The History of Hajj

The Hajj is a beautiful journey that is made to please the Almighty Allah and complete one of Islam’s five pillars. Every Muslim is required to perform Hajj if they are physically and financially capable.

Millions of Muslims from all over the world perform Hajj annually. The pilgrims travel to the holiest city of Mecca, a spiritual center of Islam (1.8 billion Muslims prostrate in Mecca’s direction during prayers). During Hajj, the world witnesses an exceptional unity and brotherhood, as millions of Muslims offer prayers together with no differences of color, ethnicity or language, and they bow down to same God with utmost respect and love in their hearts. Hajj is one of the examples that depict the sheer beauty of Islam.

Origin of the Hajj

The origins of Hajj dates back to the time of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). It started when Prophet Ibrahim left his wife Hajar (Hagar) and infant son Ismail (Ishmael) in ancient Mecca’s desert on God’s command. Prophet Ibrahim gave little to no food, and water (dates and water in goat skin, which ended soon) and left.  Back then, Mecca was an inhabitable place and there was no one around to call for help. Ismail’s mother followed Prophet Ibrahim and asked several times about the reason behind leaving them in a barren desert and Prophet Ibrahim did not answer. She asked if it is Allah’s will and to that question, he answered that it was. Hajar gleefully accepted and went back to her son. Both Hajar and Ismail were thirsty in the scorching heat of the sun. In search of water, Hajar frantically ran 7 times between the hills of Safa and Marwah, yet she found no water anywhere. She went back to her son in despair and saw the agitated Ismail scratching the ground with his legs until water flowed forth.

Tribes started to settle because of the presence of water in Mecca. Prophet Ibrahim was entrusted by Allah to build the Kaaba. The Prophet and his son started to raise the foundation of the house.  A black stone was placed in the eastern corner of Kaaba and the house was 27 feet high, 66 feet wide and 96 feet long.  Prophet Ibrahim received a revelation from Allah and he was told that it is time to go and proclaim the pilgrimage to mankind.  

The Phase of Idol Worshippers

Many years later the Kaaba wrongfully became the center of idol worshipers and the House of Allah was filled with images of Angels and idols. People would come from across the world for the Hajj and the Quraysh tribe was in charge of serving the pilgrims. Shibli Nomani (famous Islamic scholar) mentions that in those times, the pagan Arabs made the introduction of some unholy rites during the Hajj rituals. People did not gather at Arafat or walked between Safa and Marwah. Some would remain silent and others would perform Tawaf naked.

Prophet Muhammad () and the present Hajj

Holy Prophet Muhammad () conquered Mecca in 630 CE. He (peace be upon him) cleansed the Kaaba of all the idols by destroying them and the building of Allah was re-consecrated. Prophet Muhammad () made reforms in the pre-Islamic pilgrimage of pagan Arabs. In 631 CE, at the direction of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), 300 Muslims were led by Abu Bakr (the first Muslim Caliph) to perform Hajj in Mecca and Ali ibn Abi Talib delivered a sermon instructing the new rites of Hajj while abolishing the pagan Arabs rites. It was stipulated that no pagan Arab, non-believer or naked man would be allowed to perform Hajj.

In 632 CE, Prophet Muhammad () performed his one and only pilgrimage with a huge number of Muslims. The rites and manners of performing Hajj were taught to all of them by Prophet (peace be upon him).

The Holy Prophet Muhammad () delivered one of his famous speeches, known as The Farewell Sermon (الوداع‎‎ خطبة, Khuṭbatu l-Wadāʿ) on the plain of Arafat to his followers and other people present at that time. From that day, Hajj has become an integral part of Islam and it is performed each year by millions of Muslims from every corner of the globe.

From the Medieval to Modern Times

In the medieval times, capital cities of Egypt, Syria, and Egypt were the hubs for pilgrims before heading to Mecca. Tens of thousands of pilgrims would gather around and travel to Mecca on caravans. In Iraq, the gathering points were Basra and Kufa.

Over the years the traveling to Mecca has changed from caravans with camels, to modern means of transport. Now, traveling to Mecca for the Hajj has become more safe and secure than before. Times change, but the fact remains that each year more and more Muslims pay tribute to Almighty Allah by offering Hajj.  This beautiful pillar of Islam is a perfect gateway for Muslims; they can come closer to Allah and become better Muslims, better followers of Holy Prophet Muhammad () and adherents of Islam.

*Peace & Blessings upon all the Prophets
* May God be pleased with all the companions