Meaning Of Hajj
The word Hajj means “to set out”, “to make pilgrimage”, and “journey to a high destination.” Performance of Hajj is to reach for the mercy of Allah and in this case the high destination being Allah SWT himself.

Hajj Is The Fifth Pillar Of Islam
And It Is Incumbent Upon Every Able Muslim
To Carry Out This Journey In Order To Purify Himself For Allah.
Every action and ritual in Islam has a maqsad or a purpose. If we lose the essence and purpose of a ritual, then it becomes an empty shell with no fruit inside; meaning the benefit of the action is lost. Hajj like any other pillar of Islam has purpose, manners, virtues, value, reward and benefits.

Glimpse Of The Pillars Of Islam
Here, we will briefly mention the purposes of five pillars of Islam.
Shahadah (Embracing Islam)
Shahadah is to declare the oneness Allah SWT and the prophet hood of Muhammad SAW. It is a mandatory act incumbent upon anyone entering the fold of Islam and it is to be done in the presence of other Muslims. The purpose of shahadah is to recognize the Creator and to enter the fold of Islam in order to attain the pleasure and mercy of Allah.

Salaah (obligatory prayers)
Allah SWT has prescribed five daily prayers for Muslims.

Recite What Is Sent Of The Book By Inspiration To Thee,
And Establish Regular Prayer: For Prayer Restrains From
Shameful And Unjust Deeds; And Remembrance Of Allah
Is The Greatest (Thing In Life) Without Doubt.
And Allah Knows The (Deeds) That Ye Do.

This Quranic verse establishes the purpose of Salah for us which is to restrain the believers from committing evil deeds.

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is compulsory on every healthy adult Muslim. Allah SWT said:

O Ye Who Believe! Fasting Is Prescribed To You
As It Was Prescribed To Those Before You,
That Ye May (Learn) Self-Restraint.

Zakah (mandatory charity)
Just like fasting cleans the soul and body of the person from harmful elements, zakah cleanses the wealth of the person. It purifies the heart of the believers from stinginess and selfishness and trains them to adopt the qualities of Allah SWT which are kindness and generosity.

Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah)

Pilgrimage to Makkah is the fifth pillar of Islam and it collects the attributes of all other pillars within itself. It is the only pillar of Islam that has a surah named after it. The purpose behind hajj is great and its wisdom is immense.
Salaah is the first level of purification and elevation, to remind us of our slavery and our eventual standing in front of Allah SWT. Fasting is the second level of purification for those who might get rusty through the year and need an intensive routine of devotion and self sacrifice in order to renew their spiritual drive. Zakah is an even higher level of purification by cutting off the love of material wealth from the heart by giving a portion of it to the needy of humanity. Hajj is the culmination of all these.
The Main Purpose Of Hajj Is To Go Back To Allah SWT,
To Detach One’s Heart From Everything
And Devote Oneself Completely To Allah!
The magnitude of this journey can only be understood when one realizes who he is going to visit: The house of Allah SWT himself, on this earth.

Surat-ul-Hajj is the twenty second surah of the Qur’an and it was revealed in Medina. However it is very much like a Makkan surah in its structure and message. The surah talks about Allah SWT, His qualities and greatness, meaning of pure submission to Allah, the importance of building the faith in Him SWT, to remind one of the Day Of Judgment, grave, and the experiences of the afterlife. In the middle of this talk of the hereafter, there are a few verses about Hajj.

O Mankind! Fear Your Lord!
For The Convulsion Of The Hour (Of Judgment) Will Be A Thing Terrible!
The Day Ye Shall See It, Every Mother Giving Suck
Shall Forget Her Suckling- Babe, And Every Pregnant Female
Shall Drop Her Load (Unformed):
You Shall See Mankind As In A Drunken Riot, Yet Not Drunk:
But Dreadful Will Be The Wrath Of Allah

