The Hajj

David
David
Sep 16, 2018 · 19 min read

Is the Hajj only during 10 days or any time within 4 months?

The purpose of Hajj

We see in verses 6:162–163 that all worship practices must be dedicated to God alone.

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ ۖ وَبِذَٰلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

The same applies to the Hajj. There are many verses that indicate that the only purpose of the Hajj is to “commemorate God”.

And proclaim the Hajj to the people …… to commemorate God’s name during the known days. (22:27–28)

The duration of Hajj

Many Muslims believe that there is only one 5 day period each year during which they can perform the hajj. However, the Quran makes it clear that the hajj can be done any time during the four months beginning from Dhul-Hijjah. The fact that the hajj period lasts for multiple months is proven in verse 2:197.

الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَّعْلُومَاتٌ ۚ فَمَن فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ فَلَا رَفَثَ وَلَا فُسُوقَ وَلَا جِدَالَ فِي الْحَجِّ

Notice how the verse uses the Arabic word “ashur” which means “months” (plural). “Shahrun” is Arabic for one month. “Shahrain” is Arabic for two months. “Ashurun” is Arabic for three or more months.

Some may argue that the use of the plural “months” was used to describe a regularity that occurs every year. However, this argument is unsupportable as the verse clearly indicates that the months refer to certain months of a year.

Another argument is that the 5 days of Dhul-hijjah fall within the well-known months and therefore that is why the plural “months” is used in the verse. This argument is non-sensical since the verse states very clearly that hajj can be done during months (Arabic: ashurun) that are well-known (Arabic: ma’lumatun). In verse 2:197, notice the Arabic words “farada feehinna”.

  • “farada” means “he made obligatory”
  • “feehinna” is a conjunction of two words: “fee” which means “in” and “hinna” which means “them” in the feminine gender form.

Therefore, that section of the verse means “whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein (in those months)” proves that God is telling you that you can perform the Hajj at any time during those months.

Known days

Some people argue that the Hajj is restricted to the first 10 days of the 12th month by citing verses 22:28 and 2:203.

… mention the name of Allah on known days … (22:28)

They claim that the words “known days” and “a number of days” indicate that the Hajj can only be performed during a 10 day period.

Counter-argument #1: Hajj versus believers

In verse 2:197, we see that God is addressing the “hajj’ itself when He describes the “specified months”. In other words, the hajj itself can be performed during the multiple months of Hajj. In contrast, in verses 22:28 and 2:203, God is addressing the “believers” when He speaks of the “number of days”. In other words, the believers who perform the Hajj go for a number of days and not for several months.

Counter-argument #2: Comparison to Ramadan

In verse 2:185, we see that God indicates that the month for fasting is the (single) month of Ramadan. In the same verse, we see a reference to “a number of days”. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you must only fast for a few days in the month of Ramadan but rather that if you miss some days, you must make up for them later.

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ …

A month, or months, can be spoken of as days because a month is made up of days. Nevertheless, this doesn’t change the fact that they are still months. This is similar to someone describing the years of his childhood by saying “they were the best days of my life”.

Zhu al-Hijjah

The 12th month of the Islamic calendar is called Zhu al-Hijjah which means “that (month) of the Hajj”. It would make sense that this month would be one of the Hajj months and the beginning of those months.

4 “hurum” months

In verse 9:36, we see that there are 12 months in a year and that 4 of them are called “hurum”.

إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِندَ اللَّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ …

The word ‘Hurum’ does not mean sacred as some have translated, for the word used in the Quran for sacred is ‘muqqaddas’, see 20:12, 79:16 and 5:21. The word ‘Hurum’ (adjective) is the plural of the word ‘Haram’ which is also associated with the months of Hajj. Both words come from the noun ‘Ihram’ which means abstention. Abstention is one of the requirements during Hajj, abstention from war, hunting and so on.

As a result, we know that the number of months which God designated for Hajj are four (2:197).

Consecutive “hurum” months

In verses 9:2–5 we see that 4 months are specifically granted to those with whom obligations were removed as they continuously broke treaties and invoked hostilities against the Muslims. Respite was then granted from the Day of Pilgrimage and extended 4 months in succession. The statement that respite was granted from the Day of Pilgrimage until the hurum months have passed indicate that the hurum months are in succession.

