The pilgrimage to Makkah incorporates in Muslim tradition two pagan rites celebrated by the Arabs, one linked with the circumambulation of the Hajr-e-Aswad Black Stone of the Kaabah in Makkah, and the other the pilgrimage to the mount of ‘Arafāt outside the city. The rites and rituals are performed in the 12th lunar month and now generally include a visit to nearby Madinah. The pilgrimage HAJJ may be described as a restricted obligation; it is incumbent only on Muslims with the essential means and the physical ability to reach Holy Makkah. However, it has remained a very important element in Muslim life all through the centuries and, even in the most complicated and difficult periods of history, attracted many pilgrims. Today, with improved infrastructure, increased travel within the Muslim world, and safety in the pilgrimage area, it has taken on new scope of cultural and even political importance.
Sacred city Makkah has become a meeting place for Muslims from the whole world, and extremely deep impression is made on several pilgrims by the reaffirmation of their imaan (faith) in company with co believers of every colour and nationality. The yearly re-enactment of the ceremonies and occasions, with the pilgrims as active participants and not simple onlookers, gives them a particularly moving character.
The returning pilgrim, who is allowed to add the title HAJI to his name, is the object of congratulations and admiration, but more significant perhaps is the feeling on the part of those who have remained at the home of ALLAH Almighty The Holy Kaaba that he brings with him an atmosphere of religiousness which is shared by all. At all times the societal function of the pilgrimage HAJJ to the sacred places has been to serve as a sacred journey to a common hearth fire from which the pilgrims might carry back the restored and renewed flame of Imaan (faith) to their own communities. In this logic, the pilgrimage HAJJ may be looked on as the complement of the fast (roza), for while the fast (roza) solidifies the bonds that hold together every community by a general sacrifice, the pilgrimage allows the members of the elites of extensively different groups and regions to engage in a religious group which strengthens the strongly ties between the different communities of Islam.
In some Muslim states, though (e.g., Turkey and Tunisia), where the sacred law of shariah has been abolished, the secularist orientation of their patriotism has led the governments to give confidence fast breaking in the interest of general national economic imperatives or to consider it a matter of own conscience.
The state of being financially and physically able of performing the Hajj is known as istita’ah, and a Muslim who fulfils this form is called a mustati. The Hajj is a expression of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to ALLAH Almighty.
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