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The Pilgrimage To Makkah: Its History And Related Stories

- Published in MuslimWorld League Magazine On February 2004

The pilgrimage of Hajj goes back to 5,000 years from now to the advent of Prophet Abraham (peace be on him), who built Ka’bah at Makkah. But before Abraham, the very first visitors to this holy land were Adam and Eve. After they were sent down to earth from Paradise and spent years of separation, they met each other at Arafat in Makkah.

Time passed, the barren hilly track remained uninhabited. Prophet Abraham could not have a son from his first wife Sarah. When a son was born to his second wife Hagar, he was commanded to bring her and her breast-fed son Ishmael to Makkah from Jerusalem. He left them in Makkah.

Makkah, then had no form of life. Abraham left with his wife a water skin and a bag of dates. Sitting in the saddle, he turned back. She cried, O Abraham! Where are you going after leaving us in a valley with no animate being? Running after him she asked him again and again. Abraham did not answer. Lastly she said, did Allah so order you? He said, yes. She said, Allah won’t ruin us. This shows the firmness of her faith in God.

When Prophet Abraham reached Thanniyyah, he raised his hands facing the direction of Ka’bah and said:

“O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, near Your Sacred House, in order our Lord! That they may establish prayer, so fill the hearts of people with love towards them, and feed them with fruits so that they may give thanks.” (Qur’an 14:37)

The mother of Ishmael fed her baby till her breast dried up and she could not feed him more. Their throats choked and they were overtaken by extreme thirst. She climbed the Safa mountain and looked around to find nothing. She climbed the Marwah mountain too, but couldn’t find any help. Looking for water, she ran seven times from Safa to Marwah but to no avail.

A Ritual for Umrah and Hajj

Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) has been reported as saying: “This very way people hasten between Safa and Marwah.” Ibn Abbas) Almighty Allah loved her running in anguish for the sake of her son’s life, looking for Allah’s mercy all the while. So He preserved this act of her for the generations to come as a ritual for Umrah and Hajj.

When she was at the end of her seventh run on Marwah, she heard a voice. It was the sound of water springing out near her son. She began digging the ground and filled her water skin. Zamzam was food and water for them. She drank the water and fed her son with her breast.

This spring of the Zamzam water was a miracle, which later became the only source of water for inhabitants of the area for many years to come. It was a vital source of life for Makkah.

Jurhum in Makkah

A party from the tribe of Jurhum, while passing, saw a bird hovering. They said, the bird is hovering most probably over some water. They sent their men to search for water. When they found water, they made a stopover there. Later, they came with their families and took permission from mother of Ishmael to camp there. She agreed on condition that they would not own the Zamzam water.

Ishmael was brought up among them and learned their language Arabic. When Ishmael grew up, he married among them. The mother of Ishmael later passed away.

Abraham, Ishmael build Ka’bah

After a period of time, Prophet Abraham visited Makkah. He saw his son Ishmael and they greeted each other. Prophet Abraham told his son, God ordered me to do a work. He said, so you do it. Then, he said, you give me a helping hand. He said I will help you. Allah ordered me to build a house here, he said and pointed to the hillock. (Al-Bidayah Wan-Nihayah)

They both raised the foundation of the House (Kab’ah). Ishmael brought stones and Abraham continued to build till its height was raised to the height of the Black Stone. They placed it saying: “Our Lord, accept (this service) from us.” They recited this prayer while building the House.

Maqam Ibrahim

Prophet Abraham stood on a stone to build the House. This stone is known as Maqaam Ibrahim (Station of Abraham). It was working as a lift by Allah’s command. When the structure of Kab’ah became beyond reach, it lifted on itself and Abraham was helped to join the stone masonry till the wall reached the height as we see it now.