(Paraphrasing 9:2–5)
So go about in the land for four months (9:2)…. And an announcement from God and His Messenger, to the people (assembled) on the day of the Great Pilgrimage (9:3)… So when the hurum months (in succession) have passed … (9:5)

In verse 9:5, the word that indicates a consecutive set of months is “insalakha” which means “withdrawn in succession”. The word literally means “skinned”. When you skin something, e.g. an onion, you remove its layers consecutively one or more layers at a time. You can’t remove the outermost layer (skin) and then the 5th inner layer (skin) before removing the layers (skins) in between.

The same word “salakha” is used in verse 36:37 which denotes a gradual and succession transition. In this verse, the transition is from day to night (sunset).

The beginning of the Hajj period

Verse 2:189 gives us an indication as to the beginning of the Hajj period.

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْأَهِلَّةِ ۖ قُلْ هِيَ مَوَاقِيتُ لِلنَّاسِ وَالْحَجِّ …

Since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the sighting of the first crescent signals the beginning of each month. Just as the sighting of the first crescent in the month of Ramadan signals the beginning of the fasting, the sighting of the first crescent in the month of Zhu Al-Hijjah, which means “that (month of Hajj) signals the beginning of the Hajj period.

The Islamic calendar

The Islamic lunar calendar in used today is

  1. Muḥarram محرّم (or Muḥarram al Ḥaram)
  2. Ṣafar صفر (or Ṣafar al Muzaffar)
  3. Rabīʿ al-Awwal (Rabīʿ I) ربيع الأوّل
  4. Rabīʿ al-Thānī (or Rabīʿ al-Ākhir) (Rabīʿ II) ربيع الآخر أو ربيع الثاني
  5. Jumādā al-Ūlā (Jumādā I) جمادى الأولى
  6. Jumādā al-Thānī (or Jumādā al-Ākhirah) (Jumādā II) جمادى الآخرة أو جمادى الثانية
  7. Rajab رجب (or Rajab al-Murājab)
  8. Shaʿbān شعبان (or Shaʿbān al-Muʿaẓẓam)
  9. Ramaḍān رمضان (or Ramaḍān al-Mubārak)
  10. Shawwāl شوّال (or Shawwāl al-Mukarram)
  11. Dhū al-Qaʿda ذو القعدة (or Dhū al-Qiʿda)
  12. Dhū al-Ḥijja ذو الحجة (or Dhū al-Ḥajja)

The Hajj months

From the verses above, we know that

  • there are 4 hurum months
  • the 4 hurum months begin with on Day of the Pilgrimage
  • the hurum months are in succession

If the beginning of Dhul-Hijjah is taken to be the beginning of the Day of the Pilgrimage, which would make sense, then the 4 hurum (and Hajj) months would be

  1. Dhul al-Hijja
  2. Muharram
  3. Safar
  4. Rabi al-Awwal

Solution to current problems

If these 4 hurum months are the months during which people can perform that hajj, as suggested in the Quran, then the following problems resulting from restricting the hajj to a mere 5 days of the year would be reduced if not eliminated.

  • Intense congestion from millions of people being packed in one place
  • Extreme congestion during tawaaf (circumambulation)
  • The difficulties of finding accommodation and resulting exorbitant costs
  • The long delays
  • Some women may not be able to perform or complete the hajj as their menstrual cycle may fall
  • within the 5 days
  • Deaths from human stampedes due to overcrowdedness
  • Being hit by flying stones during the Stoning ritual
  • Unsanitary (to say the least) washing and cleaning facilities
  • Concerns of being robbed by petty thieve or getting lost from your group
  • Inability to focus due to the issues stated above

For details on actual tragedies, mostly taking place during the Stoning ritual, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incidents_during_the_Hajj

The fact that the Hajj is limited to 5 days severely limits how many people can perform the Hajj each year. As such, there are visa quotas set for visitors from each country. The Quran says that the Hajj is the duty of every Muslim, provided he can afford it, not if he is lucky enough to get a visa!

The current situation of performing hajj clearly is inconvenient, expensive, and burdensome to many and even dangerous to some. Many pilgrims now believe that enduring hardships to perform the hajj would reap them higher rewards. Some travel agents conveniently take advantage of this by providing decrepit services while saying that pilgrims shouldn’t complain as it is better for them to endure.

Contrary to reality, God states in verse 22:78 that He imposes no difficulties in religion.

وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ

Based on the analysis above, it appears that people or so-called Islamic scholars are unnecessarily placing difficulty in religion by misinterpreting the Quran and restricting the number of days during which to perform hajj to a mere 5 each year.

The message of not being a burdensome religion is also mentioned elsewhere as follows:

  • 2:185 With regards fasting, God desires for you ease; He does not desire any difficulties or hardship for you.
  • 5:6 With regards Wudu (ablution) in which God wishes to place no difficulty
  • 73:2–3 God instructs the Prophet to abate a little and regulate his night long worship so that it imposes no hardship for him and the believers.

