Pilgrimage (Hajj)



Pilgrims from all parts of the world converge on Mecca. In recent years this has amounted to far more than 1.5 million people annually.

Conversation pointer: Have you or your family members gone to Hajj? Do you plan to go the Hajj? What does the Hajj accomplish? Is it true that Islam allows a person to perform the Hajj on behalf of someone else?

Hajj cannot be accomplished by most people

Every Muslim is obliged to do it. Yet this requirement cannot be met due to the constraints of Mecca.

Hajj by proxy

Muslims cannot understand why Christians believe that Jesus died to pay for the penalty of our sins. According to them, salvation is a personal effort. There is nothing another person can do to result in our salvation. But Muslims believe that under certain conditions it is possible for someone else to perform the Hajj on our behalf. They also believe that a person who goes to the Hajj comes back with his sins forgiven. If this is the case, then isn’t it true that the actions of another person can result in the forgiveness of our sins?

Muslims believe that a person who goes to the Hajj returns with all his sins forgiven.

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever performs Hajj to this House (Ka’ba) and does not approach his wife for sexual relations nor commits sins (while performing Hajj), he will come out as sinless as a newly-born child. (Just delivered by his mother).”  (Sahih Al Bukhari Volume 3, Book 28, Number 45)

Muslims also believe that it is possible to perform the Hajj on behalf of someone else. Islam teaches that whoever is able to perform Hajj and then something detains him from performing it, whether illness or old age, should charge someone to perform Hajj on his behalf.

The Prophet allowed a person to perform the Hajj on behalf of another person.

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: A woman from the tribe of Khath’am came in the year (of ,Hajjat-ul-wada’ of the Prophet ) and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! My father has come under Allah’s obligation of performing Hajj but he is a very old man and cannot sit properly on his Mount. Will the obligation be fulfilled if I perform Hajj on his behalf?” The Prophet replied in the affirmative. (Sahih Al Bukhari Volume 3, Book 29, Number 78)

This means that it is possible for the actions of one person to result in the forgiveness of sin of another person.

In Christianity we have a similar concept. That is the concept of atonement. We believe that what Jesus has done for us has resulted in the forgiveness of our sins.

Jesus taught this to His disciples.

(Mark 10:45 NIV)  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

(Mat 26:28 NIV)  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Why animal sacrifices?

When a Muslim performs the Hajj, he has to offer an animal sacrifice. Muslims believe that the sacrifice offered during the Hajj has nothing to do with the ransom paid for sin. They think it is only a commemorative act of Abraham sacrificing his son. Discuss with them the significance of this animal sacrifice.

Conversation Pointer: Why is there a need for blood sacrifice since the Quran says that the blood does not reach God?

It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah: It is their peity that reaches Him. Surah 22:37

If the blood does not reach God, why is there a need to shed blood?

Explain to the Muslim the symbolism of animal sacrifices as taught in the Torah.

(Lev 14:12-13 NIV)  “Then the priest is to take one of the male lambs and offer it as a guilt offering, along with the log of oil; he shall wave them before the LORD as a wave offering. {13} He is to slaughter the lamb in the holy place where the sin offering and the burnt offering are slaughtered. Like the sin offering, the guilt offering belongs to the priest; it is most holy.

Jesus affirmed that He was that the “lamb of God” who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus was there when John called him the “lamb of God”. Jesus did not think that John was a heretic. He confirmed John as a messenger of God (Matt 11:11).

(John 1:29 NIV)  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Even prominent Muslim scholars believe that animal sacrifices have something to do with salvation from sin and is not purely a commemorative act.

“Sacrifice in a mass scale brings people near God. For this reason, the animal for sacrifice should be stout and strong. Hope that in lieu of every limb of the sacrificed animal, God will save your every limb from Hell-fire. The more it is stout and strong, the more you will be free from Hell-fire.” Imam Ghazali, Ihya Ulum id din, Vol.1 pg 257 (trans. Maulana Fazlul Karim)

Animal sacrifices repeated if wrongdoings committed during Hajj

When performing the Hajj, Muslims have to repeat the animal sacrifices if they commit wrongdoing during the process. If the animal sacrifice has nothing to do with sin, why is there a need to do this?

The following in taken from an Islamic website “Al-Islam” which lists out the method of redemption for committing wrong acts during the hajj.

Committing harm, wearing prohibited clothes, or applying perfume:

One is to choose from three things, as follows:

To fast three days.
To feed six indigent persons, giving six Sa`s (an amount of grains) to each one.
To slaughter a ewe

So offering sacrifices in Islam is not just to commemorate Abraham’s sacrifice of his son. It also has to do with compensation for sin. This is also the view of some Muslim scholars.

