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The History of Hajj, A Spiritual Travel To Mecca

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hajjEvery year, millions of Muslims from all over the world gather in the holy land of Mecca for the Hajj. Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city of Muslims. It’s an obligation for Muslims and is the fifth of the 5 rules in Islam after syahadat, shalat, fasting, and charity. It’s mandatory to go for Hajj at least once in a lifetime for those muslims adults who are physically and financially able to travel, and can support their families during their absence. The condition of physically and financially capable of performing the Hajj is called istita’ah, and a muslim who fulfills these requirements is called mustati.


The word Hajj means “intending to travel”, which connotes both the action of the travel and the action into intention. According to the term of syara’, the hajj is a trip to Baitullah and to certain places to carry out certain practices of worship. Those places are, in addition to the Ka’bah and Mas’a (sa’i place), also Arafat, Muzdalifah, and Mina. The hajj is done in a certain time of the hajj months starting from Syawal until the first ten days of Dzulhijjah.

What’s actually behind the call for Hajj? What’s the history of this spiritual travel to Mecca? Let’s check this out.


Arabs in the days of jahiliyah were familiar with the hajj which they inherited from their ancestors by making changes here and there. The general forms of the implementation still exist, such as tawaf, sa’i, wukuf, and throwing jumroh stones but they were barely in accordance with the actual shari’ah. Therefore, Islam came and corrected the wrong aspects and kept doing what was in accordance with the sharia’h, as stipulated in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the prophet.

The background of the hajj is also based on worship performed by the prophets in Islam, especially Ibrahim.

  • Thawaf is based on similar worship performed by people before the prophet Ibrahim.
  • Sa’i, taking place between the hills of Shafa and Marwah, is also based on the rituals to commemorate Ibrahim’s wife who looked for milk for the prophet Ismail.
  • Wukuf at Arafah is a ritual to commemorate the meeting place of the prophets Adam and Eve on the earth.

The History of Hajj

Before Islam came, Arabs used to worship idols. The Ka’bah was the center of their worship. There were still the idols and the images of angels. When the annual pilgrimage season came, people from home and abroad would visit Ka’bah.

Today’s hajj ritual was set by the Prophet Muhammad SAW who reformed the pre-Islam ritual of Arabs pagan in 632 AD. However, the origin of the Hajj was God’s command to Ibrahim AS to leave his wife Siti Hajar and his son Isma’il alone in the ancient desert of Mecca with little food and water. Being left alone in Mecca, Hajar went looking for water desperately. She ran back and forth 7 times from Shofa hill to Marwah hill but found nothing. She went back to Ismail and saw him scratching the ground with his feet, then water came out of the ground. Since the water flew, people started to live there. The first ethnicity that came there was Jurhum.

As Ismail AS grew up, he got married with a woman and lived with them. Then, Siti Hajar passed away. Time went by, Ibrahim AS once came to visit Ismail AS, but he only found Ismail’s wife. Ibrahim AS asked her where Ismail was and she said he went out to earn a living. She said that they were living in poverty. Ibrahim AS was shocked. Before he went home he asked her to tell Ismail to change the doorknob. As Ismail AS got back, his wife told him about the message from Ibrahim AS. Ismail then answered that his father asked him to divorce her.

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After they divorced, Ismail AS got married to another woman. After a while, Ibrahim AS came to visit and met Ismail new wife. He asked where Ismail AS was and how their life was. She said that Ismail AS went out to earn a living and their life was good and she praised Allah. After hearing that they ate meat and drank water, Ibrahim AS prayed to Allah to bless them with meat and water. Before Ibrahim AS went home, he asked her to tell Ismail to strengthen the doorknob. That meant Ismail should maintain their marriage.

One day, Ibrahim AS came to visit Ismail AS and found him under the tree sharpening the arrows. Ismail AS greeted him warmly. Ibrahim AS told him about the command from Allah and asked him to help. Ismail said he would help. Then, they did what Allah had commanded them. They built a house on the elevated ground around where they were. They started from the foundation. Ismail AS carried the stones and Ibrahim AS put them up. When the building had been set up, Ismail AS put the stepping stone for Ibrahim AS. That stepping stone was what is now known as Ibrahim’s maqam (standing place).

They kept working and prayed to Allah to accept what they had done. Finally, the construction of Baitullah was done. The Ka’bah still had no roof and cover (kiswah) like now. After putting the black stone (Hajar Aswad) on the east of Ka’bah, Ibrahim AS received a revelation from Allah that he had to go now and announce the pilgrimage to the people.

Earlier before he passed away, Muhammad SAW did the only pilgrimage with the great number of followers. He taught them the hajj ritual and the manners to do it. In Arafah, he delivered a speech to those who were present there. Since that time, the hajj became one of the rules in Islam.

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The Hajj

The dates for hajj follow the Islamic calendar (Hijriyah), which is based on the lunar calendar. The hajj lasts for 5 days, starting from the 8 to the 12 of Dzulhijjah. The 9 of Dzulhijjah is known as Arafah Day.

To carry out the hajj, pilgrims do not only follow the procedures of the Prophet Muhammad AS, but also commemorate events related to Ibrahim AS.

  • Ihram

The pilgrims enter the pure state, called Ihram. The men are wearing one cloth to wrap the waist until the bottom of the knee and another cloth worn on the left shoulder tied on the right side. The women are wearing usual clothes that cover the whole body except the face and the hands. Ihram means that everyone is the same in front of God. There is no difference between the poor an the rich.

  • Tawaf and Sa’i

Tawaf is walking around the Ka’bah seven times clockwise. Tawaf is followed by Sa’i, walking or running seven times between the hills of Shofa and Marwah, located near the Ka’bah.

  • Throwing Jumroh Stones

The pilgrims throw the jumroh stones as a symbol of throwing stones to the devil. They throw 7 stones to one of the three pillars, namely Jamrat al-Aqabah, from sunrise to sunset.

That’s all about The History of Hajj (A Spiritual Travel to Mecca). May Allah ease our way to the Baitullah.

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