The principal rites to be observed in connection with the institution of the pilgrimage are:-
1) Ihrâm, that is entering the sacred land in a state of ihrâm in which the ordinary clothes are put off and all pilgrims wear one kind of apparel, consisting to two seamless sheets, leaving the head uncovered, except in case of women pilgrims who cover their heads.
2) Tawâf,, or making circuits round the Ka’ba seven times.
3) Sa’y, or running seven times between two small hills neighbouring the Ka’ba, known as Al-Safa and Al-Marwa.
4) Staying in the plain of Mount Arafat on the 9th day of the month of pilgrimage [Zul Hijja], where the noon and afternoon prayers shall be said.
It will be seen that the state of ihrâm makes all men and women stand upon one plane of equality, all wearing the same very simple dress and living in the same conditions. All distinctions of rank and colour, of wealth and nationality, disappear; and the prince is now indistin-guishable from the peasant. The whole of humanity assumes one aspect, one attitude, before the Creator. Thus the greatest and noblest sight of human equality is witnessed in that wonderful desert plain called “Arafat” which makes man obtain a better knowledge of his Creator, the word “Arafat” being derived from arafa, meaning he came to acquire knowledge [of something]. The whole of the world is unable to present so noble a picture of real brotherhood and equality.
The condition of pilgrim and the different movements connected with the pilgrimage, the making of circuits and running to and fro, in fact represent the stage in which the worshipper is imbued with the spirit of true submission to the Creator. That submission to God which is so much talked of in other religious becomes here a reality. The lower connections have been cut off, and all the comforts of this world have lost their attraction for the Lord. The pilgrim, indeed, represents the last stage of spiritual advancement, and by his outward condition and his movements the pilgrim only announces to the whole world how all the lower connections must be cut off to reach the great goal of human perfection and nearness to God, which can only be attained by holding true submission to the Unseen Creator.
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