Abraham’s Call for Hajj

Sa’eed Al Khudri asked Abdullah Ibn Salaam about the Station of Abraham. He said, it was the same as it is today but Allah rose its dignity and made it a sign. (Al-Durr Al-Manthoor)

When Abraham was commanded to give a call to people for Hajj: “And proclaim the pilgrimage among people. They will come to you on foot and mounted on every camel.” (Qur’an 22:27), he stood high and said, O human beings! Answer your Lord. Allah made his call to reach the souls in the heaven, those who answered: Here, we are at Your service. O Allah! Here we are at Your service will come to Makkah for Hajj.

Hajj Rituals for Abraham

After the Sacred House was completed, Almighty Allah sent Gabriel to show Prophet Abraham, the limits of Makkah and rituals of Hajj. He told Abraham about Tawaf (circumambulation of Ka’bah), Safa, Marwah and hastening there seven times. He took Prophet Abraham to Mina. When they reached Mina, Satan appeared. Gabriel gave seven pebbles to Abraham and asked him to throw at him, saying: God is greatest. (Imam Ahmad from Ibn Abbas)

Thus he attempted two times more, every time Gabriel told him to throw stones over him. Satan wanted to interfere in the rituals of Hajj. This way, the pelting of Satan became a ritual of the Hajj pilgrimage so that people know their enemy and refute him when he whispers. Gabriel also showed him Muzdalifah and Arafah.

Sacrifice in Hajj

Prophet Abraham (peace be on him) was put to severe tests by Almighty Allah. Nimrod threw him in a huge fire. But Allah made it cool for him. In his old age, he was given a son. Allah ordered him to leave him with his mother in a barren valley having no life form. He obeyed in full compliance and left but Allah did reward them with His mercy.

Then came the other tests as described by the Qur’an:

“And when (his son) was old enough to walk with him. (Abraham) said: O my dear son, I have seen in a dream that I sacrifice you. So look what do you think? He said: O my father! Do that which you are commanded. Allah willing you shall find me of the steadfast.” (Qur’an, 37:102)

When the son was about 13 years old and the father himself had reached 99, Allah desired him to sacrifice his son. Abraham did not waver and put his son to sacrifice as the Qur’an describes the event: “Then when they had both submitted (to Allah), and he had flung him down upon his face.” (37:103) The sacrifice was demanded from both of them and they submitted to the trial.

It may be noted that Prophet Abraham consulted his son, the son readily gave his consent for this sacrifice. The great lesson in this supreme sacrifice was that Allah’s servant is always ready to sacrifice everything in the cause of Allah.

“We called unto him, O Abraham! You have already fulfilled the vision. Lo! Thus do We reward those, who do the right.” (Qur’an, 37:104-105)

Allah replaced Ishmael with a sheep and Abraham’s knife cut the throat of sheep. This great sacrifice is commemorated as a rite of Hajj every year on 10th, 11th and 12th Dhul-Hijjah. Those who do not go for the Hajj pilgrimage, also commemorate with sacrifices on the days of Eid Al Adha. The Glorious Qur’an emphasizes the purpose of the sacrifice:

“It is neither meat, not their blood that reach Allah but it is the devotion from you that reaches Him.” (Qur’an, 22:37)

Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) in the Farewell Hajj sacrificed 63 camels.

Quraish Build Ka’bah

Ibn Katheer in his book Al-Bidayah Wan-Nihayah wrote, the structure built by Prophet Abraham showed the signs of decay. Quraish decided to rebuild it. It was five years before the advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). He also participated with Quraish in building the Kab’ah. Quraish had a great respect for Ka’bah. They were afraid of its demolition.

Quraish divided the construction of Kab’ah and earmarked a portion for each tribe. After this distribution, yet the people were scared of its demolition. Al-Waleed Ibn Al-Mugheerah said, I begin dismantling with a pick-axe. Striking the pick-axe he said, O Allah! I intend good only. He dismantled by the side of the two corners. That night people waited. They said if any misfortune occurs to him, we shall not dismantle further and restore it as it was. If nothing happens to him, it means Allah is in agreement with us. Al-Waleed got up early and returned to his work. The persons joined him in dismantling.

