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In Luke 7, Jesus says to a sinful woman, “Your sins are forgiven…Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Because Jesus is God, he has all the authority and power to forgive all of our sins through his atoning sacrifice on the cross and His glorious resurrection for those who receive Him by faith. Praise His holy name for His mercy! However, the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world today reject this mercy by rejecting Jesus as Savior. Instead, they go on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia in order to receive forgiveness of sins from Allah.
Consider this one Hadith (the sayings of Muhammad): It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) say: “Whoever performs Hajj for the sake of Allah and does not utter any obscene speech or do any evil deed, will go back (free of sin) as his mother bore him.” (Al-Bukhaari, 1449; Muslim, 1350)
Therefore, the Hajj is the pinnacle of life for Muslims. They seek not only the forgiveness of sins but also to deepen their allegiance to Allah.
Since the Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, all Muslims are commanded to perform the Hajj at least once in their lifetime if they are able. The Hajj begins on the 8th day of the 12th month of Dhul Hijjah in the Islamic calendar. During these days, around three million Muslims from all over the world flock to Mecca to perform sacred acts and follow the steps of Muhammad, their prophet. This year, the Hajj will start on August 18th and last for three or more days.
You can find an informational video about the Hajj on YouTube (see above). The following pages are designed to fuel Christ-centered prayers during this Hajj.
To prepare yourself spiritually for this prayer time, take the time to read through Hebrews 9:1 – 10:19.
Many people will visit the
They will stay in a tent city
Sacred Act 1: Ihram (cleaning, preparation day)
Pilgrims must enter into the state of Ihram (purity) which involves washing then wearing white, plain garments. These garments indicate that all pilgrims are equal. Following this cleansing, pilgrims are officially on the Hajj. As they cross the pilgrimage boundary, the men will shout the Talbiyah, a Muslim prayer: “Here I am at Thy service O Lord, here I am. Here I am at Thy service and Thou hast no partners. Thine alone is All Praise and All Bounty, and Thine alone is The Sovereignty. Thou hast no partners.”*
During this day of cleansing, pilgrims visit the Ka’aba in the Grand Mosque. After leaving the Grand Mosque, many pilgrims will walk to the tent city of Mina to spend the night.
Key Scriptures to Pray
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:3
But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! Hebrews 9:11-14
Jesus Christ is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of God. Pray that the radiance of Jesus would shine strong and bright today in Mecca. Pray Muslims would know that Jesus provides “purification for sins.” Pray for their spiritual journey to include dreams and visions of Jesus.
As these Muslims walk into the Grand Mosque and see the Ka’aba, they feel like they are entering the most holy place on earth. Hebrews 9:11-14 (above) talks about a “perfect tabernacle,” built not by human hands which Jesus Christ entered to provide “eternal redemption.” Pray that pilgrims would know that only in Jesus can they have an unblemished conscience and eternal redemption. Jesus himself is fulfillment of the most holy place!
Everything that Islam forbids comes with a warning of punishment in this life and certainly in the hereafter. Likewise, everything it proscribes comes with a promise of personal reward. Sometimes that reward is a blessing or sign of God’s favor, but the most sought-after reward for many Muslims is the remission of their own sins. Therefore, many men and women make the pilgrimage not just once (as is required of all Muslims who are able), but again and again, as they are able, over the course of their lives. Pray that the increasingly commercialization of the Hajj will lead to disillusionment among Muslims, especially young people. Pray that they will be fed up with empty rituals, dead works, and hypocrisy.
* It would be in statements like these that Muslims would not allow room for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 10:21-23, Galatians 4:6
Sacred Act 2: Wuqoof (standing at Arafat)
Today is the most important day of the Hajj. Why? Because Muslim scholars say this is the “day the religion of Islam was perfected.” The Hajj only becomes valid when the day of Wuqoof is observed. For it is on this day Muslims believe their major and minor sins are forgiven.* If they miss this day, their pilgrimage is pointless. Today, they will invoke Allah for mercy and forgiveness as they stand or sit near Mount Arafat.
