Dhul Hijjah · Hajj · Islamic Months

Realizing the Essence and Purpose of Hajj

When a Muslim realizes the essence of Hajj as well as the rationales and secrets behind it, this qualifies him to perform a valid and accepted Hajj. This is similar to humbleness in prayer. A person who has greater humility in prayer, his prayer is more likely to be accepted. The same applies to Hajj. The more a pilgrim is aware of the essence, spirit and rationales behind the Hajj as well as the purposes for which it has been prescribed and, further, he utilizes this to reform his creed [aqeedah] and behavior, his Hajj will be more likely to be accepted and greatly rewarded and he will benefit more.

Nevertheless, no one will be able to achieve this unless he qualifies himself by actively seeking the secrets and rationale behind Hajj and reflecting on them. A Hajj pilgrim who does not attempt that ought to worry that his Hajj may amount to no more than a mixture of tourism and tiredness.

Here are some of the most important rationales and purposes behind Hajj that a pilgrim should realize:

1. Attaining Piety:

One of the purposes behind Hajj is to attain piety. Piety is firmly and explicitly connected to Hajj in the relevant Qur’anic ayaat. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says:

“And complete the Hajj and ‘Umrah for Allah……….. And be pious to Allah.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 196]

“And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is piety.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 197]

2. Firmly establishing and asserting Islamic Monotheism in the Heart and Mind:

Hajj is based on dedicating one’s intention to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and doing everything only for His Sake. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says (what means):

“And complete the Hajj and ‘Umrah for Allah.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 196]

“So avoid the uncleanliness of idols and avoid false statement, Inclining [only] to Allah, not associating [anything] with Him….” [Al-Hajj 22: 30-31]

Talbiyah which is the slogan of Hajj, explicitly states dedicating worship to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala alone:


Hajj is also based on compliance to the methodology of the Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and avoiding polytheism in obedience. To perform any of the Hajj rituals according to one’s whims and inclinations is rejected. Rather, it is necessary to follow the example of the Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and to adhere to his methodology.

3. Honoring the Symbols of Allah and what He deems sacred:

One of the most prominent purposes and rationales behind Hajj is getting a slave of Allah used to honor, exalt and love the symbols of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and what He deems sacred.  One has to fear violating or going against the prohibitions as dictated by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. In the course of the Qur’anic ayaat relevant to the Hajj, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says (what means):

“That [is so]. And whoever honors the Symbols of Allah – indeed, it is from the piety of hearts.” [Al-Hajj 22: 32]

4. Teaching Noble Morals and Good Characteristics:

a. Chastity:

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says (what means): “Hajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of Ihraam], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations…” [Al-Baqarah 2: 197] Foreplay is included as well.

b. Restraining anger and abandoning disputing and arguing:

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says (what means): “and no disputing during Hajj…” [Al-Baqarah 2: 197] Commenting on the ayah, ‘Ataa’ raheemullah said, “It refers to disputing with your companion until you anger him or he angers you.” According to the preponderant view, it means stressing forbiddance of dispraised disputes only, which is arguing and disputing over matters which are useless under Shari’ah.

c. Gentleness, leniency and tranquility:

When the Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, heard people harshly urge and beat camels upon leaving Muzdalifah, he remarked: “O people, be tranquil, because it is not hastiness that indicates righteousness.”

d. Self-denial and mingling with others:

During Hajj, a person denies himself, abandons everything with which he distinguishes himself and becomes exactly like all his brothers in dress, saying the Talbiyah, moving from one place to another and acts of worship.

e. Teaching a Muslim how to bear the consequences of one’s mistakes:

This clearly appears in the obligatory compensation [Fidyah] when a pilgrim deliberately violates one of the restrictions of Ihraam, stays in the wrong place on ‘Arafah or moves to Muzdalifah before sunset etc.

f. Teaching modesty:

This clearly appears through the unity of all pilgrims in rituals as well as in their experience and feelings. All material differences among pilgrims in terms of language, color or wealth, etc. are denied. In the course of Khutbat Al-Wadaa‘ [the Farewell sermon], the Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “O people, [mind that] your Lord is One and your father (i.e.  Adam) is one. Verily, except by piety, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, a non-Arab has no superiority over an Arab, a red has no superiority over a black, and a black has no superiority over a red.”

g. Teaching patience in all its aspects:

During Hajj, a pilgrim curbs his desires and inclinations by abstaining from anything that would violate his state of Ihraam. Furthermore, he abstains from some things which are permissible, when he is not in the state of Ihraam. A pilgrim exposes himself to hardship and exhaustion for the sake of obeying the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to perform and complete the rituals of Hajj. This creates incentives within him to abandon acts of disobedience, obey Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and bear hardship for the sake of pleasing Him even after Hajj is over.

h. Giving and generosity:

This clearly appears when the pilgrim pays the expenses of Hajj.

