Over 2 million Muslims are making a journey this week. They are coming from all over the world to complete one of the pillars of Islam known as the Hajj.
Every Muslim is obligated to perform this special pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. This should occur at least once in his lifetime if he is financially able. The pilgrimage rituals take place during the twelfth month, Dhu’l Hijja, and last for several days. The pilgrimage (known as the hajj) provides the Muslim with the opportunity to visit the most sacred of Islam’s holy sites, Al-Masjid Al-Haram (The Sacred Mosque) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. This is a mosque complex that encloses the cube-shaped shrine known as the Kaaba, which Muslims view as the “House of Allah.” There the pilgrims congregate to praise Allah. According to Islamic tradition, Abraham and Ishmael laid the foundation of the Kaaba after which time Allah instituted the pilgrimage as a lasting ordinance. Nowadays, as many as 2 million Muslims converge on Mecca each year to perform the pilgrimage. (Journey to Understanding, 53)
Just like Muslims who are on a journey this week, all people are on a journey. Fred Farrokh, in his booklet Journey with Jesus, explains that all religions have the concept of pilgrimage, which they hope brings them into contact with their deity. As born-again Christians, our journey is not a physical one but a spiritual one. Consider the following aspects of this spiritual pilgrimage with Jesus:
A Journey to Intimacy
From the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation, we find a God who is pursuing intimacy with humanity—from walking in the Garden with Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:8-9) to God’s bride seeing and living with Jesus forever (Rev. 22:4-5). The Apostle Paul declared that his life passion was to know Christ and that he would suffer the loss of all things so that he could know Christ (Phil. 3:7-11).
Fred Farrokh puts it this way:
In the New Testament, we do not find God’s Spirit confined to a location. When Jesus died on the cross, the veil of the Temple was split in two (Matt. 27:51). This represents the Spirit of God leaving a confined location to be poured out throughout the world, into the hearts of those who worship Jesus. We are not making pilgrimage with our feet to a physical location. Rather, we are making a spiritual pilgrimage with the Lord Jesus in our hearts to our eternal home in heaven. We can think of this as the heavenly Jerusalem: You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant (Heb. 12:22-24) (Journey with Jesus, 3)
Mankind is seeking intimacy but this intimacy is only found by a journey to the Cross of Christ!
A Journey to Forgiveness
During the Hajj, pilgrims circumambulate a black cubicle structure, known as the Kaaba, where a black stone is affixed into the outer wall. Many Muslims believe that by touching or kissing this stone somehow they will gain merit, favor, or even forgiveness of sins. The concept that one can gain forgiveness of sins through performance or submission to the demands of Islam is at the heart of the religion.
Throughout the entirety of Scripture, we see that sin is the great malady of mankind. To the Muslim, sin is not a rebellion against Allah but a mistake or stumbling, a forgetfulness of the law of Allah. In Islam, mankind’s sin is against one’s self. Sin in Islam does not affect Allah for Allah cannot be hurt or touched with the feelings of mankind.
The Bible teaches that all people are born with a sin nature. Jeremiah declares, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it” (Jer. 17:9)? Man needs a heart transplant, which the Scriptures call being born again. All humanity deals with a guilty conscience and, therefore, seeks a means for forgiveness. Jesus Christ through His death on the Cross provides forgiveness of sin. Islam seeks forgiveness through good works but Jesus has provided the only path to forgiveness, but we must journey to the Cross of Christ!
A Journey to Peace
Ever since the Fall (Gen. 3:4-11), people have experienced enmity with God and one another, creating conflict among mankind. One of the acts performed during the Hajj is that pilgrims strip themselves of their normal clothing and put on a piece of white cloth. This places the pilgrims in the state of ihram (consecration). All the pilgrims wear similar white clothing as a sign of unity and the universality of peace found only through Islam. Islam teaches that peace is only found through submission to the will of Allah and the teachings of Muhammad, the seal or last of the prophets of Allah. In Islamic teachings, the world is divided between those who rebel against Islam, the house of war (Dar ul-Harb) and those who submit to Islam, the house of peace (Dar ul-Islam). Muslims seek peace but true internal and external peace is only found through Jesus Christ. Note what Jesus states about man’s enmity with God and how to find true peace with God and man: