Hajj pilgrimage reinforces oneness of God, humanity
Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi
The Detroit News
December 4, 2007
More than two million Muslims are on their way to Mecca for the annual
hajj pilgrimage. Hajj is one of the pillars of the Islamic faith and
an obligation for every Muslim who can physically and financially
The goal of hajj is to replace our secular culture with the culture of
total submission to the will of God. It reinforces a message of
universal brotherhood under God that could save our planet.
The city of Mecca is in a desert area surrounded by mountains in Saudi
Arabia. According to Islam, Abraham's descendants fell away from
monotheism but continued to make pilgrimage to Mecca for thousands of
years. The Prophet Mohammad cleaned the pagan idols out of the Ka'bah
-- the world's oldest house of worship, which the Prophet Abraham
constructed in 2000 B.C. -- and established the Muslim hajj, which has
continued for more than 1,400 years.
Male pilgrims wear the ihram, consisting of two sheets of seamless
white cloth and a pair of sandals. Women may wear any style of modest
clothing, but they cannot veil their face. All signs of selfishness or
class superiority are prohibited, as are other distractions including
cosmetics, perfume, sex, swearing, quarreling and even looking at a
mirror during the ritual.
In Mina, the pilgrims re-enact the story of Abraham on Mount
Al-Jamarat by throwing pebbles against the Devil who tried to stop
Abraham from fulfilling the Divine command.
When Abraham passed God's test, God sent a ram as a ransom to be
slaughtered in place of his son. In commemoration, more than 2 million
animals are slaughtered at hajj, and their meat is packed for charity
in poor nations.
The most central part of the hajj is the Tawaf or circling the sacred
house seven times. The pilgrims walk seven times between the mountains
Safa and Marwa to commemorate the desperation of Hagar, a black
Ethiopian slave who became the wife of Prophet Abraham and mother of
Prophet Ishmael, to find water for her son in the desert. This is how
Islam honors a righteous and responsible woman.
Then, pilgrims drink from the spring of Zam-Zam, which is the water
that miraculously appeared when the angel told the thirsty child,
Ishmael, to kick the sand with his feet.
At his first and last hajj in March 632, Prophet Mohammad said: "You
are one brotherhood! Protect people's life, property and honor. Don't
oppress and don't be oppressed!"
After Malcolm X made hajj to Mecca in 1964, he changed his name to
Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. He wrote in a letter from Mecca to his folks in
Harlem: "I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood
practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color."
He concluded that if Americans could accept the Oneness of God, they
too could accept the Oneness of Man.
It's time for Muslims, Christians, Jews and other faith communities to
unify our voices, stop the warmongers and terrorists from hijacking
our religious traditions and work together for a world free of
injustice, racism, war and poverty.
Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi heads the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn
Heights. E-mail: letters@...
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