Allah SWT opens the surah about the fifth pillar of Islam with a terrifying view of the Day of Judgment which according to Prophet SAW will be equal to 50,000 years of our time. Prophet SAW went on to stress the immensity of the Day by telling us how close the sun will be to us: one fingertip and a half away or according to another interpretation about a mile away. Right now the sun is 93,000,000 miles away from us and if it was any closer, the earth wouldn’t be able to bear the heat.
We Have To Start Living With The Warning Of Allah
And Review Our Priorities In Life.
Luqman Hakeem Summarized The Message Of Allah
In These Precise Words For His Son:
“Serve This World According To The Time
You Are Going To Spend In It,
And Work For The Akhirah According To The Time
You Are Going To Spend In It.”
Thus, the main purpose of the Hajj is to remind us of the Day Of Judgment, of death, and our meeting with Allah SWT.
The beauty of the Qur’an is so that every surah starts with the headlines of the messages and matters that Allah SWT wants to talk to us about, and it ends with the summary of the topic. In this case, Allah SWT wraps up the matter of Day of Judgment with the following advices for the believers:

O Ye Who Believe!
Bow Down, Prostrate Yourselves, And Adore Your Lord;
And Do Good; That Ye May Prosper.

And Strive In His Cause As Ye Ought To Strive, (With Sincerity And Under Discipline). He Has Chosen You, And Has Imposed No Difficulties On You In Religion; It Is The Way Of Your Father Abraham. It Is He Who Has Named You Muslims, Both Before And In This (Revelation); That The Messenger May Be A Witness For You, And Ye Be Witnesses For Mankind! So Establish Regular Prayer, Give Regular Charity, And Hold Fast To Allah. He Is Your Protector - The Best To Protect And The Best To Help!
Notice the underlined parts; it is Allah SWT who has chosen us, we didn’t choose ourselves for this bounty of guidance. Along with guidance, the ability to perform the rituals prescribed by Allah SWT are also a bounty from Him SWT. And look at how Allah SWT ends this surah which is the crux of the message of Islam and the road to salvation: utter and complete submission and reliance on Allah SWT.

Journey Of Hajj Is Reminder Of
The Journey Of The Hereafter

Journey of hereafter begins with death which is referred to as “qiyamat-ul-sughra” or minor day of judgment. A person is clothed in coffin before being sent to his place of residence until Allah decides otherwise. Just like coffin symbolizes the beginning of the last journey, Ihraam symbolizes the abandonment of material life by removing ordinary clothes and donning of two un-sewn pieces of cloth (for men).
Ihraam Is Symbolic To The Coffin
As It Is Supposed To Put Us In The State Of
Humbleness And Humility, Awareness,
And A State Of Alertness And Warning!
It Is Allah’s Mercy To Give Us This Chance Of
Remembering Him And The Day Of Judgment
By Allowing Us To Experience This Symbolic State Of Afterlife.
This journey reminds us that we will stand in front of Him SWT at the land of Arafah on the Day of Judgment, the way we gather at the time of Hajj. What higher mercy can Allah bestow on His believers than to have them attain the level of purity of new born babies? RasulAllah SAW said:
"There is no ritual parallel to an approved Hajj, and there is no reward for it less than Paradise. A pilgrim becomes (so pure) like a newborn baby. Once the pilgrims complete their rituals, they will be told: ‘You’ve built a construction then do not destroy it. Your past is forgiven, then take care of your future.’"

