Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri
Hajj Mustafa
Zahra Publications
Current Issues
Contact Details
Photo Galleries
Links to Other Sites
Archived Excerpts


Chapter 3: The Pilgrimage of Islam

Back Up Next

By: Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri

Chapter 3
The Prophet Muhammad's Pilgrimage


The Return to Makkah

In the eighth year after the emigration of the Muslims from Makkah to Madinah, the Prophet returned to Makkah in triumph.  The antagonistic Makkan tribes had finally been overthrown.

The Prophet performed the ritual bath and eight cycles of prayer, after which he rested for an hour or more.  Then he called for his she-camel, al-Qaswah and rode to the Black Stone of the Ka‘bah.  He touched the stone with his staff and uttered Allahu akbar, which was taken up by those close to him and all in the Sacred Mosque, until the magnification reverberated throughout Makkah.  The Prophet went around the Sacred House seven times, and then turned toward the 360 idols which surrounded it in a wide circle. He pointed at all of them with his staff as he rode around the circle declaring,

Truth has come and the falsehood has vanished; surely falsehood is ever-prone to vanish. (17:81)

As he uttered this verse, each idol fell over.  After he had made the full circuit and toppled all the idols, the Messenger of God dismounted from his camel and prayed at the Station of Abraham.  Next he went to the well of Zamzam, where ibn ‘Abbas gave him water and the Prophet confirmed the right of the sons of Hashim to give water to the pilgrims.  He proceeded to the Ka‘bah, where the door was opened for him.  He took the key and entered the Sacred House.  When he came out he gave the key to  ‘Uthman ibn Talhah, thus confirming the guardianship of the House with the descendants of ‘Abd al-Dar.

When the Prophet went inside the Ka‘bah, he saw upon the walls paintings of some of the prophets, as well as angels and trees.  Included among them were paintings of Jesus and Mary.  The Prophet ordered al-Fadl ibn ‘Abbas to bring water from Zamzam and a cloth; and ordered the paintings to be washed off. When the Prophet came out of the Ka‘bah he stood at the threshold and said:

Praise be to God, who has fulfilled His promise and helped his slave rout the clans; He alone.

When the sun began to sink from its zenith, the Prophet ordered Bilal to climb to the top of the Ka‘bah and make the call to prayer.  Bilal raised the call, which agitated many of those in Makkah who found it difficult to accept the victory of Islam.  After the afternoon prayer, the Prophet ordered all the idols to be gathered, broken up, burned or buried, following which he proclaimed that throughout the city all idols within people’s houses must be destroyed.

During the Pilgrimage led by Abu Bakr the previous year, the Prophet  had ordered that no one  was  to circumambulate the Ka‘bah without wearing clothes, and no idolater was allowed in the precinct of the Ancient House (al-bayt al-‘atiq, a reference to…..).  Even those who had a covenant with the Prophet were allowed to remain for only four more months in the Sacred Precinct unless they submitted to Islam.  The Prophet’s Pilgrimage, in 10 AH, known as the Pilgrimage of Islam, thoroughly eliminated all remaining pagan rituals, and the practice of the ancient rite was restored to its original revealed form.


The Farewell Pilgrimage

In the month of Dhu ’l-Qa‘dah of the tenth year after the emigration to Madinah, the Prophet declared his intention to visit Makkah in order to perform the Pilgrimage according to what had been revealed to him.  He had not performed the Greater Pilgrimage since the emigration from Makkah, although prior to that he had performed it twice or three times.  After the emigration he performed the Lesser Pilgrimage twice, first in the year after Hudaybiyah and then in the year Makkah was conquered, when he returned there after the battle of Hunayn and the siege of Ta’if.


Setting forth from Madina

The news about the journey spread throughout Madinah and the Arabian Peninsula drawing people hurriedly to Madinah from every city, town and oasis.  Tens of thousands gathered together and pitched their tents around the city, awaiting the Prophet’s departure.

