The great Dutch historian of Islam, Hugronje rightly and rather quietly declared that the Hajj or coercive requirement to journey to Mecca in the imitation of the great man [Muhammad not Obama sorry] was a; "curious set of ceremonies of pagan Arab origin which Mohammed has incorporated into his religion" [in Mohammedanism, p. 160]. No kidding sir. The Hajj is very curious indeed.
The Encyclopedia Britannica informs the tired reader that the Hajj is rather pagan and tied to tribal 'bonding'. It pre-dates the moon god El-Lah's formalized worship instituted by Muhammad by a score of centuries [at least 6 or more]. Do Moslems know this, do they read, do they inquire, do they think or just blindly follow the diktats of their great man Muhammad as some article of godly truth? If they blindly follow the theology are not they not just plain stupid?:
“A principal public celebration of the Arabians was an annual pilgrimage, in which tribes who shared a common bond of worship of a deity at a specific sanctuary would reunite there. A pattern of ceremonial procession around the baetyl was common, and this pattern may be seen in the surviving Islamic custom of the pilgrimage to Mecca. Processions played a great part in ritual, and divine images were sometimes brought out of the sanctuary and carried in them. Another practice that left its influence on Islam was ceremonial abstinence. The South Arabian festival of Halfan was a moratorium on the use of weapons. Certain times were specified for fasting and abstention from sexual relations. Burnt offerings and sacrifices were common. Some inscriptions mention numbers of animals sacrificed as high as 30 to 40. Sacrifices sometimes took place in a pilgrimage context, following the ceremonial procession around the baetyl; the blood of the animal victim, or in some instances milk as a substitute, was placed on the altar or baetyl. Incense and libations also were used. [Enc. Britannia, Arabian Religions, p. 1059, 1979]
The great man Muhammad simply took the pagan rites of Hajj or tribal bonding and used them to further his Islamic project. When he journeyed to Mecca at the head of a 10.000 man army, one of his 'laws' made it mandatory that pious Moslems 'if they were financially able' to must do the same [ie. If they could make Muhammad's tribe which ruled Mecca rich through the journey of prostration].
“The rites of the Kaaba were retained, but stripped of all idolatrous tendency, they still hang, a strange unmeaning shroud, around the living theism of Islam.” [The Original Sources of the Quran by William St. Clair Tisdall, 1905]
Muhammad's purpose in instituting the Hajj was to force obeisance to, and contemplation of, his creation the monotheistic moon deity, or Al-Lah [ilah, al-ilah, el-lah], known as the 'one' [sorry not Obama]. The moon deity ilah was the northern Arabian chief idol, who brought dew, water, cooler temperatures and may have been either feminine or masculine [the scholarship seems mixed on this].
“Commenting on the evolution of religion in Arabia: "Another significant change was that a monotheistic religion, with "the Lord of Heaven and Earth" as the sole god, had become the faith of the state. Formerly the religion of South Arabia had been basically stellar, with 'Athtar holding the senior place as the patron of land and agriculture and, in Ma'in, even of trade. Each state or tribe had had its own moon god under a national or local name. The temples had been centres of religious life, and the priests of the moon gods had normally provided oracle services. The question of pilgrimage which was an element foreign to nomadic civilization and of a late date among Semitic peoples. [Studies on Islam, edited by Merlin L. Swartz, Pre-Islamic Bedouin Religion, by Joseph Henninger, 1981, p 3-22]
The Hajj was practiced in different forms by all major Arab tribes. It was a bonding process, a time of non-violence, sexual proliferation [or fertilization] and fasting and prayer. The origins of the word 'Hajj' denotes the rubbing of a black rock against female genitalia to stimulate fertility and there is lots of evidence that sex took place around the shrines [public orgies?]. The Allah thing via Muhammad had nothing to do with the Hajj of course. It is decidedly a pagan ritual. But how many Moslems know this, and if they do, why do they not object, amend or end the Hajj? Why would a Moslem engage in the mindless rituals of the Hajj which pre-date Christ? Good grief. What are Moslems doing?
One of my problems with Islam is the lack of rationality. You only achieve faith through reason. The Torah for example teaches Jews that metaphysics can only be understood through the application of reason and intelligence. I am not a Jew but I can appreciate the cultural import of that imperative. Educate yourself. Inquire. Debate. Change your mind. Maybe change your mind often. Follow the Socratic method and let reality and inquiry bring you to the truth. I see no such application in Islam. Just blind, dumb obedience. Go to Mecca. Spend your money. Circle the shrine. Kiss black rocks. Chant ritual prayers. And then declare yourself holy and smart. How banal. How unreasonable. How pagan.