Purpose Of Hajj: An Inward Journey
In Islam there is wisdom and purpose behind all rituals. Some of these wisdoms we know and some we don’t. The rituals we don’t understand or are unclear to us are a mere test of our obedience to the Omnipotent Lord. It is just like a corporation where a boss might give the worker a task which he doesn’t understand. This doesn’t mean that the task is not important; there might be many reasons behind assigning such a task, one of which could be test of obedience and loyalty. The boss might want to know the level of obedience of the worker before promoting him to a higher position in the company.
Some Of The Rituals Of Hajj We Will Understand And Some We Won’t.
But One Thing Is For Sure That The Purpose Behind
All The Rituals Is The Obedience Of Allah SWT.
It Is Through The Obedience To His Lord,
That A Believer Is Spiritually Elevated...
Once this understanding of obedience to the Lord is inculcated in the heart, it closes the door to the doubts and whispers of Shaytaan. Since Hajj is the accumulation of all other pillars of Islam, the attacks from Shaytaan and trials from Allah are almost mandatory in order to sift the believers from hypocrites. There will be many inconveniences and undesirable happenings in the journey but if the believer is focused on the purpose, all these will not be of any importance.
Once You Intend To Go On Hajj,
Worry About Your Dealings With Allah And Your Service To Him SWT,
And Not About The Service Of The Travel Agent
Or The Inconveniences You Might Face During The Journey!
Know that the difficulties will be there regardless of how much you try to avoid them, as it is through hardships that Allah SWT checks the status of our faith and our sincerity to Him. If you focus on the gifts and services that Allah SWT has offered you throughout your life, you can’t help but worry about what kind of service you are offering Him SWT and what attitude you are showing Him.
  1. First purpose of Hajj is to capture our desire and nafs to fully enslave ourselves to Allah SWT. Our temptations and desires should never exceed a limit where they become the driving force of our actions.
Unless We Capture Our Ego, Arrogance, And Temptations,
And Surrender Them To The Will Of Allah SWT,
We Will Never Be Able To Attain Salvation And True Success
On The Day Of Judgment.
  1. To remember the Day of Judgment and affairs of the afterlife as we have been discussing.
  1. Third purpose of Hajj is to remember the mercy of Allah SWT and to acknowledge how many chances of repentance and purification He SWT has provided us with. It is one of our duties to inculcate this mercy of Allah SWT in our personalities and to deal with others accordingly. Hajj is supposed to bring out this trait in a believer in its entirety as he gets a chance to view the state of many Muslims who are inferior to him in health, wealth and ability. Prophet SAW was sent as a mercy to mankind and he said:
“Allah Shows Mercy To Those Who Show Mercy.
Show Mercy To Those On Earth, And Allah Will Be Merciful To You.”
  1. To gain the level of absolute purity towards Allah SWT. The restrictions such as prohibition of sexual intercourse, of contracting marriage, of being a witness in marriage, or even intending marriage while in the state of Ihram are to be honored or they can break the state of Ihram and nullify Hajj. These are all halaal acts but at this time, they become prohibitory acts because they are dealing with the affairs of this world and Allah wants us to leave off worldly matters entirely and be purely for Him SWT. This is the true essence of the call of pilgrimage:
‘Here I Am O Allaah, (In Response To Your Call), Here I Am.
Here I Am, You Have No Partner, Here I Am.
Verily All Praise, Grace And Sovereignty Belong To You.
You Have No Partner.’

This call of labbaik or saying ‘Here I am’ is to be done with humbleness, humility, service and devotion to Allah SWT enveloped by absolute love for Him.
  1. Humble ourselves to Allah and His creation by not causing any oppression. Any oppression even towards animals, let alone other Muslims, can nullify Hajj. This heightened state of consciousness during Hajj is to remind us of the etiquettes that we have forgotten, and to revert back to these lost teachings of Islam.
  2. To try to build the habit of obedience to Allah SWT during these ten to fifteen days of journey of Hajj. Once this habit of doing everything according to the will and teachings of Allah and His Prophet is established, maybe when the person returns, he/she will continue to obey Allah in their daily lives.
  3. To remove the love of dunya and material possessions from our heart. We are so occupied with our work, business, family, friends, education etc in this life that the affairs of the hereafter go in the background. The purpose of Hajj is to remove all of these ties from our heart and reset our priorities according to Allah and His Prophet SAW.
While Going On Hajj, We Leave Everything Behind Us
Just Like We Will Leave Them When We Die.
While We Are On The Journey, The Worldly Matters Will Continue,
Which Is A Reality Check For Us To Refocus Our Energies
To Where They Will Really Help Us.

This is why one of the manners is when you leave your house with the intention of Hajj, you forget about everything except your Creator and Owner Allah SWT.
  1. The journey of Hajj is symbolic of our life’s journey to the hereafter. No place on earth is our permanent residence. We are all here to spend a designated amount of time according to the will of Allah and will leave sooner or later, and will spend some time in transit until the Day of Judgment is established. That is when our final residence will be determined: the best of residence being jannah and the worst being hell fire.
  2. To remind us of the brotherhood and equality in Islam. Irrespective of race, ethnic affiliation, skin color, material wealth, educational level—we are all same in the eyes of Allah; we follow the same rituals and customs and are encouraged to be generous and kind to each other. We are supposed to take care of the needy Muslims during this time as that is a high form of worship.
Example Of Generosity

Abdullah Ibn Mubarak was a wealthy Taba’ee (follower of the companions) who was known for his generosity. Every year at the time of Hajj, he used to equip a large caravan for Hajj and distribute all his money in the way of Allah to the point that after Hajj he had nothing left. Why would he do that? To get the ultimate benefit from this journey and to devote all he had for the sake of Allah SWT.

