“There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans.”
In 1964, Malcolm X said those words in a letter from Mecca where he performed Hajj—a pilgrimage and the fifth Islamic act of worship.
“Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here…,” Malcolm continued in his letter.
Malcolm was so moved by his experience in Mecca that he often talked about it in his speeches in effort to eradicate racism in America.
1,500 years ago, Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him) established the performance of Hajj to establish brotherhood under the unity of one God. Hajj carries a deep, physical manifestation of spiritual states of human beings.
While performing Hajj, men and women wear unstitched clothes and refrain from any sexual activity or adorning themselves with ornaments. The purpose of Hajj is to adopt humility and cleanse the inner-self of all sins and hatred that one’s heart might possess. Muslims are encouraged to deeply reflect on their flaws and try to become better human beings.
On the tenth day of Hajj, believers in Mecca and all around the world sacrifice goats and distribute the meat to their relatives and take out a portion for the poor as well. In Pakistan where I grew up, this was a rare treat for the poor who only get to eat meat once or twice a year.
But most importantly, Hajj brings ordinary people together. It’s a huge congregation, made up of millions of people coming from every corner of the world. The Quran tells us that all those who are capable of performing the annual pilgrimage should do so.
“In it are manifest Signs; it is the place of Abraham; and whoso enters it, enters peace. And pilgrimage to the House is a duty which men — those who can find a way thither — owe to Allah.” (3:98)
There are five daily obligatory prayers that everyone offers at the same time and at the same location. Though I have never been to Mecca for Hajj, I have heard from my relatives and friends that the experience is transformational.
People go to Hajj for the sole reason to become more pious. There is no binge eating or drinking of any kind as Muslims refrain from their inner desires and sacrifice their passions for God. It helps them become more patient in their dealings with others— something that is vital in creating a harmonious society.
In essence, Hajj, like other aspects of Islamic faith is built around the notion to establish peace and unity in the world. It is unfortunate that despite such beautiful teachings, some group of people who call themselves Muslims, are spreading hate and creating disorder on Earth. But my hope is that those who are the followers of the true teachings of Islam will be able to drown the noise created by such miscreants.