Understanding Hajj and the Story Behind It
Hajj is a word that comes from the Arabic ‘hajj’ which means to visit or to go. Many interpret the word Hajj as an annual Islamic pilgrimage. In Hebrew, the word hajj with the same sound means ‘holiday’.
Launching from grammar, the semiotic root of the word haji has the meaning to surround or go around. In Jewish tradition, the bride and groom will surround the groom during the wedding ceremony. While in Islam, people who perform the pilgrimage will surround the Baitullah or what is known as tawaf.
The procedure for carrying out worship that is followed by Muslims today is a provision taught by the Prophet Muhammad. But actually in the Qur’an it is written that the pilgrimage has been carried out since the time of Prophet Ibrahim ‘Peace be upon him. Allah ordered Prophet Ibrahim to leave his wife, Siti Hajar, and son, Ismail, in the desert.
Because her husband abandoned her, Siti Hajar was confused to find water for Ismail. Then he tried to find water by jogging between the hills of Safa and Marwah. But he never found a water source. Then Ismail was scratching the ground and suddenly a fountain appeared under his feet.
After that incident, Prophet Ibrahim was ordered to build the Kaaba around the water source. The story is enshrined in the Qur’an Surah Al-Baqarah verses 124 to 127.
Then much later, precisely in 632 AD (the end of 10 Hijriyah) Prophet Muhammad SAW made his last pilgrimage to the Baitullah with thousands of his followers. He taught the procedures for performing the pilgrimage. This is where the pilgrimage is established as one of the pillars of Islam.