Hajj or Pilgrimage: A Journey of Devotion and Peace

Hajj, or pilgrimage, is a journey, especially a long one, made to a sacred place as an act of religious devotion. This spiritual journey involves sacrificing worldly attachments such as money, time, and effort to please the Creator and attain inner and outer peace. Indeed, Hajj serves as a significant training course for Muslims, yielding numerous benefits, including profound feelings of peace and serenity.

Obligatory Self Jihad

Islam encourages its followers to undergo various forms of training to attain self-control and restraint, among which is performing Hajj. Allah made Hajj obligatory for capable Muslims, as stated in the Qur’an: “And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Kabah) is a duty that mankind owes to God, those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision, and residence)” (3: 97).

This act of worship demands sacrifices of money, time, and effort, as Allah says:

“And proclaim to humankind the Hajj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Hajj)” (Al-Hajj 22:27).

Performing Hajj is an act of positive struggle. Lady `Aishah, the mother of believers, narrated the following hadith: “The Prophet was asked by his wives about Jihad and he replied: ‘The best Jihad (for you, women) is (the performance of) Hajj.'” (Al-Bukhari).

Like all acts of worship, Hajj aims to elevate Muslims’ character and refine their behavior. Allah says:

“For Hajj are the months well known. If anyone undertakes that duty therein, let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the Hajj” (Al-Baqarah 2:197).

These teachings challenge the inclinations of a person’s lower self. If a Muslim succeeds in behaving appropriately, the aim is achieved, leading to increased inner peace and consequently peace with others.

Promoting Peaceful Human Diversity

During the Hajj season, over three million people gather in the same place, wearing the same clothing and performing the same rites. No one feels special or superior, as all pilgrims are equal.

Pilgrims meet fellow Muslims of diverse backgrounds: men and women, rich and poor, black and white, elderly and young, people of high and low social status. This unique situation fosters a feeling of peace, as there is no room for arrogance, pride, or feelings of superiority—elements that disrupt peace and stability.

A story illustrating this is mentioned by Ibn Kathir in “Al-Bedayah Wa An-Nihayah”: Jabalah, an Arab Christian king who embraced Islam during the time of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, came to Makkah to perform Hajj. A fellow Muslim accidentally stepped on Jabalah’s long clothes, and Jabalah slapped the man, smashing his nose. The man went to the just caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab, who judged that either the man forgives Jabalah or Jabalah would be punished similarly. Filled with pride and arrogance, King Jabalah refused equal treatment with a layman and eventually left Islam.

Indeed, Hajj stands firmly against arrogance, a threat to peaceful coexistence.

Encouraging Rewards

Given the high level of spiritual struggle required for Hajj, many Prophetic sayings urge Muslims to perform it, promising great rewards such as forgiveness of sins and Paradise in the hereafter.

As narrated by Abu Hurairah: “The Prophet said: ‘Whoever performs Hajj to this Ka`bah and does not approach his wife for sexual relations nor commit sins (while performing Hajj), he will return as sinless as a newborn child.'” (Al-Bukhari).

Also narrated by Abu Hurairah: “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘(The performance of) `Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed (between it and the previous one). And the reward of Hajj Mabrur (the one accepted by Allah) is nothing but Paradise.'” (Al-Bukhari).

Attaining peace and serenity within oneself and with others requires overcoming negative desires. Arrogance and pride are among the main factors of conflict, and Hajj serves as an intensive training course that cures these negative traits. During and after Hajj, people experience and live the meanings of equality and humbleness.

May Allah shower us with the blessing of performing Hajj and grant us tranquility, serenity, and peace.

By Mostafa Al-Khateeb