Islamic Rituals: Overview Of The Haji
The Hajj is the last of the 5 pillars of Islam. A once a year pilgrimage that is Muslims that is expected of Muslims to complete at least once in their lifetime. The chance of redemption and to cleanse sins for a new life. Gathering together in mecca and stand before the Kaaba, praising Allah. According to Islamic history, the origins of hajj is that the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) was told by Allah (God) to take his wife hajira (Hagar) and Is’mail (Ishmael), their son, to the desert to save them from Abraham’s former wife, Sarah. Allah also told him to leave them there, so he did but not before providing items like food and water. Soon Ishmael were faced with hunger and dehydration. Desperate, Hagar ran back and forth between two hills named safa and Marwan, trying to get some water. Eventually, she collapsed alongside her son and prayed to Allah for help. An angel named Gabriel appeared and granting her the help she needed. Ishmael then hit his foot on the ground, and then a spring of fresh water flowed, this water was called ‘Zamzam’ water. Allah told Abraham to build a temple and to dedicate it to him. The stone structure called the Kaaba ‘(the cube’) and this was supposed to a place for all to worship Allah.
The hajj has a significant impact to the spiritual growth of the adherents. The hajj unites millions of Muslims from around the world. It reminds the community that race, color and gender are irrelevant and what truly matters is that everyone who is hajj is Muslim and worships the one God. According to the Qur’an the purpose of the hajj is ‘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’. Hajj has a significant spiritual impact as it allows the individual to deepen their relationship with God and they do this by taking part in rituals that demonstrate the beliefs of Islam and renew their belief in Allah and his prophets. They do not worship the Ka’ba (the cube) but what it means: a belief in one od.
When pilgrims first arrive at mecca on the 1st day, they must circle the Ka’ba seven times. Then, they must touch the black rock that is placed at the south east corner of the Ka’ba. This ritual is important to adherents as it restores the person’s belief in God and his prophets, and it is thought that the black rock was sent from the heavens so by touching it pilgrims would feel a spiritual connection with God. Pilgrims then must change their clothes to Ihram attire. Males must wear two white cloths that cover their lower body and torso. Women are required to must dress humble. This ethic has a significant impact on the adherents as it means they are in a pure state of mind where they practice patience, courtesy and respect and the individual is under the order to focus only focus on God and nothing else.
On the 2nd day, pilgrims travel to Arafat which is where Adam and eve found each other after exile from heaven. While here, pilgrims are still in their ihram clothes and everyone looks the same. Being in Arafat allows individuals to utterly devote themselves to God as it is the highpoint of the hajj. Arafat symbolizes of the utter forgiveness of God. The individual constantly prays to God and commit to God. Through this, the individual gains peace of mind.
The next day, pilgrims complete their jumraat (Stoning of the devil). This ritual helps the person to confirm that there is good and evil. The stoning symbolizes erasing the inner desire to commit evil acts and also symbolizes of defying Satan and temptation just as Abraham did. After that, males must shave their heads. This shows that the pilgrimage has ended and is symbolic because it makes that the journey has ended and of one being reborn and cleansed. Then, Muslims celebrate the ceremonial ‘Eid Al Udha’ by sacrificing a sheep in order to demonstrate their belief in God. According to the Qur’an ‘The animal offerings are among the rites decreed for you by God. In them there are benefits for you.’ This meat is sent to charities around the world. This ritual means the individual’s belief in zakaat or almsgiving so the hajj has a significant impact on the individual because it allows the adherent to gain a greater understanding of Islamic history and allows them to become a better person and it allows a greater perspective of the reward in the future.
The hajj affects not only the individual but the whole Islamic community as a whole. The hajj unites millions of, and it strengthens the spirit of unity, equality and brotherhood among the Islamic community. It reminds the community that race, color and gender are irrelevant and what truly matters is that everyone who is hajj is Muslim and worships the one God. Furthermore, it reaffirms the belief that in Islam everyone is ‘brother and sister’.