Hajj was performed in the period called Jahiliyya too. How and when was this hajj performed and based on what religion?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Kaaba, which is the reason for hajj, was built by Hz. Ibrahim and his son, Hz. Ismail. After the construction was completed, Jibril showed them how to circumambulate and how to perform hajj. Hz. Ismail taught the people of Hejaz how to make hajj. However, the religious decrees conveyed by Hz. Ibrahim were forgotten in the course of time and Makkah became the center of idolatry. The way to make hajj taught by Hz. Ismail was changed gradually and was replaced by the hajj of idolaters.

During the Era of Jahiliyya, the idolaters used to circumambulate the Kaaba and make hajj. In the Era of Jahiliyya, Makkah city-state was managed by an assembly of eleven people; in addition, four tribes outside Makkah also joined the management of hajj. Hashimi tribe, to which the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) belonged, carried out the duties of rifada, siqaya and the management of the Kaaba; the tribes of Sons of Abduddar carried out the duty of keeping the keys to the Kaaba and Darun-Nadwa; Sons of Nawfal carried out the duty of managing the taxes collected to spend on hajjis; Sons of Sahm were responsible for keeping the things allocated to the Kaaba, and Sons of Kinana carried out the duty of arranging the calendar so that hajj would take place in the same season every year. Sons of Gaws and Sons of Adwan took care of hajjis in Arafat and Muzdalifa.

The rituals like the circumambulation of the Kaaba, waqfa in Arafat and Muzdalifa, and sacrificing animals continued; hajj continued with idolatrous traditions. Umrah was performed in the month of Rajab, which was arranged to coincide with date season. It was completed after the Kaaba was visited and running seven times between Safa and Marwa was done. The polytheists used to change the calendar every two or three years so that hajj would coincide with spring season; the ceremonies took place in other months instead of Dhul-hijjah; it took place in Dhul-hijjah only once in twenty-four years. 

The people who wanted to perform hajj used to go to Uqaz Fair on the first day of the month with ihram and stay there for twenty nights and did business; then, they would got Majannah Fair and stay there for ten nights; then, they would go to Dhul-Majaz Fair when they saw the new moon (crescent) of the next month and stay there for eight days; they would leave Dhul-Majaz on the eight day and go to Arafat on the ninth day (day of Arafa). The people of "hilla" (the tribes other than Quraysh and their allies) would gather in Arafat on the day of Arafa and the people of "hums" (the tribe of Quraysh and their allies) who had several privileges related to hajj and the Kaaba would gather in Namira (which is included in Haram region). They would remain there until the sun approached the horizon and then proceed to Muzdalifa. They would spend the night in Muzdalifa and start waqfa before dawn the next day and continue it until the sun rose; then, they would move toward Mina. They did not do business in Arafat and Mina. After completing the rituals of stoning the devil for three days and sacrificing animals, various meetings were held and poems were recited; the tribes would praise their ancestors. This custom was abolished by the following verse:  

"So when ye have accomplished your holy rites, celebrate the praises of Allah, as ye used to celebrate the praises of your fathers,- yea, with far more Heart and soul..." (al-Baqara, 2/200)

When the visitors came to Makkah from Mina, they would stay in the houses of the people of the city and would give them some gifts in return. It is stated that Arabs of Jahiliyya would clamp their hands, clap their hands and whistle ; if they belonged to hums, they would circumambulate the Kaaba with their clothes; if they belonged to hilla, they would borrow the clothes of hums or buy new clothes; otherwise, they would circumambulate the Kaaba nakedly because they did not want to circumambulate with the clothes in which they committed sins. 

