The Islamic Hajj – Pilgrimage: Some Lecture Notes. Sacred Journey a hajj to Mecca to renew one’s spiritual commitment – to “surrender” to Allah’s will and
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The Islamic Hajj – Pilgrimage: Some Lecture NotesSacred Journey CORE 166Pilgrim’s Journey DiagramWhether it be an individual or group pilgrimage, the fundamental structure that orients apilgrimage is that of a firite of passage,fl albeit, framed within a journey over a specificlandscape to some particular sacred place. In fact, a pilgrimage is typically defined as fitravel to a sacred place as an act of religiousdevotion.flNevertheless, in the context of any rite of passage, a pilgrimage is also framed withinfour universal structural components or phases.1. Spiritually Orphaned: the Goals and Primary Purposes- the primary purpose of a pilgrimage involves the general obligations and needs relatingto filling a void – as if spiritually orphaned, and incomplete: a – a pilgrim is of course responding to Allah™s commands, a Muslim carrying outa hajj to Mecca to renew one™s spiritual commitment – to fisurrenderfl to Allah™swill and garner the peace that results b – but accompanied by a specific individual need to fulfill a personal vow orseek a cure or answer to a unresolved question. Pilgrims travel to seek a cure orto refresh their spiritual lives or to fulfill a vow made when ill or for someoneelse™s illness. It might be an fiinner searchfl for meaning and fulfillment, orpersonal redemption. It might be to realize an ideal society and set of values,seeing Islam in action, e.g., ethnic inclusivity and tolerance. It might even be aprayer for that fiperfect spouse.fl c – in addition to the primary purpose linked to reaching a specific place, thejourney itself, and what is encountered and experienced along the way is also partof the purpose – the pilgrims™ wanderings, albeit toward a particulardestination, served as an allegory for personal growth and the desired passagethrough a healthy and bountiful lifed. in a larger sense, in participating in the hajj, a Muslim commemorates theactions of Muhammad himself and is transported to the time and place ofMuhammad™s unfolding first hajj, as well as to the birth of Islam, withAbraham – you are there at the inception of Islam, as near to God as any human

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2The Hajjcan come. You travel with Abraham and Muhammad, experience their challengesand joys as they converse with God. 2. Rites of Separation, Journey and Sacrifice: in a Liminal State of fibetwixt and betweenfla – the destination (be it the figoal itselffl of the pilgrimage or the justification for doing afijourneyfl) is defined as a fisacred place,fl – Mecca and the Ka™ba, – the ancient cross-roads of Arabic trade – a human-made environment, orientedand linked along major commercial travel routes, such as a building, temple,mosque, shrine, a monastery, or even city itself. – but more critically, Mecca is a revered spiritually-endowed a place, where Mircea Eliade (the eminent scholar of religion) calls an fiheirophanyfl – a shiningthrough of the sacred, a place where God speaks and is heard, and an fiaxismundifl – a spiritual center of the cosmos – thus a theologically defined environment, where the prophet Abrahamjourneyed with his son, Ishmael and wife, Hagar. Place were God askedAbraham to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, and where goat replaced sacrifice, and where Abraham built the Ka™ba on God™s command. The most holystructure in Islam situated in Mecca, the relative approximation of whichorients the direction to which you pray 5 times a day, and is according toIslam the center of the world). Today draped in gold-embroidered versesfrom the Koran on black silk cloth. Renewed each year, costing millionsof dollars. The angel Gabriel brought down a black stone to place in itssoutheast corner of the Ka™ba. The stone was white, but turnedblack on contact with the sinful world. – of note: Before Muhammad consecrated the Ka™ba in 630, it had severedas a holy site, via Abraham but over the years, an assortment of over 300other deities added to it. After Muhammad consecrated the Ka™ba to theone God, he retained the idea of its guardian deity, Hubal, whose statue iskept inside the structure. And also veneration of the black stone, whichsurprised his followers.b – what distinguishes a pilgrimage from other forms of rites of passage is that apilgrimage involves the act of traveling to specific place. Both literally as well assymbolically a journey.