They dismantled all except the foundation laid by Abraham

Quraish Resolve the Dispute

Ibn Is’haq said, the tribes of Quraish started the collection of stones and erected the fore walls till they reached to the level where Black Stone was to be fixed. The tribes indulged in a deep controversy as to who will fix the Black Stone in its place. The chief of every tribe desired to put it in its place. Their dispute grew to the point of drawing the swords on each other.

Four or five nights passed in tension. Then, they met again in the mosque to discuss the issue. One of the senior leaders of the Quraish tribe rose and addressed the gathering. He said, O people of Quraish! You take an arbitrator. Any one entering the door of this mosque earliest in the morning may arbitrate among you. They all agreed.

The first man to enter the mosque was Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, a person, who later became Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him). They all said with one voice, he is the honest and trustworthy. We all agree on his judgment. They informed him of their dispute. He said, bring me a bed sheet. He put the Black Stone on it. He asked every tribal chief to hold its corners to bring the Black Stone and then he fixed it in its place. After that, the construction of Kab’ah was resumed.

Kab’ah remained as it was as constructed by Quraish till the period of Abdullah Ibn Zubair when it caught fire in the year 60 Hijrah. He rebuilt it on the foundation of Abraham.

During the last days of Yazeed Ibn Mu’awiyah as caliph, the people of Makkah were faced with an army under the command of Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf, who attacked Makkah and damaged Ka’bah by the Munjaneeq stoning. Ibn Zubair was martyred. Later, Ka’bah was rebuilt as it was built by Quraish.

The Holy Mosque of Makkah

Makkah is the Central part of the earth. God chose this part of the earth to make it a sacred place and provide the Muslim Ummah a central place, which brings them together irrespective of their race and color.

Prophet Abraham laid the foundation of the Holy House praying Allah to incline people’s hearts yearning to this sacred land. So we find people coming from every corner of the world, neither for a past time, nor for a summer resort but for their faith and love towards Allah.

As times passed, the idolatry replaced monotheism. Even inside Ka’bah 360 idols were placed. Besides the idol worship, the pilgrimage of Hajj continued. A son in the progeny of Prophet Abraham revived the monotheism preached by him. Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) annulled all the rituals of Jaheliyah (Pre-Islamic age of Ignorance). He restored Hajj to its monotheistic origin.

Omayyads, Abbasids and Ottomans, all served the House of Allah to the maximum of their resources. But the Holy Mosque began to take a new shape during the first Saudi expansion, yet there was something more gracious to be seen.

King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz’s expansion of the annexe gave it s new grandeur. The giant expansion with all of its par excellence beauty of 57,000 sq. m. including the expansion of its open plazas gave it s total area of 366,168 sq. m. accommodating more than a million worshippers in congregation.

Virtues of Makkah

Hasan Al-Basri said: Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) while leaving Makkah for Madinah stood at a mount facing the Kab’ah and said: O City of Allah! You are the most beloved to me and I know you are the most beloved to Allah and your land is the best on the face of earth. If your people had not forced me to go out, I would have never left you. (Al-Azraqui)

The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said: The prayer in my mosque (the Prophet’s Mosque) is equal (in reward) to one thousand prayers, except the Holy Mosque of Makkah where the prayer is equal (in reward) to one hundred thousand prayers (Muslim).

The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said: Whoever performs 50 Tawaf (circumambulation around Ka’bah seven times makes one Tawaf), he comes out of his sins, as if the day when he was born to his mother. (Al-Tirmidhi)

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) as saying: Whosoever performed the Hajj pilgrimage and did not commit any obscenity or wickedness, all his sins will be forgiven and will become as if the day when he was born to his mother. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Ayeshah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: There is no other day than the day of Arafah that Allah emancipates a large number of people from the Hell. Lo! He the Gracious and Almighty comes close and takes pride over the angles saying: What do they want? (i.e. His pleasure). (Muslim and Nassai).

These were the stories and virtues related to the pilgrimage of Hajj.

- By Ahmad Wahaj Al-Siddiqui Al-Taimi