Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and is obligatory for a person who is physically and financially able to perform it at least once in his or her life. Due to its importance as a Holy ritual and the emphasis put by Allah Almighty and Prophet (PBUH) on its performing, every Muslim dreams to be able to perform Hajj.
The importance of Hajj is evident from Quran teaching, Allah Almighty has time and again emphasized on its importance. Besides being a religious ritual, it carries some universal messages as well. The lines below give the major religious acts re-enacted during Hajj along with the universal messages it conveys to humanity.
Acts Re-Enacted During Hajj:
There are three major religious acts of Holy personalities re-enacted during the performing of Hajj:
Adam & Eve- The first experience relived by pilgrims is the experience of exile of Adam and Eve from Heaven. From Heaven when they were banished to earth, they wandered separately and when they met, they both asked for the forgiveness of Allah Almighty in the valley of Mecca.
Hagar- The second experience relived by pilgrims is of Abraham’s wife Hagar. She ran between the hills of Safa and Marva in search of water for his thirsty son. As per Muslim beliefs, her running was answered by Allah Almighty with the well of ZamZam.
Abraham- The third act relived by pilgrims is in commemoration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son on the order of Allah Almighty, which was then substituted by ram by Gabriel.
These are the three acts, which pilgrims re-enact during Hajj. However, beyond the religious significance, there are different universal messages which the ritual of Hajj conveys to all of humanity. The three major universal messages conveyed by Hajj are given below.
The Place of Women:
The first universal message that Hajj conveys to humanity is the equality of gender and the place which Islam gives to women. During Hajj, women are the same with men, they do all the rituals, they strive the way men do, they pray the way they do, so it would be false to think that Islam somehow undermines women, rather Islam conveys the message of giving respect and dignity to women on equal levels as men possess. If you read Holy Quran, Allah Almighty clearly says in it:
“I shall not lose sight of the labor of any of you who labors in my way, be it man or woman; each of you is equal to the other.” (Quran 3:195)
If Allah Almighty thinks of men and women as equal, then who are we to regard women as lesser beings? Moreover, all the acts of Hajj clearly show that Allah Almighty has the same orders for women as they are for men; therefore, there is no discrimination. Hence, the message of gender equality and the place of women in Islam is the universal message conveyed by the event of Hajj.
The second universal message conveyed by Hajj, of which the world is in most need of is the equality of people. During Hajj, one observes Muslims from all across the world, from different geographical locations, different practices, different culture, different linguistic features, different color, ethnicity, social status and so on. All these people from different backgrounds circle around Kaba side by side, they say prayers standing with one another, they cast stones regardless of who is standing next to them. Allah Almighty says in Quran:
“We created you from a single pair of a male and female (Adam and Eve), and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other and not that you might despise each other. The most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you.” (49:13)
Hajj is the embodiment of this ayah. All the Muslims from different countries perform Hajj the same way without any gender, cast, color, nationality or status discrimination, thus Hajj gives the message of universal equality among mankind.
The other universal message conveyed by the event of Hajj is of humility and submission to the supremacy of Allah Almighty. The saying’s of prayers, the wearing of only Ihram, the flip-flops, the constant praise of Allah Almighty, all these teach the lesson of humility to mankind, and tells them that there is one Supreme Power and He is the one to Whom everyone has to return, thus the need of being humble in our lives.
In short, Hajj; besides being a ritual of Muslims that brings countless blessings, is also an event that conveys the universal messages of humility, equality of people and gender to mankind. An observant of Hajj would always agree to the universality of these messages and believe in the universality of Islam.