On the 25th day of Dhu ’l-Qa‘dah, the Prophet began to advance toward Makkah, leading the great procession of Muslims. Some historians have estimated that over 90,000 people joined the Prophet in this journey, and others have estimated that their numbers exceeded 100,000.  The hearts of the Muslims were overflowing with anticipation at this momentous event, the like of which had never before been witnessed in the entire history of the Arabs.  From the four corners of the Arabian peninsula people had gathered under one banner with one objective, repeating the words which conveyed the meaning of the message to which Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah had summoned them and had fought to establish:

At Your service, O Lord, at Your service.  There is no associate with You.  To You only belong the praise, the bounty and the sovereignty.  At Your service, at Your service.  There is no associate with You; at Your service.


Designations of the Pilgrimage

According to the historical account of Ibn Kathir, the Prophet’s Pilgrimage in that year was referred to by three names: the Pilgrimage of Proclamation, the Pilgrimage of Islam and the Farewell Pilgrimage.  It was called the Pilgrimage of Proclamation because it was then that the Prophet proclaimed all of the rules and regulations of the Pilgrimage and its accompanying activities.  He said in a speech delivered in Makkah,

Whatever I command you to do will bring you close to God, and whatever I prohibit you is what would distance you from God.

It is called the Pilgrimage of Islam because it was exactly that; and it is called the Farewell Pilgrimage because it was during its course that the Prophet bid farewell to the people, alluding to his imminent death.  ‘O people,’ he said to them, ‘I am at the point of being called, and I must respond.’ It is also related that after his retreat during the month of Ramadan of the same year he told Fatimah that the angel Gabriel had recited the Qur`an to him twice, instead of once as he customarily did: by this the Prophet had understood that his death was approaching.


Onward to Makkah

The Prophet took all of his wives, as well as Fatimah al-Zahra’ and her two young sons, Hasan and Husayn; each of the women had her own camel litter. They were escorted by ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf and ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan.  The Prophet selected Samak ibn Karshah al-Sa‘di, better known as Abu Dajanah al-Ansari, to govern Madinah during his absence, and set out after praying the noon prayer.  Upon arriving at Dhu ’l-Hulayfah he prayed an abbreviated afternoon prayer at the Mosque of al-Shajarah.  After spending the night in Dhu ’l-Hulayfah, the Prophet ordered the people to remove all sewn garments, perform the ritual bath, remove any underarm and pubic hair, and put on seamless clothes.  He set out, driving his sacrificial animals before him, and the people followed, uttering the devotional call as they went.  The caravan cut across the desert toward the House of God, some riding and some walking.  The journey was difficult for those on foot, who complained to the Prophet and sought his help.  He informed them, however, that he was unable to give them what they desired and encouraged them to press on, sometimes at a quicker pace and sometimes more slowly.

After the Prophet had decided to perform the Pilgrimage he wrote to ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, whom he had sent to Yemen with a group of men, asking ‘Ali to join him in Makkah for the Pilgrimage.  ‘Ali set out from Yemen with his army, heading for Makkah; he and his army possessed garments which were part of the booty they had captured in the campaign of Najran.  ‘Ali and his troops joined the Prophet for the pilgrimage wearing seamless garments.


The Prophet Enters Makkah

The Prophet reached the pass through which he entered Makkah ten days after leaving Madinah.  The Islamic traditionists and historians relate that before he entered the city with his large contingent he sent a herald, who proclaimed a message to the people that whoever did not have a sacrificial animal should remove his pilgrim’s dress after performing the Lesser Pilgrimage, and then put it on again for the Greater Pilgrimage before setting out for ‘Arafat.  Whoever had a sacrificial animal was ordered to continue in his pilgrim’s dress until the Greater Pilgrimage had been completed.  This verse of the Qur`an had been revealed to him:

Accomplish the Greater and Lesser Pilgrimage for Allah... whoever profits by combining the Lesser with the Greater Pilgrimage should take whatever offering is easy to obtain. (2:196)

After the revelation of the verse the Prophet added, ‘The Greater and Lesser Pilgrimages have been introduced until the Day of Resurrection,’ and he intertwined the fingers of both hands.  Then he said, ‘If the revelation had occurred before, I would not have brought the sacrificial animals, but would have assumed the pilgrim’s dress for the Lesser Pilgrimage, then taken it off and put it on again for the Greater Pilgrimage, for this is the best way.’


