One of the twelve Furu’ad-din (ancillaries of the religion) or in other words the practical principles of Islam is Hajj rituals. Although these rituals existed before Islam and during the time of Prophet Abraham (PBUH) and even since the time of Prophet Adam (PBUH) and even polytheists have respected these traditions. It has been said that a group of Jews who followed Abraham (PBUH), not only respected the principle of Hajj but also performed Hajj to Bayt Allah Al-Haram, unlike other Jews who performed Hajj in other places.
Also, Indians and Sabeans, as well as Iranians and Chaldeans, have respected the Kaaba, as far as the Iranians believed that the spirit of Ahura Mazda had reincarnated in the Kaaba. It is worth mentioning that, the “Qibla” of prayer, as if it had been towards the Kaaba since the time of Prophet Adam (PBUH), was changed to the direction of Al-Aqsa Mosque during the time of Prophet Moses (PBUH) by order of God and to save this mosque from being contaminated by polytheism and deviance, and then during the time of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) with his heartfelt request and the response from the Almighty God, it changed again towards Al-Haram Mosque.
In any case, in Islam, “Hajj Al-Tamattu” means performing the Hajj rituals once a year and it is obligatory on the condition of financial ability, and if a person has the financial ability but does not have the ability to travel, someone else can do it for him on his own behalf, and failure to perform this obligation under any pretext is considered a sin, although there is a difference of opinion among jurists regarding its urgency.
Philosophy of Hajj
The obligation to perform Hajj rites
The obligation to perform Hajj rites is emphasized in Verse (Ayah) 97 of Surah Aal-e- Imran:
“In it are clear signs and the standing-place of Abraham. Whoever enters it should be safe. Pilgrimage to this House is an obligation by Allah upon whoever is able among the people. And whoever disbelieves, then surely Allah is not in need of any of His creation.”
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the Infallibles Imams (AS) have stated numerous hadiths about the obligation and effects of performing Hajj. The Prophet (PBUH) has said about this:
“Gabriel came to me and said, O’ Ahmad, Islam is divided into ten parts, the first part is testimony to monotheism and the rejection of polytheism, … and the fifth is Hajj, which consists of the entire Islamic Sharia ….”
Imam Ridha (AS) also said about this:
“May God have mercy on you who is obliged to perform Hajj. Know that Hajj is one of the noble and dear duties of God and it is obligatory for those who can afford it. And this obligation is only once in a person’s lifetime, and God has promised heaven and forgiveness of sins to those who perform it. And in the Holy Quran, which is the document of all truths, the one who turns away from this great obligation and duty is called a disbeliever, and the one who abandons it is promised the fire of the Day of Judgment. So, we seek refuge from that fire to God!”
Imam Ali (AS) in Nahjul-Balaghah introduced Hajj as a means of strengthening religion and said:
“The gathering of all sects from all over the world reveals the greatness of Islam.”
Lady Fatimah Zahra (SA) has also considered Hajj as a strengthening of the religion of Islam in her Sermon of Fadak and said:
“And Hajj is a strengthening of the religion”.
According to these and other noble hadiths, Hajj has a great place in Islam, and since the acceptance of Hajj is conditional on material and spiritual purity, they have considered Hajj as a “Concise Sharia”, because it begins with the call of “Allah-u Akbar”, which means that “Allah is [the] greatest”, and is the call of monotheism, and it ends with Rami al-Jamarat, prayer and worship, which is the negation of polytheism and obedience to the Creator.
Before or after performing the Hajj rituals, Muslims visit the holy grave of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in the city of the Prophet (Madinah Al-Nabi). In a Hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) says:
“Whoever performs Hajj to the House (the Kaaba) without visiting me (i.e. My grave) has shunned me.”
and in another place it has been said:
“Whoever visits my grave, my intercession will be guaranteed for him.”
In this way, the necessity and importance of Hajj has been emphasized in the main sources of Islam.
The enlightened school of Islam has placed wisdom and philosophy in each of the acts of worship, in which there is obedience to God as He said, and ultimately it is man who benefits from it. Because the great God, who has absolutely no need, will have no need for our incomplete worship, which may be contaminated with personal and material intentions. And that is why it will be very useful to know the philosophy of this great pilgrimage of Hajj, which is full of divine verses, wisdom and teachings.
Activities of Hajj from the perspective of Shia
Before explaining the philosophy of Hajj, let’s briefly mention its 13 activities from the perspective of Shia and Imamiyyah jurisprudence, which are:
1. Entering Ihram (the sacred state)
The very first rite of Hajj is entering Ihram – a pilgrim’s sacred state – when crossing the outer boundaries of Mecca, called “Miqat”, that is, the place and time of a person’s appointment with God to perform Hajj rituals. Once Ihram is worn, twenty four things become forbidden: Hunting, Sexual union, Wearing perfume, Wearing sewn clothes by men, Cutting nails,…and etc.
