August 1, 2019
As you pray this month for your local Muslim community, our focus will be on the Hajj pilgrimage that many hope to undertake during their life. Use these Prayer Pointers to guide your prayers, both for those from your local community who are taking the Hajj pilgrimage this year, and also for those who have in the past, or hope to in the future:
The first day of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is expected to be Friday, August 9, 2019. For Muslims, the Hajj re-enacts the actions of Muhammad in his "farewell pilgrimage" in 632 AD. It is a central pillar of the Islamic faith meant to cleanse followers of sin and bring them closer to God. The pilgrimage is obligatory once in a lifetime for all Muslims with the means to afford it. Pray that Muslims taking the Hajj would realize that their efforts and good works, no matter how diligent or well-intentioned, will never result in their sins being cleansed. Pray that they would realize that Islam offers them no hope of assurance of salvation, or a way to draw close to God.
Day 1 (8th Dhu al-Hijja)
- Miqat - Pilgrims cannot participate unless they are wearing white garments known as Ihram. As they put on their robes they recite a prayer to announce to God their arrival for pilgrimage. Pray that Jesus, who is dressed in a white robe, would appear to Muslims on the Hajj, and they would receive a white robe that comes from their sins being washed in the blood of the Lamb.
a. Circling the Ka‘ba (tawaf). Muslims are to go around the Kaaba (the most sacred site in Islam, which according to Islamic tradition, was built by Abraham in biblical times) seven times, in a counter-clockwise direction. The circling is believed to demonstrate the unity of the believers in the worship of the One God, as they move in harmony together around the Kaaba, while supplicating to God. Pray that Muslims who are on the Hajj would one day soon know the unity that comes from being joined to the Body of Jesus Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit.
b. Passing between the hills of Safa and Marwa (Sa'i) The shuttling between the two hills of Safa and Marwah. The area in which the activity takes place is called the mas‘a (the place of hurrying). God invites us to his rest. Pray that the rituals of the Hajj would create a deep frustration and dissatisfaction with human efforts to earn God’s favor; pray that those who are seeking would meet Christ-followers who will point them to Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.
- Mecca to Mina (tent-city) - Stay over night
Day 2 (9th Dhu al-Hijja)
- Mina to Plain of ‘Arafat - Day of vigil (wuquf) - Literary meaning ‘standing’, this refers to the vigil that takes place from noon to sunset on the 9th of Dhu al-Hijja. ‘Arafat is where the Prophet Muhammad gave his Farewell Sermon in 632, the year of his death. Pray that as Muslims stand in vigil in the hot sun, they would begin to question these rituals and begin to seek in their heart for truth that gives life!
- ‘Arafat to Muzdalifa - Pilgrims collect 49 stones in Muzdalifa to be thrown over several days at the three pillars (jamrat) in the valley of Mina near Mecca. Stay over night. Pray that as they collect the stones they would have time to think and reflect on the futility of these rituals.
Day 3 (10th Dhu al-Hijja)
- Muzdalifa to Mina
a. Stoning largest pillar (Jamrat al-‘Aqaba) - At Mina are the three pillars in the valley of Mina close to Mecca which represent the three times that Satan attempted to tempt Ibrahim (Abraham). They are known as Jamrat al-‘Aqaba (at the narrow pass of al-‘Aqaba, and the largest), Jamrat al-Wusta (the middle one) and Jamrat al-Sughra (the small one). Pray that Muslims would understand that only Jesus Christ has defeated Satan—that true freedom is found in Jesus alone.
b. The day of ‘Eid = ‘Eid al-Adha: ‘Eid al-Adha (festival of sacrifice) takes place on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijja, a great feast throughout the Muslim world. Pilgrims sacrifice a sheep (sometimes a goat) as a reminder of the obedience of Ibrahim (Abraham) who accepted to sacrifice his son Isma‘il (Ishmael) as an act of submission before God intervened allowing for a lamb to be sacrificed instead. Pray that Muslims would have the opportunity to read the story of Abraham’s sacrifice and understand that Jesus has offered himself as the perfect lamb, sacrificed for our sins.
Mina to Mecca
a. Circling the Ka‘ba. See Day 1, 2a
b. Passing between the hills of Safa and Marwa. See Day 1, 2b
Days 4–6 (11th–12th/13th Dhu al-Hijja)
- Mina - Stoning all three pillars (jamrat) in set order. See Day 3, 1a
- Return to Mecca for final tawaf. See Day 1, 2a
Much of the information for this months prayer points was gleaned from these sites: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2017/08/hajj-2017-depth-sacred-journey-170824132159144.html and https://britishmuseum.org/explore/themes/hajj/the_rituals_of_the_hajj.aspx and https://www.aljazeera.com/focus/hajj/2009/11/2009111895127111168.html