The correct rituals of Hajj

Perform the Hajj during any of the 4 hajj months

As stated above, the hajj months are Dhul al-Hijja, Muharram, Safar and Rabi al-Awwal.

Perform the Hajj for at least 2 days

And remember Allah during [specific] numbered days. Then whoever hastens [his departure] in two days — there is no sin upon him; and whoever delays [for more days] — there is no sin upon him — for him who fears Allah . (2:203)

Commemorate God throughout the Hajj

The primary purpose and goal of the Hajj is to commemorate God.

And proclaim the Hajj to the people …… to commemorate God’s name during the known days. (22:27–28)

Hunting

Hunting is prohibited during Hajj as per the following verses:

You shall not permit hunting while you are hurum. (5:1)

War and fighting

All warfare is prohibited during the Hurum Months of Hajj except in self defence:

They ask you about the Haram Month and fighting therein: say, “Fighting therein is a grave matter.” (2:217)

Sexual intercourse, misconduct and arguments

These abstentions are given in verse 2:197

Whoever executes the Hajj in them (the known months) shall refrain from sexual intercourse, wickedness and arguing during Hajj. (2:197)

Abstaining from cutting the hair

Note that some people claim that the hair must be cut or shortened at the end of Hajj. However, nowhere does the Quran say this. The Quran only states that you can’t shave or cut your hair during the Hajj.

You shall complete the Hajj and Umrah for God. If you are prevented, then make a convenient offering, and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches its destination. (2:196)

Visit the Kaa’ba (Ancient House) and circumambulate it at least 1x (once)

Then, they shall end their state of unkemptness, fulfil their vows and go around / circumambulate (yatawwaffa) the Ancient House. (22:29)

Note that there is no mention that you must circle the Kaa’ba seven times, as is commonly believed. Therefore, you are only required to do it once. Obviously, the purpose of performing the hajj and umrah is to remember and focus on God. Trying to keep track of how many times you’ve circled the Kaa’ba, especially when it’s overly crowded, would only deter your from the primary goal.

Walking between Safa and Marwah are optional

Indeed, as-Safa and al-Marwah are among the symbols of Allah . So whoever makes Hajj to the House or performs ‘umrah — there is no blame upon him for walking between them (yatawwaffa bihima). And whoever volunteers good — then indeed, Allah is appreciative and Knowing. (2:158)

Note that there is no mention that you must walk between Safa and Marwa seven times, as is commonly believed.

Commemorate God at the Masjid al Haram

The Mishaar Al-haram is the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca because it is the only House called “Haram” in the Quran.

When you disperse from Arafat you shall commemorate God at the Mishaar Al-Haram. (2:198)

Animal offerings

You must offer an animal

The animal offerings are among the rites decreed for you by God. In them there are benefits for you. So mention God’s name on them while they are lined up, then, once they collapse on their sides, you shall eat therefrom and feed the poor and the needy. It is thus that We have ordained them for you so that you may be thankful. (22:36)

This animal offering isn’t to be confused with the pagan concept of animal sacrifice for some gods. The animal offering is for human benefit, as indicated in 22:36, and not for God, as indicated in 22:37.

Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. … (22:78)

Convenient offering

For people who progress from Umrah to Hajj, they shall make a convenient offering (to the poor and needy). If they can’t, then they can fast.

… whoever performs ‘umrah [during the Hajj months] followed by Hajj [offers] what can be obtained with ease of an offering (hadye). And whoever cannot find [or afford an offering] — then a fast of three days during Hajj and of seven when you have returned [home]. Those are ten complete [days]. This is for those whose family is not in the area of al-Masjid al-Haram. … (2:196)

Optionally pray at the Station of Abraham

Verse 2:125 indicates that one should pray at the Station of Abraham. However, this is in the context of what people did during the time of Abraham. To expect everyone nowadays to all pray at the Station of Abraham could be a logistical nightmare.

And [mention] when We made the House a place of return for the people and [a place of] security. And take, [O believers], from the standing place of Abraham a place of prayer. And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, [saying], “Purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who are staying [there] for worship and those who bow and prostrate [in prayer].” (2:125)

The man-made rituals of Hajj

The Hajj garments

Most Muslims believe that men must wear two seamless white clothes similar to beach towels. There is nothing in the Quran that mandates this dress code. Furthermore, having to wear nothing but two pieces of cloth could easily defocus your attention on commemorating God as you would likely be worried that your clothes would fall and everyone would see you naked, including making women.

