What is Hajj and why is it important?
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. The history of Hajj is a compelling one. Islam obligates Muslims to perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime, provided they can afford it and are physically able. It is the annual pilgrimage to Makkah carried out by Muslims. The performance of pilgrimage requires believers to perform the religious rites prescribed for Hajj. How is Hajj performed? Muslims must perform the rites of Hajj in the way Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) specified, as Allah revealed Islam through His Prophet (PBUH).
Studying the history of Hajj helps a Muslim truly value the blessing of Islam. When we read about how the pure, monotheistic pilgrimage of Ibraham (AS) was distorted and twisted into something evil and immoral, we are able to appreciate how comprehensively Islam eradicated polytheism from Arabia. In this article, we will look at how the Hajj has changed over time. We can understand the history of Hajj by studying the Quran or reading Hadith about Hajj. You can learn Quran online in order to gain knowledge in this regard easily. Online Quran teaching websites enable quick learning, and you can attend online Quran classes wherever you are.
Ibrahim (AS) built the Kaaba
The pilgrimage originated in the time of Ibrahim (AS). Allah assigned him and his son, Ismail (AS), the responsibility of building the Kaaba in Makkah. Allah categorically forbade the association of partners with Him in worship.
Prophet Abraham (PBUH) built the Kaaba and would head for Makkah to perform Hajj annually. In Surah Al-Haj, we learn that Allah instructed Ibrahim (AS) to purify the Kabah for people who perform Tawaf and prayer. When he passed away, his son Ismail (AS) took over and carried on the tradition.
History of Hajj: Idols surround the Kaaba
Over time, people eroded the purity, simplicity, and nobility of Hajj, until it morphed into a reprehensible ritual. Polytheism had entered Arabia and spread like a contagious disease. This inevitably led to the desecration of the Kaaba, as people violated its sanctity and placed idols within it.
Others had littered the Kaaba’s walls with poems and paintings, among them depictions of Jesus (PBUH) and Mary. Polytheism escalated to the extent that disbelievers placed more than 360 idols in the vicinity of the Kaaba. Thus, polytheists transformed the honorable hub of monotheism into a disgraced center for polytheism and disbelief in Allah’s oneness.
History of Hajj and how people altered and corrupted it by immorality and indecency
Disbelievers overtook Hajj by abominable practices and destroyed the pure nature of pilgrimage. What used to be an occasion of humble submission to the One true God degenerated into deviance and indecency. The people were so devoid of shame and respect for the house of Allah that they would circumambulate the Kaaba naked. Their reasoning was that they should appear in front of their Lord as they were born.
Their prayer turned into a bizarre mockery of the worship of Allah, as they indulged in clapping, whistling, and even blew horns. Although they made sacrifices in Allah’s name, they committed all sorts of excesses in carrying them out. They would pour the blood of the sacrificed animals on the Kaaba’s walls. They also hung animals’ flesh from pillars around the Kaaba. This was due to the misguided belief that Allah demanded the animals’ flesh and blood.
In addition, when it came to the pilgrims, singing, drinking, and adultery, along with other sins, were prevalent. Poetry competitions were a key aspect of the pilgrimage, where poets would praise their fellow tribesmen and malign other tribes. Tribalism was thereby heavily entrenched in this event. The chiefs of the tribes would also compete to prove their generosity by feeding the pilgrims. This was, however, only done in a bid to attain fame for their generosity.
The religious teachings of Ibrahim (AS) were discarded, and monotheistic, humble, and sincere worship of Allah was a thing of the past. The very essence of the blessed pilgrimage was thus lost. Polytheists replaced the rites with a profoundly repugnant display of deviance, shamelessness, and tribalism. These immoral ways persisted for almost 2,500 years – a dark period in the history of Hajj.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) abolished false practices at Hajj and purified the Kaaba
Prophet Abraham (PBUH) had supplicated to Allah to send a Messenger with revelation to guide the people, as mentioned in Surah Al-Baqarah. More than two millenniums later, Allah sent the last Prophet, Muhammad (PBUH) to Arabia where he proceeded to preach monotheism, like all other prophets. He called on people to embrace the truth for 23 years and ruled according to the laws of Allah.
Islam was victorious in the land, courtesy of our Prophet’s (PBUH) relentless efforts for the cause of Allah. As Islam reigned supreme in Arabia, the Prophet (PBUH) destroyed the idols, restoring the sanctity of the Kaaba. It was once again a symbol of unadulterated monotheism and the center of worship for those who believed in Allah’s oneness. The Prophet (PBUH) also restored the long-abandoned rites of pilgrimage from the time of Ibrahim (AS). This righted the course of the history of Hajj.
All the deviation and falsehood that had corrupted the rites of Hajj was outlawed in the Quran. Islam firmly prohibited all acts of immorality and indecency. They also outlawed poetry competitions perpetuating tribalism and contests of generosity. Poor pilgrims would still be fed, but it would be according to the rites in the time of Abraham, with animals slaughtered for the sake of Allah and not to show off and gain fame.
Furthermore, Islam forbade pouring the blood of sacrificed animals on the Kaaba’s walls and hanging their flesh from the pillars around it. Islam also introduced a ban on circumambulating the Kaaba while being naked, while also forbidding embarking on Hajj without provisions. Hence, Hajj is simply a blessed pilgrimage that brings believers closer to Allah.