. As a result, every precious hour and day of the Hajj should be spent in commemorating the name of God Almighty alone:
"And proclaim that the people shall observe Hajj pilgrimage …… they shall commemorate God’s name during the specified days for providing them with the livestock" 22:27-28
"You shall commemorate God for a number of days" 2:203
"While you file from ‘Arafat’ you shall commemorate God" 2:198
"As you complete your rites, you shall continue to commemorate God " 2:200
The Commencement, Months and Duration of Hajj
1.The sighting of the crescent signals the commencement of Hajj:
"They ask you about the hilals (crescents),say ‘They provide a timing devise for the people and for the Hajj" 2:189
Since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar the sighting of the first crescent signals the beginning of each month in the Islamic lunar calendar. The first sighting of the crescent in the month of Zhu Al-Hijja signals the beginning of Hajj. Similarly the sighting of the first crescent in the month of Ramadan signals the beginning of fasting.
2.Duration of hajj?
"Hajj is (to be observed in) the specified months. Whoever shall ‘farada feehinna Al-Hajj’(execute the Hajj in these specified months) shall refrain from sexual intercourse, misconduct and arguments" 2:197
The first question is how many months are decreed for hajj?
In 9:36 we are told that the count of months is 12 and that 4 out of those 12 are called “hurum”. The word “hurum” does not mean sacred as some have translated, for the word used in the Quran for sacred is “Muqqaddas”, and examples are found in 20:12, 7:16 and 5:21.
The word “hurum” is the plural of the adjective “haram” which is also associated with the months of hajj. Both words come from the word “Ihram” which means abstention. Abstention is one of the requirements during hajj, abstention from war, hunting and so on.
As a result we know that the months which God tells us in 2:197 are designed for hajj are four months.
Sadly, Muslims today allow hajj only during the first 10 days of the month of Zhu Al-Hijjah. When asked why do they disregard the Quranic law of 2:197 they say because the hadith says otherwise! This is just one of hundreds of examples how Muslims place their hadith above the Quran.
God is The All-Knower and God knew this corruption would take place, and for the benefit of the genuine followers of the Quran God usually places key words in disputed verses which confirm the correct meaning.
In 2:197 we read the Arabic words "farada feehinna". Here we have two Arabic words of great significance:
1.The first word is "farada". This verb is from the word ‘fard’ which means a command or duty set by God on the believers. Thus the Salat is a ‘fard’ so is Zakat and Hajj. Thus the verb "farada" means to actually execute or consummate the command.
2.The second word is "feehinna". This word is in fact two Arabic words joined together. They are ‘fee’ which means (in), and‘hinna’ which means (them) and is used in the feminine gender. Thus the whole word means (in them). The word (them) here refers to the specified months. Now by placing these words inside the verse we get:
"Whoever shall execute the Hajj in them (the specified months) shall refrain from ……."
In these two Arabic words execute the Hajj in them God endorses the legality of executing Hajj anytime within the specified months.
Those who have corrupted the law of God and reduced the time of Hajj to the first ten days of the 12th month, have justified their claims by corrupting the meaning of some Quranic verses such as:
"They shall commemorate God’s name during the specified days" 22:28
"You shall commemorate God for a number of days" 2:203
They claim that the words "specified days" and "a number of days" indicate that Hajj can only be observed in the ten day period and not anytime during the four months.
The reply to that is double folded:
Immediately Almighty God has given us a clear distinction in the verses that speak about Hajj. When God addresses Hajj itself, the words "specified months" are used as in 2:197, or the words "sacred months" are used as in 9:36. The reason for that being that the duration of Hajj is the full four months. However when God addresses the believers, the words "a number of days" are used, as in :
"You shall commemorate God for a number of days". The words "You shall" which addresses the believers speak of "a number of days" for the simple fact that any believer who goes to do his Hajj goes for a number of days, he does not stay for the whole four months.Second
Consider the example of the fasting of Ramadan as in the following verses:
"Ramadan is the month during which the Quran was revealed, providing guidance for the people, clear teachings and the statute book. Those of you who witness the month shall fast therein" 2:185
Here we read "the month" as being the duration of fasting.
Now consider the following verse:
"Specific days (for fasting); if one is ill or travelling an equal number of other days may be substituted" 2:184
Here fasting is spoken of as "specified days". However, no one came up and said that we should only fast for the first ten days of Ramadan!
The explanation to all that lies in the fact that a month or months can also be spoken of as days, simply because they are made of days. The fact that they are spoken of as days does not change the fact that they are still months. This is similar to someone describing the years of his childhood by saying ‘they were the best days of my life’.
