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Hajj - a study of the Islamic pilgrimage.

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Introduction

What is Hajj? Hajj means pilgrimage. It is one of the five pillars of Islam (Declaration of faith, salah/prayer, Sawm/fasting, Zakat/charity and Hajj/pilgrimage). Islam means submission to God, which is why some people feel they should go on pilgrimage. Also it is written in the Qur'an that all Muslims should go on Hajj 'It is the duty of all men towards God to come to the house a pilgrim if he is able to make his way there.' (Qur'an 3:93) unless they don't fulfill all of some rules. These are: - * You have to be Muslim. It is not a show for nonbelievers. * You must be of sound mind and able to understand what you are doing and why. * You must be physically able to handle the strains of the long journey. * You must be able to pay for the trip without using any dishonest ways to get the money. * If a Muslim cannot go on Hajj because of bad health, lack of money or unavoidable circumstances then it is niyyah/intention that counts. Unfortunately only 1 in 10 Muslims manage to go on Hajj, as they cannot fulfill all of the requirements. The Hajj happens once a year in the month of pilgrimage (Dhu-l-Hijja). Many thousands of people go on Hajj each year. Above is a map showing the route used by pilgrims on Hajj. The first stage of Hajj is to go to Mecca where the pilgrims put there Ihram garments on and then each pilgrim performs 7 circuits of the Ka'ba, while trying to touch the black stone in the wall of the Ka'ba. Next all of the pilgrims run between two hills (Al-Safa and Al-Marwa). ...read more.

Middle

He was seeing the angel again, It said: - 'O you who lie wrapped in your cloak- arise and warn! Glorify God! Make yourself pure! Give up all uncleanness. For the sake of your Lord, endure with patience!' Mohammed's faith was now put to a test as he didn't see another vision for two years. He became fearful about what it may mean but at last an angel came and said: - 'Your lord has not forsaken you, and he is not angry with you.' After that Mohammed got messages from God for the rest of his life and each time he got one his friends and family would write down exactly what was said. Mohammed was ordered by the voice to go out and preach in public so he did. Soon people were getting worried about him as the tribe made a lot of profit from selling idols around the Ka'ba and Mohammed was telling people not to buy them and to worship only one god. The tribe didn't like this and they did everything they could from threatening Mohammed to bribing him and still he refused to stop preaching. Mohammed's followers became known as Muslims. Ten years later his uncle died and soon after that his wife did too. This made him feel very vulnerable and his enemies were trying to make the most of his feeling bad. Mohammed had a vision, while sleeping by the Ka'ba one night, he met all the prophets of the past including Jesus, Moses and Abraham. This was probably the beginning of his career as a prophet. Mohammed returned to preaching in Mecca and then one day some pilgrims from a town called Yathrib heard him and were impressed and asked him to visit them. ...read more.

Conclusion

The next thing they do is run between two hills as Hajar did when looking for water. This is a great physical test for most of the pilgrims as it is quite along way in blistering heat and some people can't do it. To do something like that must have quite affect on your fitness as if you weren't fit before you would quite possibly want to be after would. They travel to Arafat where Mohammed gave his last sermon and there they get preached to much as the people did when Mohammed preached to them. This may have a very spiritually moving affect on people. The next stage is the stoning of the pillars at mina this would probably make the pilgrims feel clean and free of sin. It would affect the way they live when they get home as they may try harder to give to charity or be kind to people. "Religious practices such as pilgrimage have no practical value". Do you agree? No I do not agree with that statement because it unites Muslims around the world however expensive it may be the feeling some one would get from that experience is invaluable you cannot experience something like it anywhere else in the world. You may be able to worship God at home without going to Mecca but when you worship at home, do you meet Muslims from every country in the world? Do you touch and see the thing you've worshipped towards all of your life? No you don't, it is not the worshipping God that is spiritually moving it is being in the place where Mohammed stood and taught thousands of years ago, the same place that Adam and Eve stood at the beginning of time. You can not even begin to imagine what it must feel like unless you have been on Hajj your self. ...read more.

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