Hajj, as one Muslim scholar beautifully depicts, “…is like a short, intensive course in which the basic teachings of Islam about faith and life are presented to a worldwide gathering of Muslims. “The instructions in this course, however, are not given through lectures, but through symbols and rituals, a divinely written drama in which every pilgrim participates as an actor and through this participation learns the basic message of Islam. “ The true intents and meanings of Hajj would not be appreciated without considering the Hajj beyond the apparent rituals and the mere dos and don’ts of its fiqh. In this way, Hajj becomes a rich source of invaluable, timeless lessons. On the face of it, Hajj rituals may seem to be mostly physical and financial in nature, but when we deeply consider what is being carried out, in any of Hajj’s various stages, we realise that it is these other meanings and objectives (so-called maqasid or ultimate goals and intents of Shariah) that are being emphasised to the pilgrims, not the rituals themselves. It is true such maqasid as well as the spiritual dimension are essential to all types of worship in Islam, but the variety of the acts forming Hajj worship and the magnitude of the maqasid and the meanings implicit in them are of a far more impressive measure – and so too their spiritual impact than any other Islamic form of worship. Hajj motivates one to struggle in the path of Allah almighty, bolsters one’s ability to see it through, and creates willingness in one to take obedience of Allah almighty to the next level. While in Hajj, a Muslim is to endure, graciously, all the difficulties the trip to the Sacred Places involves to please his Lord. And since that entails a lot of patience and steadfastness, the Hajj was described by the Prophet (peace be upon him) as an act of jihad, “…the jihad of the old, the weak, and women is Hajj and Umrah” (Targeeb and Tarheeb). Muslims, from Adam, to the end of time, belong to a single brotherhood (ummah). They are bound together by the concept of Tawheed (monotheism). In Hajj, this concept of Tawheed-based solidarity is translated into deeds as Muslims from a wide range of backgrounds stand united in one place, worshipping one Allah almighty, undivided by race, colour, language or nationality. The Holy Quran taught in many verses that all human beings descend from a single ancestor, that none has an intrinsic right of superiority over another, whatever one’s race, nation, or social standing. Also, this concept of unity and equality is highlighted in many Ahadith, like the one narrated by Jabir who reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) addressed his followers on the second day of the Days of Tashreeq (that is, the days when the meat one has sacrificed is dried, the 11th, 12th, and 13th of the month of Thul Hijjah). He said: “O people! Indeed, you have one Allah almighty and one father (Adam). No Arab is superior to a non-Arab, or a non-Arab to an Arab; and no white is superior to a non-white or a non-white to a white. Superiority is by righteousness and conscious fear of Allah almighty in piety (alone). “ Then the Prophet asked: “Did I convey the Divine message to you?” “Yes, indeed, O Messenger of Allah almighty!” answered the mass of pilgrims. “Then let those who are here today convey my words to those who are not,” concluded the Prophet (peace be upon him) – Ahmad and Baihaqi. We will definitely miss the gist of our Prophet’s preaching about the oneness, equality, and brotherliness of all Muslims if we discriminate against one another; if, in our dealings with one another, we allow ourselves to be swayed by considerations of ethnicity, social standing, or national backgrounds; or if we cut ourselves off from the ummah. Modesty, not inspired by fear or inferiority complex, is a preeminent component in the Muslim’s character. That is so because the Shariah loathes arrogance, condemns the arrogant, and warns them of awful consequences on the Day of Recompense as shown in the Hadith: “Paradise is out of reach of anyone with a grain of arrogance in his heart” (Muslim). Pilgrims in Hajj, especially on the Day of Arafah, the central event of the pilgrimage, appear so like one another that all seem brothers. The cloth-covered, dishevelled throng reflects the equality of all pilgrims in the eyes of Allah almighty, symbolising the idea that there is no real difference between a prince and a pauper when everyone is dressed equally. The concept of Tawheed constitutes the core of Hajj. It is the thread that holds all the rituals of this worship together. The phrase from the first Hadith I mentioned in this article, “for the sake of Allah almighty,” testifies to this representation. So the Muslim’s performance of Hajj is indicative of his belief in the unity of Allah almighty. Moreover, the concept of Tawheed was there when Allah almighty first made Hajj mandatory on his slave-servants, and is manifest throughout its acts and rituals: “And (mention, O Muhammad), when we designated for Abraham the site of the House, ([saying), ‘Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform tawaf (circumambulation) and those who stand (in salah) and those who bow and prostrate” (22:26). Published in Daily Times, September 1st 2017.