Monday, October 24, 2011

Hajj: A Celebration of Peace

More than two million people surround me. We all have one common goal, one purpose for being here together. I do not stand out from anyone else. There are no signs of wealth or greatness upon me. No Rolex watch or Nike shoes to mark me as a rich person. I am one person alone, in a sea of humanity.The people around me are young and old, male and female, rich and poor. We represent humankind in our diversity, yet we are united. We are an embodiment of unity in diversity. Where am I? I'm at hajj.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims declare that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His messenger. They pray, they fast, they pay obligatory charity, and they go to hajj. Hajj is a pilgrimage to the city of Makah in Saudi Arabia.

People make this journey prepared to stand at the House of God, the Kabah, and affirm their love for God and His religion of Islam.

(And proclaim to humankind 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)) (Al-Hajj 22:27)

Hajj commemorates Prophet Abraham, his wife Hajar, and their son Ismail (Ishmael), and the sacrifices and hardships they endured to establish the city of Makkah and the house of God.

More than two million Muslims stand in one place, wearing the same simple clothing, following the same rituals, and saying the same words. They are united in their devotion to God. The black man stands next to the white man, and they call on God with one voice. The king stands beside the pauper, and they declare their submission to the will of God using the same words.

Muslims from every corner of the globe are united in their submission to the will of God. They cry out as if with one voice, "Here I am O God, here I am at your service, and You have no partner. Here I am. All praise, grace, and dominion belong to you. You have no partner."

This supplication is said repeatedly by the pilgrims. It is their answer to God's call for the Muslims to perform Hajj. These words are repeated with joy and reverence by all, regardless of status or class.

Islam is the religion of unity. Repeatedly throughout the Quran, God reminds the believers that they must remain united and seek strength through unity. Hajj epitomizes this unity. People from every race and color come together in submission to the will of God.

Muslims are one brotherhood and they come together with a sense of purpose and a desire for peace.

(The believers are nothing else but brothers (in Islam). So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear God, that you may receive mercy.) (Al Hujurat, 39:10)

(And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of God (this Quran), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember God's favor on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islam), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus God makes His signs clear to you, that you may be guided) (Aal `Imran 3:103)

Muslims at hajj are one people, they are a soothing sea of humanity, gathered together to worship One God. Muslims turn their faces in one direction and submit to the will of God. They are united by their love of God, and united in their diversity.

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