The Lesser Pilgrimage

The Prophet entered the mosque through the Door of Peace.  He stopped near the door after going in and gave praise and thanks to God, asking for blessings upon Abraham.  Then he went to the Black Stone, drew his hand over it and kissed it.  Afterwards he went around the Ka‘bah seven times, then made two cycles of prayer at the station of Abraham.  Next he went to the well of Zamzam and drank from it, saying, ‘O Lord, verily I ask of You wisdom which benefits and heals and which is sufficient for all ills.’ He recited this supplication while facing the Ka‘bah, then went again to the Black Stone, over which he drew his hand, and then kissed it.  Then he went to the hill of Safa and recited the following passage from the Qur`an:

Surely Safa and Marwah are among the signs appointed by Allah; so whoever makes a pilgrimage to the House or pays a visit to it there is no blame on him if he go round them both. (2:158)

He ascended Safa, praised and thanked God, and remained there in prayer and supplication for as long as it would take to recite the chapter of the Qur`an entitled ‘The Cow’.  Then he descended Safa and went to the hill of Marwah, which he ascended and where he remained for as long as he had on Safa.  Then he descended Marwah and returned to Safa.  In this way he ascended and descended each hill seven times.  Upon reaching the top of Safa he would see the Ka‘bah and face it in remembrance of God.  He said, ‘There is no god but God, One without any associate.  His is the kingdom and His is the praise, and He is Powerful above everything.  There is no god but God; He fulfilled His promise, helped His slave and put the enemies to flight.'  Upon  ascending  Marwah  he  did  the  same.  The  people crowded together around him and performed this worship with him.

When the Prophet completed the Lesser Pilgrimage, he returned to the Ka‘bah and entered with the keeper of the keys.  He took Bilal and ‘Uthman with him.  In the evening he visited ‘A’ishah and said, ‘Today I entered the House, but it maybe that someday my people will not be able to enter it and they will feel agitated.  We were only ordered to go round it, not to enter it.’ The Prophet refused to stay in any house in Makkah despite the plea of Umm Hani that he stay with her.  Instead he pitched a tent and camped in al-Abtah.


The Greater Pilgrimage : the departure to ‘Arafat

Before setting out for ‘Arafat from Makkah, the Prophet spoke to the people in the Sacred Mosque.  He exhorted them to perform the Pilgrimage, explaining some of its rules and regulations.  On the eighth day of Dhu ’l-Hijjah he gave the order for the Pilgrimage to begin and called out, ‘At Your service, O Lord, at Your service!’ He reached Mina in the afternoon and remained there overnight.  Early next morning he set out from Mina to ‘Arafat, (a broad valley about thirteen miles east of Makkah on the road to Ta’if, just outside the Sacred Precinct.  It is bounded on its northern and eastern sides by the mountains of Ta’if.  Within the valley is a small hill which is also called ‘Arafat, as well as being called the Mount of Mercy.  The Prophet took up his position on this hill after the sun began to decline from the meridian.

