By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi
This year, more than 1.35 lakhs Indian Muslims have undertaken the pilgrimage of Haj — a spiritual voyage to holy city of Mecca. It is obligatory for every Muslim at least once in a lifetime, if s/he can afford to travel to the holy city. Chanting “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik (I come to you, Oh my Lord, I come to you)”, Haj pilgrims are travelling to the city with great delight glaring through their faces.
Haj reminds us of the universal message well-embedded in the life of earlier prophets of mankind — Hazrat Adam (or Adam), Hazrat Ibrahim (or Abraham) and his son Hazrat Ismail.
Haj is primarily aimed to visit the Kabah, the holiest site of Islam in the city of Mecca, which was built by the first prophet Hazrat Adam and was later renovated by Prophet Ibrahim and his son, Ismail. The holy Quran says that Kabah is the first place dedicated to the belief and worship of one God.
Prophet Ibrahim was the first prophet who insinuated the pilgrimage to Kabah. The Hebrew Bible confirmed the existence of this pilgrimage to Mecca even before it was reiterated in the Quran, in these verses: “And proclaim to the people the Haj (pilgrimage); they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass.”
Haj brings all the spiritual seekers and pilgrims — the rich and the poor, the Arabs and the non-Arabs, the dignitaries and the common people on one equal pedestal. Thus, this pilgrimage helps them all remove the inhuman barriers of caste, creed, race, ethnicity and gender that distance them from other human fellows. Inevitably, they get imbued with a deeper sense of humanity, brotherhood of mankind, unconditional love and devotion to one and only Lord. They find ultimate common grounds and spiritual symbioses among themselves by performing the same rituals and dressing in similar garments.
Every year, more than two million Haj pilgrims, both men and women, from hundreds of Muslim countries assemble in the holy city of Mecca, mixing across the lines of ethnicity, nationality, sect and gender. Thus, the biggest Islamic annual pilgrimage reinforces a universal and equal right for all to pray. When Allah left no room for the gender inequality in his own house in the holy city of Mecca, one wonders why women are prevented in some sacred places only by misplaced male-hegemony.
Haj pilgrimage is not only one of the principal religious duties in Islam but also a spiritual experience. A Haji (the one who undertakes this pilgrimage) feels the evolution of his/her inner self after performing the manasik (rituals of Haj). Therefore, this spiritual experience is not denied to anyone in any respect. Regardless of ethnicity, nationality, sect and gender, all Muslims have been exhorted to perform Haj on an equal footing.
Extracted from asianage