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The Spiritual Journey of Hajj

Everything that Allah prescribed for us in Islam has a purpose behind it. Allah does not create anything without purpose and neither does He prescribe acts of worship to us without a purpose. Salah purifies our hearts and souls, zakat purifies our wealth and nafs, fasting builds taqwa. Hajj is an act of worship that requires humility, patience and sacrifice. The manasik (rites) of Hajj are all prescribed to help us submit to Allah through the legacy of Ibrahim (A). Ibrahim (A) was one of the best of those who submitted, and Hajj is an exercise in submission.

Hajj requires from us so much patience and sacrifice. The pillar of Islam that is meant to teach us about sacrifice and submission has within it so many elements of sacrifice and submission. This is because Allah is the Best of Designers—He knows us well and He knows what we need to learn how to submit.


The state of ihram is one in which a pilgrim is prescribed to enter before beginning the other rites of Hajj. This is a physical, mental, and spiritual state. Certain halal things become haram, such as wearing perfume, engaging in intimate relations with one’s spouse, cutting one’s hair or nails or killing any living being. These restrictions make us hyperaware of our actions. We become acutely aware that Allah is watching us. It is similar to fasting, and like fasting, induces a state of taqwa, or God-consciousness. One of the ways of disciplining the nafs is to abstain from the halal in order to strengthen it to abstain from the haram. Restrictions lead to discipline and purity of the nafs. The physical restrictions of ihram thus lead to a stronger willpower to worship Allah from a purified place.

The physical ihram (the simple dress for women and the two white pieces of cloth for men) serves as a reminder of humility and equality. When we are stripped of our identity markers, our clothes, our jewelry, our possessions, who are we? We are all the same. We are share the same father, Adam, and the same mother, Hawwa’. We were all made of clay, we all have the same red blood, and we all cry the same salty tears when our hearts break. No one is better than the other in the sight of Allah except for what they carry within their hearts—their taqwa.


In Tawaf, we revolve around the Ka’bah. We worship not the building itself but the Lord of the building. When we are in Tawaf, we are in focus. We keep track of how many rounds we made. We beg Allah to answer our deepest pleas. As we keep our focus, we drown out all the excessive noise. As we move around the cubed-shaped building in the centre of the haram, we pay little attention to what is going on in the outskirts of the masjid. Such should are focus be in salah, and in life. We shouldn’t preoccupy our hearts with things that don’t benefit us. At the centre of our hearts, in the deepest corner, should be the remembrance and mention of Allah. Dhikr of Allah. Tawaf is a reminder of what our lives should revolve around. Tawaf is a reminder that what we place at the centre of our hearts is what governs our lives. And no one should govern our lives except for Allah.


The rite of Sa’ee is a way to remember Hajar (AS)’s struggle. The word “sa’a’ in Arabic means to struggle, to strive for. Allah says in the Qur’an: “…man can have nothing but what he strives for.” (53:39) Anything worth having requires struggle. Sa’ee is a ritual that requires physical effort and mental discipline. It has been made easier in modern times due to the fancy flooring, lighting, and cooling systems but back in the day it still resembled Hajar (AS)’s struggle.

Hajar (AS) struggled to attain what she needed, i.e. water, and Allah rewarded her with provision from where she did not expect. When we are in a difficult situation in terms of our rizq, do we do the right thing by being patient with what Allah provides or do we try to attain what we want while being careless about the haram? In every area of our lives, we should stop and consider: what am I striving for? Am I striving more for the dunya (my temporary abode) or my akhirah (my permanent home)? Am I striving to please Allah? The ritual of Sa’ee reminds us of these very important questions.


