Higher Objectives of Pilgrimage

By: Dr. Abullah Abdeen

  • | Monday, 26 June, 2023
Higher Objectives of Pilgrimage

     Pilgrimage is one of the greatest pillars of Islam. It is mandatory upon Muslims who have both physical and financial competence as God says, "And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House - for whoever is able to find thereto a way." (Qur’an: 3: 97). Further, the Messenger of God (PBUH) delivered a sermon and said, "O people! Hajj (pilgrimage to the House of Allah) has been made incumbent upon you, so perform Hajj." A man inquired: "O Messenger of Allah, is it prescribed every year?" He (PBUH) remained silent until the man repeated the questions three times. Then he (PBUH) said, "Had I replied in the affirmative, it would have surely become obligatory, and you would not have been able to fulfil it."

Reviewing the verses of the Glorious Qur’an, we find that while the word ajj occurs nine times in five different verses, ‘Umrah occurs twice in one verse only (Qur’an: 2: 196). But there are also a number of related nominal and verbal forms for each.[1] As Islam is not entirely separated from reality of society, it has laid down many lessons and morals in performing this pillar. The Glorious Qur’an indicated that there are many benefits of performing this rite for the individual and society as God says, “That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on known days over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals” (Qur’an: 22: 28). Therefore, this great rite brings about major reforms as well as spiritual and behavioral guidance for both the individual and community. The present article focuses on some of the countless objectives of pilgrimage.

  • Achieving justice and equality

While performing pilgrimage, there is no discrepancy between the rich or the poor, black or white, etc., as all worldly life differences and distinctions among human beings serve no purpose in this setting. This is because all Muslims wear the same clothing and perform the same rites at the same time and in the same place.

In this extraordinary scene, all titles, high ranks, lineage, and all forms of authority disappear. In addition, this lively scene stresses that the most noble among people in the sight of God is the most righteous. God (Glory be to Him) says, “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted” (Qur’an: 49: 13). This clear discourse based on equality firmly establishes a very cohesive society where there is a deep-rooted relation between the individual and society.

During performing this rite, a Muslim learns how to respond to the call of his Lord quickly and willingly, saying, "Here I am, O Allah, here I am." So when he hears, "Come to prayer, come to success," he rushes, replying, "Here I am, O Allah, here I am." And when he hears a command from God or a prohibition, he says, "Here I am, O Allah, here I am."

In addition, Abstention from prohibited acts of Irām, such as wearing perfume, cutting hair, trimming nails, covering the head, and other acts throughout the period of Irām, trains pilgrim to abandon his beloved things in response to Allah's prohibition. So when God prohibits something at a specific time, man must refrain from it, even if it is permissible at another time, as man might not grasp the wisdom behind this legislation.

  • Upgrading the code of ethics

According to Islam, ethics are a set of key principles, essential concepts, and norms controlling human behavior. In Islam, the code of ethics encompasses both theoretical and practical aspects. As morality and faith are inextricably linked, there is also a close connection between morals and acts of worship. Morals are not based on individual interests or sectarian theories, rather they are deep-rooted principles that never change with the course of time as God, says, “Frah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah". (Qur’an: 30: 30). As a result, a pilgrim should have a set of good morals, qualities, and virtues. Islam did not command the pilgrim to spend a big sum of money or to travel such a long distance in vain. Rather, Islam requires Muslims to learn the code of ethical values and adhere to the higher objectives of Sharīʻah (Islamic Law) while performing such a spiritual act of worship. God (Glory be to Him) says, “Hajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of Irām], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Hajj” (Qur’an: 2: 197).

Moreover, the messenger (PBUH) stressed that adhering to these ethical norms is the only way for attaining divine forgiveness. The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Whoever performs ajj for Allah’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after ajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew." Thus, when such religious ritual is closely related to the prohibition of doing evil or sin, then there is a call for the reform of society through sticking to these ethical values. At that time, we will have a society with no lie, obscenity, and falsehood.  

Considering this wonderful journey, where Muslims all over the globe come together under the same slogan of their Lord, a unique example manifests itself in establishing the value of fraternity in Islamic religion. God (Glory be to Him) says, “The believers are but brothers” (Qur’an: 49: 10). This fraternity includes all sublime values and morals and excludes everything that causes disunity, envy, and grudge among Muslims. Shared values and peaceful existence form a universal-human meeting point.

While performing pilgrimage, man should be courteous to everything around him. He should be extremely humble at receiving the black stone as ʻĀbis ibn Rabyʻah said he saw ‘Umar kissing the stone and saying, “I know for sure that you are a stone which can neither benefit nor harm, and had I not seen God’s messenger kissing you I would not have kissed you.” The pilgrim must be peaceful toward even flora and fauna around him as God says, “O you who have believed, do not hunt while you are in the state of Irām” (Qur’an: 5: 95). The pilgrim should also be kind to all human beings and refrain from insulting anyone as God says, “Whoever intends [a deed] therein of deviation [in religion] or wrongdoing - We will make him taste of a painful punishment” (Qur’an: 22: 25).

In conclusion, Pilgrimage, if sublimely intended, carefully undertaken, and gracefully embraced; the resulting state of being and tranquility should bring about peaceful, thoughtful, and grateful humans to the whole world.


[1] See Gerald Hawting, Pilgrimage, Encyclopedia of the Qur’an, Vol-4, p. 91.

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