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The Fifth Pillar

Islamic terminologies have a close relationship with their linguistic roots. We use the term ‘Shahadah’ to refer to bearing witness to the oneness of Allah. The linguistic roots go to the indicate to observing something with the naked eye, almost to denote that belief requires certainty, a certainty that can almost be visualised with the naked eye. Hajj in Arabic means having an intention to do something or attain a target. It also refers to a journey or a search, especially one of exalted purpose. In the technical sense, Hajj refers to pilgrimage to the House of Allah, the Ka’bah, in a specific bodily and mental state, and within a specific time frame to perform specific rituals.

Islamic scholars have considered Hajj to be a unique pillar in the sense that it combines various forms of servitude to Allah all in one; Hajj requires one to put together and manage his financial, physical, mental and emotional resources for an extended period of time. Further, from all the pillars of Islam, Hajj is the only pillar to have a chapter of the Qur’an as its title. The chapter of Hajj in the Qur’an embodies several themes which are manifest in the pilgrimage itself. The chapter addresses the fundamentals of faith, seeking to show how man can achieve a relationship with his Creator. It highlights that individual goal may not be possible without giving due rights to the community of the faithful and without taking a collective approach living according to Shariah. It does this through die use of the example of Hajj-emphasising its goals and intents.

Hajj is deeply rooted in the ideals of community, togetherness and oneness. This can be understood by contrasting the different pillars of Islam. Shahadah – the first pillar – is an individual testimony which is personal and exclusive to the person; nobody else is intrinsically involved. It is your own action. Salah – the second pillar – is a union between yourself and Allah, albeit with a group of believers who are closest in proximity to you. Zakat – the third pillar – is redistribution of wealth in your locality as encouraged in the Sunnah. Fasting – the fourth pillar – involves synchronising with the believers of your land in worshipping Allah. Hajj – the fifth pillar – brings believers from all corners of the world in one place, one time, with one direction and one objective; the entire populace of the faithful are called to this oneness and togetherness.

The lesson of Hajj is about coming together, overlooking our various backgrounds and socio-economic statuses, and striving to please Allah together.

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