History of Hajj – Everything you need to know
Hajj is an Arabic term that literally means “to set out for a place.” Islamically, it refers to the sacred pilgrimage and the fifth pillar of Islam. Every year, around two million Muslims visit the holy city of Makkah to perform the rituals of Hajj in the last month of the Islamic (lunar) calendar.
Little do Muslims know that the rites of Hajj were ordained by the Almighty during the era of Prophet Ibrahim (AS), whom Allah SWT entrusted with constructing the Holy Kaaba.
“And remember when We showed Ibrahim the site of the [Sacred] House [saying]: Associate not anything [in worship with Me and purify My House for those who circumambulate it [i.e., perform tawaaf] and those who stand up for prayer and those who bow down and make prostration [in prayer etc.].” [Holy Quran, Surah Al-Hajj 22:26]
However, the first-ever Hajj was performed by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his beloved companions in 10AH. Here is everything you need to know about the history of Hajj.
Prophet Ibrahim (AS)
Prophet Ibrahim (AS), a messenger of Allah SWT who lived 4000 years ago, isn’t only revered by Muslims but by Christians and Jews as well. He was the father of Prophet Ismail (AS), the architect of the Holy Kaaba, and one of the most devoted prophets of Allah SWT.
The life story of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) isn’t only mentioned in the Holy Quran but in the Bible as well. From being thrown in the fire pit by his own father at a very young age, to being instructed to abandon his wife and son in the middle of nowhere in the desert of Makkah and to sacrifice his only son in the name of Allah SWT, Prophet Ibrahim’s (AS) life was filled with tribulations.
However, no matter how tough the test by the Almighty was, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) dealt with every situation with bravery and faith. He trusted Allah SWT and devoted his whole life to preaching the message of the Almighty.
Building the Holy Kaaba
According to Islamic scriptures, Allah SWT instructed Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to construct the Holy Kaaba, a place of worship near the spring of Zamzam water. Prophet Ibrahim (AS), along with his son Prophet Ismail (AS), worked day and night to build it so that it would be a place for Muslims to gather.
Allah Almighty says, “And [mention] when Ibrahim was raising the foundations of the House and [with him] Ismail, [saying], “Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing. Our Lord, and make us Muslims [in submission] to You and from our descendants a Muslim nation [in submission] to You.
And show us our rites and accept our repentance. Indeed, You are the accepting of repentance, the Merciful. Our Lord, and send among them a messenger from themselves who will recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book and wisdom and purify them. Indeed, You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” [Holy Quran 2: 127-129]
“Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for mankind was that at Makkah – blessed and a guidance for the worlds. Wherein are clear signs [such as] the standing place of Ibrahim; and whosoever enters it shall be safe. And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever is able to find thereto a way. But whoever disbelieves – then indeed, Allah is freed from need of the worlds.” [Holy Quran Surah Aali Imran (3: 96-7)]
When Was the First Hajj?
The origin of the Hajj dates back to 2000 BC, when Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his son, Prophet Ismail (AS), constructed the Holy Kaaba as commanded by Allah SWT.
However, the first official pilgrimage (Hajj) took place after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions migrated to Madinah and succeeded in conquering Makkah in 10 AH (632 CE). It is also known as the Farewell Hajj, the Last Pilgrimage, and Hajjat-ul-Wida.
What Is the Purpose of Hajj?
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and so Allah SWT has instructed all financially and physically able Muslims to fulfil the obligations of this pilgrimage at least once in their life. Hajj gives Muslims a chance to wipe clean their past sins and have a clean slate.
It gives Muslims a chance to revive their faith and start over anew and live a better, more righteous life. While performing the rituals of Hajj, Muslims retrace the footsteps of Prophet Ibrahim (AS), Hajar (RA), and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), commemorating their sacrifices and seeking ways to deepen their devotion to Allah SWT.
Allah SWT in the Holy Quran states, “And proclaim to mankind the Hajj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Hajj).” [Holy Quran: Surah al-Hajj 22: Ayah 27]
The Holy Kaaba
Located in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, the Holy Kaaba is the most sacred site in Islam. Elegantly draped in a black cotton-silk veil, the Holy Kaaba is the house of Allah SWT. It is also known as the Qibla – the direction of prayer for Muslims.
With the intention to perform pilgrimage (Hajj or Umrah), every year, millions of Muslims circumambulate the Holy Kaaba as they perform Tawaf.
Why Is Hajj Important?
The Messenger (PBUH) of Allah SWT said, “When a believer returns home after performing Hajj, he is as he was on the day which his mother gave birth to him.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Every ritual of Hajj provides pilgrims with inner purity, tranquillity of heart, and fullness in understanding the creations of Allah SWT. Each step that the pilgrim takes strengthens his belief in the ultimate authority of Allah SWT.
Why Is Hajj Important in Islam?
Each individual performing pilgrimage learns to honour the symbol of Allah SWT. “The first House established for mankind was that at Becca—blessed and a guidance for the worlds. In it are clear signs: the standing place of Ibrahim.