 “A pilgrim should give a sacrifice of a goat or sheep; one animal for one person is necessary. If a bull or camel is sacrificed, seven persons can join in one animal. This sacrifice of an animal is obligatory on every pilgrim. It is not the ‘Id day sacrifice which is an expression of obedience to the will of God, as observed by Prophet Abraham. The Hajj sacrifice is the flowing blood as redemption by the pilgrim for the atonement of his sins, and for his Hajj being granted by the Almighty.”   Abdur Rahman I Doi, The Cardinal Principles of Islam, pg 187 

Delegation of the slaughtering of the animal sacrifice

Furthermore, the Hajj practice allows someone to kill the animal on your behalf.

“It is preferable that the pilgrim should slaughter the animal himself, though it is permissible to ask someone else to do it, because it is one of the rites in which delegation is possible. The deputy makes the intention known of slaughtering on behalf of the one who deputizes and it is better that both of them should make the intention together. According to Jafari it is recommended for the pilgrim to put his hand on that of him who slaughters or at least be present at the time of slaughtering. (ibid pg 220)

If the killing of the animal symbolizes Abraham’s obedience to God, how can someone carry out this act of obedience on your behalf?                                

Why was Abraham willing to offer his son as sacrifice?

Conversation pointer: Is it true you have to sacrifice an animal during the Hajj?

In both the Quran and the Bible, we have the story of Abraham offering his son as a sacrifice because he loved God.

In the Quran we read…

And he said, “Verily I repair to my God who will guide me. O Lord, give me a son, of thy righteousness.” We announced to him a youth of meekness. And when he became full grown youth, his father said to him, “My son I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice thee; therefore, consider what thou seest right?” He said, “My father, do what thou art bidden; of the patient, if God please, shalt thou find me.” And when they had surrendered themselves to the will of God, he laid him down upon his forehead. We cried unto him, “O Abraham! Now hast thou satisfied the vision. See how we recompense the righteous?” This was indeed a decisive test. And we *ransomed* his son with a noble victim. And we left this for him among posterity, peace be on Abraham. Thus we reward the well-doers, for he was of our believing servants. (Sura 37:99-111)

In the Bible we read…

(Gen 22:1-13 NIV)  Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. {2} Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” {3} Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. {4} On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. {5} He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” {6} Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, {7} Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” {8} Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. {9} When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. {10} Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. {11} But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. {12} “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” {13} Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

(Heb 11:17)  By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.

Interesting Abraham offered up his only begotten son (son of a special kind i.e. from his own wife) out of love for God. God offered His only begotten son (Jesus) out of love for us.

Share with your Muslim friend that man’s love for God can never exceed God’s love for man. If Abraham can love God to the extent of offering his son as a sacrifice, how much more is God willing to offer His Son as a sacrifice for us.

The animal offered by God to Abraham is a “tremendous” sacrifice

When Abraham was about to offer his son as a sacrifice, God stopped him and provided him with a ransom instead.

037.107
YUSUFALI: And We ransomed him with a momentous (Arabic “azim”) sacrifice:
PICKTHAL: Then We ransomed him with a tremendous victim.
SHAKIR: And We ransomed him with a Feat sacrifice.

Dan Kami tebus anaknya itu dengan seekor binatang sembelihan yang besar.

Ransom refers to payment for the release of a captive. (Similar usage in Surah 47:4, 70:11). God ransomed Abraham’s son with a substitute sacrifice so that his son can be set free.

Conversation Pointer: Do you know that the sacrifice provided by Allah as a ransom for his son is called a “tremendous” sacrifice? Why is this so?

It is interesting to note that the Quran describes this ransom as a “momentous”, “tremendous” or “feat” sacrifice.

The sacrifice is described by the Arabic word “azim” and translated as “momentous”, “tremendous” or “Feat”. (In other words, it is a feat even for God to provide that sacrifice.) It is obvious that this is an inappropriate description for the ram Abraham used for the sacrifice.

What would be the greatest thing that God can sacrifice?

It would be Himself.

Kissing of the black stone

In the Eastern corner of the Ka’bah lies the Black Stone. Every pilgrim in Makkah tries to kiss and caress it fondly first thing upon arrival there. This action marks the start of the act of Tawaf or “circumambulation”. A pilgrim has to circle the Ka’bah seven times, to complete Tawaf. Each one of the seven rounds begins by kissing or caressing if possible, or by simply pointing at the Black Stone. 

This practice is founded upon the traditions of Prophet Muhammad.

Sahih Muslim Book 30, Number 6046:

Narrated AbuDharr:

Allah’s Messenger (peace_be_upon_him) came and he kissed the Black Stone, circumambulated the House along with his companion and then observed prayer.

The black stone is a meteorite, which Muslims believe descended from Paradise to Adam.

Abdullah ibn Abbas

MISHKAT AL-MASABIH

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “The black stone descended from Paradise whiter than milk, but the sins of the descendants of Adam made it black.”

In the Bible we also have a record of the temple of Artemis (also known as Diana) being built near a sacred rock that fell from heaven.

Act 19:35  And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Ar’temis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky? (RSV)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Post