Hajj is a once-in-a-life time obligation upon Islamic adherents whose health and means permit it. It is an essential part of Muslim faith and practice as it is the fifth pillar of faith, symbolises central concepts of Islam and commemorates the trials of the Prophet Ibrahim. Hajj provides individuals with the opportunity for spiritual rebirth through developing a closer relationship with Allah as well as fulfilling the five pillars of Islam. The global Islamic community are also united through submission to the will and communal worship of their “one God” Allah.
Hajj takes place during Dhul-Hajjah, the twelfth month of the Muslim calendar. Preparation before this time is highly important and involves redressing wrongs, paying all debts, money for family and journey, as well as adopting good behaviour. The significance of the intensity of Hajj is that individuals learn skills such as determination, perseverance, patience and control of human will. The community is also affected through the local Muslim communities who involve themselves in the preparation. International media coverage is also gained from the enormity of the Hajj encouraging the Islamic community to take part. Thus the significance of the Hajj on both community and individual is evident.
Diverse rites also take place during Hajj and many of these reinforce the five pillars of Islam. Hajji itself is the fifth pillar of faith, making it extremely significant as individuals to perform to become closer to Allah. Muslims also fulfill the first pillar “Shahada” by declaring their belief in Allah and his oneness, by attending Hajj, significantly strengthening bonds with Allah. One of the most significant rituals performed during Hajj, occurs on Mt. Arafat in which pilgrims simulate the Day of Resurrection at which all pilgrims must be present. The Ihram, white garments, symbolic of human equality and unity before Allah, must also be worn. This is significant for the individual as barriers of discrimination are eliminated and the Islamic community proclaims no differences.
Thus there is no distinction between race, wealth and status which allows all to appear equal before Allah. The pillar of Zalat is also observed such as through the distribution of money for nahr to the poor and pillar of Salat is also performed through daily prayer which significantly deepens connection with God. Thus the Hajj is significant for the individual through fulfillment of pillars which strengthen Muslim faith. It affects the community who as umma ,affirm commitment to Allah and join together in performing the practices of faith, thereby strengthening the global Islamic community.
Spiritual beliefs are also enhanced during Hajj, making it significant for the community and individual. Muslims believe that the Hajj was designed and commanded to be observed by Allah. The most intensive experience of umma in the life of a Muslim is to perform Hajj, the fifth pillar of faith, making it extremely significant in the lives of Islamic adherents and the community, as the event provides an opportunity for a sense of umma, through recognition of tawhid. Hajj provides Muslims with the opportunity to awaken their consciousness of their God centrality, through the tawaf made around the Ka’ba as Muslims recite their submission to will of Allah. This collective form of worship also contributes significantly to an individuals self identity through being part of the umma. It is also a means of increasing the certainty of faith as Muslims see more than two million adherents performing Hajj. Hajj also helps an individual seek forgiveness of sins accumulated throughout life, thus developing a sense of spiritual rebirth for the individual.
Thus, the extreme significance of Hajj for individual Muslims and the global Islamic community is evident as it provides a means of spiritual rebirth and strengthening of faith. Muslims become closer to Allah and through collective worship strengthening of umma occurs, which plays a part in the identity of an individual. Essentially, it is these aspects and the expression of unified faith in Allah, which makes the Hajj very significant in both community and individual adherents.