Dialogue on Hajj
My father spoke of his experience of his first pilgrimage in a way akin to
someone who had remembered a true love. I could see his true feeling in the
twinkle of his eyes, the smile on his face, and the reverence of his words.
When I told him what I had noticed of his state, when he recalled that
experience, he said to me:
Yes, son, “Haven’t you recited the words of The Sublime, “And when We made
the House a pilgrimage for men and a (place of) security..”. (2/125). And His
words, quoting His Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.), “O our Lord! surely I have settled a
part of my offspring in a valley unproductive of fruit near Thy Sacred House,
our Lord! that they may keep up prayer; therefore make the hearts of some people
yearn towards them and provide them with fruits; haply they may be grateful”.
My heart longs for that Sacred House.
My father cast his eyes down and, in a soft and melodious voice, recited
poetry in praise of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and remembrance of the Holy places he
had visited on his first pilgrimage. Raising his eyes, and addressing me, he
said, “My maiden hajj left an indelible mark in my heart, the memory of which is
rekindled every year, especially, at the time of hajj. I always pray to the
Almighty to grace me with the favour of making the trip to Mekkah time and
There I interjected and asked him:
* Is it obligatory that you go to hajj more than once?
- No, it is obligatory to do hajj once, provided you can afford it. Allah
says in His Holy Book, “.. and pilgrimage is incumbent on men for the sake of
Allah, (on) every one who is able to undertake the journey to it..” (3/97).
Any number of pilgrimages made after the first one is mustahab.
* Would you tell me the story of your first pilgrimage, which is so close to
- I went to “al-Juhfa”, one of the mawaqeet (sites appointed by Islamic
sharia law for pilgrims to wear their ihram). After I took off my clothes, I
made niyyah for umrah tamatu’, leading to hajj, seeking the pleasure of and
closeness to Allah, I put on my ihram (special two-piece seamless attire worn by
pilgrims. Also, the state of consecration during which the pilgrim refrains
from certain acts, such as not combing, not shaving, and observing sexual
continence). One of these two white garments is worn like a sarong, and the
other used to cover the shoulder and the upper body. I, then, chanted the
No sooner had I uttered the word “Labbayk”, shivers went down my spine. I
was in a serene state of mind that was triggered by a kind of devotion I never
experienced before. It was an experience of fear and submission to the
The other acts you are forbidden from, once you enter the state of
consecration are: a) looking into the mirror for dressing, b) protecting
oneself against the sun [and rain], c) covering one’s head, d) wearing sewn
clothes and socks, and e) some other acts, as detailed in the books of
* And after ihram, what did you do?
- I headed towards Holy Mekkah, in a state of tahara, to do seven rounds of
tawaf around the Old House (Ka’ba), starting each round from the Black Stone.
Having completed tawaf, I said a two-ruku’ prayer behind the station of Prophet
I then went for Sa’y (seven laps of brisk walking between the mounds of Safa
and Marwah - an obligatory part of hajj rituals), starting from Safa.
On completing the seventh lap, I made taqseer, by cutting some of my hair.
By this act, I completed the Umrah of Hajj. Thereafter, I took off my ihram and
waited for the 8th day of Thil Hijja “Yawmut Tarwiyah - Lit. satisfying thirst
or giving attention, i.e. when Ibrahim (a.s.) gave attention to the vision
wherein he was instructed to sacrifice his son Ismael”. On that day, I wore my
ihram, in Mekkah this time, after making niyyah for hajj, said the talbiyah, and
headed for Arafat, aboard an open top vehicle. I had to do wuquf (devotional
stay at Arafat, Mash’ar and Mina as part of hajj rituals). This was performed
at the start of noon of the 9th of Thil Hijja till sunset.
Leaving Arafat, after sunset, I set out for “Muzdalifa” and stayed overnight,
for I had to be there at the sunrise of the 10th of Thil Hijja. After sunrise,
I set out for “Mina”. With me were stones I gathered during my stay at
Muzdalifa. In Mina, I had to perform three types of obligations:
1. Throwing seven stones successively at Jamarah of al-Aqabah (Pl. Jamarat:
Places of the three stone slabs representing the devil, at Mina).
2. Slaughtering sacrificial offering at Mina.
3. Shaving my head at Mina.
On completing these acts, I came out of the state of ihram, whereby I could
do certain acts that were forbidden to me before, except seeking lawful pleasure
with women, wearing perfume, [and hunting]. Thereafter, I headed for Mekkah for
the second time to do tawaf of hajj, say tawaf prayer, and do sa’y between Safa
and Marwah, in exactly the same way I did, on my arrival at Mekkah. Having
completed that, I performed tawafun nisa’ (lit. women’s circumambulation: an
integral part of hajj devotion, after which and its prayer, sexual relations
between man and wife returns to normal).
I, then, returned to Mina to stay the overnight of the 11th and the 12th of
Thil Hijja till the afternoon of the 12th. On each of these two days, I
performed the ritual of throwing stones at the three Jamarat, the first, the one
in the middle, and al-Aqaba, in this order.
Come midday of the twelfth of Thil Hijja, while still at Mina, I said Dhuhr
prayer and left for Mekkah. Thus, I performed all the prescribed duties of
Despite the crowds and sweltering heat, which took their toll on me, I
ensured that I executed all the obligations called for correctly. Hajj is a
solemn occasion for seeking closeness to Allah Almighty through prayer, devotion
and sincere rectitude.
Afterwards, I left Mekkah for Madina where I paid homage to the holy shrine
of Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w.) and the tombs of Fatima az-Zahra’ and Imams
al-Hassan, Ali bin al-Hussain, Mohammad al-Baqir, and Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) at
I, also, visited historic mosques, the tomb of al-Hamza, the Prophet’s uncle,
and other sacred sites around Madina.
This, in short, was the story of my first pilgrimage. When the time comes
that you can afford the journey to Mekkah after you have paid zakat and khums
that render your property and other worldly possessions pure, I’ll explain to
you, in some detail, every step you should take. May Providence grace you with
making pilgrimage to His House.
* Before we end this dialogue, could I ask you about those religious dues
that, as you put it, purify one’s property.
- Not now, for talking of zakat and khums could take some time. However,
I’m going to dedicate separate dialogues for each one of them, Inshallah (God
* Very well, father. Do I take it that you are going to talk to me about
zakat next time round, then about khums?
- If you so choose. Inshallah .