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Hajj - Pilgrimage to Mecca

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Introduction

1930. Paper 6: Islam, "Hajj - Pilgrimage to Mecca" By Adil Naeem Centre Number: 20149, Candidate Number: 0064 (a) (i) What is Hajj? 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. ...read more.

Middle

Then when all hope was lost, the angel Jibril appeared and showed her a spring of water, this spring is known as the ZamZam well. Muslims perform Sa'i so that they can feel the problems and difficulties that Hajar did. Hajar's frantic running symbolizes the soul's desperate search for which gives true life, the search answers to the questions of life. Therefore with the Muslims running, it is as if they are searching for what gives true life, searching for answers. Pilgrims collect water from the ZamZam well in the courtyard of the Great Mosque in Makkah, they drink this water and take it home. They do this because the ZamZam well was the well that Hajar used to quench her son's thirst when he was nearly dead, it is believed that the angel Jibril showed Hajar this well. This symbolises the hope and truth when all may believe that is lost, it shows that God is still watching and caring. So if Muslims drink the water and go to the well it might give them the feeling that God is always watching and caring and will never leave you even if you facing the most difficult of times. Pilgrims travel to the plain of Arafat because this was the place that Adam and Eve were reunited when they were separated by God, this was also the place that God forgave them and accepted back again. Pilgrims go here so that they also can have there sins forgiven as so did Adam and Eve, the period in which the pilgrims stand under God so that there sins can be forgiven is known as Wuquf. Muslims travel to Muzdalifah and pick up pebbles and then travel to Mina and stone the three pillars, because the pillars represent the devil, so by stoning the pillars it represents getting rid of and banishing the devil so that it would not bother the Muslim. ...read more.

Conclusion

As along as Muslims have these qualities, then a Sufi's pilgrimage is complete. Sufism preaches that the mystical inside experience which Sufi's get is a true pilgrimage, rather than it being an external journey, as long as the intention is there. Sufism preaches that God's power draws Muslims from normal life and makes them forget everything else and only concentrate on God. Sufism preaches that there is a lot of mysticism around God's effect on Muslims. They preach that there is an active presence of God within them. When looking at Christianity, there isn't any real specific pilgrimage. As long as the Christian gains what he wants to gain, it can be counted as a true pilgrimage. For example many Christians go on retreats, which is sort of day full of learning about God. Some Christians may consider that a true pilgrimage is simply a quiet day in a church, they feel that this makes them closer to God. In conclusion I would say that yes, the physical journey of the Hajj is always a true pilgrimage of Muslims. This is because you cannot experience the things that you do in Hajj at home. By going on Hajj you are following the footsteps of prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and feel what his life is like and the travels and journeys he performed, which you cannot do at home. The going on Hajj is the act of 'ibadah', an act of worship, submission and obedience. By going on Hajj the Muslim develops faith in Allah and he feels he can trust him, which you cannot do elsewhere. Necessary prayers cannot be accepted to the greater extent if a person does them while going to Hajj. A true pilgrimage of a Muslim must be to complete Hajj, it cannot be something else, because it is said by Allah that performing Hajj is a necessity, and if it is a necessity it must be done. ...read more.

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