Pilgrimage-Hajj in the Bible
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
Biblical prophets and the bible commands piligrims to Makkah
Let us look at the word al-Hajj itself:
Typically, the entire Arabic vocabulary, like its sisters in the Semitic linguistic group, consists of words structured from triliteral triconsonantal roots. In this case the root is Hajaj (ﺣﺠﺞ).
According to the classical Arabic lexicon Lisān al-`Arab it is defined:
ﺍﻟﻘﺼﺪ . ﺣﺞ ﺇﻟﻴﻨﺎ ﻓﻼﻥ ﺃﻱ ﻗﺪﻡ
“Purpose. As in, ‘So-and-so did Hajj unto us,’ which means he presented himself before us.”
So the general lexical meaning of the word is “intended purpose”. In the context of the Hajj, the Ka`bah within the Meccan Sanctuary is the intended destination and purpose. To list usages of this word in an Islamic context would be, for most Muslims, an appeal to the very obvious as stories of its wonder and splendor that have been related to them since childhood. However, if we peer beyond the context of Islamic rites and deep into the past, do we find this word used in the previous traditions of the Old Testament?
The answer is in the affirmative. The book of Exodus contains the following verse in reference to a Hajj in the time of Moses:
והיה היום הזה לכם לזכרון וחגתם אתו חג ליהוה לדרתיכם חקת עולם תחגהו
wa-haya ha-yōm haza lakhem li-zikrōn wa-Khagōtem otō Khag li-Yehōwa li-dorotaychem khuqat `olam taKhaguhū
“And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.” (Exodus 12:14)
In this verse the King James translators rendered the uninflected noun Khag ( חג) as “feast”. This word Khag is wholly cognate to the Arabic Hajj ( ﺣﺞ). Elsewhere in the verse the word Khag is inflected as Khagotem and taKhaguhū. One must pay attention to the fact that the Hebrew phonetic “kh” (ח) is the pharyngeal fricative “h” (ﺡ ) in Arabic. Also, one must note that the phonetic “g” ( ג) is cognate to the Arabic “j” ( ﺝ). So for analytical purposes in this context the verse would be rendered:
“And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a Hajj to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a Hajj by an ordinance forever.”
Another verse using this root is the following:
ואחר באו משה ואהרן ויאמרו אל – פרעה כה – אמר יהוה אלהי ישראל שלח את – עמי ויחגו לי במדבר
wa-ākhar bā’u Mōshe wa-Aharōn wa-yomru el-Par`o koh-amar Yahweh Elohay Yishrael shalach et-`ami wa-yakhugū li ba-midbār
“And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go , that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.” (Exodus 5:1)
The inflected word that the King James translators rendered “feast” is yakhuggū (יחגו ) which is cognate to the Arabic “yuhajjū” ( ﻳُﺤَﺠّﻮﺍ) so for analytical purposes the verse would be rendered in this context as:
“And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a Hajj unto me in the wilderness.”
This is not to suggest that Moses and Aaron went to Mecca and performed Hajj as Muslims know it today. It is merely to exemplify that a consecrated journey and pilgrimage unto God at His Temple did, indeed, precede the rise of Islam in the 7th Century CE.
An additional and astonishing dimension to this that makes the concept of lexical borrowing between the Old Testament and the Quran improbable, if not outright impossible, is found in an alternate form of the root in Hebrew, Khug ( חוג). Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius (1846) defines this word:
“ חוג To describe a circle, to draw a circle, as with compasses. Job 26:10…m. a circle, sphere, used of the arch or vault of the sky, Pro. 8:27; Job 22:14; of the world, Isa. 40:22.”
Let us look at the verses he has cited above:
“When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass ( חוג) upon the face of the depth.” (Proverbs 8:27)
“Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not; and he walketh in the circuit of heaven ( וחוג שמים ).” (Job 22:14)
“It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth ( חוג הארץ ), and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” (Isaiah 40:22)
Thus, this word not only means sacred pilgrimage and feast unto God in the Bible, it also means to encircle. To any Muslim this will be a striking discovery.
Semitic languages have been, since time immemorial, broad and deep systems of expression where one word’s many variant, but supplementary, meanings all coalesce to a greater understanding of that lexeme. So in this case we have a root which has a form meaning a feast, also meaning a pilgrimage, and in one form meaning to encircle! The Hajj pilgrimage, which is at its core an encircling of the Ka`bah called Tawāf, is concluded with none other than the Feast of the Sacrifice, Eid al-Adha, to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son at God’s command. Borrowing all these meanings buried in lexica that did not even exist until hundreds of years after the life of the Prophet Muhammad would require no short of a Semitic linguist and Biblical scholar. It should be noted that the Bible itself would not be available until 200-300 years after the passing of the Prophet Muhammad. Such lexical depth and lucidity is consistently found throughout the Quran as God has stated therein:
“And this Quran is not such as could ever be produced by other than Allah (Lord of the heavens and the earth), but it is a confirmation of (the revelation) which was before it [i.e. the Torah, and the Gospel, etc.], and a full explanation of the Book (i.e. laws and orders, etc, decreed for humankind) – wherein there is no doubt from the the Lord of the Worlds” (Quran 10:37)
Psalm 84 1-6
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar,
O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you. Selah
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on “pilgrimage.”
