The Islamic Pilgrimage (Hajj)

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The Islamic Pilgrimage (Hajj). Pilgrimage has many aspects to it i.e. it is a multifaceted concept. Its complex history and many strands of meaning offering fascinating pathways to explore, yet also capable of generating considerable tensions and controversy. Pilgrimage in its many forms may be encountered across the globe but this universal practice does not necessarily mean universally agreed understanding or interpretation. Although pilgrimage has persisted over time, it is not just the journey to a sacred place but more so it is the enduring framework for social, political, and ideological contributions despite changes in all these aspects. The Islamic hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam involving a journey to Mecca which every Muslim must accomplish once in his/her lifetime. The other four pillars include the profession of faith in Allah and Muhammad, performing the five daily prayers, the observation of the holy month of Ramadan and the giving of alms. The hajj is a long-standing pre-Islamic ritual in the environs of Mecca. How long it lasted is uncertain. The pre-Islamic hajj goes way back even before Islam and the time of Muhammad. The activities of this period cannot be fully grasped because there is no contemporary source apart from the Quran. But interpretations of the Quran suggest that both the people of mecca and visitors participated in the hajj. The pre-Islamic pilgrimage had its own rituals and customs which became complex as a result of the Arab pagans who mixed a lot of their own rites and customs with the hajj. These Arab pagans introduced new innovations as a result of their arrogance, and ignorance. During this period there was little trade as trading had been restricted to the fairs only. However with the passage of time both the form and the goal of the hajj rites were changed. It accepted some of the pre-Islamic rituals, discarded

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