Some of  Quraysh refused to go past the boundary of the Sacred Precinct to reach ‘Arafat, saying that they were the people of the Sacred Precinct and thus would not leave it.  The rest of the people continued with the Prophet, and upon their return from ‘Arafat were joined by the group that had held back, who returned with them to Mina.  This group hoped that the Prophet would be influenced to stay with them but they were disappointed as the Almighty had revealed the verse:

... So when you hasten on from ‘Arafat, then remember Allah near the Sacred sign....(2:198)

The Prophet said that Abraham had come to ‘Arafat and thus it was an essential part of the Pilgrimage, but that Quraysh had forsaken this practice.  The Prophet stressed the antiquity of the Pilgrimage and the fact that it was the legacy of Abraham.  To impress upon all the tribes that blood feuds were at an end throughout the whole community of Islam, and that each man’s life and possessions were sacrosanct, he told Rabi‘ah ibn Umayyah ibn Khalifah, who had a powerful voice, to proclaim to the multitude: ‘The Messenger of God says, “Do you see what month this is?”’ They were silent, so he answered, ‘The holy month.’ Then he asked, ‘Do you see what land this is?’ Again they were silent and he answered, ‘The holy land.’ Then he said, ‘Do you see what day this is?’ And again it was he who gave the answer: ‘The day of the Greater Pilgrimage.’ Then he proclaimed according to the Prophet’s instructions, ‘Verily, God has made inviolable for you each other’s blood and each other’s property until you meet your Lord, even as He has made inviolable this day of yours, this land of yours, and this month of yours.’

When the sun began to decline from the meridian, the Prophet went to the Mosque of ‘Arafat.  He had ceased making the devotional call or talbiyah (‘Labbayk Allahuma labbayk…’).  Here he addressed the people, told them what to do, and prohibited what was not permissible.  The noon and afternoon prayers were performed with one call to prayer (adhan) and two calls to establish each individual prayer (iqamah). The Prophet declared that the entire valley of ‘Arafat was the place to be on this day.  Then he mounted his camel, al-Qaswah, and rode to the centre of the gathered assembly of people to deliver a public address.  After praising and glorifying God he said,

God will illuminate the face of the one who listens to my words, contains them in his memory and preserves them, and then conveys them to those who have not heard.  The one who conveys [these words] possesses knowledge other than that of jurisprudence.  The one who conveys [these words] possesses knowledge for whomever he instructs.


Muzdalifah and Mina

The people remained at ‘Arafat with the Prophet until before the sun had set, praying and making supplication to God.  Upon its setting, the Prophet mounted his camel with Usamah behind him and rode down from his position on the Mount of Mercy, into the valley and onward to Muzdalifah.  He ordered the people to ride more slowly than had been the custom, and called out, ‘Gently, gently! with tranquillity of the soul. Let the strong among you care for the weak.’  They reached Muzdalifah and joined the sunset and evening prayers.  Here they collected small pebble stones and the women were then sent ahead by night to Mina, with instructions not to stone the pillar of ‘Aqabah before sunrise.  The Prophet prayed the dawn prayer at Muzdalifah, mounted his camel with Fadl behind him and led the pilgrims to the pillar of ‘Aqabah in Mina.  They followed him, casting seven stones at the pillar. After the lapidation the Prophet sacrificed the animals he had brought and then shaved his head, while the pilgrims gathering around him hoping to obtain a lock of his hair.  ‘All of Mina is a place of sacrifice,’ the Prophet said, then he sacrificed his camels and ‘Ali his.  The Prophet ordered that the meat be divided among the people and that a piece of meat be taken from each animal.  The pieces from each animal were all cooked together, and the Prophet and those with him ate of the meat.  The skins and blankets, and the ornaments that were around the camel’s necks were given to those who cut up the meat.

After shaving off his hair, the Prophet took the pilgrims who were with him to the Ka‘bah, where they circumambulated the House, prayed at the station of Abraham and drank from Zamzam. He drank from a bucket, then poured what remained in the bucket over himself.


The Speech on the Day of Sacrifice

Most of the historians writing about the Prophet relate that he spoke to the people on this day of sacrifice.  After he had glorified and praised God he said,

We seek refuge in God from viciousness and evil in ourselves, and from our malicious actions.  Whomever God guides no one will force astray, and whomever He leads astray shall have no guide.  I witness that there is no god other than God, One, with no associate, and that Muhammad is His slave and His messenger.  I enjoin you to worship God by being fearfully aware of Him and obeying Him.