Whoever enters it shall be safe.” [Holy Quran 3: 96-97] In witnessing these signs, you are reminded of the history of Islam and the struggle for faith, as found in the story of Abraham. God says, “Whoever honours the Symbols of God—indeed, it is from the piety of hearts.” [Holy Quran 22: 32]
Despite barriers of race, colour, nationality, and language, as they gather in one place, Muslims learn the value of compassion and unity in the eyes of Allah SWT. “We made the House a place of return for the people and a refuge.” [Holy Quran 2: 125]
This unites them as a community and strengthens their faith while softening their hearts for one another. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion, and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the organs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.” (Muslim)
The Messenger (PBUH) of Allah SWT also said, “The Muslims; their lives are equal, they are united against those that oppose them, the protection offered by the humblest of them is inviolable, and they share with those not with them.” (Ibn Majah)
However, the reason that greatly highlights the significance of Hajj in Islam is that the Talbiyah declares Islamic monotheism to the world. “I am responding to Your call, O God, I am responding to Your call! I am responding to Your call, You have no partner with You, I am responding to Your call. All praise, blessing, and dominion belongs to You, You have no partner.”
Throughout all the rituals and actions of Hajj, one confirms the oneness of God and performs each one with the sole intention of obeying Allah SWT and following the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). “They are those who God had guided, so follow that guidance.” [Holy Quran 6:90]
Who Performed First Hajj in Islam?
Reestablishing the traditions of Prophet Ibrahim (AS), the first Hajj in Islam was performed by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) along with 1400 companions in 10AH (632 CE).
How Long Is Hajj?
The obligation of Hajj involves a series of rituals that take place in Makkah over a period of five to six days. Muslims from all over the world start coming to Makkah, Saudi Arabia, from the 1st of Dhul-Hijjah till the 7th of Dhul-Hijjah.
However, the main rituals of Hajj take place between the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah and the 12th of Dhul-Hijjah.
Importance of Hajj in Quran and Hadith
Allah SWT in the Holy Quran says, “Wherein are plain memorials (of Allah’s guidance); 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 can find a way thither.
As for him who disbelieves, (let him know that) lo! Allah is Independent of (all) creatures.” [Holy Quran, Surah Al’ Imran, 3:97]
“And [mention] when We made the House a place of return for the people and [a place of] security.” [Holy Quran 2: 125]
“Perform the pilgrimage and the visit (to Makka) for Allah.” [Holy Quran, Surah al Baqara, 2:196]
The Messenger (PBUH) of Allah SWT stated, “O people! Allah SWT had ordained fardh the worship of Hajj. Hurry to perform the Hajj.” (Muslim)
Abu Hurairah (RA) reported, “Allah’s Messenger was asked, ‘What is the best deed?’ He replied, ‘To believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad (SAW)).’ The questioner then asked, ‘What is the next (in goodness)?’ He replied, ‘To participate in jihad in Allah’s Cause.’ The questioner again asked, ‘What is the next (in goodness)?’ He replied, ‘To perform Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makka) ‘Mubrur, (which is accepted by Allah and is performed with the intention of seeking Allah’s pleasure only and not to show off and without committing a sin and in accordance with the traditions of the Prophet).'” (Bukhari; Book 2, Hadith 25) (Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ibn Maja)
Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “Whoever performs Hajj to this House (Ka’ba) and does not approach his wife for sexual relations nor commits sins (while performing Hajj), he will come out as sinless as a newly-born child (just delivered by his mother).” (Bukhari, Book 28, Hadith 45)
The mother of the faithful believers, Aisha (RA), reported: “I said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Shouldn’t we participate in Holy battles and jihad along with you?’ He replied, ‘The best and the most superior jihad (for women) is Hajj which is accepted by Allah.’ Hadrat ‘Aisha (RA) added: ‘Ever since I heard that from Allah’s Messenger (SAW), I have determined not to miss Hajj.'” (Bukhari; 29;84)
Different Types of Hajj
Listed below are the three types of Hajj:
- Hajj Tamattu: Performed during the days of pilgrimage (1 to 10 Dhul-Hijjah), Hajj Tamattu is accompanied by Umrah, for which you have to perform Qurbani (sacrifice) of a sheep separately. After completing the Sai and Tawaf for Umrah, the pilgrim is released from all restrictions of Ihram until the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah, when they once again enter the state of Ihram with the intention of Hajj.
- Hajj Qiran: It is the Umrah followed by Hajj. Hajj Qiran requires the sacrifice of sheep. During Hajj Qiran, the pilgrim wears one Ihram to perform both Hajj and Umrah and stays in it until the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah.
- Hajj Ifrad: This doesn’t require the sacrifice of a sheep. During Hajj Ifrad, the pilgrim performs Sai for Hajj and Tawaf al-Qudum, and they must stay in the state of Ihram until Hajj has been completed.
Summary – History of Hajj
Despite consistent revolt from pagans and idolaters, the Messenger (SAW) of Allah SWT succeeded in abolishing ignorance from the house of Allah SWT, making Hajj the model of purity, austerity, simplicity, piety, and fear of Allah SWT.
Today, as pilgrims visit the Holy Kaaba, every action, from performing Tawaf to Sae to sacrifice (Qurbani), Halq and Taqsir, and drinking Zamzam water is a reminder of the greatness of Allah SWT and the devotion and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Remember, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “The reward for an accepted Hajj is nothing less than paradise.”