Hağğ means „make your way“ to a place. In Islam, however, it refers to the annual pilgrimage that Muslims take to Mecca to perform certain religious rites such as the Prophet Muhammad’s blessings and peace be upon him.
Hağğ and its rites were first commanded by God in the time of the Prophet Abraham, and he was the one whom God instructed to build the Kaaba – the house of God – together with his son Ishmael in Mecca. God describes the Kaaba and its construction as follows:
“And when We determined the location of the house for Abraham, (We spoke):“ Do not put anything aside for me and keep my house clean for those who surround it, who pray and who prostrate themselves . ” (Quran 22:26)
After building the Kaaba, Abraham came to Mecca every year to make Hağğ and after his death this was continued by his son. However, both the shape and the goal of the Hağğrites were changed. As idolatry spread across Arabia, the Kaaba lost its purity and idols were placed in it. The walls were covered with poems and paintings, including one by Jesus and his mother Mary. Around 360 idols were erected at the Kaaba.
During the Hağğ period, the atmosphere in the sacred area around the Kaaba was like a circus. Men and women used to walk around the Kaaba naked on the grounds that they should present themselves to God in the state in which they were born. Her prayer was stripped of any righteous remembrance of God and was instead reduced to a series of clapping hands, screeching or whistling, and blowing horns. Even the Hağğ call was twisted by the following additions: “Nobody is your partner except the one you have allowed. You are his master and the master of what he owns. ”
Sacrifices were also offered in the name of God. However, the blood of the sacrificed animals was poured onto the walls of the Kaaba and the flesh was hung on pillars around the Kaaba, in the belief that God demanded the flesh and blood of these animals.
Singing, drinking, adultery and other immoral acts were widespread among the pilgrims, and the poetry competitions that were held formed a major part of the entire Hağğ event. At these competitions, poets praised the courage and fame of their own peers and told exaggerated stories of the cowardice and avarice of other tribes. Generosity competitions were also held, where the head of each tribe set up cauldrons and fed the pilgrims just so that he would be known for his extreme generosity.
With this, people had completely abandoned the teachings of their ancestor and leader Abraham. The house that he had made clean solely for the worship of God was completely desecrated by the idolaters and the rites that he had introduced were twisted by them. It remained in this sad state for almost two and a half thousand years. But then, after this long time, the time for supplication began
Abraham was answered:
“Our Lord! Raise among them a messenger who reads your words to them and teaches them the book and wisdom and purifies them; because truly, you are the Almighty, the All-Wise. ” (Quran 2: 129)
And really, a man named Muhammad ibn ‚Abdullaah, God’s blessings and peace be upon him, was born in the very city where Abraham had said this supplication centuries before. For twenty-three years, the Prophet Muhammad spread God’s blessings and peace on him, the message of monotheism – the same message that Abraham and all other prophets had come with – and introduced God’s laws into the country. He went to great lengths to keep the Word of God alive and his victory over the false culminated in the destruction of the idols in the Kaaba, which again became the center for the worshipers of the True God.
Not only did the Prophet rid the Kaaba of all impurities, he also reinstated the Hağğrites that were introduced in the time of Abraham with God’s permission. Special instructions were revealed in the Quran to eradicate all false rites that had spread in pre-Islamic times. All indecent and shameful acts were strictly forbidden in God’s statement:
“Do not commit wrongdoing or inadequate speech during the Hağğ.” (Quran 2: 197)
Competitions in which poets praised their forefathers and what their fellow tribesmen had achieved no longer existed. Instead, God says,
„And when you have finished your sacred rites, then remember God as you remember your fathers, or rather with even stronger faith.“ (Quran 2: 200)
Generous competitions were also prohibited. Of course, the eating of poor pilgrims was still recommended, as was done in the time of Abraham. But God commanded that the purpose of slaughtering animals was to achieve God’s satisfaction, not to make you famous or to praise you. He said,
“Say the name of God on them when they are lined up. And if their sides (on the floor) lie, eat of it and feed the frugal and the begging. ” (Quran 22:36)
Regarding the unfortunate tradition of pouring the blood of the sacrificed animals onto the walls of the Kaaba and hanging the meat on altars, God said clearly:
“Their flesh does not reach God, nor does their blood, it is your reverence that reached him. ” (Quran 22:37)
The prophet that God’s blessings and peace were upon him also put an end to the tradition of completely naked circling the Kaaba and the argument of the idolaters that they used as the basis for this ritual
had been sharply rejected with the question of God:
„Say: Who has forbidden the beautiful things [ie clothing] of God that He produced for His servants?“ (Quran 7:32)
Another custom that was banned by the Quran was going to Hağğ without taking any supplies for the trip. In pre-Islamic times, some people had gone to the Hağğ claiming to be righteous and fully relying on God, and had begged for food throughout the trip. They viewed this behavior as a sign of their piety and trust in God. God makes people aware that carrying sufficient provisions is a prerequisite for Hağğ. He says:
„And take care of the journey, but truly, the best provision is fear of God.“ (Quran 2: 197)
In this way, all pre-Islamic traditions based on ignorance were abolished and Hağğ again became a pattern of piety, fear of God, simplicity and seriousness. If the pilgrims now arrived at the Kaaba, they would no longer be thrilled by the festivities, nor by the joyfulness and recklessness that had once occupied the minds of the pilgrims. Now you think of God with every step and every deed and sacrifice and everything is dedicated to Him. This type of Hağğ is worth the reward of paradise because the Prophet said:
“The reward for an accepted pilgrimage is nothing short of paradise.” (Sahieh Al-Bukhari)