2. Wuquf (stopping) in Arafat from noon to sunset on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah. On this day, Shia Muslims recite the Arafah prayer that Imam Hussain (A.S) recited in 61 AH before leaving Mecca for Karbala.
3. Wuquf in Mash’ar al-Haraam from dawn on the day of Eid al-Adha until sunrise.
4. Going to Mina and “Rami Jamrat al-Aqaba” (throwing seven small stones to the symbol of Satan).
5. Sacrificing in Mina on the day of Eid Al-Adha (10th of Dhul-Hijjah).
6. Halq And Taqsir, that is, shaving the head or cutting some of the hair or nails.
By doing these 6 activities, all prohibited acts during Ihram become permissible for Muhrim except for sexual activities with one’s spouse and wearing perfume.
8. Performing two rakats of Tawaf prayer.
9. Sa’ee (Traveling between “Safa” and “Marwah”).
When these three actions are done, wearing perfume becomes permissible for Muhrim.
10. Performing “Tawaf al-Nisa” in the Shia school.
11. Two rakats of Tawaf al-Nisa prayer.
By performing these two actions, the person’s spouse becomes Halal for him/her again.
12. Returning to Mina and staying there for the 11th and 12th nights (and in some cases the 13th night).
13. Three Rami al-Jamarat (that is, throwing seven stones on the eleventh and twelfth day at each of the three locations of Jamarah al-Ula, Jamarah al-Wusta, and Jamarah al-Aqaba).
In the afternoon of the twelfth day, after performing these rituals, All pilgrims can return to Mecca and their Hajj is complete.
The philosophy of Hajj
Here are some of the basic wisdoms of Hajj.
1. Hajj is a symbol of the message of uniqueness of God and the unity of the Islamic Ummah:
One of the aspects of obeying God is to do the things that He has made obligatory. With Hajj, the authenticity of the Islamic religion, the most important principle of which is the uniqueness of God, is emphasized, and in addition, Islamic unity with a single slogan, with a single cover and moving towards a single path, shows its global manifestation. Because during the Hajj, the Muslims of the whole world, regardless of race, language, skin color, sect, social status, etc., come together and shout “La Ilaha Illa Allah” and “Wa Laa Naa’-Budu Illaa Iyyaahu” and “Mukhlis ‘eena Lahud Deen”. A cry that can shake the body of Satan and Satanists, especially if Muslims remain loyal to these slogans and maintain their unity.
2. Tawaf Kaaba means going around the beloved:
Just as a butterfly circles around the candle and light of its beloved, the pilgrims also circle around the Kaaba and the real house of God and recite “Talbiyah” and call for monotheism, unity and obedience to Him and “purely” call: “labbayka -llāhumma labbayka, labbayka lā šarīka laka labbayka, ʾinna -l-ḥamda wa-n-niʿmata laka wa-l-mulka lā šarīka laka.”
The procession of all Muslims around the House of God, which is just a simple, unadorned cube, conveys the message that Islam is a religion of simplicity and no aristocracy.
A hadith was narrated from Imam Sadiq (A.S) who expressed the wisdom of this matter.
Imam Sadiq (A.S) was asked: Why is the Kaaba called Kaaba? He said: “The Kaaba is called “Kaaba” because it is square-based. It is square-based because it is in correspondence to the Oft-frequented House (Bayt Ma’mur) [Quran 5:24, angels do pilgrimage to it like we do pilgrimage to kaaba] which is square-based. The Oft-frequented House is square-based because the ‘Arsh (empyrean) is square-based. The Empyrean is square based because the phrases upon which Islam is based are four: ‘Subhanallah! Alhumdulillah! La ilaha il Allahu! and Allah-u Akbar.”
3. Hajj is a symbol of inner purity:
One of the conditions of Hajj is the purity and purification of individuals from divine liabilities (Zakat and Khums) and human liabilities (loans and material debts), and Hajj is obligatory on a person when after being cleansed from all worldly and otherworldly debts, have the financial and physical ability to perform Hajj.
The effects of such a Hajj are both moral and economic, and it is a proof of the necessity of the inner purity of a person in relation to the rights of others before fulfilling God’s right in the duty of Hajj.
4. The religious dimension of Hajj mixed with the political dimension:
The ceremony of “Acquittance from the polytheists” which became customary during the Hajj at the initiative of Imam Khomeini (RA), is in fact a symbol of the fight against polytheists, infidels, exploiters, colonists, despots and enemies of human and humanity, which the Holy Quran emphasizes on doing it during Hajj in verses 1 and 3 of At-Tawbah:
“˹This is a discharge from all obligations, by Allah (SWT) and His Messenger, to the polytheists you ˹believers˺ have entered into treaties with: You ˹polytheists˺ may travel freely through the land for four months, but know that you will have no escape from Allah, and that Allah will disgrace the disbelievers. A declaration from Allah (SWT) and God’s Messenger ˹is made˺ to all people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah (SWT) and God’s Messenger are free of the polytheists. So if you ˹pagans˺ repent, it will be better for you. But if you turn away, then know that you will have no escape from Allah (SWT). And give good news ˹O’ Prophet˺ to the disbelievers of a painful punishment.”
