Dhul Hijjah, also known as the month of Hajj is once again fast approaching. Millions of Muslims from around the world are preparing, or have already prepared, for their incredible journey to the most spectacular place on earth. The spiritual journey of Hajj is a fascinating endeavour. On the one hand, Islam emphatically focuses on the inner spiritual journey of oneself, whilst on the other hand, there is immense encouragement on the concept of togetherness.
One of the five pillars of Islam, Hajj is only mandatory for those who are able financially, physically and mentally. Commemorating the efforts and worship of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), Hajj defines what it means to struggle on one’s journey to Allah. Such is the experience of Hajj that it leaves one’s perspective of life completely transformed.
With a sea of believers flowing in unison from one landmark to another, observers will notice the spirit of unity come to life. The Hajj experience strips one of all their material possessions, job titles, race and ethnicity, leaving one equal and on par with everyone on this journey with them. It was for this reason that Malcolm X remarked;
“There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white.”
Unity despite diversity is what the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) alluded to in his farewell sermon in the year 632 CE when he said: “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab, nor one who is white over one who is black, nor one who is black over one who is white – except by piety and good works.”
Many have commented on this spectacular feature of this journey. While Hajj is undoubtedly a struggle and an endeavour which causes one to become exhausted, it is dominated by a substantial feeling of spiritual satisfaction and contentment. Reducing oneself to don only two pieces of white cloth, Hajj is an experience which evokes an understanding of what it means to be a human being.
Throughout her Hajj journey, Lady Evelyn Zainab Cobbold recorded her profound experience in her book, Pilgrimage to Mecca. Upon her entry into Makkah, she records her initial feelings of the Hajj experience:
“It would require a master pen to describe that scene, poignant in its intensity of that great concourse of humanity of which I was one small unit, completely lost to their surroundings in a fervour of religious enthusiasm. Many of the pilgrims had tears streaming down their cheeks; others raised their faces to the starlit sky that had witnessed this drama so often in the past centuries. The shining eyes, the passionate appeals, the pitiful hands outstretched in prayer moved me in a way that nothing had ever done before, and I felt caught up in a strong wave of spiritual exaltation. ”
The spectacle remains the same today with many beseeching their Lord which creates an unparalleled atmosphere. With character and sincerity being the only things by your side, pilgrims are given the opportunity to abase themselves in front of the Creator in a way that they have never done before.
Main image – Haden, unsplash