Is Hajj Individual or Social Worship?
An interesting point is that hajj has two complementary aspects: an individual aspect and a social aspect; it’s necessary to pay attention to both aspects. The individual aspect of hajj belongs to each and every individual who makes the hajj pilgrimage. Each hajj pilgrim should establish a relationship with Allah the Exalted during their pilgrimage and should repent and take spiritual provisions for himself or herself. In a holy ayah relating to hajj, piety has been advised. “Surely the provision is the guarding of oneself, and be careful (of your duty) to Me, O men of understanding” [The Holy Quran, 2: 197]. Each and every one of the honorable pilgrims, who are blessed with this great opportunity, should think of how to make the best of this provision. “And you that ask forgiveness of your Lord, then turn to Him” [The Holy Quran, 11: 3]. Hajj pilgrims should repent; they should pray; they should ask Allah the Exalted for whatever they need. They should make a covenant with Allah the Exalted to remain committed to their future, their lives and their activities. This is the individual aspect of hajj.
As far as this individual aspect of hajj is concerned, every hajj pilgrim should try to move closer to Allah the Exalted on his pilgrimage. He should cleanse his heart. He should take provisions for the rest of his life. Spiritual blessings for individual pilgrims originate from this journey: from the rituals and from these days. Hajj pilgrims should also appreciate the value of this opportunity, for there are certain things that an individual can achieve only during hajj pilgrimage. Seeing Ka’bah is worship; Tawaf around Ka’bah is worship; praying in Masjid ul-Haraam is worship; visiting the shrine of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) is worship; furthermore, Arafat is an arena for speaking to God, and Mash’ar is an arena for attention to God: the same is true of Mina. Pilgrims should make use of each and every one of these elements to cleanse their hearts, to improve their spiritual status and to take provisions for the rest of their lives. This is the individual aspect of hajj.
The other aspect of hajj is the social aspect. Hajj is the manifestation of Islamic unity; people with different skin colors, people from different nationalities, people with different identities, people from different Islamic denominations, and people with different tendencies all gather in one place as equals. They all perform Tawaf together; they all work together; they all stay in Arafat and Mash’ar: this unity is very important. Islamic solidarity is the true manifestation of harmony and unanimity during hajj, not just for the people of Iran, but also for all Muslims throughout the world, for the Islamic Ummah.
God’s wrath be upon those who sideline the truth of the Islamic Ummah, those who divert attention away from the importance of the Islamic Ummah, those who divide Muslims into different groups with different goals, those who magnify nationalities against the glory of the Islamic Ummah and those who create division within the Iranian nation. The Islamic Ummah is significant: Glory belongs to the Islamic Ummah. Allah the Exalted will bestow His mercy and blessings upon the Islamic Ummah. Hajj is a manifestation of the Islamic Ummah, it is the Islamic Ummah in microcosm: “Coming from every remote path” [The Holy Quran, 22: 27]. Muslims come together from different parts of the world and from remote places. What a great opportunity for communicating with each other, for unity with one another, for listening to each other’s sufferings, and for expressing sympathy. Apart from hajj, when do Muslims get such an opportunity? The issue of unity is one of the social dimensions of hajj.
Showing the greatness of the Islamic Ummah is another social dimension of hajj. The fact that several million Muslims gather in one place to attend a particular ceremony shows the greatness of the Islamic Ummah. From a country whose population is seventy to eighty million, around fifty, sixty, or seventy thousand people come together and form a glorious gathering. This shows the greatness of the Islamic Ummah.
Another dimension is the sharing of experiences among hajj pilgrims. Many Islamic countries have certain experiences; for example, the Iranian nation has certain experiences in confronting the enemy, in identifying the enemy, in refusing to trust the enemy, and in distinguishing friends from enemies. We have experience in these areas. We do not make mistakes in distinguishing friends from enemies. From the beginning of the Revolution to this day, we have been aware that the real enemy: the aggressive, stubborn, and persistent enemy is the world of global arrogance and Zionism. We have been aware of this. Sometimes this archenemy has spoken through other people. We must not make a mistake and think that those who speak for the enemy are the true enemy. No, as I stressed earlier, the real enemy are the arrogant powers.
Statements made by Ayatollah Khamenei in a meeting with Hajj officials on Aug 22, 2015