The New International Encyclopædia/Hajj

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HAJJ, hăj (from Ar. ḥajja, to make a pilgrimage). An Arabic word, applied specifically to the pilgrimage to the Kaaba (q.v.) or sanctuary of Mecca, which every Mohammedan, whose means and health permit, is bound to perform, once at least in his life. The original sense of the word appears to be ‘circuit,’ and points to the ancient custom of passing around a sanctuary as one of the rites connected with a visit to a sacred spot. The word also exists in Hebrew (hag), and while referring originally to the pilgrimage to the sanctuary at Jerusalem in the fall of the year, is generalized as the designation of any of the three great festivals—Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles —as provided for in the Pentateuchal codes. As concerns the Arabic institution, it appears that many generations before Mohammed a sanctuary in Mecca had acquired considerable popularity among the Arabs. This was due in part to the position of Mecca on the highway leading from Syria to Yemen, and in part to the fact that Mecca was visited annually by many thousands on their way to Okaz, where a great fair was held, which brought Arabs from all parts together. Far more sacred, however, than the sanctuary at Mecca was a mountain, Arafat, outside of the city, and the visit to this mountain, which was the real goal of the ancient Arabic Hajj, was combined naturally with a circuit around the Kaaba. The care of the latter at the time of Mohammed was in the hands of his family, the Koreish, and this circumstance may account for the devotion of the Prophet to the old sanctuary—a devotion which, though inconsistent with his general religious doctrines, he was unable to throw off. With increasing years his fondness for the Kaaba, which he designated as the Beit Allah (house of Allah), increased, and his visit to it the year before his death led to the institution of the pilgrimage as one of the five cardinal duties of every Mohammedan. (See Mohammedanism.) The visit to the Kaaba may be made at any time, but the full rites of the Hajj, including the visit to Arafat, can only be carried out in the twelfth month of the Mohammedan calendar, known as Dhul Hajjeh, or month of pilgrimage. The pilgrims have to set out for their journey one or two months before, according to the respective distances they have to traverse. They first assemble at several variously appointed places near Mecca in the beginning of the holy month, and the commencement of the rites is made by bathing and assuming the ihrām or sacred habit, which consists of two woolen wrappers—one around the middle, the other around the shoulders; the head remains bare, and the slippers must cover neither the heel nor the instep. It is enjoined that the pilgrims, while they wear this dress, shall be particularly careful to bring their words and thoughts into harmony with the sanctity of the territory they now tread—a territory in which even the life of animals is to be held sacred from attack. After assuming the sacred garb the pilgrim must not shave any part of his body, anoint his head, pare his nails, or bathe until the end of the pilgrimage. Arriving at Mecca, the pilgrims proceed at once to the temple, and begin the holy rites there by walking first quickly, then slowly, seven times round the Kaaba, starting from the corner where the black stone is fixed. (See Kaaba.) This ceremony (called tawaf) is followed by the sai, or running, likewise performed first slowly, then quickly, between the two mounts Safa and Merwa, where, before Mohammed's time, the two idols Asaf and Nayelah had been worshiped. These ceremonies, accompanied by prayers, are repeated daily. The next rite takes place on the ninth of the month, and consists in the wukuf, or standing in prayer and listening to a sermon on the mountain of Arafat. The whole of the succeeding night is spent in holy devotions at Mozdalifa, between Arafat and Mina. The next morning, by daybreak, the pilgrims proceed to the valley of Mina, where they throw seven stones at each of three pillars, for the purpose of putting the devil to flght. The pilgrimage is completed with the slaughtering of the sacrifices —a sheep, goat, cow, or camel, according to the pilgrim's means—on the same day and in the same place. The sacrifice over, they shave their heads and cut their nails, burying the latter on the same spot. After remaining three more days at Mecca they take leave of the Kaaba, making the seven circuits and drinking water from the holy well Zemzem. Most Mohammedans combine with the Hajj a visit to Mohammed's grave at Medina —some three days' journey from Mecca. The return of the holy caravans is watched everywhere with the most intense anxiety, and is celebrated—as is also the departure—with great pomp and rejoicings. Henceforth the pilgrim never omits to prefix the proud title of Hajji to his name. It is permitted to those who, through bodily infirmity, are incapacitated from performing the holy journey themselves, to send a substitute, who acts as their representative in almost every respect, but this substitute has no share whatever in the merits and rewards belonging to the Hajj.

The number of pilgrims who assemble at Mecca varies greatly from year to year. It has often exceeded 100,000. Sir Wilfrid Blunt (Future of Islam, London, 1883) estimates the number in 1880 at about 93,000. The fanaticism of Mohammedans rigidly excludes all non-believers from the sacred soil of Mecca. Consequently the few Christians who have succeeded in visiting the place have done so in disguise and at the risk of their lives. As early, however, as the first decade of the sixteenth centviry an Italian, Ludovico di Varthema, witnessed the ceremonies and described them in his book of travels (Bologna, 1510; Eng. trans. by J. W. Jones, edited with notes by G. P. Badger in the “Hakluyt Society Publications,” vol. xxxii., London, 1863). The first Englishman to enter the sacred city was Joseph Pitts, of Exeter, a sailor, who was captured by Algerine pirates in 1678 and held as a slave for fifteen years, during which time he made the pilgrimage in company with one of his masters. His narrative was published at Exeter in 1704. During the nineteenth century the pilgrimage was performed by the following: The Spanish adventurer Badia, commonly known as Ali-Bei (1807; Voyage d'Ali-Bei en Afrique et en Asie, Paris, 1814); Seetzen (1809), whose journal was published after his death by Kruse and Fleischer (Berlin, 1854-59); Burckhardt (1814-15; Travels in Arabia, London, 1829); Burton (1853; Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah, 3 vols., London, 1855, several later editions); Bicknell (1862); Von Maltzan (1864; Meine Wallfahrt nach Mekka, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1865); Keane (1880; Six Months in Mecca and My Journey to Medina, London, 1881); Snouck-Hurgronje (1884-85; Mekka, 2 vols., and a third of illustration, The Hague, 1888-89); Courtellemont (1894; Mon voyage à la Mecque, Paris, 1896). The most thorough and accurate descriptions of the pilgrimage ceremonies are those given by Burckhardt and Burton. Snouck-Hurgronje gives an account of life in Mecca, a history of the city drawn from original manuscript sources, and details regarding the various classes of the present population, and the arrangements made for receiving and taking care of the pilgrims, based upon a residence in Mecca of more than six months—a longer time than any other European has ever spent there. His illustrations are from photographs. Consult, besides the work already mentioned: Salih Soubhi, Pèlerinage à la Mecque et à Medine (Cairo, 1894); August Müller, Der Islam im Morgen- und Abendland (Berlin, 1885-87); Snouck-Hurgronje, Het Mekkaansche Feest (Lejden, 1880). See Mecca.