Hajj (Pilgrimage)


Beyond the ritualistic dimensions of Muslim religiosity, which encompasses belief in one God (shahadah), ritual prayers (salat), fasting during Ramadan (sawm), and payment of zakat, this section considers the last pillar – pilgrimage to Mecca, or hajj. As most of the participants were aged 34 years and younger, few had completed the haji; it is expected that one perform it only once in a lifetime. For participants who had performed hajj however, or were in the process of planning their trip, they reported feelings and understandings of the practice to be like those of fasting; that is, that it contributes to self-discipline and is a test, and a necessary struggle, to please God. Basheema conveys this understanding of hajj as a test that brings you closer to your creator and allows you to live the values of your faith in an intensive period of time:

It was just really humbling. Because, you know, God knows what every challenge is for. You know, some people don’t like crowds […] I get really frustrated when things aren’t clean. … But you sort of get tested on whatever your weakness is. And so I found it to be incredibly, uh, incredibly humbling. And it was really a spiritually uplifting situation for me.
— Basheema, 35–49, Arabic-speaking background, Melbourne