The Kabah was built by the Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael in obedience to God’s command, Who also decreed that it be a sacred sanctuary for the worship of the One God. God says,
The fifth pillar of worship in Islam is to perform pilgrimage (Hajj) to the Sacred House (Kabah) at the Sanctuary in Mecca once in a lifetime, if a Muslim is physically and financially able.
“And behold when We appointed for Abraham the site of the House, saying: Do not associate anything with Me, and purify My House for those who circle It, those who stand, and those who bow and Prostrate.”
God set it as a beacon for humanity, commanding Abraham to establish the pilgrimage as an act of worship,
“And proclaim among people the Pilgrimage. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every deep Ravine.”
What began with the Prophet Abraham was brought to completion with the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. To this day, the Kabah continues to be a symbol of singular devotion, calling on the faithful in every land to the service of the One God. Every year during the Hajj season, pilgrims gather from every corner of the world to fulfill this fifth pillar as a sign of their compliance and adoration of their Lord. God says,
“And it is a duty of humanity to God, that whoever is able, to make the pilgrimage to the House.”
Hajj is performed in the month of Dhul-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, over 6 days from the 8th to the 13th of the month. The rights of Hajj are performed in Makkah at the Sacred House, at Arafat which is an open plain near Makkah where people gather on the 9th to repent, supplicate, and implore God, and in the neighbouring valleys of Muzdalifa and Mina. The rites of Hajj follow the sacrifices and devotions of Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael as they were taught and shown by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to his Companions. Hajj symbolises utter devotion, selflessness, sacrifice and humility before God. The reward for an accepted Hajj is complete and all-encompassing forgiveness. In the words of the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “He who makes Pilgrimage to this House—avoiding indecent and immoral behaviour —emerges from his sins like a newborn baby.”
THE LESSER PILGRIMAGE
In addition to the obligatory Hajj there is a recommended lesser pilgrimage termed Umrah which can be performed at any time of the year. The Umrah differs from Hajj in both timing and number of rites. Hajj is performed over 6 days in Makkah, Arafat, Muzdalifa and Mina, while Umrah is performed in the Sacred House in Makkah alone and takes only a few hours to complete.
VISITING THE PROPHET, peace be upon him
Muslims will most commonly include in their journey to Hajj or Umrah a visit to the Prophet’s resting place in Madinah. Pilgrims are drawn to Medina by its peace and the blessings and serenity of praying in the Mosque, but most of all they come to convey their greetings and love to the one who led humanity with wisdom and gentleness on the path to salvation, ‘the best of creation’ and ‘a mercy to the worlds’. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “There is not a person who greets me with peace except that God has returned my soul to me so that I may return his greeting.”