Once Abdullah Ibn Mubarak Headed Out With His Caravan To Hajj And On The Way He Saw A Woman Collecting A Dead Bird From The Side Of The Road And Walking Away. His Curiosity Was Intrigued And He Followed The Woman And Inquired About Her Actions. She Said That She Was Going To Cook It To Feed Her Hungry Children. He Was Shocked And Asked Her If She Didn’t Know Of The Prohibition Of Eating Dead Animals? She In Turn Asked Him If He Was Not Aware Of The Permissibility Of It For Those Who Are At The Brink Of Starvation.

He was so moved by her ordeal that he gave all his Hajj money to this lady and went back to his house and locked himself indoors. He forbade his family to inquire the reason of his return and to tell anyone that he had come back, as he wanted to keep his deed purely for Allah.

He stayed indoors until the season of Hajj passed entirely and caravans started to return from Makkah. He began to go outdoors and started meeting the returning pilgrims who would thank him for his assistance that he provided them in Makkah, Medina, or other places that they had visited. He was shocked; he returned to his room and started crying to Allah SWT asking Him to explain what was going on.

Abdullah Ibn Mubarak saw RasulAllah SAW in his dream who gave him the good news that Allah was so pleased with his action towards this woman that He created an angel in the form and look of Abdullah to do the Hajj on his behalf along with the good deeds that Abdullah regularly used to do. He SAW went on to inform Abdullah that Allah had rewarded him for ten Hajj and had accepted the hajj of all others because of him. All because Abdullah had helped a needy woman!

RasulAllah SAW Said: "Whosoever Relieves From A Believer Some Grief Pertaining To This World, Allah Will Relieve From Him Some Grief Pertaining To The Hereafter. Whosoever Alleviates The Difficulties Of A Needy Person Who Cannot Pay His Debt, Allah Will Alleviate His Difficulties In Both This World And The Hereafter. Whosoever Conceals The Faults Of A Muslim, Allah Will Conceal His Faults In This World And The Hereafter. Allah Will Aid A Servant (Of His) So Long As The Servant Aids His Brother.” (Muslim)

Hajj is supposed to remind us of the needs of Muslim ummah either financial or spiritual, and to discuss these matters and return to our respective places of residence with the intention to fulfill these needs. During the early days of Islam, scholars used to have a designated meeting place during hajj where they would regularly meet to discuss the affairs of the ummah and pool their resources to come to common understanding and goals.
  1. This leads us to the next purpose of Hajj which is inculcating and adhering to good behavior and manners. It is not the amount of prayers that we do but rather our behavior, our humility and our willingness to be of assistance to others that gains us the real ranking with Allah SWT. Allah SWT explains to us in Surah Al-Baqarah, ayah 197:
For Hajj Are The Months Well Known.
If Anyone Undertakes That Duty Therein, Let There Be No Obscenity,
Nor Wickedness, Nor Wrangling In The Hajj.
And Whatever Good Ye Do, (Be Sure) Allah Knoweth It.
And Take A Provision (With You) For The Journey,
But The Best Of Provisions Is Right Conduct.
So Fear Me, O Ye That Are Wise.

The real preparation for Hajj is not the knowledge of the rituals; that is secondary. The matter of primary concern is the preparation of the heart so you go in a state that is acceptable to Allah SWT.
Allah SWT Is Asking Us To Prepare...
The Conscientiousness Of Allah For This Journey;
The Awareness That Allah Is Watching Me At Any Given Time
And Is With Me Whenever I Need Him SWT!
Status Of The Heart Matters More Than The Rituals...
Angels descend according to the status of the heart of the slave, not the amount of his deeds. If the status of heart is acceptable to Allah and even the person makes minor errors in carrying out his rituals, Allah is an All-Merciful and a Pardoning Lord. But if the heart is full of shirk (association with Allah) and arrogance, then even if all the rituals are carried out perfectly, the purpose of hajj will be lost.