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3The Hajj- when to travel: though a Muslim may visit the holy places in Mecca andMedina at any time during the year, the pilgrimage itself may be performed onlyon the eighth, ninth and tenth day of the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar -the pilgrimage mouth, Dhu™l-Hijja. (Because the lunar year is 11 days shorterthan the solar year, pilgrimage season cycles back through the solar year.) – so unlike other pilgrimages (Hindu, Christian or Jewish), the hajj is aseries of ritual actions performed together, simultaneously by all Muslimpilgrims for that year. Two million Muslims all at the same time!- why travel: pilgrim is made that much more meaningful as a replication andcommemoration of the Prophet Muhammad™s actions, fifollowing in hisfootsteps,fl of first his fleeing to Media in 622, and later his successful andtriumphant return to Mecca in 630. Upon his return, the Prophet rededicated theKa™ba to the one God, to Allah, and consecrated it as Islam™s geographic center. Walked counterclockwise around it seven times. This migration is known asthe first Muslim hajj. – in addition, several years after Mohammad had fled Mecca the angel Gabrielreveled the duty of all Muslims to make the journey – one of the Five Pillars ofIslam, one of the rukns, and hence in Koran: The first house established for the people was that at Mecca, a place holy, and a guidance to all beings, Therein are clear signs Œ the station of Abraham, and whosoever enters it is in security. It is the duty of all men towards God to come To the House a pilgrim, if he is able to make his way there. (Koran 3:90-92) – act of separation: which necessarily entails a symbolic and physical separationfor the ordinary, the mundane, from your current social and spiritual status andidentity – you got to leave home and do some serious traveling. Not done incomfort of your home. So today, annually, over 2 million Muslims, fromover 60 countries (largest numbers coming from Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey,Yemen, Iran, Indonesia and Iraq, but also Europe and America) of which80% are non-Arabs, take part in the hajj. – weeks or even months before arriving in Saudi Arabia, pilgrims havebeen gathering from villages, towns, and cities all over the world. In

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4The HajjIndonesia, as in many other countries with large Muslim populations, eachgroup receives an official send-off from the local government officials.- ihram: travel, whether by land, sea or air, is for much of the way a secularaffair. Only when approaching the port or airport of Jiddah must pilgrims takesteps to enter the state of consecration or ihram. Embracing the values ofrespect, humility, tolerance, patience, etc.- ihram includes: each pilgrim discarding his or her everyday cloths andwearing special religious-oriented clothing that distinguish them on thisspecial journey, for men, two large towels. The cloths mark the fact thatall pilgrims are religiously equal. As Muhammad™s grandson Husaynstated, fiThe pilgrim offers himself to God as a bagger.fl Ordinary status isleft behind. – with only Arabic prayers and greetings being shared, pilgrims fordifferent nationalities rub shoulders with each other for the first time, all asequals. The American Black Muslim leader Malcolm X (in hisAutobiography of Malcolm X 1973: 339) was shocked by thisuniversalism, as he wrote in a public letter to his mosque in Harlem, fiForthe past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by thegraciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors.fl – men renounces shaving. Cutting hair. Sexual intercourse and changes ofclothes. And for many men, the shaving of the head. – during the hajj men leave their heads uncovered, and women must nothave cloth touching their faces. Some pilgrims even ride roofless busesonce they approach Mecca. Each of these measures maintains anunbroken physical link between the pilgrim™s head and God, and signalshis or her surrender to God.- Liminal State: Thus leaving home and traveling a great distance, wearingidentical clothing, renouncing normal relationships to their bodies andconcentrating their lives on worshiping Allah, marks and distinguishes you andothers as you are on your special mission, but of also blending you into thecollective, as non-distinguishable for others. It defines the pilgrims position as ina state of liminality. – You are between (fibetwixt and betweenfl) your previous life, youroccupation, your ethnicity, nationality, wealth, status, and that which youanticipate becoming, your redemption, where women and men are equal,

