The final pillar and one of the finest institutions of Islam is the Hajj or pilgrimage to Makkah. The performance of the Hajj is obligatory, at least once in a lifetime, upon every Muslim, male or female, who is mentally, financially and physically fit.
The Muslim who is of responsible age, in fairly good health, and is financially capable and secure must make the Hajj at least once in his or her lifetime. The financial security here means that he should have enough to cover his own expenses and those of his dependents, and to pay his debts, if he is in debt, until he completes the course of Hajj.
The course of Hajj is another unique characteristic of Islam, it is enjoined by God to serve many purposes among which are the following:
1- It is the largest annual convention of faith where Muslims meet to know one another, study their common affairs and promote their general welfare. It is also the greatest regular conference of peace known in the history of mankind.
In the course of Hajj peace is the dominant theme; peace with God and one’ s soul, peace with one another and with animals, peace with birds and even with insects. To disturb the peace of anyone or any creatures in any shape or form is strictly prohibited.
2- It is a wholesome demonstration of the universality of Islam and the brotherhood and equality of the Muslims. From all walks of life, from all trades and classes, and from every corner of the globe the Muslims assemble at Makkah in response to the call of God. They dress in the same simple way, observe the same regulations, utter the same supplications at the same time in the same way, for the same end. There is no royalty, but loyalty of all to God. There is no aristocracy, but humility and devotion.
3- It is to confirm the commitment of the Muslims to God and their readiness to forsake the material interests in His service.
4- It is to acquaint the pilgrims with the spiritual and historical environment of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), so that they may derive warm inspirations and strengthen their faith.
5- It is to commemorate the divine rituals observed by Abraham and Ishmael (Ibrahim and Isma`il), who are known to have been the first pilgrims to the first house of God on earth, i.e., the Ka`bah at Makkah.
6- It is a reminder of the grand assembly on the Day of Judgment when people will stand equal before God, waiting for their final destiny, and where no superiority of race or stock can be claimed.
It is also a reminder of the fact that Makkah alone, in the whole existing world, was honored by God in being the center of monotheism since the time of Abraham, and that it will continue to be the center of Islam, the religion of pure monotheism, till the end of time.
In the performance of Hajj it can easily be observed that it is a course of spiritual enrichment and moral rearmament, a course of intensified devotion and disciplinary experience, a course of humanitarian interests and inspiring knowledge – all put together in one single institution of Islam.
The description of the rules and steps followed during the Hajj are rather lengthy.
However, it should be pointed out that during the whole course of Hajj there are informed guides always available to help the pilgrims with right instructions.
Source: Source: The article is excerpted from Dr. Hammudah’s well-known book “Islam in Focus”.