The Hijra Calendar – Part 7: The word Hajj in the Quran

If we read the verses of the Quran regarding Hajj, it is impossible to understand or relate the verses with what is being practised in Makkah during the pilgrimage season.  We can almost say that there is no clear correlation between Al-Hajj in the Quran and the performance of pilgrimage in Makkah. We will find contradictions in the Quranic text with the events being practised during the pilgrimage in Makkah.  

For example, the animal sacrifice that was said in commemoration of the event of Prophet Ibrahim having to sacrifice Ismail is not supported by the Quran. The Quran gives a different narrative compared to what was traditionally believed.  We can easily recognize this in the Quranic text on the glad tidings of Is’haq, here:

If the young boy to be allegedly slaughtered was Ismail, what’s with the rewards and replacement of the glad tidings of Is’haq?

The stoning ritual of Jamarat is also in contradiction with the essence of the Quran that condemn the practice of stoning by the disbelievers, used against the prophets.  Please read more on the stoning, or rajam, here;

When the Quran mentions the word Rajīmin in reference to syaitan, it does not mean we have to throw stones to Syaitan.  This is ridiculous.  It simply means we have to expel or reject by throwing away the Syaitan inside us.

The ritual of Sai’e between As-Safa and Al-Marwata is also not found in the Quran. In fact, the Quran gave a contradictory explanation of As-Safa and Al-Marwata, completely opposite to the traditional beliefs.

So this posting will carefully unpack the meaning of Al-Hajj, as explained in the Quran.

The word Hajj in the Quran.

The Arabic word Hajj is derived from the triliteral root ḥā jīm jīm (ح ج ج)

This root word occurs only 33 times in the Quran of several forms.

Below is the classical Arabic lexicon that records a range of meanings based on the same root word. 

The lexicon obviously had recorded the evolved meanings before and after the Islamic era.  But our attention is not on the evolved meanings, but the basic original meaning. Because we can say the Quran was revealed during the pre-Islamic era, and  would have employed the original or basic meanings of the Arabic language of the pre-Islamic era. 
It is important that we analyze the etymology of the words so that we understand how the meanings evolved or even distorted over the course of history.   By doing this, we are able to identify whether the quranic terminology had been distorted, by testing it in the quranic context. 

Basic Meaning of Hajj

Let us look at the following meanings and significance of the word:

حَجٌّ, (Ṣ, Mgh, Mṣb, Ḳ,) He repaired, or betook himself, to, or towards, …. in an absolute sense: or to, or towards, an object of reverence, veneration, respect, or honour

This is about the betterment of the self, but we have to be careful on the aspect of veneration of object of any kind.  This is where the Hajj ritual is problematic with its association of objects and places of veneration.  In Surah Al-Hajj, it clearly states that there shall be no associations in the significance of Allah – 22:30-32

حَجٌّ, (TA,) He probed a fracture of the head, (Ḳ,)or a wound,   (A, TA,) with a مِحْجَاج, (A, Ḳ,) or مِيل, (TA,) for the purpose of curing it:
or he probed a wound to know its depth: (IAạr, TA:) or he examined a cleft in the head to know whether there were in it bone or blood: (ISh, TA:) 

This aspect of probing, analyzing, getting knowledge also relates to the above, of making betterment of the self.

حَجُّ, (Ḳ,) He overcame another in, or by, an argument, a plea, an allegation, a proof, an evidence, or a testimony. (A, Mṣb, Ḳ.)
He was pertinacious in litigation, dispute, or altercation, and overcame therein,

and حِجَاجٌ, (TA,) He contended with him in, or by, an argument, a plea, an allegation, a proof, an evidence, or a testimony. (Ṣ, Mgh, Mṣb, TA.) 

Both the above are part and parcel of the analytical process, by argument, to verify such knowledge, and present the evident.

The followings are the screenshots from

These are listings of word concordance of the trilateral root há jīm jīm(ج ج ح) that occurs 33 times in the Quran.

The first group of words had been traditionally translated as pilgrimage or Hajj. 
The above verses list the words of the same root há jīm jīm (ح ج ج) but have the basic meanings expressed, that is to argue, / argument or dispute.

