The Hajj holds a special place in the hearts of Muslims around the world. It is the most significant Islamic pilgrimage, a journey that draws Muslims closer to their faith and their Creator. Every Muslim who is physically and financially able is required to take this journey at least once in their life. It takes place once a year in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam. Unlike other holy sites, Mecca is exclusively reserved for Muslims, who come from all corners of the globe to participate in the Hajj.
Origins and Spiritual Significance
The roots of the Hajj pilgrimage trace back to the times of the Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail. They paved the way for this sacred journey, a path that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself would later tread. Muslims believe that Prophet Ibrahim’s faith was truly tested when God commanded him to sacrifice his son Ismail. While he was prepared to submit to this act, Ibrahim’s faith was rewarded, and God spared his son’s life.
The Islamic calendar follows the lunar calendar, which is typically 11 days shorter than the Gregorian one. Due to this, the date of the Hajj changes every year, occurring in Dhul-Hijjah, the final month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
The choice to perform the Hajj is life-changing and was exactly that for Rendy Syahdan Praditya, a graphic designer at Diversity Resources. His choice to fulfill the fifth pillar of Islam was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “This trip requires years of waiting because it is regulated by the state, and I have been waiting for it for approximately 12 years,” Rendy said.
Why Is The Kaaba So Important?
The central point of the Hajj is the Kaaba, the House of Allah, standing in the heart of Mecca. Here, Muslims come to cleanse their souls of worldly sins and to seek closeness to God. This annual practice of solidarity and submission to God is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
The Kaaba, located in the Masjid al-Haram, the Grand Mosque, holds unparalleled significance in Islam. Built by both Ismail and Ibrahim, this symbolic structure serves as a focal point of Muslim prayers worldwide. Muslims from around the world face the Kaaba during their Salah or five daily prayers.
The Hajj Rituals
During this spiritual journey, Rendy engaged in the various rituals that define the Hajj pilgrimage.
The Tawaf involves walking around the Holy Kaaba seven times counterclockwise. During this time, they recite Takbir or other prayers to Allah. This act of worship represents unity among Muslims and submitting to Allah’s will.
The Sa’i ritual involves walking or running seven times between the Safa and Marwa hills near the Holy Kaaba. It symbolizes Hajar’s perseverance as she ran and climbed seven times between these hills looking for water for her son Ismail. The true lesson of this rite is patience and having unwavering faith in Allah’s plan.
Symbolic Stoning of the Pillars
The last three days of the journey involve the symbolic stoning of the three pillars representing the devil. This is a reenactment of when Prophet Ibrahim threw stones at Satan after attempting to dissuade him from following Allah’s orders. This gesture signifies the rejection of malice and a commitment to righteous living.
It is believed that after the Hajj is completed that all past sins are forgiven and there is the promise of Paradise after death.
Rendy’s Hajj Journey
Rendy’s journey wasn’t without challenges. The experience is not only mentally and emotionally taxing, but physically too. Rendy had to prepare physically for months in advance to be able to complete all that was required of him during this journey.
However, when it came to his emotional and spiritual preparation, he shared, “I just left it to God to offer me guidance on the journey.” To begin his pilgrimage, he first traveled to Medina, Saudi Arabia where he dedicated eight days to his Arba’in devotion and paid respects at the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Following those first eight days, he traveled to Mecca to perform the Hajj, which included participating in Umrah at the Grand Mosque, Wukuf, and Jamrah in the city of Mina, all spanning around 32 days in total.
Speaking about his gratitude for the experience, he said he cannot put into words how appreciative he is to be able to participate in this trip. “It’s the ultimate form of prayer for Muslims. And, of course, I gained a lot of knowledge and became more obedient in practicing my religion,” Rendy said.
Learn more about Islamic celebrations and observances on our Islamic Holy Days blog.
Reflections on the Hajj Experience
After this experience, Rendy reflected on the spiritual significance of his pilgrimage and how being amongst other Muslims made him feel. “I felt united with people from various countries, languages, and skin tones that all share the same goal: to perform the Hajj.”
Rendy acknowledged the challenges he faced, especially in maintaining his physical condition and practicing patience throughout the lengthy process. He also highlighted the effort he put into avoiding prohibited actions.
Certain behaviors, such as losing your temper, arguing, trimming nails, cutting hair, swearing, smoking, and taking photos or videos, are forbidden during the pilgrimage.
Despite the difficulties, Rendy believes that the positive aspects of completing the Hajj properly outweigh any hardships. Rendy shared that the experience helped him to “become more glorified and loving of God and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as his messenger.”
Lessons Learned From His Pilgrimage
The Hajj experience will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on Rendy’s life. “I grew more religious and wanted to learn more about religion, specifically Islam and its holy book, the Holy Qur’an, while also pushing my Muslim brothers and sisters to do the same,” he said. “This experience will serve as my guide in carrying out all of God’s instructions.”
Rendy pointed out that the most impactful moment for him was the time when he visited the tomb of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and prayed between his tomb and the pulpit. “From there, I visited the Kaaba for the first time and performed Tawaf seven times, because this is known as Allah’s (SWT) house and the Qibla location of prayer for all Muslims around the world,” Rendy said.
When reflecting on how the experience has changed him, Rendy says that he has “become more tranquil and has fully surrendered to God.” He encourages other Muslims to not hesitate on experiencing their own Hajj trip, stressing the importance of sincerity in fulfilling all of the steps of the pilgrimage and learning fully from the experience.
Lastly, Rendy emphasized that we should “respect everyone, regardless of their differences, and love every living creature and all of God’s creation.” With stories like these, the world becomes a more accepting place of different cultures, races, ethnicities, and religions, that all strive for understanding in a complicated world.