Haj a sacred journey of a lifetime

While Muslims all over the world celebrated Eid al Adha with family, friends and neighbours, in another form of celebration, millions of pilgrims marked Eid by performing various rituals of pilgrimage (Haj) over the past week.
They observed Eid in Mecca and other sacred places. The pilgrims felt honoured as everyone was wishing to be among them. They were thrilled to perform this significant task assigned to all Muslims at least once in a lifetime.
As a must-do religious assignment, Haj is aimed at commemorating the name of Allah during those special days when pilgrims perform the rituals of Haj there.
This has been confirmed by the verse in Quran: “You shall commemorate God for a number of days.” In fact, Haj is an appeal from pilgrims to the Almighty Allah seeking forgiveness, mercy and acceptance as obedient worshipers.
Usually, activities of Haj are practised collectively in a crowd, where pilgrims from different backgrounds, nationalities and languages converge for the same cause mostly at the same time or day. They unite all the days, wearing white clothes (men) and black (women) starting from the eighth day of Dhul Hijjah.
With no exception, all pilgrims came for the same reason and mission which the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and other pilgrims came for thousands of years ago. Similar tasks and activities that have been performed in the past centuries are being performed today in the same locations.
Although Haj is a religious mission, it mirrors a social and spiritual unity for Muslims. Haj also brings harmony and compassion among pilgrims.
The feeling of being a pilgrim is different and heartening. Pilgrims share respect, empathy and support for each and every one as if they are one family: brothers and sisters. It is very touching indeed how they move around performing their assigned tasks. The way pilgrims unite and come together is undoubtedly magnificent.
Pilgrims are sincerely worshiping the Almighty Allah in a different way unlike the usual daily prayers that are performed in masjids five times a day. On each day they spend there, they perform different tasks in which they become serious in what they do and sincere with the prayers they say.
Pilgrims are obliged to follow what both Prophets, Mohammed and Ibrahim, have performed earlier during their days.
Although Haj is the fifth essential pillar of Islam, only capable Muslims are requested to perform it at least once during their lifetime.
Those who are physically/ financially unable to perform Haj can do it afterwards, when they are ready. They can also assign someone on their behalf, but with certain serious conditions.
All Muslims who intend to perform Haj must be hale and hearty as well as strong enough to sufficiently perform all the tasks required.
The reward granted by the Almighty Allah to all pilgrims is that all their sins, faults and wrongdoings will be forgiven and rubbed out once they come back home from Haj. The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said: “Whoever performs Haj and does not commit any obscenity or transgression shall return free from sins, as he was on the day his mother gave birth to him.” He also said: “The reward of a Haj mabroor is nothing, but Paradise.”

Abdulaziz Al Jahdhami