Hajj – Pilgrimage to Mecca

The literal explanation of Hajj is “to set out with a definite purpose”. Hajj is a duty of every Muslim and it is compulsory in the religion of Islam. It consists of a Muslim to stand before God at Mount Arafat once in his lifetime. The Hajj is a pilgrimage where a Muslim must be completely concentrated on God, and only God. Every normal activity must be stopped so that all focus must be on God.Hajj consists of a few days and happens between the 8 and 13 Dhul-Hijjah. In 2003, next year, Hajj will take place between the 10th-15th of February. Hajj is also known as the pilgrimage to Mecca, which is a city in Saudi Arabia. If a person performs Hajj at times other than between the 8 and 13 Dhul-Hijjah, then the pilgrimage is known and Umrah. It is a less important than Hajj in terms of religious significance and is generally a less holy pilgrimage. You will not get the same awards that you would if you performed Hajj than if you performed Umrah.The first important historical moment surrounding Hajj dates back to the beginning of man. It concerned Adam and Eve, the first woman and man on earth. After Adam and Eve had given into the devil’s temptation they were banished from paradise and were not allowed to return, then for years they wandered the earth without comfort and in separation. Once they realised what separation from God actually was like, they prayed for forgiveness, that they be accepted and be in the presence of God. God forgave them, and they reunited with God at Mt. Arafat. It is here at Mt Arafat that Adam and Eve built the first house to worship God, known as the Ka’bah, to show their gratitude to God for forgiving them. Therefore if Muslims go to Mt Arafat they can also have the spiritual closeness to God and have all sins forgiven. (Soon the Ka’bah, after Adam built it, was torn down)The second important historical moment surrounding the Hajj involves Abraham and his family. Abraham had dreamt that his son, Isma’il, was to be sacrificed to show his loyalty and faith to God. Abraham accepted this test of faith, and both him and Isma’il willing went to Mina to carry out the sacrifice. On the way to Mina, the Devil appeared and tried to convince the two not to carry out the sacrifice, the devil said three things:1 Only I would ask you to do such a wicked thing, not God, Abraham was being tricked2. If Abraham loved his wife then if she said not to kill her only son, he shouldn’t, and he should do anything she asked. How could she let Abraham kill her son, didn’t she love him3. Isma’il should run away, can’t he see that Abraham is obsessed about a dream, he is mad.Abraham ignored the Devil and continued with the sacrifice. Just before Isma’il was going to be killed, God stopped Abraham and rewarded his loyalty by letting his other wife, Sarah, to have a baby, this baby was known as Isaac. Due to Sarah’s jealously on her son, God told Abraham to leave Isma’il and his mother, Hajar, to God’s care. Eventually all of the family was reunited, and then both Abraham and Isma’il built a square building out of stone. Abraham had to stand on a large rock, known as Maqam Ibrahim to build the higher layers of the building. This building is known as the Ka’bah and is where Muslims go to make their pilgrimage to on Hajj.(ii)Describe and Explain why a Muslim might take part in the Hajj and what this involves.Before a Muslim goes on Hajj, he first has to make sure that he can provide for his family while he has gone. If he cannot then it will not be God’s wish for the Muslim to go on Hajj. He must be prepared before he goes on Hajj and is considerate to others. Firstly the Muslim must get on a plane and travel Mecca. Once they arrived and have sorted there accommodation out they must enter in a state of Ihram, which is an effort to gain purity and so that the Muslims are dedicated to worship, prayer and God. (This is all done one the first day, 8th Dhul-Hijja) To do this a Muslim must bathe himself, so the body is cleansed and clean. Also Ihram garments must be worn, which consists simply of a white sheet covering their body. Also they must have the intention to perform Hajj, known as the Niyyah, also they should avoid doing forbidden acts while the Muslim is in a state of Ihram

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