Hajj — a profound journey connecting global Muslims

MAKKAH: Every Hajj season, Muslims from all over the world, representing different languages, cultures and traditions, gather in the holy cities.

Beyond its religious significance, the pilgrimage offers a platform for cultural engagement among believers, showcasing the rich cultural tapestry of the global Muslim community.

Cultural diversity is evident not only in the traditional clothing of the pilgrims, but also in the various languages ​​that can be heard in all the quarters of Mecca, in the Grand Mosque and the roads leading to it, as well as in public transport.

Muslim pilgrims arrive to perform the symbolic ritual of ‘stoning the devil’ as part of the Hajj pilgrimage in Mina, near Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca, June 16, 2024. (AFP)

Fawaz Al-Dahas, professor of history at Umm Al-Qura University, highlighted the understanding and solidarity of Muslims who gather with one goal: to perform the Hajj.

Despite different languages ​​and cultural backgrounds, the pilgrims strive for understanding, harmony and kindness towards each other to ensure that their pilgrimage is accepted and that their efforts are not in vain, he said.

“Cultural exchange during Hajj is a unique and enriching opportunity. Pilgrims learn about the customs and traditions of other countries, opening new horizons and deepening knowledge,” Al-Dahas said, adding that this leads to greater respect and deeper understanding between people of different backgrounds.

Muslim pilgrims walk on the Mount of Mercy on the plain of Arafat during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, June 15, 2024. (REUTERS)

“Hajj promotes the concept of one nation, where all pilgrims are equal, regardless of race or nationality,” Al-Dahas said.

“By wearing Ihram, all pilgrims feel a sense of equality and belonging to one community, fostering peaceful coexistence. This experience teaches patience, tolerance and cooperation during the performance of rituals, further strengthening the spirit of understanding and coexistence among Muslims after their return home.”

The Hajj also promotes cooperation among Islamic nations in areas such as health, security and logistics, as governments work together to ensure the safety and comfort of pilgrims, he added. This cooperation promotes fraternal relations and solidarity.

Pilgrims learn the importance of social solidarity through sharing food and helping each other in performing rituals. (SPA)

Through this annual event, Muslims bridge cultural and geographic divides. Hajj emphasizes the value of interaction between people and nations, showing how diversity can be a strength in society.

Rania Shavdari, mutawif (pilgrim guide), said: “Hajj is a significant annual event that reflects the Kingdom’s significant efforts in serving pilgrims from around the world. Pilgrims witness first-hand the extensive services and facilities provided to them, encouraging them to cooperate and participate and watch everyone working together to make this great ritual for Muslims a success.”

She highlighted the generosity and hospitality, as pilgrims from different parts of the world received free services, such as water, food and accommodation.

Muslim pilgrims pray at dawn on Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, during the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage June 15, 2024 (AFP)

Pilgrims learn the importance of social solidarity through sharing food and helping each other in performing rituals, thereby strengthening the spirit of solidarity and brotherhood, Shodari said.

“The common challenges and difficulties they face during their journey encourage the pilgrims to help each other and cooperate, helping them put aside their differences.”

Majid Al-Mufadhli, a Saudi journalist who has covered Hajj events for years, said the media plays a significant role in conveying the Hajj experience to the world.

“This helps promote understanding and communication between different cultures, as media coverage of Hajj events and the stories and experiences of pilgrims raises awareness of the importance of Hajj and its role in uniting Muslims,” ​​he said.

Social media platforms also improve communication among pilgrims, their families and friends, as well as between worshipers themselves, facilitating the exchange of experiences and cultures and promoting understanding, Al-Mufadhli added.

“Pilgrims face significant challenges in managing the crowd, working together and adhering to the plans set by the authorities, which encourages them to cooperate and coordinate with each other to perform the rites with comfort and ease,” he said.

The pilgrimage also presents an opportunity for innovation in areas such as crowd management, health and transportation technology, using modern technologies to ensure safety and comfort. The atmosphere of cooperation shows the world that Muslims are an organized and compassionate community, capable of adapting to ensure the safety and comfort of all.

“Hajj is an opportunity and an extraordinary gathering that unites languages ​​and cultures.” Through participation in this great event, pilgrims learn the values ​​of generosity, hospitality, love and brotherhood, returning home in a new spirit of unity and cooperation,” said Al-Mufadhli.

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