Arabic Language Blog

Hajj (pilgrimage) Posted by on Nov 5, 2011 in Arabic Language, Culture, Vocabulary

Image by Al Jazeera English on Flickr

Image by Al Jazeera English on Flickr

       Hajj الحج  refers to the annual pilgrimage that Muslims make to the holy land of Makkah مكّة in Saudi Arabia, with the intention of performing certain religious rites exactly as Prophet Muhammad had done. It was made obligatory in the 9th year of Hijra. It is one of the largest pilgrimage in the world and is the fifth pillar of Islam that must be carried out at least once in a lifetime by every able Muslim. Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people and their submission to the will of Allah.

      Hajj dates back to the time of Prophet Ibrahim إبراهيم (Abraham) and his son Ismail إسماعيل  (Ishmael) who were entrusted by Allah to build the Ka’ba الكعبة (House of Allah) for only one purpose; the pure worship of Allah. Ibrahim continued to come to Makkah to perform the Hajj every year and his son Ismail continued the practice after him. However, through time, the rites and goals of hajj were changed. Idolatry spread throughout theArabia and idols were placed inside the Ka’ba that lost its purity. Singing, drinking, adultery and other acts of immorality were all common amongst pilgrims.

     With the advent of Islam, Prophet Muhammad spread the message of Tawheed التوحيد (true monotheism) – the same message that Prophet Ibrahim and all other prophets came with. Muhammad established the law of Allah upon the land, smashed the idols from inside and around the Ka’ba and restored its universal status as a central destination for all the worshippers of one true God. Hence, all the pre-Islamic practices, which were based on ignorance, were abolished and Hajj was once more made a model of piety, fear of Allah, purity, simplicity and austerity. Hajj is a special worship that lasts for several days. This is an occasion that brings Muslims of all countries, colors, and races to one place – the Ka’ba. This is a unique opportunity of worshipping Allah collectively in a large gathering at one place. Prophet Muhammad performed Hajj in the 10th year of Hijra which is widely known as the Farewell Pilgrimage حجة الوداع because it was his first and last pilgrimage. In Surah Al-Ma’idah المائدة , Allah says on the tongue of his prophet Muhammad:

اليومَ أكملتُ لكم دينكم و أتممتُ عليكم نعمتي و رضيتُ لكم الإسلام ديناً

This day have I completed My commandments for you, and have brought to its fullness the favor that I have bestowed upon you, and have chosen Islam as your religion.

There are four basic pillars for performing Hajj :

1-     Ihram الإحرام  : It is the intention of starting the Hajj acts of worship. Ihram has a specific timing and starts at certain places called the Meeqaats. Ihram is accompanied by wearing the Ihram clothing which is a garment consisting of two sheets of white unhemmed cloth for men and normal hijab clothes for women. After putting on the Ihram, men and women offer two Raka’ts of Nafl (supererogatory) prayer followed by recitation of their “intention” and saying the following words:  “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik; La Shareeka-laka Labbaik; Innalhamda wan-ni’mata-laka wal-molk Lashreeka-laka لبيك اللهم لبيك , لا شريك لك لبيك , إنّ الحمد و النعمة لك و الملك , لا شريك لك ” These words are recited in Arabic and called “Talbiyah التلبية”. These words are an essential part of the state of Ihram and Ihram will not complete without reciting these words.

2-      Standing at Arafah الوقوف بعرفه   : Standing or staying at the Arafah area – even for a short time – will be sufficient. Pilgrims start arriving at Arafah in the morning of the 9th day of the month of Zul-Hijjah and till sunset.

3-      Tawaaf Al-Ifadah طواف الإفاضة  : After standing at Arafah and from the morning of the next day; the Adha Day عيد الأضحى , pilgrims circle the Ka’ba in what is called Tawaaf Al-Ifadah. It stays possible till the end of the month.

4-      Sa’y between the Safa and Marwah Mountains السعي بين الصفا و المروة  After Tawaaf, pilgrims run forth and back between the hills of the Safa and Marwah and remember Hajjar (Hagar); mother of Ishmael while she was looking for water for her baby.

        Hajj is a time of symbolism الرمزية and mysticism التصوف that reflects Muslims’ submission and love to Allah. In all acts of Hajj, Muslims reflect on their life, restore the story of Ishmael’s rescue from death, remember Hajjar’s running up and down Safa and Marwah to find water. Pilgrims bear the heat and cold only for Allah’s sake. They come back to their homes as pure and clean of sins as they were born.


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Peace  سلام / Salam/

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About the Author: Fisal

Well, I was born near the city of Rasheed or Rosetta, Egypt. Yes, the city where the Rosetta Stone was discovered. It is a small city on the north of Egypt where the Nile meets the Mediterranean. I am a Teacher of EFL.


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  2. Nadia:

    Hajj is a pivotal experience. I cannot wait to try it myself. 😀

    • Fisal:

      @Nadia 🙂 In Shaa Allah soon 🙂

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