Muslims believe that as they finish this day they are cleansed of sin which also brings freedom from shame. At sunset, a cannon sounds. Pilgrims leave Mount Arafat to go to Muzdalifah, where they sleep or stay up all night under the stars.
Key Scriptures to Pray
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29
He [Jesus Christ] commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he [Jesus] is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. Acts 10:42-43
Forgiveness on Mount Arafat,
Muslim pilgrims long for their major and minor sins to be removed from their lives. John the Baptist’s words cry out that Jesus takes away the sins of the world. Pray that Muslims would not feel a cleansed heart until they accept and delight in the finished work of Christ on our behalf.
God appointed Jesus to be judge of the living and the dead. Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ receives forgiveness of sins. Pray that the truth of the Lord Jesus’ life, death and resurrection would penetrate the hearts of longing Muslims. Pray they will be drawn to the Giver of Life and believe in Him to receive the forgiveness of sins through His name alone.
Pray that as many Muslims seek to stay up all night to pray, they would have dreams and visions of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:17). Ask God for an open heaven so that the ones who are genuinely seeking an encounter with God will meet Him through Jesus.
A deep awareness of personal sin and the desperate desire to be free from it is a sure sign of the Holy Spirit’s work in a person’s life (John 16). Most are looking for peace through mere forgiveness, but true and lasting peace comes only through reconciling the broken relationship between God and man. This reconciliation cannot be found in the Hajj, but only in Christ, purchased with his blood. Pray for Muslims who return from the Hajj to be ever-restless, finding no peace until they find reconciliation through Christ.
* The Bible talks about sins being cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Matthew 26:28, Acts 2:38, 1 John 1:7
Sacrifice an animal
Men will shave their heads
7 times around the Ka'aba
Running between two small mountains
For the pilgrims, day three is the longest day. It might take some people two days, and the pilgrimage is not finished until they complete all of these sacred acts.
There are five different sacred acts to perform today and they can be done in almost any order. This can take some people more than one day.
1. They will stone the pillars of Satan
2. Men will shave their heads (an act of humility and cleanliness)
3. They will sacrifice a permissible animal
4. They will circle the Ka’aba seven times
5. They will run between the two hills of Safa and Marwa
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest (Jesus Christ) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:10-14
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against... the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, "Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37, 38
Going before the Father
Muslims understand that there are spiritual battles caused by Satan. Throwing rocks at Satan during the day of stoning is meaningless apart from the cross and resurrection which defeated Satan. Pray that they will know Christ and have mighty weapons “for the tearing down of strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4)
In the Old Testament, sacrificing animals meant the forgiveness of sins. After Jesus died on the cross, animal sacrifice was not required, for His death covered all sins. Pray that Muslims will understand the meaning behind the sacrifice and the cross of Jesus. Pray that they will be perfected and sanctified in Christ.
As Muslims circle the Ka’aba and run from hill to hill, ask that they will see the futility of these acts. Pray that they will find the Living Water, Jesus.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) As the pilgrims leave after all these spiritual experiences and the exercises they have done, pray they may still feel extreme emptiness and a lack of peace until they know the Redeemer of their souls, Jesus.
While there are many symbols and rituals in the Hajj that rest on pagan foundations, there are also some which have been appropriated from the story of Abraham in Genesis. Father Abraham is an important prophet in Islam, but the Quran has very little to say about him. His story in the Bible is far richer, more relatable, and more compelling. Most importantly, it points forward to a nations-blessing Savior. As the story of Abraham’s animal sacrifice is replayed by millions of Muslims, pray that many will be stirred to seek out more information about the Biblical Abraham and the true meaning of the ram which he sacrificed in place of his son Isaac, that God did not kill Isaac only because God’s own Son Jesus, the Lamb of God, was killed in his place!