by Aisyah Stacey*

More than two million people surround me,We all have one common goal, one purpose for being here together.

I do not stand out from anyone else. There are no signs of wealth or greatness upon me. No Rolex watch or Nike shoes to mark me as a rich person. I am one person alone, in a sea of humanity.

I am black or white, yellow or brown, the color of my skin is not important. I am from Europe or Asia or South America, my homeland is any corner of this wide earth. The people around me are young and old, male and female, rich and poor. We represent humankind in our diversity, yet we are united. We are an embodiment of unity in diversity. Where am I? I’m at hajj.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims declare that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His messenger. They pray, they fast, they pay obligatory charity, and they go to hajj. Hajj is a pilgrimage to the city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia.

At the mosque and in the surrounding area, Muslims perform prayers and rituals. Hajj is an obligatory act performed once in a lifetime by all mentally, physically, and financially able Muslims.

فِيهِ آيَاتٌ بَيِّنَاتٌ مَقَامُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۖ وَمَنْ دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِنًا ۗ وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا ۚ وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِينَ

In it are clear signs, the standing place of Ibrahim, and whoever enters it shall be secure, and pilgrimage to the House is incumbent upon men for the sake of Allah, (upon) every one who is able to undertake the journey to it; and whoever disbelieves, then surely Allah is Self-sufficient, above any need of the worlds. (QS: Al-Imran:97)

 This year (2010) hajj coincides with the month of November. Muslims from all over the world will gather to worship God. They arrive in Saudi Arabia, by plane, bus, car, or train. Some endure great hardship, others merely buy a first class ticket, but they come as equals.

People make this journey prepared to stand at the House of God, the Kabah, and affirm their love for God and His religion of Islam.

وَأَذِّنْ فِي النَّاسِ بِالْحَجِّ يَأْتُوكَ رِجَالًا وَعَلَىٰ كُلِّ ضَامِرٍ يَأْتِينَ مِنْ كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ

And proclaim among men the Pilgrimage, they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path,(QS:Al-Hajj:27)

 Hajj commemorates Prophet Abraham, his wife Hajar, and their son Ismail (Ishmael), and the sacrifices and hardships they endured to establish the city of Makkah and the house of God.

Because of this, hajj is often described as following in the footsteps of Prophet Abraham. The hajj is several days of total devotion to the One God. Muslims come together to celebrate His praises, ask for His forgiveness, and demonstrate unity for His sake alone.

Throughout the Muslim world, hajj has come to symbolize unity. Although Muslims may be disunited due to many outside influences, such as money, politics, border disputes, or other worldly concerns, hajj is the great leveler.

At hajj, all Muslims are equal; nothing about the rituals they perform makes one person better than another.

More than two million Muslims stand in one place, wearing the same simple clothing, following the same rituals, and saying the same words. They are united in their devotion to God. The black man stands next to the white man, and they call on God with one voice. The king stands beside the pauper, and they declare their submission to the will of God using the same words.

Muslims from every corner of the globe are united in their submission to the will of God. They cry out as if with one voice, “Here I am O God, here I am at your service, and You have no partner. Here I am. All praise, grace, and dominion belong to you. You have no partner.”

This supplication is said repeatedly by the pilgrims. It is their answer to God’s call for the Muslims to perform Hajj. These words are repeated with joy and reverence by all, regardless of status or class.

Some people are so overcome with emotion that they weep, others feel elated and happier than they have ever felt before. Every person there feels that he is one person, alone among millions answering God’s call and God hears his supplication and sees his arrival.

The pilgrims feel amazed that they are the guests of the Most Merciful God. He or she attends this gathering by the invitation of God, not at the invitation of a government or organization, nor at the request of a family member or friend.

Hajj is performed because God has invited the believers to congregate together. Regardless of place of birth, nationality, ethnicity, gender, or status, all are welcome, and all are equal in the sight of God.

The Muslims gather to meet one another and demonstrate to the world that they are united. They are united by their worship of One God.

 قُلِ اللَّهَ أَعْبُدُ مُخْلِصًا لَهُ دِينِي

Say: I fear, if I disobey my Lord, the chastisement of a grievous day. (QS:Az-Zumar : 13)

 Islam is the religion of unity. Repeatedly throughout the Quran, God reminds the believers that they must remain united and seek strength through unity. Hajj epitomizes  this unity. People from every race and color come together in submission to the will of God.

Muslims are one brotherhood and they come together with a sense of purpose and a desire for peace.

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ ۚ لِلَّذِينَ أَحْسَنُوا فِي هَٰذِهِ الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةٌ ۗ وَأَرْضُ اللَّهِ وَاسِعَةٌ ۗ إِنَّمَا يُوَفَّى الصَّابِرُونَ أَجْرَهُمْ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

Say: O my servants who believe! be careful of (your duty to) your Lord, for those who do good in this world is good, and Allah´s earth is spacious, only the patient will be paid back their reward in full without measure.(QS:Az-Zumar :10)

 وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنْتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُمْ بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنْتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِنَ النَّارِ فَأَنْقَذَكُمْ مِنْهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

 And hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited, and remember the favor of Allah on you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favor you became brethren; and you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it, thus does Allah make clear to you His communications that you may follow the right way. (QS:AL-Imran : 103)

Hajj is the largest annual gathering of Muslims, it is the largest gathering of people united by the peacefulness and serenity that is Islam.

Hajj is a celebration of peace; peace with God, peace with one’s own self and peace with one another.

Anything that disturbs the peacefulness of hajj is prohibited. No matter what is happening in the material world at hajj, peace prevails.

Muslims gather together and their diversity is a wonder to behold. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said,

 “In their love, kindness, and compassion for each other, the believers are like a human body.” (H.R. Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Muslims at hajj are one people, they are a soothing sea of humanity, gathered together to worship One God. Muslims turn their faces in one direction and submit to the will of God. They are united by their love of God, and united in their diversity. (Imt/R03)

Source: On Islam

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)

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