Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam, and it is obligatory for all the women and men to go to hajj pilgrimage and perform it once in their life provided that they are financially and physically able and have no other obstacles.
Labbaik Allahumma labbaik, Labbaika la sharika laka labbaik
Innal hamda, wan-ni'mata, laka wal mulk
La sharika laka labbaik.
O my Lord, here I am at Your service, here I am. There is no partner with You, here I am. Truly the praise and the provisions are Yours. And so is the rule. There is no partner with You, here I am.
This is the call of monotheism which has now swept the land of Mecca. It is the whisper of those who have come from very far places to perform pilgrimage of the House of God. It is the season of hajj and expression of servitude. It is the season of seeing, learning and practicing for accessing the zenith of purity.
One of the surahs of the holy Qur’an is surah Hajj. In the beginning it speaks of the earthquake of the day of resurrection. Then it elaborates on hajj pilgrimage. Studying these ayahs, it looks that there is a similarity between the fateful day of resurrection and hajj. Hence, God Almighty has linked these two to one another. The founder of hajj was Abraham, the chosen Prophet, whom Allah called "Hanif" which means upright, righteous, honest and monotheist.
The ayahs of surah Hajj indicate that this important worship is a period of cutting worldly bondages and belongings, self-purification, practicing the life of a society that is the manifestation of the hereafter, and achieving of pure monotheism through performing a series of rituals like the patriarch Abraham did. God commands on this important act of worship in a public call,
“And proclaim the hajj to people: they shall come to you on foot and on lean camels coming from distant places, that they may witness the benefits for them”
Elsewhere God says,
“And it is the duty of mankind toward Allah to make pilgrimage to the House —for those who can afford the journey to it.”
The significance of Hajj on one hand is related to the sanctity of the place in which the rituals are performed. The Almighty Creator introduces His Symbolic House (Ka'aba) and the Holy Mosque as the first house for the people to worship God in it; and has granted it with ample blessings. This Symbolic House of God is a place in which there are clear signs of monotheism like Maqam-I Ibrahim (Abraham’s Station) and everyone who enters the Holy Mosque (Masjid ul-Haram) will be safe and immune against any assault and harm. Muslims are duty-bound to participate in the Hajj rituals constantly to strengthen the center of monotheism and fight against polytheism in all its manifestations.
Hajj rituals are held in a land called Mecca at a specific period of time. Humans from every corner of the world should come to hajj pilgrimage and expurgate their souls as if new humans are born. Muslims may enjoy the chance of participating in the hajj global congress only once in his life. Therefore, every Muslim must exert his/her utmost effort to make use of this unique opportunity to enhance the status of Islam in the world and bolster ties among brothers in faith. At the same time, the hajj pilgrimage has been designated so that a prudent person can take advantage of it and bring about a great development in himself. Hajj is composed of a series of rituals which introduce the pilgrim to the House of God and its long history, the center of revelation and the works left from the holy prophets and the Imams. Obviously, the revival of the history of Islam and its bitter and indelible memories in the regions such as Mecca and Medina make mankind familiar with a series of events, In other words, during the period of hajj pilgrimage the history of Islam is briefly reviewed. The presence of pilgrims in different places; namely the Hera Cave, Plains of Arafat and Mena, and a number of mosques in Medina make pilgrims aware of the historical events and the significance of those events. Then, having acquainted with the events and their significance, pilgrims convey the message of those events and the teachings related to those events.
Familiarity with the history of Islam and talking to Muslims from different countries gives the potential to the global congress of Hajj to promote awareness and proper planning for the benefit of Muslims and upgrade the Islamic community in various spheres. This is how the hajj connects human being to the source of creation, the One and Only God. It plays a magnificent and miraculous role in purification and self-building of man and leads him to mental and psychological peace.
On the whole, hajj is not only a personal worship but a set of ritual acts with various political, social, economic and cultural dimensions. As hajj pilgrimage guides human being toward sublimity and perfection, it creates beautiful scenes of unity among the huge gathering of servants of God. These unanimous rituals show that human beings, regardless of their nationality, race and language, are all equal before God and the only criterion for superiority is virtue and piety. Clearly, one should learn servitude of God to attain the rank of piety. Hajj is an amazing exhibition of servitude of humans before the only Lord of the universe. At these pleasant moments, humans pray at the divine court and enjoy divine blessings. This appealing to the Creator liberates man from the yoke of the tyrannical powers and creates dignity, authority, and peace in the individual and society.
What is of great importance in the hajj pilgrimage is that this journey and its rituals have been taught with the purpose of self-building and gaining piety. In this spiritual journey, a haji should always remember God and consider Him present everywhere though he moves toward the Ka'aba and the Holy Mosque; but in fact he intends to meet God and please Him. It is due to the blessings and greatness of the pilgrimage that one of the greatest demands of the infallible Imams has been pilgrimage to the House of God. In the supplications, especially those of Ramadan we read: O God, grant me the opportunity of hajj pilgrimage this year and every year.
Hajj with its relatively hard rituals is a great test for sincerity and faith of servants. In sermon 192 of Nahj ul-Balagha Imam Ali (PBUH) says:
“Do you not see that Allah, the Glorified, has tried all the people among those who came before, beginning with Adam, up to the last ones in this world with stones which yield neither benefit nor harm, which neither see nor hear. He made those stones into His sacred house which He made a standby for the people. He placed it in the most rugged stony part of the earth and on a highland with least soil thereon, among the most narrow valleys between rough mountains, soft sandy plains, springs of scanty water and scattered habitats, where neither camels nor horses nor cows and sheep can prosper. If Allah, the Glorified, had placed His sacred House and His great signs among plantations, streams, soft and level plains, plenty of trees, an abundance of fruits, a thick population, close habitats, golden wheat, lush gardens, green land, watered plains, thriving orchards and crowded streets, the amount of recompense would have decreased because of the lightness of the trial. If the foundation on which the House is borne and the stones with which it has been raised had been of green emerald and red rubies, and there had been brightness and effulgence, then this would have lessened the action of doubts in the breasts, would have dismissed the effect of Satan's activity from the hearts, and would have stopped the surging of misgivings in people. But Allah tries His creatures by means of different troubles, wants them to render worship through hardships and involves them in distresses, all in order to extract out vanity from their hearts, to settle down humbleness in their spirits and to make all this an open door for His favours and an easy means for His forgiveness.”