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5The Hajjwhere class and ethnic distinctions are gone, where everyone lives in thebliss of the peace that comes from Allah.c – sacrifice: typically some sort of hardship and self and collective sacrifice -pilgrimages are not suppose to be filuxury vacations,fl with all the conveniences andcomforts – in ancient times, exceeding difficult, full of challenges, outlaws, thieves, storms,distance and time, and may not return – providing alms to the needing along the way – often food restrictions, what can no longer be eaten while on the pilgrimage, aswell as restrictions on sexual intercourse – simply the cost itself to travel the great distances require huge personalsacrifices, months and years of saving up for the journey – as an extension of your own sacrifice, animal sacrifices might be offered, suchas while on a Islamic hajj a sheep and camel sacrifice in memory of Abraham™ssubmission to God and willingness to offer his son. Each pilgrim to offer a sheepor eight one camel = 800,000 lbs of meat distributed to poor around the world.d – the Hajj is actually made up of a series of mini-pilgrimages embedded within theentire pilgrimage – retracing the path taken by Muhammad. The hajj ritual procedure,with events occurring only on prescribed days, occurring between the 8 and 13 day ofthththe last month of the Islamic calendar – five days in all. (not listed in daily order here): 1. Tawaf: Upon arriving at Mecca, pilgrims make seven lefthand (counterclockwise) circles (tawaf) around the Ka™ba. Indeed, the root meaning of hajj isfito describe a circle.fl Huge masses move slowly, each trying to kiss or touchthe black stone set in the southeast corner. – The Iranian scholar Ali Shariati (in Hajj 1977: 31) described theexperience of the tawaf as that of fia small stream merging with a big river.. . Suddenly, you find yourself floating and carried on by this flood. Youhave become part of this universal system. Circumambulating . . . Allah,you will soon forget yourself.fl – of note: the circumambulation, also called the umra, can be performedseparately at anytime of the year, called a filittle hajjfl or fiumra packageflby travel agents, who book trips to Mecca. Simply circle the Ka™ba andvisit the holy sites, without the elaborate sequences of the normal hajj.

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6The Hajj 2. Sa™y: After the tawaf, the pilgrim does the sa™y, firunning,fl which consists ofsimply running (or older people walking fast) back and forth seven times alongthe street in Mecca between Marwa and Safa. The running covers about twomiles, with older people walking fast and some being pushed in wheelchairs. – It commemorates the time when Hagar was abandoned under a tree atMecca by Abraham. When her food and water ran out she began to runwildly between two high points, pleading for help from God. WhenIshmael raised his hand, Gabriel interceded and created a well, whichbecame known as the well of Zamzam. The well marked the spot whereMecca was then built. Pilgrims collect water from the well and bring ithome; often diluted with rainwater, it will be used to heal or bless others. 3. Plain of Arafat. Pilgrims travel to plain of Arafat by sunrise on the ninth dayof the month. It is at Arafat, a barren plain about two miles from Mecca, thatAdam and Eve were reunited after their expulsion from heaven. Here too,Muhammad delivered his final sermon in 632, in which he set out most of thedetails of the hajj. A vast tent city is erected on this plain by the Saudigovernment, where pilgrims as assigned quarters by nationality. – at Arafat, pilgrims spend the ninth day in prayer and mediation,gathering around the Mount of Mercy at the edge of the plain. – Wuquf: After performing the midafternoon worship, the millions gathertogether stand, awaiting the sunset, shouting cries, fiGod is great.fl Thisstanding (wuquf) is the central event of the hajj proper. The special statusenjoyed by this rather unspectacular (relative to the tawaf that preceded itand the sacrifices to follow) event comes from the role in replicatingMuhammad™s final sermon, and from the shared sense pilgrims derivefrom it of showing humility before God. 4. Muzdalifah: pilgrims then disperse and begin return to Mecca, stopping tospend the night in the city of Musdalifah, where they rid themselves of allresentments toward others. There too, they collect pebbles, which they will usethe next day to throw at the three pillars near Mina, on road to Mecca. 5. Animal Sacrifice: pilgrims then carry out a sacrifice in memory of Abraham™ssubmission to God™s will. In place of his son, Ishmael, God substituted a goat. Usually they buy a goat on the spot and arrange to have its throat cut. The over800,000 lbs. meat is immediately frozen on the spot and distributed to the poorworld-wide by the Saudi government. The day after this event is called the yaum

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8The Hajj- Name and Status: pilgrims return home immediately and are called hajji (male) orhajjiyah (female), as someone who had made the pilgrimage. Many now ware white foreveryday activities or when they attend the mosque to signal this new status. – religious status changed, as your experiences and possible visionary insightsincrease your understanding and awareness of your changed place in the spiritualworld – a void is filled as you enter a new spiritual status – feeling of bliss andrenewal, of redemption and purification.- social status changed, as looked upon with heighten favor by others in thecommunity – being elected to public office, obtaining a bank loan

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