The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

The importance of Hajj; the fifth pillar of Islam

Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, is a pilgrimage undertaken to the holy city of Makkah during the month of Dul-Hijjah. The hajj day in the Islamic calendar begins on the 8th of Dhul Hijjah and lasts until the 13th of Dhul Hijjah. This profound journey, marked by its challenges, is an obligatory endeavor for financially and physically capable Muslims along with some other conditions. It involves completing the designated rituals of Hajj to please Allah. Those who successfully accomplish this voyage earn the esteemed title of Haji. Every year, millions of Muslims gather in Makkah for Hajj–the sacred Muslim Pilgrimage annually, underscoring the unity of humanity and their equal devotion before Allah. The “Haj” comes from the Arabic word which linguistically means “heading to a place for the sake of visiting”. In Islamic terminology, Hajj is a pilgrimage made to the Kaaba, the “House of Allah”, in the sacred city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia. In Hajj, Hujjaj (Pilgrims) make Ihram and perform a series of rituals: each Muslim walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba (a cube-shaped building and the direction of prayer for Mus lims), trot (walks briskly) back and forth between the hill of Safa and Marwah seven times, then drinks from the Zamzam Well, goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, spends a night in the plain of Muzdalifa, and performs symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing stones. The importance of performing Hajj is immense as one of the five pillars that Islam has established. It makes Muslims feel their true role in this life which is worshiping Allah (SWT). It also reminds Muslims of Ibraheem (Peace upon him) and his worship and devotion to Allah (SWT) – so Muslims do the same. Not to mention bringing the international community of Muslims together. Actually, the benefits of Hajj are so many and diverse, such as: • Hajj Teaches Patience, Self-Restraint, and Endurance The Hajj journey might involve long and tiring travel. The rituals themselves may be strenuous, particularly during Makkah’s hot summers and amid crowds of other pilgrims. As a result, Muslims learn patience and to stay strong even when experiencing temptation or tiredness. • Touristic and Historical Journey The Pilgrimage to Makkah, besides being a great spiritual and religious journey, it’s a great opportunity to visit places where historically and religiously significant events took place. For example, you can pay your respects at the cemetery of Jannat Al Mu’alla, where some of the Prophet (PBUH)’s ancestors were buried. Museums in Makkah include the Kiswa factory, where the Kaaba cover is crafted each year. • Absolution from Sins The sins of a believer who’s Hajj has been accepted are wiped entirely. In this regard, the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Whoever performs Hajj and does not commit any Rafath (obscenity) or Fusooq (transgression), he returns (free from sin) as the day his mother bore him”. – [Sahihal-Bukhari] • A Sort of Jihad The fifth pillar is a kind of jihad for the sake of Allah; hence Allah mentions it after the verses of jihad. Also, in Hadith, when ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) asked the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) whether jihad is obligatory for women, he said: “Yes, for them there is a jihad in which there is no fighting, Hajj and ‘Umrah.” • The Reward for Haj is Jannah It is, however, promised by Almighty Allah that those who perform Hajj with the purest of heart will get the reward of paradise. In this regard, the prophet Mohammad said: “From one ‘Umrah to another is the expiation for what is between them and Hajj Mabrûr has no reward except Paradise.” – [Bukhari and Muslim]. It is worth mentioning that Muslim pilgrims have been streaming into Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Makkah ahead of the start of the Hajj later this week, as the annual pilgrimage returns to its monumental scale. According to Saudi officials, more than 1.5 million foreign pilgrims have arrived in the country by Tuesday, the vast majority by air, from across the world, including Afghanistan. More are expected, and hundreds of thousands of Saudis and others living in Saudi Arabia will also join them when the pilgrimage officially begins on Friday. Mashal Noori

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.