The Quran about pilgrimage

In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful

Associations play a big role in the psyche of people. People need symbols and landmarks. The practice of being formed pantheistic symbols and rituals, which have nothing to do with the truth. Only divine revelation removes the veil of error and opens up a true worldview.

To prevent our nature to take us away with imaginary symbols, God prescribed certain rituals and rites to believers. They are mainly expressed in the form of pilgrimage and sacrifice. This tradition has been imputed to the believers since the days of Abraham:

When We made the firmly established house a secure place for meeting people, We prescribed: “And take from the standing place of Abraham a place of prayer!.”

We charged Abraham and Ishmael: “Purify My house for those circling, devoting, kneeling and prostrating.”

And when Ibrahim (Abraham) said, “My Lord, make this a secure city and provide its people with fruits – whoever of them believes God and the last day!” God replied, “And whoever closed himself – I will grant him enjoyment for a little; then I will force him to the punishment of the fire, and wretched is the destination!”

And when Ibrahim (Abraham) was raising the foundations of the house and [with him] Ishmael, [saying],

“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing!

Our Lord! Make us both humble to You and from our descendants a humble headship before You. And show us our rites and accept our repentance. Indeed, You are the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful. (2:125-128)

Indeed, the first house established for mankind was that at Bakkah – blessed and a guidance for the worlds. There are signs, shown for people – the standing place of Ibrahim (Abraham). And whoever enters it shall be safe. Before God the people have an obligation of pilgrimage to the house – for whoever is able to find thereto a way. But whoever closes himself – then indeed, God is free from need of the people. (3:96-97)

This prescription is associated not only with Abraham, but also with a specific locality where it is required to perform certain God-given rites:

Indeed, as-Safa and al-Marwah mountains are among the symbols of God . So whoever makes pilgrimage to the house or visits it – there is no blame upon him for walking between them. And whoever volunteers good – then indeed, God is Appreciative and Knowing! (2:158)

In connection with the fact that there are different types of determining the seasons of the year, God showed us one way to determine the time of pilgrimage:

They ask you about the new moons.

Say, “They are measurements of time for the people and for pilgrimage.” (2:189)

Divine rituals are quite simple and universal:

And complete the pilgrimage and visit to God! But if you are prevented, then [offer] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And do not shave your heads until the sacrificial animal has reached its place of slaughter. And whoever among you is ill or has an ailment of the head a ransom of fasting or charity or sacrifice. And when you are secure, then whoever performs visit for pilgrimage [offers] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And whoever cannot find – then a fast of three days during pilgrimage and of seven when you have returned home. Those are ten complete days. This is for those whose family is not in the area of the forbidden for battle place for earthly worship. And beware of God and know that God is severe in penalty!

The pilgrimage takes place in certain months, so whoever has made pilgrimage obligatory upon himself therein, there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during pilgrimage. And whatever good you do – God knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is circumspectness. And beware of Me, O you of understanding!

There is no blame upon you for seeking bounty from your Lord. But when you depart from ‘Arafat, remember God at a sacred, ceremonial place. And remember Him, as He has guided you, for indeed, you were before that among those astray. Then depart from the place from where the people depart and ask forgiveness of God. Indeed, God is Forgiving and Merciful!

And when you have completed your rites, remember God like your remembrance of your fathers or with [much] greater remembrance… (2:196-200)

Pilgrimage is not a simple rite. The pilgrimage is a symbol of renunciation from the false worldview:

And [it is] an announcement from God and His Messenger to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that God is disassociated from those who associate others with Him, and [so is] His messenger. So if you repent, that is best for you; but if you turn away – then know that you will not cause failure to God. And give tidings to those who closed themselves of a painful punishment. (9:3)

And proclaim to the people the pilgrimage. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass –That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of God on known days over what He has provided for them of sacrificial animals. So eat of them and feed the miserable and poor! Then let them decide to calm down and fulfil their vows. Let them circle around the ancient house.” That [has been commanded], and whoever honors the prohibitions of God – it is best for him in the sight of his Lord.”

And permitted to you are the grazing livestock, except what is recited to you. So avoid the abomination of idols and avoid false statement, inclining [only] to God, not associating [anything] with Him! And he who associates with God – it is as though he had fallen from the sky and was snatched by the birds or the wind carried him down into a remote place! That [is so] for whoever honors the rites of God! Indeed, it is from the circumspectness of hearts! For you the animals marked for sacrifice are benefits for a specified term; then their place of sacrifice is at the ancient house.

And for all headships We have appointed a rite of sacrifice that they may mention the name of God over what He has provided for them of animals. (22:27-34)

When we carefully study the prescriptions about pilgrimage and sacrifice, we see not only the external side of the rite, but the practicality of execution and transcendental symbolism, the centre of association and the correlation of our image with it, the focus of attention and the direction to the truth!