Explain the significance of the various stages of Hajj and ways in which the whole experience may affect their lives

The Hajj is a form of worship, obedience and submission to Allah and possibly the climax of a Muslims religious life. Each stage of hajj has significance for the pilgrim. There is also various ways in which Hajj affects the lives of Hajjis, some more important then others.Firstly, before pilgrims go to Mecca, they must undertake various tasks. The pilgrim must plan and save for the pilgrimage and if the pilgrim cannot perform the hajj because they are sick then they can pay the hajj savings to charity or pay for a substitute to undertake the pilgrimage on their half. This long term planning should help the pilgrim focus their mind on the worship of Allah and should help pilgrims develop their self control. Furthermore, the pilgrim will have to try to seek amends and forgiveness from those he may have upset in the past.The pilgrim also has to make sure their family can cope for example financially when they are on pilgrimage as well as produce a Last will and testimony as the pilgrim most leave assuming they will never return. Seeking forgiveness and making certain their family can survive without them. Although, these tasks should be completed whether or not a Muslim goes on Hajj but will give those who have lacked the motivation and not done it an incentive. Moreover, pilgrims will leave most of their possessions, wealth and jobs at home and this reminds the pilgrims of Ibrahim’s sacrifices and means they can focus more on worship.Before, entering the area of Haram and performing Umrah and Hajj, the pilgrim will put on the Ihram which means the pilgrim has entered a state of spiritual purity. The simplicity of the clothing represents that ‘the resident and the visitor are equal’ (al-Hajj 22:25) which means all are created equal and are treated equally by Allah as stated in the Qur’an. In addition, it guards against vanity and pride as you should not be able to tell the difference between a wealthy man and a peasant. It also shows that whatever your status, you come as a beggar and destitute before God in our outward appearance and inner heart. The white colour of the Ihram also represents the peaceful state in which the Muslims are not allowed to hunt or carry weapons.The Ihram will also help as Muslims are not allowed to think of worldly pleasures and problems which will help them think of only Allah. The pilgrim must try to be at peace in their heart and also avoid anger and dishonesty this will help the pilgrim be a better Muslim by avoiding these bad deeds and will encourage them to develop good habits and so avoid these acts after Hajj. In addition, the clothing is similar to that worn by dead Muslims in their grave and so acts as a reminder of death. Muslims also recite the Talbiyah from wearing the Ihram until the end of hajj, and this helps the pilgrim focus on seeking forgiveness from Allah and help from Allah to perform righteous acts of worship in the future and signifies the worshipper’s obedience to God. The statement is also a reply to general proclamation by Ibrahim as commanded by Allah to come to the House of Allah and so the reciting of this is an answer to Allah’s summons.The pilgrim also performs Tawaf which is also significant. The act of circling the Ka’aba is one of devotion to Allah and is a re-enactment of Muhammad, Adam and the angels who preformed the ritual long before man by circling the throne of Allah. The pilgrims circling and praying around the Ka’aba symbolises that Allah is at the centre of their life. The pilgrim also kisses the Black stone at the start and end of every circling around the ka’aba which represents the renewal of allegiance to their Lord. The Ka’aba is very significant as Muslims believe that it lies directly below the throne of Allah and where Allah began creating the Earth.The ka’aba is also the centre of Islam as Muslims pray towards it daily. Furthermore, the Ka’aba is the original place of worship of Allah where a shrine was built by Adam originally as informed by Jibril and ordered by Allah. In addition, the angel Jibril gave Adam a shining white stone, which was the first meteorite that fell on earth, to use as a corner for the Ka’aba. The stone is said to have turned black over time due to the sins of the pilgrims who have kissed it. The Ka’aba was built by Ibrahim and his son Ishma’il as commanded by Allah on the remains of the Shrine built by Adam. The ka’aba was built using stones carried by Isma’il and mortar was not used to construct the cube. It was the first real Baitullah, house of God.However, it has been reconstructed several times since its construction 4,000 years ago. The Great Mosque which surrounds the Ka’aba is also very important to Muslims as it is the greatest mosque and it is said that praying their is 10,000 times more beneficial then praying at home and so gives worshippers a great opportunity to boost their chances of entering Jannah (heaven) and shows the compassion of Allah. After finishing Tawaf the pilgrim performs two Ra’kat of prayer behind Ibrahim’s station so that the pilgrim can thank God. The station is said to be where Ibrahim stood on a stone when building the ka’aba and which shows his footmarks when he could not reach the top of the Ka’aba from the ground. 

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