Hajj in the Bible....
When many Jews and Christians view
Islam from the outside, they find parallels to their own faiths that usually
inspire a great deal of curiosity. These parallels are often doctrinal,
sometimes regarding the biographies of Prophets shared between the three
Abrahamic faiths like Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them). Yet, sometimes
striking parallels are found by the more discerning eye. Deep inquests often
reveal textual and lexical similarities that are difficult-if not impossible-to
explain by mere theories of one tradition borrowing from another.
millions upon millions of Muslim devotees engage in the rites of the Hajj
pilgrimage, one of the 5 pillars of Islam, we can peer into the terms used in
this age-old practice that lead us to a time long before the Prophet Muhammad
was even born. Let us look at the word al-Hajj
Typically, the entire Arabic
vocabulary, like its sisters in the Semitic linguistic group, consists of words
structured from trilateral triconsonantal roots. In this case the root is Hajaj
(حجج). According to the classical Arabic lexicon Lisān al-`Arab it is
القصد. حج إلينا فلان أي
"Purpose. As in,
'So-and-so did Hajj unto us,' which means he presented himself before
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
The answer is in the affirmative. The book of Exodus
contains the following verse in reference to a Hajj in the time of
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
"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
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
"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
Another verse using this root is the
ואחר באו משה ואהרן ויאמרו
-פרעה כה-אמר יהוה אלהי ישראל שלח את-עמי ויחגו לי במדבר
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