5. Reminding of the Hereafter:

Hajj clearly reminds the slave of Allah, of the Last Day and the situations and terror it includes, through the following:

► Leaving his country and departing from his family. This reminds him of departing his country and family after death.

► Taking off form-fitting clothes and other adornments. This reminds him of the shroud as well as resurrection of the slaves of Allah from their graves barefooted and uncircumcised on the Day of Judgment.

► Moving among the different places and facing hardship and exhaustion therein: this reminds him of the stress and hardships of the Day of Judgment when some of the slaves of Allah will be bridled by sweat.

6. Teaching Surrender and Submission to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala:

During Hajj, slaves of Allah learn surrender, submission and absolute obedience to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. This is achieved through two ways:

► The rites of Hajj such as taking off form-fitting clothes, abandoning adornment, Tawaaf, Sa‘y, staying at ‘Arafah, throwing the pebbles, spending the night in certain places, shaving or shortening one’s hair as well as other deeds that may have unclear rationales behind them. However, they are done in pure surrender to the command of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala with no room for the slave’s inclination or desires.

► The old memories that the rituals revive; memories that date back to the time of Ibraheem (Abraham) ‘alayhi salaam and the consequences of surrender and submission to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, when a Hajj pilgrim prefers to please Allah than to satisfy his desires.

7. Deepening the Islamic brotherhood and Unity:

Despite the difference in languages, colors, countries and ethnics, all Hajj pilgrims gather in one place, at one time, with one appearance, repeat one slogan and do all these actions motivated by one thing which is belief in Allah The Almighty and keenness on obeying His commands and avoiding His prohibitions. This deepens love among Hajj pilgrims and boosts good relations, cooperation, meditation, as well as enables them to exchange advice and share experiences.  This further encourages them to fulfill the requirements of that religion which gathered them and to spare no effort in striving to exalt it.

Malcolm X Hajj reflection

8. Connecting the Pilgrims to their Predecessors:

The rituals of Hajj bring to the mind old memories: the migration of Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam as well as his wife and newborn to Hijaz, the story when he was commanded to slaughter his son, building the Ka‘bah, Ibraheem’s call to people to perform Hajj. They also revive the memory of Hajjatul-Wadaa’ [the farewell pilgrimage], when the Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, performed Hajj along with one hundred thousand Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to them: “Take your rituals from me.”

During Hajj, one thinks of the different Islamic ages down to the present era,  when over two million Muslims  perform Hajj every year. This calls upon a pilgrim to remember these generations which attended the sacred places before him. He reflects on the creed-related struggle which took place between the monotheists and the polytheists and how the former sacrificed lives, families, wealth and prestige for the sake of this religion. Hajj pilgrims also reflect on how stubborn and aggressive the polytheists were as they defended their interests and personal inclinations and desires.

With such things, a pilgrim will realize the reasons behind destruction and salvation, and thereby he will be watchful to utilize the available means for salvation and consider himself a successor of those who were saved, such as the prophets and the righteous Muslims. Meanwhile, he will avoid causes of destruction, consider himself an enemy to wrongdoers and be certain that victory and Paradise will be for the righteous. A Hajj pilgrim will also realize that the fate of all people is the same, which is death, and that he will leave the world just as they left. Therefore, he adheres to piety in order to rescue himself and taste peace and security between the hands of Allah.

9. Intensifying remembrance of Allah The Almighty:

Reflecting on the rituals of Hajj, Talbiyah (saying: “Labayka Allahuma Labayk”), Takbeer (saying: Allah-u-Akbar) and supplications, etc, as well as the relevant Qur’anic and Prophetic texts, one observes that intensifying remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is one of the most prominent rationales and purposes behind Hajj. In the Qur’an, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says (what means): “But when you depart from ‘Arafat, remember Allah at Al-Mash‘ar Al-Haraam.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 198]

In a hadeeth, the Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Tawaaf, Sa‘y between As-Safa and Al-Marwah, and throwing the pebbles are prescribed to establish remembrance of Allah on earth.”

10. Training on Orderliness and teaching Discipline:

There are restrictions, limits, commitments and various disciplinary aspects for Hajj and a pilgrim is not permitted to violate them. Such things get the pilgrim used to loving order and maintaining it. Moreover, they teach a pilgrim to be committed through doing what is commanded and abandoning what is forbidden.  There are many, clear texts to indicate this.

11. Other benefits:

There are countless other benefits related to this life and to the Hereafter; and to individuals and community.  The abundance of benefits is expressed in the ayah in which Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says (what means): “That they may witness benefits for themselves.” [Al-Hajj 22: 28]

We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to guide us and to provide us with the greatest share of these benefits!  Allahumma ameen.

Slightly modified. Originally published at islamweb.net

4 thoughts on “Realizing the Essence and Purpose of Hajj

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