Short Answer: The Hajj proclaims to the world not only the Oneness of God, but also the Oneness of humanity. The three Abrahamic religions are basically the same religion that evolved into three different forms. Isaac the second son of Abraham, and Jacob the second son of Isaac became the ancestors of the Children of Israel. God did not forsake Ishmael, but blessed him to be the Progenitor of the Last Prophet Muhammad. Allah chose Ishmael to share with his father the honor and blessing of building of the great House of God in Makkah. God willed that Hajj should be left to be restored to its original purity to Ishmael’s progeny Muhammad.
Salam (Peace) Dear Brother,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
The five central religious duties of Muslims, which serve as the five anchoring points of Muslim communities, are known as the “Five Pillars of Islam”. They are:
The testimony of faith (Shahadah), the performance of five daily prayers, (Salah), the payment of obligatory charity (Zakah), fasting during the month of Ramadan (Sawm) and the pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in a lifetime (Hajj).
From Islam’s point of view a Muslim’s faith, if it is real and sincere, should express itself in action and regular practice.
Hajj: The Fifth Pillar of Islam
The Five Pillars instill into the Muslims as a community (Ummah), a unity of outward form and internal spirit. And the Hajj is a unique manifestation of this unity of the Muslim Ummah centered on the Ka’abah in Makkah.
The Hajj proclaims to the world not only the Oneness of God, but also the Oneness of humanity behind all the divergent external trappings and embellishments signifying racial, linguistic or national differences.
We may find the individual rites of the Hajj, such as the circumambulation or sacrifice of animals, to be part of other religions as well.
This is understandable, because mankind by nature is the same everywhere at all times and Religion, whatever be its external characteristics, came into being as a divinely inspired answer to humanity’s search for God.
Being children of the same father Adam, all humans irrespective of their color, language or nationality, have the same spiritual yearning and expression.
And what is more, the origin of all religions worth the name, as indicated above, is revelation from the same God; and so they are bound to have several common features, as evidenced in their rites and practices.
Hence, there isn’t much significance in speaking about “the pagan roots of Hajj”.
Isaac & Ishmael
Besides, the polytheists of Arabia were in fact following a corrupted version of the Abrahamic Hajj in Makkah, before Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, restored it to its original purity. So the roots of the Hajj were not polytheistic, but monotheistic.
It should be obvious to any discerning student of history that the three Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are basically the same religion that evolved into three different forms.
Therefore the question you have asked is quite relevant: “Why didn’t Abraham guide Isaac’s side to perform the Hajj? Why is there no record of the Jews performing Hajj or in their texts?”
We know the story of Abraham’s two children who – though brothers – were separated by inevitable circumstances. We should understand that God assigned to each of them their special place in the religious history of the world.
God blessed Isaac (Ishaq, peace be upon him) and made him the father of a line of great prophets including Moses and Jesus.
Thus Isaac the second son of Abraham, and Jacob the second son of Isaac became the ancestors of the Children of Israel from whom a large number of prophets came.
God Did Not Forsake Ishmael
But what about Ishmael (Isma’eel, peace be upon him), the firstborn of Abraham?
Ishmael was the son of a slave woman (Hagar) and he and his mother were cast into the hostile desert of the Hijaz region of Arabia (called Paran in the Bible).
But God did not forsake Ishmael, but blessed him to be the Progenitor of the Last Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, through whom the Guidance of God for mankind was to be perfected. This indeed was a double honor for Ishmael as is endorsed by the Bible. See Deuteronomy chapter 21, verses 15-17 [i].
Furthermore, God chose Ishmael to share with his father the honor and blessing of building of the great House of God in Makkah called the Ka’abah. And this outcast slave and his mother are honored to this day, every year by the commemoration of their sacrifice, along with that of their father, during the Hajj.
And we know that the Children of Israel (i.e the Children of Isaac) even now consider the Children of Ishmael as outcasts and slaves. (Incidentally this is the root of the current Palestinian problem.)
And Abraham, through whom the expulsion of his wife Hagar and his child took place, must have foreseen (one may imagine) that the honoring of his slave wife and her child by later generations is a bitter cup for his racist-minded children through Isaac. Only God knows.
The point to be made here is that even if Abraham had taught Isaac’s side of his line to do Hajj, their later generations, one may assume, would have subverted the whole thing [ii].
So we may conclude from our understanding of the history of the Semitic Religion: God willed that Hajj, which was first instituted through Prophet Abraham should be left to be restored to its original purity and spiritual appeal to Ishmael’s progeny Muhammad, peace be upon him, as an integral part of His Perfected Religion for the whole of mankind for all time, namely Islam.
I hope this answers your question.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
[i] “If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have borne him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: but he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.” (Bible – Deuteronomy 21: 15-17)
The above rule applied to the ancient community of believers whose men had more than one wife.
[ii] The racism of the Children of Israel is based on these verses in their Bible as well as on their twisted interpretations:
“(Sarah) was childless for many years. She gave her handmaiden Hagar to Abraham so he could have children, and Hagar bore Ishmael. At the age of ninety, Sarah was told she would give birth and she laughed because she thought she was too old to have children. Sarah gave birth to Isaac (Yitzhak). Later Sarah drove Hagar and Ishmael away, saying “the son of this hand-maiden will not inherit together with my son, Yitzchak.”(Jewish Bible – Bereshit 21:10)”
But Genesis 17, verses 3-6 prove that Abraham was the father of a multitude of nations, as God has decreed. Especially one may note: “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you.”
Obviously this prophecy applies to all the nations who are the offspring of Abraham. And certainly, narrow racism has no place in the Order and Plan of the All Merciful.
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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