"When they do aught that is shameful, they say: ‘We found our fathers doing so’; and ‘Allah commanded us thus’: Say: "Nay, Allah never commands what is shameful: do ye say of Allah what ye know not?" (al-A'raf, 7/28) 

It is stated in tafsir books that the verse above is related to those who circumambulated the Kaaba nakedly. If a person belonging to hilla brought a garment that he has not worn before in order to wear while visiting the Kaaba, he would circumambulate the Kaaba wearing it; then, he would leave it there; nobody would touch this garment; it would be left there to decay. The women of hilla who could not find clean clothes would circumambulate the Kaaba nakedly by covering their private parts with their hands; after the circumambulation, they would perform sa’y between Safa and Marwa. Then, they would sacrifice animals next to the idol Isaf; they would spread some of the blood on the walls of the Kaaba. Those who sacrificed animals would not eat the flesh of those animals. After that, every tribe would visit the idol for which they entered ihram and uttered talbiya; they would have a haircut next to them and exit ihram. Along with the Kaaba, Arabs of Jahiliyya used to circumambulate the temples of the deities like Lat, Manat and Uzza, the graves of the notable people and erected stones (ansab), and they called it "dawar".

The custom of giving hajjis water and food (siqaya and rifada) dated back to old periods. Taxes were collected from the people in order to continue the tradition of rifada in the past; the rich who wanted to obtain honor undertook this duty later. It is narrated that the first person to cook food from camel’s meat and distribute it to hajjis was Amr b. Luhay; it is also known that he gave garments to hajjis too. During the time of Qusayy, there were big water containers made of leather where water brought from freshwater resources on camels were kept. After Zamzam Well was opened again by Abdulmuttalib, the grandfather of the Prophet (pbuh), the duty of siqaya was carried out with water from this well. Abdulmuttalib milked his camels, mixed the milk with honey and gave it to hajjis with zamzam water; he sometimes mixed grapes with zamzam.

When Islam emerged, the duty of siqaya and rifada was fulfilled by Abu Talib; however, he transferred this duty to his younger brother Abbas later when he had financial difficulty. Abbas fulfilled this duty until Makkah was conquered. After the conquest, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) removed this duty from him for a while but returned it to him later. The Prophet appointed Hz. Abu Bakr as the amir (leader) of hajj in 631 and gave him some food items to distribute. The Prophet himself undertook this duty during Farewell Hajj; after his deaths, the caliphs themselves fulfilled this duty.

After the conquest of Makkah, the elements of polytheism that were not included in hajj introduced by Hz. Ibrahim including the idols in and around the Kaaba were eliminated. The people of hums attributed some privileges to themselves and did not perform waqfa in Arafat by saying, "We are people of Haram; we are the guards of the Kaaba." However, this privilege was abolished with the following verse:

"Then pass on at a quick pace from the place whence it is usual for the multitude so to do, and ask for Allah´s forgiveness. For Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful." (al-Baqara 2/ 199)

The prohibition of business (shopping) in Arafat and Mina was abolished by the following verse:

"It is no crime in you if ye seek of the bounty of your Lord (during pilgrimage)..." (al-Baqara 2/198)

Fairs like Uqaz, Majannah and Dhul-Majaz that were held before hajj continued for a while but they were abandoned at the end of the seventh (second H) century due to various reasons. 

After the advent of Islam, the people of hilla did not perform the ritual of sa’y between Safa and Marwa stating that it was done for idols, that it was a custom of Jahiliyya and that it was not included in hajj worshipping.   

"Behold! Safa and Marwa are among the Symbols of Allah. So if those who visit the House in the Season or at other times, should compass them round, it is no sin in them. And if any one obeyeth his own impulse to good,- be sure that Allah is He Who recogniseth and knoweth." (al-Baqara 2/158)

Thereupon, the verse above was sent down; it was stated that sa’y was included in hajj and the doubts about it were eliminated.

The practice of circumambulating the Kaaba nakedly and the prohibition of bringing food and drinks, and sheep to Haram region by the people of hill were abolished by the following verse and the order given by the Prophet (pbuh) in the 9th year of the Migration:   

"O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters. Say: Who hath forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah, which He hath produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, (which He hath provided) for sustenance? Say: They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) purely for them on the Day of Judgment..." (al-Araf 7/31, 32)

"No polytheist will perform hajj after this year and nobody will circumambulate the Kaaba nakedly." (Bukhari, Hajj, 67)

(Diyanet İ.A. Hac. Item.)

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