From the above we can see there are two distinct and separate meanings from the same root word, and both do not seem to relate to each other.  During the early parts of the Islamic era, the various pagan Arab tribes were known to have been performing pilgrimage in Makkah, taking turns to complete their tawaf around the Kaaba.  So to the early Islamic Arabs, tawaf around the Kaaba was not something new.  Whereas in the Quran, the Prophet was revealed with something that he did not know. 

4:113 …and Allah has revealed to you the Scripture and the Wisdom, and has taught you that, which you do not know…

If Al-Hajj original meaning was pilgrimage, in the context of 7th century Arabia, one can surely compare and relate to the pagan pilgrimage rituals being practiced by the pagan Arabs.  Pilgrimage to the Kaaba was certainly not something new to the pre-Islamic Arabs.  This is well known from historical narrations of pagan temples around the Kaaba such as the temple of Dushara, Al-Lat, Al-Uzza and Manat.

From the classical Arabic lexicon, we know that the basic meaning is to argue, debate, dispute or challenge. And this act requires probing, investigative and corrective measures as implied in the lexicon.  Hence, its basic meaning is clearly reflected in 

  1. Verb (Form III) – to argue
  2. Verb (Form III) – to dispute
  3. Noun hujjata – argument.

The following verse clearly indicates the basic meaning of the root word há jīm jīm (ح ج ج).

Those who argued with Ibrahim : Verb (Form III) – to argue

2:258  Have you not considered the one who argued (hajja) with Ibrahim about his Lord because Allah had given him kingship? When Abraham said, "My Lord is the one who gives life and causes death," he said, "I give life and cause death." Abraham said, "Indeed, Allah brings up the sun from the east, so bring it up from the west." So the disbeliever was overwhelmed, and Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.

6:80  And argued with him (waḥājjahu), his people: He said, "Do you argue with me (atu-ḥājjūnnī) concerning Allah while He has guided me? And I fear not what you associate with Him unless my Lord should will something. My Lord encompasses all things in knowledge; then will you not remember?

An Argument : Noun 

4:165  Messengers, bringer of news and warners, so that no shall be, for the human race, against Allah, any argument (hujjatun) after the messengers.  And Allah is All-Mighty Wise 

42:15  So to that invite, and remain on a right course as you are commanded and do not follow their inclinations but say, "I have believed in what Allah has revealed of the Qur'an, and I have been commanded to do justice among you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord. For us are our deeds, and for you your deeds. There is no argument (hujjata) between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and to Him is the destination."

45:25   And when Our verses are recited to them as clear evidences, their argument (hujjata-hum) is only that they say, "Bring our forefathers, if you should be truthful.

From these verses we know the true basic meaning and essence of the word.  But how does it fit into or evolve the expression into pilgrimage?  Are the rituals of pilgrimage is a form of argument or debate?  Are the rituals of Hajj in Makkah consistent with Quranic expression?  

Al-Hajj is The Challenge / A Discourse for the Mindful (muttaqin).

If we read the Quranic verses carefully, it is rather impossible to relate the term Al-Hajj in the Quran with the pilgrimage rituals in Makkah.  In other words, there is no guidance for pilgrimage rituals in the Quran.  Simply because the Quranic definition of Al-Hajj is not about pilgrimage in Makkah.

From the base meanings of the root word há jīm jīm (ح ج ج), we know the essence of the word is to argue, debate, dispute or challenge.  Al-Hajj according to the Quran is a form of challenge to establish the commandments of Allah that involve debate, argument and disputation, with clear evidence from the scriptures of Allah.  This is what the prophets did to establish the truth by arguing and challenging those who do not trust the scriptures of Allah. The whole affair or discourse is evident in the Quran, as in the case of the prophets.

  1. Ibrahim’s argument with his people, 
  2. Musa’s challenge against the Firaun, 
  3. Nuh and Lut against their people. 

To fight the corruptors and transgressors has always been continuous throughout the history and in the present day.  This is the real Hajj accoding to the Quran

The Quran explicitly explains Al-Hajj in verse 2:189 to 2:193.  

triliteral root is qāf tā lām  (Qatal) is one of the most misunderstood word.  In these verses, the three derivations are explained explicitly.
killing is against quranic values as mentioned in verse 5:32

Al-Hajj is the challenge, or discourse that we should undertake to fight in the way of Allah, that involves HUJJah – arguments, analysis, facts, reasoning, probing,

We can easily see the meanings of Ha Jim Jim by looking at the usage of the root word elsewhere in the Quran. 