In verse 7:31 we see that God instructs people to bring their “zinah” to every masjid (mosque). Zinah means adornments or any item that is worn to make oneself beautiful. The command is to dress nicely at “every” masjid. Since the Masjid Al-Haram is a mosque, then this verse instructs people to dress nicely in it.

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا وَلَا تُسْرِفُوا ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ

Many Muslims justify the wearing of the Hajj garments (two white pieces of cloth) to equalize everyone so the rich and poor look alike and the poor don’t feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. If that were the case, why is that belief not applied to the Friday congregational prayer? During the Friday prayers, no one poor appears embarrassed or uncomfortable to be there. Furthermore, a poor person would be better off going to the Hajj in whatever clothes they have rather than be burdened to spend extra money on special towels, sandals, belts, and what not.

Miqat Locations

The miqat is a location from where pilgrims are required to start wearing the “ihram” garments and enter into a state of “ihram”. The common understanding is that “ihram”garments are two unstitched white pieces of cloth for men and loose-fitting white clothes for women. There are 5 miqat locations:

  1. Dhul Hulaifah
  2. Al-Juhfah
  3. Qarn-ul manazil
  4. Yalamlam
  5. Dhatu `Irq

Pilgrims typically put on their “ihram” garments at one of these 5 locations and then proceed to Mecca to perform Umrah or Hajj. Needless to say, none are such rules in the Quran. The Quranic state of “ihram” is to abstain from war, hunting, sexual activity and bad language and begins when pilgrims enter the Masjid Al-Haram to commence their Hajj. Like the so-called “ihram” garments, the miqat locations are yet another man-made innovation.

The “Black Stone”

The Black Stone is a stone located at one of the corners of the Kaa’ba at the Masjid Al-Haram. Muslims tend to congregate and push themselves towards it in an effort to touch and kiss it with the hope of getting some sort of blessing. Clearly, this is an idolatrous behavior similar to what the statue worshippers during the time of Abraham did. As such, it should come as no surprise that there is no mention of this ritual anywhere in the Quran. This ritual originates from the hadith which claims that the stone descended from Heaven during the time of Abraham and that Prophet Muhammad used to kiss it. As we know from the Quran in verse 21:66, Abraham destroyed all of the stones and statues that people were worshipping and asked them if they worship something that cannot benefit nor harm them instead of God.

قَالَ أَفَتَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَنفَعُكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَضُرُّكُمْ

Similar verses are found at 5:76,10:18 and 25:55.

“Zamzam” water

Zamzam water is water that comes from a particular well. The water is available at the Masjid Al-Haram and is considered sacred by most Muslims. Many also believe that it can cure ailments. Muslim historians claim that the well of Zamzam was made to flow for Hagar and her infant Ishmael when the two of them ran in desperation between the hill tops of Safa and Marwah in search of water. This story is nowhere to be found in the Quran but rather comes from the Bible (Torah). Genesis 21:14–21 describes the story of Abraham’s slave wife Hagar when she was sent away to the desert with her child Ishmael. In desperation and fear of dying out of thirst, Hagar ran back and forth between two hill tops in search of water, at which point God mercifully produced for her a gushing well from which she and Ishmael drank. As this story is not in the Quran, it’s likely that hadith writers borrowed this story from the Bible and modified it such that the Zamzam well would be located at the Masjid Al-Haram. The Bible, however, indicates that the event took place at Beer Sheba which is located south of Jerusalem, between Gaza and the Dead Sea.

Regardless of this story, the Quran makes it clear that we should not idolize and hold sacred any object, whether it is the water of Zamzam or the Black Stone, thinking that it could “benefit” us. On the contrary, doing so would be a direct violation of 5:76,10:18 and 25:55. At the end of the day, Muslims must believe that all cures are ultimately from God.

The ritual of stoning Satan

Another commonly practiced Hajj ritual is the stoning of Satan. This ritual, according to the historian Al-Arazi, originates from Abraham’s journey to perform the Hajj. The story has it that when Abraham left Mina, Satan appeared to him. Then, Gabriel appeared and told Abraham to pelt Satan. Abraham threw 7 stones which made Satan disappear. Satan reappeared at the Middle Stone-Heap and the Little Stone-Heap and Abraham where Abraham threw more stones until Satan finally withdrew. These 3 locations are called the “Jamaraat” and are meant to represent the devil.

There is nothing in the Quran mentioning this Hajj ritual.

Some scholars quote verse 38:77 and 15:34 to justify the stoning of Satan practice.

