The Haj and brotherhood

The Haj and brotherhood

The Haj and brotherhood

On the outside, the Haj is a pilgrimage to Makkah, but its programme of intent and action makes it an experience of a lifetime for the attending millions.

One of the five pillars on which the whole world-view and ethic of Islam is built, the Haj, to a Muslim, is a moral obligation that must be fulfilled at least once in his, or her, lifetime provided health and economic conditions permit the journey.

In the words of the Quran: ‘Pilgrimage to the House is a duty unto God for mankind, for him who can find the way thither.’ (3: 97)

Of all its great characteristics, the greatest feature of the Haj is its egalitarianism, its practical demonstration of the brotherhood of Man.

The great leveller that Islam is, the Haj, as one of its prime recommendations, is the best ever model for an international consciousness of human affiliation to a single species.
Mankind would be divided, however, on God-consciousness, or Taqwa, alone.
This aside, there is to be no superiority of the white man over the black, the brown over the yellow, the Arab over the non-Arab, the rich over the poor: the simple Ihram, or the pilgrim’s garment at Haj, where both prince and pauper stand shoulder-to-shoulder in that self-same attire, with the common, levelling, refrain - ‘Labbaik Allahumma! Labbaik!’ (‘At Thy command, here am I, O God!’) - on their lips, remaining the iconic symbol of this equality.

The pilgrims go through the main rites of the Haj during the 7th to the 13th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar.
The Haj is, apart from other considerations, a commemoration. It is a commemoration of a life among lives, a family among families, an event among events, and a sacrifice among sacrifices.

It is a commemoration of the trials of Abraham among men, of his family among families, of the building of the Kabah among buildings, of a human offering substituted by an animal at a trial among trials.

Prophet Abraham was required by the God to sacrifice his first-born son Ishmael, as a test of his faith and sincerity: a test which prophet Abraham, through his readiness for the sacrifice, finally overcame.

However, the divine command intervened at the last moment and prophet Abraham son’s life was spared, a lamb being slaughtered in his stead.

The highest message of the Haj, therefore, is of the need for believers to be constantly ready to sacrifice even their most prized possessions in the cause of conforming to God’s commands, should the need ever arise.