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The history of Hajj

The Hajj pilgrimage is such an important event in the life of a Muslim and the experience of Hajj stays with people for the rest of their days. But what is the history of Hajj and why is it so special?

Hajj and the Prophet Ibrahim (as)

Approximately four thousand years ago, the valley of Mecca was completely dry. No one lived amongst the sand dunes.

God told the Prophet Ibrahim (as) to bring his wife Hajira and son Isma’il to Arabia from Palestine. On instructions from Allah, Ibrahim left Hajira and Isma’il alone in the dessert with some food and water.

Their supplies quickly ran out and mother and son became dehydrated and very, very hungry. Hajira was desperate to find help, and she ran up and down the two hills of Safa and Marwa to try to spot someone in the distance. Exhausted, she lay down beside her son and prayed for deliverance.

An angel descended from heaven, and struck the ground with his wing. A spring of water burst forth and Hajira and Isma’il rejoiced. They had a water supply to drink from and use to trade with passing nomads. Now they could exchange water for food and other goods. When Ibrahim returned to check on his family, he was absolutely amazed to see them making money from a well.

The construction of the Kaaba

Allah told the Prophet Ibrahim to create a place of worship, dedicated to him at the site of the well. Father and son worked together to build a small stone building, named the Kaaba (or Kaabah). This new shrine was intended to be a sacred gathering place for all those who wanted to strengthen their faith in Allah.

After a few years had passed, Prophethood was also bestowed upon Ismail (as) (which means ‘upon him may be peace’). He spoke with the nomads of the desert and urged them to surrender to the will of Allah. The well that had saved Isma’il and Hajira was named Zam Zam, and thanks to it, Mecca became a busy and profitable city. The Prophet Ibrahim would come to Mecca every year to perform Hajj, and after his death, Isma’il carried on this tradition.

A time of darkness

As time went on, the people of Mecca began to believe in other gods and worship spirits. The shrine of the Prophet Ibrahim became a place of idols, and the Kaaba lost its purity.

Many years later, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received divine instructions from Allah. God wanted him to restore the Kaaba and rededicate it to the worship of Allah and Allah alone. In 628, Muhammad made the journey to Mecca with thousands of his followers. This is considered the first Islamic pilgrimage and it re-established the religious traditions started by the Prophet Ibrahim.

The Hajj experience today

Around 2.3 million people go on the Hajj pilgrimage every year. Muslims of all race, class and culture travel to Mecca and join together at the Kaaba to praise Allah. On Hajj, everyone is equal in the eyes of Allah, regardless of social status or ethnic background. The experience of Hajj is intensely spiritual and strengthens the bonds of Islamic brother and sisterhood.

Even if you’re not going on Hajj, the month of Hajj (Dhul Hijjah) is very special. It’s a time for prayer, fasting and self-reflection. The blessings of Allah are greatly multiplied in this month, so it’s a great time to give to charity. It’s also the time when Muslims make their Qurbani payments, allowing the poor and needy around the world to enjoy an Eid meal of Qurbani meat.

Human Appeal distributes Qurbani shares in 20 countries worldwide, and the sooner we receive your payment, the more likely it is that a vulnerable family will have meat in time for Eid ul-Adha.

Continue the legacy of Ibrahim (as) and donate your Qurbani today. 

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