3.Which is the first month for hajj?
The 12th month of the Islamic calender is called Zu Al-Hijja and that is because it is the first month of hajj. In 2:31 we read that God taught Adam all the names, or in other words everything is given its name by God. It is God who called a tree a tree, and a car a car, and it was also God who named winter as winter and summer as summer and so on. It follows that it was also God who named the month of Zhu Al-Hijjah by its name.
The literal meaning of the name Zhu Al-Hijjah is: the (month) of the hajj.
God gave this month this specific name so that we would know that hajj starts when this arrives.
4.Are the months for hajj consecutive or not?
Indeed the four months for hajj are consecutive. They are the 12th, 1st , 2nd and 3rd months of the Islamic calendar. They are the months of (Zhu Al-Hijjah, Muharram, Safar and Rabi I). The consecutive nature of these four months is confirmed in the following verse:
“Once the “hurum” months have “insalakha” you may kill the idol worshipers (who continue to attack you) when you encounter them, punish them, and resist every move they make.” 9:5
The key word in the above verse and which is relevant to this matter is the word “insalakha”. The word literally means “skinned”. This is the sense of how we skin a snake for example. The movement of skinning a snake means we would remove the skin gradually from one end to the other, or in other words; a gradual and consecutive movement.
God deliberately uses this word in 9:5 in connection to the months of hajj. God could have simply said: when the (hurum) months have passed. So why did God deliberately use this word?
It is because the word “insalakha” indicates a consecutive meaning, or in other words it tells us that the 4 hurum months are consecutive months.
The Rituals of Hajj in the Quran
1.Abstentions (Ehraam) during Hajj
Hunting is prohibited during Hajj as per the following verses:
"You shall not permit hunting throughout Hajj pilgrimage" 5:1
"Once you complete the pilgrimage you may hunt" 5:2
"O you who believe, do not kill any game during pilgrimage" 5:95
b.War and fighting
All warfare is prohibited in the Sacred months of Hajj except in self defence:
"They ask you about the Sacred Months and fighting therein: say, ‘Fighting therein is a sacrilege" 2:217
c.Sexual intercourse, misconduct and arguments
The prohibition against these appear in one verse:
"Whoever shall execute the Hajj in them (the specified months) shall refrain from sexual intercourse, misconduct and arguments" 2:197
d.The cutting of the hair
Abstaining from cutting one’s hair is a requirement during Hajj, this is to encourage the believers to concentrate on the spirituality of the occasion.
"You shall observe the complete rites of Hajj and Umrah for God. If you are prevented, you shall send an offering, and do not resume cutting your hair until your offering has reached its destination" 2:196
It must be noted here that the ritual of cutting a piece of one"s hair at the end of Hajj is non Quranic and therefore is not obligatory.
2.The visit to the Kaaba and commemoration of God
The customary visit of the Kaaba and prayers therein is an integral part of Hajj and is mentioned in the following verse that speaks of Hajj:
"They shall complete their obligations, fulfil their vows and ‘Yattawafoo’ the ancient shrine" 22:29
3.The Safa and Marwah and commemoration of God
"The knolls of Safa and Marwah are among the rites decreed by God. Anyone who observes Hajj or Umrah commits no error by 'yattawwaf bihima" (pass by, visit) them" 2:158
4.Mount Arafat and commemoration of God
The visit and worship at Mount Arafat is one of the Quranic rites for Hajj:
"When you file from Arafat you shall commemorate God at the Sacred location" 2:198
The sacred location here is the sacred masjid in Mecca, that is because it is the only location described in the Quran as "sacred" around the area of Hajj.
The animal offerings are to conserve the resources at the pilgrimage site (note that around two million people converge on Mecca during pilgrimage).
"The animal offerings are among the rites decreed by God for your own good" 22:36
The Quran makes the point clear that this is not to be confused with the Pagan concept of animal sacrifice for the gods, by stating that God Almighty is in no need of sacrifice. This is emphasised by the words "for your own good". This is also asserted in the following verse:
"Neither their meat, nor their blood reaches God. What reaches Him is your righteousness" 22:37
The offerings to the Sacred Masjid and the traditional markings on them are also mentioned in the following verse:
"God has appointed the Ka’bah, the Sacred Masjid, to be a sanctuary for the people, also the Sacred Months, the ‘hadye’ (offerings to the Sacred Masjid) and the ‘qala’ed’ (garlands marking them)" 5:97
These are the rites of Hajj that are decreed by God and are mentioned in the Glorious Quran.