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The Pilgrimage to Mecca

mecca.jpg (13664 bytes)The pilgrimage to Mecca is an act of worship which all Muslims in good health and with the financial means should fulfil. The concept of pilgrimage as a religious duty goes back around four thousand years, to the time of Abraham and his son Ishmael. Mecca and the Kaaba are the most sacred places of Islam, associated with Abraham and the monotheistic faith which the people of Arabia abandoned for idolatry. Thenceforth the Kaaba was filled with idols and pilgrimage acquired many of the customs of idolatry. But with the conquest of Mecca by Muhammed and his followers in 630 AD, the monotheistic faith was revived and idolatry outlawed. The following year it was declared that pagans could no longer perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, and it became a purely Muslim practice. This has continued over the past fifteen centuries, and is performed by Muslims from all over the world.

The scale of this extraordinary event has inspired poems and hymns, and Muslim writers have left accounts of their journey to Mecca and experiences there. The human life is short compared to that of communities and nations, and the Hac impresses on pilgrims the events in the life of Muhammed, in whose footsteps they are following, and by leaving behind the cares and pleasures of daily life at home enhances their awareness of God and their faith. The Hac and other pilgrimages therefore encourage believers to seek the true and right, and at the same time lends a sense of unity, fraternity and solidarity between people joined in a common purpose. Whether from Islamic countries or elsewhere, Muslim pilgrims throw off their pessimism and lethargy towards their religious duties in the course of their journey.

Lapses in morality whether in word or deed, during the pilgrimage cancel out any blessing the pilgrim might have gained by performing it. The Prophet said: Whoever make the pilgrimage for Allah, and who in its course refrain from evil and from disobedience to God will return purified of their sins as the day they was born of their mother's womb (et-Tac, 2/106).

Pilgrimage in the Koran:
XXII 27-29:
They will come unto thee on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every deep ravine. That, they may witness things that are of benefit to them and mention the name of Allah on appointed days over the beast of cattle that He hath bestowed upon them. Then eat thereof and feed therewith the poor unfortunate. Then let them make an end of their unkemptness and pay their vows and go around the ancient House.
III 96-97:
Lo! the first Sanctuary appointed for mankind was that at Mecca, a blessed place. A guidance to the peoples; wherein are plain memorials; the place where Abraham stood up to pray; and whosoever entereth it is safe. And pilgrimage to the House is a duty unto Allah for mankind, for him who who can find a way thither.

The english translation was taken from The Meaning of the Glorious Koran by Marmaduke Pickthall

The Pilgrimage to Mecca
By Mehmet Nuri Yżlmaz,
Skylife 03/98