Cornwall Faith Forum’s member, Valerie Ward, shares with us her thought on the Islamic pilgrimage, the Haj:

Pilgrimages are journeys motivated by religious sentiments.  They may be to visit a place considered sacred or as an act of devotion.  All major religions have some form of pilgrimage.

At the beginning of September 2017 Muslims all over the world will be thinking of the Islamic pilgrimage, the Haj.  The Haj fulfils both criteria; visiting a sacred place and performing acts of devotion.

Haj is the fifth Pillar of Islam, pillars which are the basis of faith.  It is referred to in the Holy Quran, Ch.22 v. 27/28.

“and Proclaim unto men the Pilgrimage(Haj)….”

“That they may witness the benefits for them and may mention the name of Allah during the appointed days…..”

All Muslims should perform the Haj at least once in their lifetime if they have the health and the means to do so.

Muslims travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia where the ancient place of worship called the Ka’ba is found.  Today the Ka’ba stands in the middle of the large courtyard of Masjid al Haram or the Sacred Mosque.  This place of worship was known to Abraham.  In the Sacred Mosque is also the Station of Abraham(Maqam a Ibrahim) and the spring of water called Zam Zam.

There is a very close connection between Abraham and the Haj in Mecca.  Abraham took his wife and his baby son, Ishamel to Mecca, under instructions from God although at that time there was no settlement there.  Later he and his son Ishmael rebuilt the Ka’ba, also under instructions from Almighty Allah.  As Abraham was told to rebuild the Ka’ba it must have existed as a place of worship before that but had fallen into ruin through misuse.  After the time of Abraham it has been in continual use as a house of worship and pilgrimage, though the monotheism of Abraham was at times lost so that by the time of the Holy Prophet Muhmmad(saw) the Ka’ba was contained more than 300 statues and idols.

There are rituals and prayers special to the Haj.  Today pilgrims travel from all around the world.  They go in guided groups with scholars to explain the customs and meanings of the prayers so that all, no matter what nationality or language, can benefit from their Haj.

There are many websites explaining the detail and importance of the rituals of Haj.

Since the lifetime of the Holy Prophet(saw) the Haj has been performed each year.  The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and so the days of the Haj change throughout the seasons.

In addition to the performance of the rituals of Haj and its sacred spiritual benefits it should also be a time for Muslims from all around the world to renew their fellowship, friendship and unity, to develop cordial relationships for the benefit of all.

May Almighty Allah enable all Muslims to perform the Haj in its true spirit and heal the divisions between them and all God’s creation.