O people, listen carefully, for I do not know whether I shall ever meet you in this place again.  Certainly, your blood and your wealth are sacrosanct until you meet your Lord, as this day of yours in this month of yours in this country of yours is sacrosanct.

Whoever is entrusted with something must fulfil it for the one who entrusted it to him; blood spilled in the Days of Ignorance is to be left unavenged.  The first claim of revenge that I cause to be abolished is that of ‘Amr ibn Rabi‘ah ibn al-Harith ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib.  It is the first blood shed in the pagan period that I deal with.  What were considered as glorious deeds in the Days of Ignorance are abolished, except the custodianship of the Ka‘bah and the supplying of water to the pilgrim.  Surely, the intention of killing is only power.

O people, Satan has despaired of ever being worshipped in this land of ours, but he is pleased when you obey him with base and contemptible actions.

O people, to delay [the sacred months] is to increase in disbelief. Those who disbelieve persist in it, making [the months] permissible one year and prohibiting them the next, so that they fabricate both what God has prohibited and what He has allowed.

Time has completed its cycle, and is as it was on the day God created the heavens and the earth.  The number of months with God is twelve in His Book.  Of these twelve four are sacred and three are in succession: Dhu ’l-Qa‘dah, Dhu ’l-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab.

O people, your women have a right over you, and you have a right over them.  Your right over them is that they do not prepare your bed for anyone other than you, and that they do not allow anyone whom you dislike to enter your house except with your permission and that they refrain from immoderate, excessive or lewd behaviour.  If they behave like this, then God has given you permission to prevent them or, if need be, confine them to their rooms, or strike them, but not violently.  If they turn away from this behavior, then their provisions and clothing are required of you according to custom.  You are intermediaries for women and do not control anything over them: you take them as God’s trust. You may regard them as lawful and find ease and comfort with them by God’s word; so fear God concerning women, and mean them well.

O people, believers are the brothers of each other, so do not approach your brother’s wealth except to do good.  In this way you will not revert to disbelief after me, striking each others necks.  Surely, I leave among you something, and if you take it you will never go astray after me: the Book of God and my close relations, the people of my house.

O people, your Lord is One and your father is one.  All of you are from Adam, and Adam was from dust.  The most noble among you with God are those of you who are the most pious.  No Arab has any merit over a non-Arab except by the measure of his piety.  Let those of you who are present convey [the message] to those who are absent.

O People, verily God has given to everyone who grants an inheritance the right to bequeath a portion of his fortune to whom he will.  No more than one third is allowed to be bequeathed [the rest being distributed to one’s family, according to specific rules]. The child belongs to the bed and the adulterer must be stoned.  Whoever falsely calls someone his father or claims someone as his patron who is not so, upon him is the curse of God, the angels and mankind altogether.  God shall not receive compensation from him.

It is reported that ‘Ali repeated the Prophet’s speech to the crowd.  After this the Prophet returned to Makka for the circumambulation.


Three Days in Mina

Following the circumambulation, and the journeying between Safa and Marwah, the Prophet left the Ka‘bah and returned to Mina, where he spent the night.  He remained there for three days.  Each day he stoned each of the three pillars with seven stones, until the thirteenth of Dhu ’l-Hijjah, throwing them from between his thumb and middle finger.

It is related that during the second day that the Prophet spent in Mina, the chapter of the Qur`an entitled ‘The Help’ (al-Nasr) was revealed to him:

When there comes the help of Allah and the victory, and you see people enter the religion of Allah in companies, then celebrate the praise of your Lord, and ask His forgiveness; surely He is the Acceptor of repentance. (110)

By this revelation it is said that he knew this was his last Pilgrimage, for the way of Islam had been established.