From morning to night in Mina, the pilgrims are engaged in dhikr of Allah. In fact, all of Hajj can be described in this way. Allah says in the Qur’an: “O you who have believed, remember Allah with much remembrance [i.e. a LOT]. And exalt Him morning and afternoon.” (33:41-42)

Allah also says in the Qur’an about the people who remember Him: “And men who remember Allah much and women who remember, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.” (33:35)

Whether it’s salah or making du’a or praising Allah and seeking His forgiveness, dhikr is something that Allah tells us to do abundantly. The spiritual benefits of dhikr are numerous, and after the experience at Mina, pilgrims are most likely to be ready for the difficult day of Arafah.


Arafah is a day of du’a and forgiveness. There are countless ahadith that talk about the virtues of this day. Aisha (RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “There is no day upon which Allah frees more of His servants from the Hellfire than the day of Arafat. He draws near and then he boasts of them to the angels, saying: What do these servants want?” (Sahih Muslim)

In the heat of the sun, with little clothing and shelter, pilgrims stand and beg Allah for forgiveness. They beg the King of Kings for His Pleasure, and they seek from His treasures. Allah loves those who ask, and Arafah is the day of asking for forgiveness, of showing Allah how desperate you are for Him, how dependent you are on Him. Arafah is a day of remembering our dependencies, our helplessness, in front of Allah (SWT).

For those who are not at Hajj, fasting is a highly recommended sunnah on this day. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "It expiates the sins of the past year and the coming year." (Muslim)


At Muzdalifah, the pilgrims sleep under the stars. We undergo physically uncomfortable situations like sleeping under the open sky, when we might have been used to better living situations. This sacrifice leads us to be grateful to Allah for the blessings we enjoy in our everyday lives.

At Muzdalifah, we collect the pebbles that will be used to stone the Jamarat the next day. Practically speaking, we could have picked up the pebbles from anywhere, like Mina, but collecting them from Muzdalifah is an essential part of the pilgrimage because Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) did it that way. Following the sunnah is the key to our success. To do what the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) did, in every matter, is how we attain salvation.


When Ibrahim (A) set out to sacrifice his son, shaytan came to him to deter him from his obedience to Allah. You see, to fight and tame the nafs, you must make a sacrifice. Shaytan uses our nafs to get to us. He uses our natural fears and desires to get us to disobey Allah. Ibrahim (A) loved his son, but Allah told him to sacrifice him, so he set out to do just that. Shaytan continuously tried to dissuade him from this task, but Ibrahim (A) threw stones at him each time. He didn’t let the attacks continue. He fought him. He defeated him. He became even stronger in his resolve to obey Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Indeed, Shaytan is an enemy to you so take him as an enemy. He only invites his party to be among the companions of the Blaze.” (35:6)

To take shaytan as an enemy means to guard oneself against him by seeking Allah’s protection. It means to keep away from the places where he and his friends gather. It means to fight our nafs and to march forward in obedience to Allah. The stoning of the Jamarat is a powerful symbolic event where Allah shows us humans their power. Allah prescribed for us to follow in the footsteps of Ibrahim (A) so that we can learn to be brave and submit to Allah fully, without doubt or hesitation.

What the Talbiyah signifies

The whole journey of Hajj is about returning back to Allah (SWT). “Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk. Labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk. Innal-hamda, wan-n’imata, laka wal-mulk. Laa shareeka lak(a).” (“Here I am at Your service, Allah, Here I am at Your service. Here I am at Your service, You have no partner, at Your service. Truly all praise, favor and sovereignty is Yours. You have no partner.”)

“Here I am at Your service” in Everyday Life: The talbiyah embodies in it a spirit of submission and obedience. How often do our heart and our limbs bow down to the Will of God? How readily do we submit our ego and our desires to Allah’s command?

We should ask ourselves these questions and if we are not satisfied with the answers, we should ask Allah to help us on the path to Him and to purify us so that we submit to Him readily, fully, with love and devotion.

May Allah allow the meanings of Hajj to penetrate our hearts to give us deeper understanding. May Allah purify us gently, with His lutf and have mercy on us in every area of our lives. May Allah allow us to embody tawheed in a complete way and to fight the shaytan with strength and determination. May Allah be pleased with us, ameen.

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