Almighty Allah says to us in the Quran:
And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men: They will come to thee on foot and on every lean camel through deep and distant mountain ravines. That they may witness the benefits provided by them. (Al-Hajj 22:27-28)
This is the call from our lord Allah. He made it holy by His majesty, and did this for His faithful servers. It is a call from the one, Allah, to the nation of Islam to fulfill these sacred rites. Indeed, these rites are so very much a part of the foundations of Islam.
Almighty Allah tells us in the Quran:
Behold! We appointed the site to Abraham of the sacred house saying "Associate not anything in worship with me, and sanctify my house for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves therein in prayer. (Al-Hajj 22:26)
From the first moment, the Ka`bah was established for the sake of tawheed and the Lord of the Ka`bah commanded Prophet Ibrahim who built it that when he finished building it, he should call people to pilgrimage and invite them to the sanctified house of Allah. He promised Ibrahim that the people would obey this call and come in great numbers to the Ka`bah which is a blessed place. He promised that the people would come from all directions and all regions, and that they would come running and riding every vehicle that Almighty Allah has subjugated for human beings.
As we see this promise is still being fulfilled today as it was back then. The hearts of the believers still desire to go to the sacred Ka`bah. They move and wish to visit it, see it and go round it and be in this blessed place.
Prophet Ibrahim called the people from the Mount of Abi Qubais as his Lord had commanded him to do, and indeed, Almighty Allah made generation after generation heed this call and He made all those who were able to respond to do so, and He made those who believe in one God, the faithfully obedient to respond. For this reason, they say "I am your servant O Lord! I am in your service. There is no god by You. I am in Your service and indeed all praise and favor is Yours and all sovereignty. There is no god but You."
Hajj is a great responsibility and replenishment for the soul and indeed, Almighty Allah made this service and these sacred rites as a distinguished reinforcement for the soul as compassion and mercy from Him for the Muslims.
The Muslim performs Hajj in a state of ihram and this means that upon Hajj and the intention for Hajj to the house of Allah, the pilgrim frees himself from everyday clothes, and worldly comforts and enters a state which represents the veils of the dead. Then along with the great gathering crowd the pilgrim remembers the Day of the Gathering; the Day of Standing before Almighty Allah.
The journey of Hajj awakens the self with many reminders of the suffering of Ibrahim and Ismail and it takes him back to the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); a reminder and insight to his life. All these places, sites and images the pilgrim sees awaken him to wonder that maybe at this place stood the best of mankind, our Prophet; maybe he prayed at this place; maybe our beloved Prophet fell prostrate at this place; and maybe it was at this place that he shed his tears, pure and true. When the pilgrim imagines these sites, the importance of work or action becomes important to him; it brings strength to his faith to continue striving and it widens his capacity to change that which is in the self that he may become rectified and pure. The pilgrim hopes that he may join our righteous predecessors; those who were of this blessed place.
On the day the people stand at `Arafat, the heavens meet with the earth and the angels of the merciful descend upon the people of that place. Almighty Allah pours forth His mercy on all those present at that place, and gathering all the angels He says in hadith Qudsi:
"Oh My angels, look at My servants, they come to me disheveled and covered in dust, all of you bear witness that I have forgiven them all."
Therefore, blessed is the one who answers the call of Ibrahim and blessed be the one who performs Hajj to the sacred house of Almighty Allah.
These meanings are meant to penetrate the Muslim to the core of his very own being and let him return in a new reborn state. This is the state he was in when he was born, with a pure heart. It gives him new resolve to be obedient to Almighty Allah.
Therefore, Hajj is turning to Almighty Allah in repentance, wanting to rid oneself of wrong doings and to become firm on the religion. Those who are blessed with this gift should choose for themselves a good companion to go with so that they can remind each other of the many things they encounter during Hajj. If one forgets then the other will remind him, and if one becomes distressed, the other will be a comfort and support.
Actions in Islam are accepted when they are in accordance with Shari`ah, the sacred law of Islam, along with a pure intention. Let us be sure that we do all things for the sake of Almighty Allah.
When the pilgrim sees the Ka`bah, the magnificence of the place should enter his heart and he should be thankful to Almighty Allah that he reached it. The pilgrim should remember Allah much when he circumambulates the Ka`bah and when he touches the Black Stone. The pilgrim should know that this signifies his pledge of allegiance with Almighty Allah to obey His commands. When he comes near to the place of the Ka`bah called Al-Multazim and he takes the cloth of the Ka`bah in his hand, he should remember that Allah is his refuge from this world and he seek as much forgiveness as he can for his sins and mistakes in this world.
The pilgrim should remember when running between As-Safa and Al-Marwah that this symbolizes his plight running between hope and fear; fear of rejection from Almighty Allah and hope in Allah's favor, whose mercy encompasses all things.
He should constantly remember that it is upon us to act and exert ourselves in this life seeking nearness to Almighty Allah and seeking His good pleasure. Indeed, this is the greatest of all hopes.
When the pilgrim throws and casts the stones, he should remember his war and conflict to save his own soul from evil desire and harm; his war with the devil. This is a war from which there is no cessation and no break from the responsibilities of it until he meets Almighty Allah .
If the pilgrim goes to Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, the holy city of the Prophet, he should know that this is the land that Almighty Allah chose for His Prophet and that he emigrated to this land and there he built his house and lived and there live the remnants of his people even until today. In this land, our Prophet's soul was received and his body was prepared to go to the grave. Therefore, when the pilgrim stands before his grave, he should make sure to pause and send his peace and salutations properly and say;
"Here I am Messenger of Allah. I am from those who follow you and I am from those who believe in you and follow your way and I am upon this covenant and I promise to carry this trust and I will call to Islam as much as I possibly can. So return to me my greeting, Messenger of Allah so that the Lord's mercy might come to me and bear witness for me in front of your Lord and intercede for me on the Day of Terror."
When the pilgrim finishes all the rituals, he should make his intention to go back to the Ka`bah before leaving this holy land and go around the Ka`bah to bid farewell and ask that he may be of those who return to it and ask his Lord to accept his deeds.
Sheikh Muhammad Taher is a well known Da`yah in UK, he delivers his sermons in Leeds Grand Mosque.