قَالَ أَفَتَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَنفَعُكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَضُرُّكُمْ

They use the word “rajeem”, which means “expelled” or “outcast”, to mean “stoned”.

As you can imagine, believers of this non-sensical and unauthorized ritual probably think that they are hurting Satan as they passionately throw stones at something they can’t even see. However, what is more likely to be happening is that Satan is sitting behind them laughing for having succeeded in deviating millions of Muslims from the sole purpose of Hajj, which is to praise and commemorate God (22:27–28, 2:203, 2:198, 2:200). By tricking clueless Muslims who don’t pay attention to the Quran and its clear instructions, Satan has succeeded in wasting 3 days of each pilgrims’ Hajj days in his name instead of for God.

Interestingly, most of the fatal tragedies during the Hajj occur during the Stoning ritual. Could it be that these tragedies are related to the fact that this ritual is completely counter to the purpose of the Hajj? Throughout the entire Quran, God never tells people to attack the devil. His command is only to stay away from and not follow the devil.

Women not allowed to perform Hajj without a “muhrim”

A “muhrim” is understood to be any male who is unlawful for marriage to the woman in question, e.g. a woman’s father, brother, son, grandfather, etc. As such, Muslim women believe that they can’t perform the Hajj unless one of their “muhrims” accompany them. This belief originates from hadith that says that no man shall be in the company of a woman alone and in seclusion. With millions of Hajj pilgrims visiting Mecca every year, being in a state of “seclusion” is quite the opposite of what actually occurs. This belief is common in male-dominated cultures such as in Saudi Arabia where the rule is clearly one-sided as the restriction does not apply to men. Needless to say, there is such law in the Quran which prohibits women from performing the Hajj without a “muhrim”.

Women during menstruation forbidden from completing Hajj

There is no restriction in the Quran that prevents a woman from completing the Hajj if they are menstruating. Likewise, women are not forbidden from fasting and praying while menstruating. Menstruation is a bodily cycle designed by God Himself. It’s non-sensical to believe that God would forbid His own creatures from praying and worshipping Him 7 days a month. The only restriction placed on women during menstruation is from having sexual intercourse with their husbands for the benefit of both of them (2:222). See chapter “Are Menstruating Women Required to Fast?” for details.

Visiting Prophet Muhammad’s tomb during the Hajj

Many Hajj pilgrims visit Prophet’s Muhammad’s tomb during the Hajj. The tomb is located in Medina at the Prophet’s Mosque (Masjid Al-Nabawi). The Quran only speaks of one “Haram Masjid”, which is the one in Mecca. Nevertheless, many Muslims consider there to be two Haram Masjids (Al-Haramayn), the second being the Prophet’s Mosque.

First of all, the practice of visiting Muhammad’s tomb is not an authorized Hajj ritual per the Quran as it is nowhere to be found in it. On the contrary, visiting Muhammad’s tomb would constitute a violation of Hajj requirements which has as its primary goal of praising and commemorating God alone (22:27–28, 2:203, 2:198, 2:200).

Secondly, many Muslims pray in front of Muhammad’s tomb which, if they are praying with Muhammad in mind, is an act of shirk (idol worship). And if they are there only to pray to God, then it would seem suspicious for choosing that particular mosque. As verse 72:18 states, all mosques are solely for God and calling on anyone else in them is strictly prohibited.

وَأَنَّ الْمَسَاجِدَ لِلَّهِ فَلَا تَدْعُوا مَعَ اللَّهِ أَحَدًا

Thirdly, most of these Muslims who believe in and follow the hadith yet, unsurprisingly, since most people just blindly follow the masses, don’t realize that the hadith prohibits taking graves of the prophets as places of worship. Considering the following so-called “sahih” hadith.

Jundub reported:

Lastly, many Muslims believe that by visiting the Prophet’s tomb, they are just following the religion the way Prophet Muhammad did. Funnily, this is purely non-sensical as Muhammad could not have visited his own grave when he was alive and performing the Hajj. Furthermore, the whole Hajj ritual began way before Muhammad was even born, originating with Prophet Abraham who, obviously, could not have visited Muhammad’s tomb when he was alive.

Performing hajj for someone else

Some Muslims believe that they can perform the hajj for someone else, e.g. a dead relative who never performed the hajj. However, Quran verses 53:39 and 6:164 make it clear that no one will be credited with or be responsible for the good or bad deeds of anyone else.

وَأَن لَّيْسَ لِلْإِنسَانِ إِلَّا مَا سَعَىٰ

Uncorrupted Islam

Analysis of the Quran, Hadith, and Islam in General

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