Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is compulsory on every adult, able bodied Muslim who can afford it, once in his life time. It is an annual pilgrimage constituting many rituals; which are mostly sunnahs of various prophets. As described by many pilgrims Hajj is more than a cluster of rituals, it is a spiritual journey that brings one closer to his creator, explains the essence of religion and gives you a chance to know and relate to fellow Muslims from all around the globe.
Ihram the white unstitched two piece garment is adorned by every male Hajji. It erases the distinction of caste, race, creed or stature. No matter how rich or poor you are; you are appearing in front of the almighty clad in the same outfit.
Tawaf, circumambulating of Kabbah, was done by Ibraheem (Abraham) and his son Ismail (Ishmael) after they constructed the Kabbah for the first time. While circling the massive structure Muslims experience the most overwhelming feeling, the one that lasts for all times to come. You are lost in this sea of people where you lose all sense of individualism. You just belong to humanity, the other distinctions vanish.
Saai, the running between the hills of Safa and Marva, as Hajra (Hagar) did, while baby Ismail bawled for water; makes you see the need and desperation and also, the magnanimity of Almighty. Pilgrims run between these hills chanting verses and saying gratitude to Allah.
The sacrifice of animals is again a sunnah of prophet Ibraheem, who was willing to give up his dearest worldly possession for the love of Allah. Reminiscing that act Hajjis sacrifice animals, promising to Allah, the bountiful, that whatever belongs to them is in fact Allah’s.
Gathering in the mount Arafat and remembering Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) last sermon is something that not only revives ones affiliations to the Prophet’s last sermon but also proves to the most humbling experience. What makes millions of Muslims to leave comfort of their homes and stand sans worldly possessions in terrible weather, exposed to scorching heat and dust? It is their love and association with the Omnipotent and Merciful Allah and Prophet.
Although, Hajj is mostly considered all about physical patience and perseverance but Hajjis describe it as the most humbling experience of their life. The real benefit is spiritual. Only someone who has performed Hajj can understand the sense of awe and brotherhood that prevails the entire experience.
Every year almost three million Muslims perform this inspiring event. When there, you feel that religion is much more serious than what you thought it to be. You not only start to value life but also the importance of religion after being a part of Hajj. Mostly we just read religion and we just go over it. But once you have experienced Hajj, gone thru the physical ordeals, be a part of the immense flood of people all driven by love of Allah, you tend to see that religion is much more than what we really think it is, it is the only real thing. This is the journey from the superficial self, the ego, to the only true and real Self – Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).