The Social & Cultural Importance of Hajj

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By: Salman Ahmed Shaikh

Hajj is an important Ibadah in Islam. It is compulsory for every Muslim (male and female) to perform Hajj once in a life if one can afford it and is able to travel to the place physically.
Below, we look at the social and cultural importance of Hajj and what implications it has at an individual level and how it shapes societal behavior and actions.
In verses 96-97 of Chapter Al-Imran, the importance of Hajj appears in following words:
“Verily, the first House (of worship) appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing, and guidance for Al-‘Alamin. In it, are manifest signs, the Maqam (place) of Ibrahim; whosoever enters it, he attains security. And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka’bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence); and whoever disbelieves [i.e. denies Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), then he is a disbeliever of Allah], then Allah stands not in need of any of the Alamin.”
Hajj is a special Ibadah in Islam. It simultaneously contains an element of other important Ibadah in Islam, like Jihad and fasting. In Jihad, one is contributing with one’s physical capabilities and money to fight against evil in the way of Allah. It involves a travel away from home and sacrifice of one’s wealth and even life. In Hajj too, one travels away from family to meet Allah and exhibit one’s determination to surrender before Allah.
Just like in fasting, in Hajj too, one refrains from certain allowable activities for the time being in order to fulfill Allah’s commands. By this, one is reinvigorating the pledge with Allah to follow His commands consistently.
From the social point of view, thousands of people come for Hajj from all over the world having different races, color, belonging to different countries and speaking different languages. They all come to perform Hajj and follow the rituals in the same manner to exhibit that there is no difference in Islam between human beings on the basis of wealth, race, creed, language and region.
All the people, despite their diverse demographic attributes, wear the same unstitched clothes, come together at one place, and follow the same rituals and exhibit unity and discipline.
From the viewpoint of culture, Hajj brings together people of different cultures together. It brings increased understanding about different cultures and unites people by ensuring mutual respect and harmony. It expands people’s vision and makes them accommodate and leave their biases first at the holy place and then this mutual harmony is perpetuated after one experiences life away from worldly affairs, wearing unstitched clothes, using no means of adornment and beautification and embracing one’s true identity as the slave and servant of Allah.
This feeling and understanding makes people leave their pride and biases and make them believe that they are servants of Allah just like everyone else.