From WikiAhmadiyya, the free encyclopedia on Islam and Ahmadiyyat

"Allah" in Arabic calligraphy
Kalima Shahadah: Declaration of Faith
Salat: Prayer
    Zakat: Tax for good Quranic causes
Sawm: Fasting
    Hajj: Pilgrimage

The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey. It is one of the five pillars of Islam

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community & Hajj

The Quran does not require Hajj to be performed by those who are not safely able to travel to Mecca:

Complete the Hajj and the Umrah for the sake of Allah: but if you are kept back, then make whatever offering is easily available; and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches its destination. And whoever among you is sick or has an ailment of the head, should make an expiation either by fasting or almsgiving or a sacrifice. But when you are safe, then he, who would avail himself of the Umrah together with the Hajj, should make whatever offering is easily obtainable.

- Quran 2:197

The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was not able to travel for Hajj due to the religious edicts published by other sects against him, making it impossible to safely travel to Mecca. However, both the first and second Caliphs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Al-Hajj Hafiz Nooruddin and Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad,  were able to perform the pilgrimage prior to their caliphates, as was as was the eldest son of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Hazrat Mirza Sultan Ahmad.

Today, Ahmadis living in Pakistan are once again unable to perform Hajj, due to legislation by the Pakistan and Saudi govenrments. Ahmadis often note that they are one of the only groups - along with Muhammadsa and his companions who were prohibited by the Meccan idolaters from performing Hajj during their early years in Medina - to have been unable to perform Hajj due to persecution. Ahmadis from other countries do make the pilgrimage. 

The fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community writes of the ritual:

Another example, which demonstrates the universality of Islamic injunctions regarding the practice of religion, is the instance of Hajj - the pilgrimage. Once again one finds the institution of pilgrimage in all religions of the world, but the sites for pilgrimage are scattered at different places in one or more countries. One does not find a single central place which all the followers of a religion must visit at least once in their lifetime. Amazingly in Islam we find exactly such a place in Mecca, where Muslims from all over the world are expected to gather and spend about ten days entirely dedicated to the memory of God. The pilgrims come from all countries, all nations, all races and in all ages. Men, women and children, they all gather once a year for a fantastic rally, sometimes running into million. This grand display of universality is seen nowhere else in any other religion. Hence all these fingers which were raised in different areas of Islamic teaching, point to the same message of unification of man on earth under the Unity of God

The institution of pilgrimage can be traced back to the time of Abraham peace be upon him. But there are very clear statements in the Quran describing it as an ancient institution, starting from times immemorial when the first House of God was built in Mecca. In the olden times, Mecca was pronounced Baka, so the Holy Quran refers to the first house as being built not in Mecca but in Baka. It is also called Bait-ul-Ateeq, or the most ancient house. Abraham raised it from the ruins, which he discovered under Divine guidance, and about which he was commissioned by God to rebuild with the help of his son Ishmael. It is the same place where he had left his wife Hagar and infant son Ishmael, again under Divine instruction. But work on the House of God awaited attention until Ishmael grew to an age where he could be of some help. So, both of them worked together to rebuild the house and restart the institution of pilgrimage.

Many rites performed during pilgrimage are rooted in those early days of the reconstruction of the House of God, and some even go beyond that. For instance, the running between Safa and Marwah, two small hillocks close to the House of God, is done in memory of Hagar's search for some sign of human presence to help her and her child in their dire hour of need. The child is described as having become extremely restive with the agony of thirst, striking the earth with his heels in desperation. There, it is said, sprouted a fountain which still exists today in some form, and water in the well which was created later on around that spot, is considered to be a blessed water. Most of the pilgrims who perform the Hajj try to bring some water from there by way of blessing for their relatives and friends.

There are other rites and traditions which should be briefly explained. In Hajj, the pilgrims do not wear any sewn garments; rather, they dress in two loose sheets. This is further indicative of the tradition being most ancient. It indicates that the institution of Hajj began when man had not learnt to wear sewn clothes. They had only started to cover themselves. As such, it seems that it is in memory of those ancient people who used to circuit the first house built for the worship of God in that preliminary dress that the pilgrims are required to do the same. Again, the shaving of the head is an important feature which is also universally found as a symbol of dedication among monks, priests, hermits and vishnus. This further adds to the universality of its character. Women are exempt from shaving, but they have to symbolically cut their hair as a token. Also, in the places where Abraham is known to have remembered God in the style of an intoxicated lover, and extolled his glory with loud chanting, the pilgrims are required to do the same at the same places.

- Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, An Elementary Study of Islam

See also