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
Let See What we have here.
Place is a Valley, in this Valley there is a blessed Well
To this Valley pilgrims make their journey and there is a Sacred House of Worship in this Valley of Baka, this Place of worship where the sacred house is at there are COURT YARDS, There are alters
and Sparows and Swallows Lodge at this location and bare their young.
There is no place in Palestine that fits this description the only place that fits this description is BACA which all the Muslims know
“The most important shrine established for the people is the one in Baca; a blessed beacon for all the people. In it are clear signs: the station of Abraham. Anyone who enters it shall be granted safe passage. The people owe it to GOD that they shall observe Hajj (Pilgrimage) to this shrine, when they can afford it. As for those who disbelieve, GOD does not need anyone.” [3:96-97]
What Is Baca?
Baca (in Psalms) and Baca (in Quran) is another name for Mecca (Makkah, Saudi Arabia) where the first house of worship on earth which was built by Abraham and his first son Ishmael and it was appointed by God for human beings. This house is the Holy Kabah to which all Muslims face while praying and go for Hajj (pilgrimage).
Hajj!! There is no hajj in the Bible. someone might say. Let’s see what were the Biblical prophets were doing?
[Exodus 10:9] Moses is telling Pharaoh where he is taking the sons of Isreal :
Moses answered, “Everyone! We’ll be taking our young and old, our sons and daughters, our flocks and herds with us. For us it’s “a pilgrimage festival” in the LORD’s honor.”
According to BDB Theological Dictionary the most fundamental meaning of hagag which the name Haggai is derived from is to make a pilgrimage or keep a pilgrimage feast.
The Arabic equivalent means “to betake oneself to or towards an object of reverence,” and this verb returns in the prescribed pilgrimage to Makkah: the Hadj.
Genesis 22:2 “He said, Take now your son, your only son, whome you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah (Marwah), and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you.”
Marwah and Safa are two elevated places in Mecca where Hajar was going forth and back looking for water as the water they had finished and she was worried about the baby Ishmael from Dying due to lack of water. During and after few trips looking for water or people, Angel Gabriel hit a rock and a sprig of water flowed and then she was able to drink and to water her baby.
“Indeed, as-Safa and al-Marwah are among the symbols of Allah . So whoever makes Hajj to the House or performs ‘umrah – there is no blame upon him for walking between them. And whoever volunteers good – then indeed, Allah is appreciative and Knowing.” Quran 2:158
The bible scholar are not sure where is this mountain located in the holy land and they are making assumptions. [ http://
bibleatlas.org/mount_moriah.htm ] sometimes they say it is in Jerusalem while there was not even Jerusalem at all this time sometimes they say it is in the south and so on.
The Maqam (Place) of Abraham:
“When they arrived at the place (lit. Maqam) where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar ….”
Now where is that Altar in Jerusalem ?? why they did not keep it as a Holy place??? this place exist only in Makkah
“In it (Baca) are clear signs [such as] the (Maqam) standing place of Abraham. And whoever enters it shall be safe. And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House “ (Quran 3:97)
Pilgrimage to Mecca in Isaiah 60:1-7
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
“Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip.
Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come.
Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.
All Kedar’s flocks will be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth will serve you; they will be accepted as offerings on my altar, and I will adorn my glorious temple.
In [Isaiah 60:1] A prophecy about a Holy man (prophet) bringing the light of God to the world. This holy man would appear in a time of darkness filling the world and covering the earth, He would appear to eliminate the darkness and spread the light of God and his praises.
In [Isaiah 60:3] we read “And the Nations shall come to thy light “ and that means this Holy Prophet would arise among the nations and his Light would fill his place where the nations would come and visit.
In [Isaiah 60:4] we find the people would come from far, the sons and daughters, all would come together for the Light.
[Isaiah 60:5-6] it keeps telling us about the coming of the people from all over the world to the Light.
[Isaiah 60:7] is the clear meaning, it’s Kedar, Where its flocks and tribes would be gathered together under the light of God, “they would come up with acceptance on mine altar”. Muslims during the Hajj “pilgrimage” they slaughter the sacrifices as one of the ceremonies and Muslims all over the world share that from their places which is Eid Al Adha.
“And I Will glorify the house of my glory” and it refers to the Ka’ba in Makkah, the Sacred House for God’s glory.
And proclaim among men the Pilgrimage: they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path” [Quran 22:27]
The Way of Holiness [Isaiah 35:8]
“And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it.”
“O you who have believed, indeed the polytheists are unclean, so let them not approach al-Masjid al-Haram (the Sacred House) after this, their [final] year. And if you fear privation, Allah will enrich you from His bounty if He wills. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Wise.” (Quran 9:28)
The Azan (call of prayer):
Isaiah 40:3 and Mark 1:3
“A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.”
The Arabian Peninsula was a deserted place. The “voice calling in the desert” here is clearly refering to the Azan.
The whole verse reads “Make a path a highway for God”
The Azan (call of prayers) for Muslims is a call which tells Muslim that God is calling him. It is heard all around the world and five times a day. Moreover, hadith refer Azan as a way to Allah and to a submission to God.