Hajj is pilgrimage associated with religious as well as social significance. Apart from being an obligatory religious duty, Hajj is seen to have a spiritual merit which provides the Muslims with an opportunity of self-renewal.
When one reflects on it, one see that this is a fulfillment of the prophecy made in the Quran (22: 27-29). When Prophet Abraham(AS) built the Ka’aba, God ordained him “proclaim on people to come for pilgrimage and they will come to you on foot and every means of transportation.” This was about three thousand years ago. For the first 1600 years the notion of pilgrimage was not perfected, till Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) came and the prophecy made by Prophet Abraham was finally fulfilled.
When people travel all the way from Indonesia, South Africa, Central Africa, Europe, United States, Canada and all parts of the world, this in itself is a reflection of devotion to God. In a way it is a reenactment of the frequent journeys of Prophet Abraham. Prophet Abraham as the father of monotheism traveled to many places and experienced lots of trouble and difficulty in trying to spread the true faith in God. When the pilgrims come from all walks of life and all parts of the world they are following the steps of their father in faith Prophet Abraham in their devotion to God. The journey to the holy city is a reminder for us that our entire life is nothing but a journey. Our life is a journey that may be long or short, only God knows. We have to realize that we are passing through a journey in our life that has an end and that our ultimate destiny is to go back to God and stand accountable for our lives.
A 2008 study on the impact of participating in the Islamic pilgrimage found that Muslim communities become more positive and tolerant after Hajj experience. Entitled Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance in Islam's Global Gathering and conducted in conjunction with Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, the study noted that the Hajj "increases belief in equality and harmony among ethnic groups and Islamic sects and leads to more favorable attitudes toward women, including greater acceptance of female education and employment" and that "Hajjis show increased belief in peace, and in equality and harmony among adherents of different religions."
Malcolm X, an American civil rights activist, describes the sociological atmosphere he experienced at his Hajj in the 1960s as follows:
There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white. America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought patterns previously held.
Malcolm X went further:
My pilgrimage broadened my scope. It blessed me with a new insight. In two weeks in the Holy Land (Saudi Arabia), I saw what I never had seen in thirty-nine years here in America. I saw all races, all colors, - blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans—in true brotherhood! In unity! Living as one! Worshiping as one!
All the rites of pilgrimage are done out of full obedience and submission to God with the willingness to do it as He ordained and as He communicated through the last Prophet, Muhammad (PBUH). An Austrian, Dr. Muhammad Asad, who embraced Islam likened this circling of the Kaaba to the atom and how the electrons and neutrons circle around the center and like the solar system that always has a center and something rotates around it. He says that as human beings we keep moving, dynamic change, but we should always have one clear objective in life, one central focus and that is to worship God and seek His pleasure in this life and His felicity and reward in the hereafter. Dr. Asad, formerly Leopold Weis, a Jewish converted to Islam, was preeminently known for his famous biographical work The Road to Makkah.
The Prophet (SAW) explained in hadith the spiritual essence of hajj. Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, "Whoever performs Hajj for Allah's pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew." Sahih al-Bukhari, 2:26:596
We pray unto Allah (SW) to grant us the respite to perform Hajj for Allah’s pleasure (Amin).
· "Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance in Islam's Global Gathering". Papers.ssrn.com. Retrieved 2011-12-19.