"For Hajj are the months well known. If anyone undertakes that duty therein, let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the Hajj. And whatever good you do (be sure) Allah know it. And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear Me, O you that are
wise." (Quran 2:197)
Every year during the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar Dhul-Hijjah, over two million Muslims from 170 countries converge on Mecca Saudi Arabia to begin the rituals of the Hajj. This pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca is the
world's largest annual religious gathering.
The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is a mandatory act of worship that every Muslim who is physically and financially able seeks to fulfill once during their lifetime. The prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him) said: "Whoever does Hajj for the sake of Allah in sincerely, and does not have sexual relations while on the Hajj or commit sins will come back from the hajj like the day his mother bore him (sinless)."
Only on the Hajj that one can experience the heterogeneous blend of languages and ethnic diversity, and witness for themselves the universality of the message of Islam transcending all socioeconomic and cultural barriers. As the worshippers enter Mecca for the Hajj, they recite in unisons the Talabiah prayer in Arabic :"Labbayk, Allahumma Labbayk. Labbayk. La shareeka laka. Labbayk. Innal-hamda wan-n'imata laka wal-mulk. La shareeka lak." (Here I am at your service O Lord, here I am. Here, I am at your service and you have no partners. You alone are All Praise and All Bounty, and you alone are The Sovereignty. You have no partners)
African American leader and human rights activist Malcolm X, articulated the message of black pride during the civil rights struggles in the 1960s made the Hajj in 1964 and afterwards changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, in his famed
'Letters from Mecca' written while on the Hajj, he wrote: "During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept in the same bed (or on the same
rug)-while praying to the same G-d-with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the actions in the deeds of the white' Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan, and
According to the Arab historian and writer al-Umari, the West African Emperor Mansa Kankan Musa of Mali mostly remembered for his extravagant pilgrimage to Mecca begin his Hajj in the year 1324, with 100 camel-loads of gold, each weighing 300 lbs. and 500 servants, each carrying a 4lb. gold staff and a thousands subjects from his kingdom. Five hundred courtiers attended to the emperor's wife. Al-Umari visited Cairo twelve years later and wrote that Mansa Musa left no emir nor a holder of a royal office without a gift of a load of gold. He and his company gave out so much gold that they depressed its value in Egypt and cause it price to fall.
Allah (SWA) blessed me to make the first of my two Pilgrimages to Mecca in 2002 with 500 African American Muslims from the association of Imam W. Deen Mohammed. According to the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, an estimated 7,000 pilgrims from the United States made Hajj that year. The Saudi Arabian news media took notices of this large African American Muslims delegation making the Hajj.
The highest point of the Hajj is when the vast crowd of Muslims flocked to the plains of Mount Arafat to perform the prescribed rites. Mount Arafat is the place where Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him) gave his
'Farewell Sermon.' Standing and praying on the plains of Arafat is like a prelude to the final day of reckoning, when all mankind from every ethnicity and class is summoned before their lord waiting to be judge. And all tendencies of narcissism are squashed under the weight of Taqwa (piety and righteousness).
When the Hajj ends and the crowds disperse taking with them, knowledge gained from a once in a lifetime spiritual experience, they will rejoice in the pleasure derived from the satisfaction that they have responded to the call of Allah (SWA) and completed the Hajj.
Imam Ivan G. Nassar resides in Cleveland, Hts. Ohio.
He can be reached at nassar209aol.com.