The Event at Ghadir Khumm

When the rites of the Pilgrimage were completed, the Prophet set out for Madinah accompanied by the crowd of pilgrims.  When he arrived at a place where the routes to Madinah, Egypt, Syria and Iraq diverge, he stopped at what has come to be known as Ghadir Khumm. It was  unsuitable for a halt because it lacked water and pasturage, but the Prophet stopped there before the people could disperse to their respective towns, villages and countries.  He sent out runners to call back those who had gone ahead and to speed up those who had lagged behind.  God had revealed a verse of the Qur`an, and the Prophet wanted to make it public:

O Apostle! deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message and Allah will [have to] protect you from the people. (5:67)

It was an intensely hot day.  The people gathered around the Messenger, while under the shade of a few existing trees an area was swept clean and a makeshift platform was erected.  The Prophet led the noon prayer, after which he summoned ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib to his side.  They mounted the platform and the Prophet made his historic speech.  Al-Tabarani and others have recorded the following tradition as related by Zayd ibn Arqam, and transmitted through sources unanimously acknowledged to be reliable.  Zayd said that the Messenger of Allah delivered the sermon at Ghadir Khumm under a cloth spread as a canopy between two large trees, saying, ‘O my people! I am going to be recalled shortly and I must comply.  I shall be interrogated and you also shall be interrogated.  What will you say then?’ A spokesman from the audience answered, ‘We shall bear witness that you conveyed the message of God to us, tried your best to guide us on the right path and always gave us good counsel.  May God bless you with a good reward.’ The Prophet proceeded, ‘Do you not bear witness that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, that Paradise is true, Hell is true, death is true, resurrection is true, that the Day of Judgement will doubtlessly come, and that God will raise the dead  from their graves?’ ‘O Yes! We bear witness to all this,’ they replied.  Then he said,

'O God! You may also witness.  My People, God is my Master and I am the master of the faithful.  I have a greater right over their lives than they do themselves.  This man ‘Ali is the master of all those of whom I am master. O God! Love the one who loves him and hate the one who hates him.

My people, I will precede you, and you also shall arrive at the Pool of Abundance, that pool wider than the distance between Basrah and Sana‘a.  There are on the pool as many goblets of silver as there are stars in the sky.  When you reach me I shall question you about your behavior towards the two which is in God's hand, the other end in yours.  Grasp it tightly and do not go astray; do not change or amend it.  The other asset is my progeny, those who are the people of my House.  God, the Gracious and Omniscient, has informed me that the two will not part from each other until they reach me at the Pool [Kawthar].

Ibn Jarir, al-Hakim and al-Tirmidhi all record the tradition in identical words.  Ibn Hajar reports it in his book, stating that the tradition is accepted as genuine by all the Muslims.  This tradition is also recorded by al-Tabarani, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, al-Nasa’i and al-Dhahabi.  Muslim mentions it in abbreviated form in his Sahih.  Ahmad ibn Hanbal further relates, on the authority of Bara’ ibn Azib, that after the declaration, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab came to ‘Ali and said, ‘Congratulations to you, Ibn Abi Talib.  You have become the master of all believing men and women.’


The Return to Madinah

Following the events at Ghadir Khumm, the Prophet continued on to Madinah.  Those who heard the message of Ghadir Khumm, one hundred thousand or more, and had performed the Pilgrimage with him, were charged with communicating what they had witnessed to those who were not present.  Very soon after returning to Madinah, the Prophet succumbed to the illness which took his physical form from the world.  He had completed Allah’s message in its meaning and form.  He had lived the life of the perfect being, in this world but not of it.  Dealing with the world with compassion and justice and accepting what Allah has decreed for him, he lived a life of inspired responsibility and yet free of expectation as far as the final results are concerned.  His way of life is that of the perfect Muslim.

Back Up Next

Preface: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Introduction: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Chapter 1: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Chapter 2: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] [ Chapter 3: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Chapter 4: The Pilgrimage of Islam ] Chapter 4: The Pilgrimage of Islam (Continues) ] Chapter 5: The Pilgrimage of Islam ]