Consistently, it has to do with argument / debate / deliberations / fact findings.

The objective of Al-hajj is towards truth and betterment.

This challenge is a two way affair as those who do not trust the scriptures of Allah will certainly fight in retaliation.  

To fight in the way of Allah, one must attain such knowledge, as the fight in the way of Allah is to educate or inculcate the minds of the agitated people by argument and evidence.  

This is a task of removing them from their current predicament, as the mindful (muttaqin) were before.

The aim of this fight is to end persecution (al-fit’natu) that is prevalent in religious dogma, with harassment, compulsion and use of force.  

Once this can be overcome, the Deen for Allah will be attainable (2:193) 

The fight is the challenge to educate. As elaborated in verses 2:189-193.

This process involves qatal.


Qatal traditionally being translated as literally killing a human life.

But the true essence of Qatal is to eradicate the wrong knowledge or kill the false ideology.

And to do this, one must be acquainted with the correct knowledge, that has been analysed and verified, to refute all other false beliefs.

And this fight is through arguments, thoroughly facts and clear evidence.

The Fuel of Fire is men and stones.  

This distortion of the word Al-Hajj was nothing more than blatant attempt to return to the old ways of pagan Arabs.  If we analyse further, we shall see further distortion of the Quran.

i.	The Kaaba was claimed as the house built by Ibrahim and Ismail, instead of the laying of the foundation of the Islam (2:127).  

ii.	The oneness principle (makami) of Ibrahim was turned into a physical standing place in the form of an unconvincing footprint (2:125). 

iii.	As-Safa and Marwata was reduced to two stone hills, the exact opposite of the manifestation for Allah (sha’ari Allah) – being upright for the ordinance of Allah and not associating anything to Him (2:158 & 22:30-32)

iv.	Stoning ritual (jamarat), a rooted practice of the mushrikeen, used against the prophets, becomes integral to the pilgrimage rituals. No stoning practice had been ordained in the Quran. 

2:24  But if you do not - and you will never be able to - then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the concealed.

9:31  They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah , and the Messiah, the son of Maryam. And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him.

14:8  And Musa said : “If you conceal, you and whoever in the earth and all, then indeed, Allah is free of need, Praiseworthy.

Once we are able to remove all the associations of the Arabian geography and the impractical calendar from the commandments of Allah, only then we can assert the universal values and humanity in Islam, without imposing Islam as an Arab-centric religion.   

When we associate Allah with objects, buildings, locations, and calendar timings, we only add further sufferings to our predicament.  The Palestinian had tremendous sufferings for believing and protecting Masjid Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock (read : stones) as their holy site as promoted by the elite despotic Umayyad rulers.  Similarly with the Jews and Christians in the city of Jerusalem.  All worship the same Lord of the Universe, but had different churches.   The Lord of the Universe had never intent any hardship for His servants (2:185), but only fight for his ways against the transgressors and corruptors. 

The distortion of the word Al-Hajj by the Abbasid imams had prevented the true understanding of the commandment of Allah (masajida Allah) [2:114]

And real pursuit towards The Sanctioned Commandments (Al-Masjid Al-Haram) [2:144-150] was replaced with Kaaba in Makkah. 

The Quran says The Sanctioned Commandments (Al-Masjid Al-Haram) is the truth from The Scripture (Al-Kitab[2:144].

According to the Quran, there is no doubt in The Scripture (Al-Kitab) as guidance for the mindful (muttaqin) [2:2].  So in order to understand what is The Scripture (Al-Kitab), we must refer to the Quran that will give an explanation of Al-Kitab

10:37  And it was not for this Qur'an to be produced by other than Allah , but  a confirmation of what was before his hands and a detailed explanation of Al-Kitabi, about which there is no doubt, from the Lord of the worlds.


Previous: Part 6 – Laylatul-QadrReview the series: Part 1 – An Enigmatic Calendar


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