Carrying out such a huge human gathering and movement, which combines religious and political dimensions, can be the source of wonderful works in the world community, if it is also accompanied by good deeds.
5. Hajj means equality before God:
The presence of millions of pilgrims in the Hajj rituals with a similar and identical dress and all of them walking around the house of God and other similar actions is a symbol of the equality of humans before God.
In addition, the widespread presence of all people, both rich and poor, with the same form and with the same clothing, means the apparent equality of people in front of God, just as people will appear in front of God in this way on the Day of Judgment.
In the presence of God, people are all the same, gender is not important for God, nor age, skin color, and other differences in human appearance, because in God’s eyes, the best people are the most pious: “Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah (SWT) is the most righteous among you.” (Surah Al-Hujurat, Verse 13).
6. Rami Jamrat, Eid al-Adha and “Halq”, as a symbol of man’s small and big Jihad with the devil outside and the Commanding soul inside ( Nafs al-Ammara):
In Hajj, Rami Al-Jamarat or throwing stones at the symbol of Satan is done twice, once before Eid al-Adha and once as the last ritual of Hajj.
It is as if a person must first confront the external devil, which is the “Jihad-e-Asghar”, and then the inner devil, which is the “Jihad-e-Akbar”, and the symbol of that is the sacrifice of a sheep on the day of Eid Al-Adha, which is the same as “Hajj Al-Akbar”. On the same day that God asked Abraham (PBUH) to sacrifice his son Ismail, and as soon as Abraham and Ismail came out of this divine test, God sent a sheep to be sacrificed instead of Ismail.
After the sacrifice, the pilgrims must perform “Halq” and shave their head, as if shaving the symbol of men’s grooming, itself is a kind of war with the devil of the soul.
Therefore, they do so and intend to spend their outward beauty on their inner perfection, just like on the first day of their birth, in order to receive God’s forgiveness.
Imam Sadiq (A.S) said in this regard:
“And remove all external and internal defects by shaving your hair.”
But when the second Rami Al-Jamarat took place as the last rite of Hajj, the pilgrims once again fight against the external devils and they know that the beginning of this fight is during the Hajj days, but this fight continues until the death of a person and the devil will not go away with only one fight and this conflict is permanent, unless man becomes a sincere person who will breathe only with God and for God.
“Satan said, By Your Glory! I will certainly mislead them all, except Your chosen servants among them.” (Quran 38:82-83)
7. In Hajj, the material benefit of humans is also included:
“Call ˹all˺ people to the pilgrimage. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel from every distant path, so they may obtain the benefits ˹in store˺ for them, and pronounce the Name of Allah on appointed days over the sacrificial animals He has provided for them. So eat from their meat and feed the desperately poor.” (Quran 22:27-28).
Today, Hajj caravans do less business, because with the simplifying the Hajj travel, the opportunity for business has decreased, however, business during Hajj days is not condemned, although it is better to spend these few days in more worship.
8. Hajj is better than some acts of worship:
Since Hajj involves prayer, Jihad-e-Asghar and Jihad-e-Akbar for the purity of the soul, it is considered superior among many acts of worship:
“Hajj is better than fasting and Jihad.”
9. Hajj means purity and cleanliness:
Wearing Ihram, this immaculate white garment, means removing clothes and external ornaments and trying to become pure and luminous like the white color of Ihram, which is the symbol and motto of Islamic peace.
For these and many other reasons, Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam with numerous and multi-layered wonderful effects that can even create a world revolution, and it is not without reason that the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (AJ) is predicted from Mecca, where a huge number of Muslims gather in all seasons of the year.
–Mohammad Reyshahri, Hajj and Umrah.
-Morteza Motahhari, Hajj.
-Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar and Majedeh Momen, Hajj in Judaism, Miqat Hajj Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 40, July 2012.
-Musnad Imam Ahmad, Volume 2.
-Mohammad Ali Adeli Moghadam, Deviations of Hajj Rituals, Miqat Hajj Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 68, July 2019.
-Ilal Al-sharayi’, vol. 2.
-Fiqh Al-Islami Adallta, vol. 3.
-Tafsir Fakhr Razi, vol. 15.
-Wasa’il Al-Shia, vol. 1.
-Riyāhīn Al-Sharīʻah, vol. 1.
-Kanzul Ummal, vol. 15.
-Bihar Al-Anwar, vol. 52 and vol. 96.