Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": PILGRIMAGE IN THE QUR'AN

('Qur'an,' XXII, 27-38)

And [make mention of] when We prepared as a habitation for Abraham the site of the House' [saying to him] : Do not associate anything with Me, but make pure My House 1 for those who circumambulate, those who stand, those who bow and those who make prostration. And announce among the people the pilgrimage (haji). Let them come to thee on foot, on every kind of worn-out beast, coming in from every deep ravine, to witness things beneficial to them, and on days that have been specified to make mention of Allah's name over such beasts of the flocks as He has given them for provision. So eat ye of them and feed the misfortunate, the poor. Then let them finish with their uncleanness,2 let them fulfill their vows, and let them circumambulate the ancient House. So! and if anyone makes much of [showing respect to] the things Allah has forbidden, that will be good for him with his Lord. Allowable for you are the cattle save what is recited to you,3 so avoid the pollution of idols, and avoid any false speaking, being Hanifs to Allah, not such as associate [others] with Him. Should anyone associate [any other] with Allah it is like something that has fallen from heaven which the birds snatched away or the wind blew away to some distant place. So! and if anyone makes much of [showing respect to] Allah's rites,4 that is [a sign] of purity of heart. Yours are the benefits from them (i.e. the cattle) until a set term, then their place is at the ancient house. For each community We have appointed some sacrificial rites (mansak) that they should mention the name of Allah over some of the beasts of the flocks which He has given them as provision. Your God is One God, so to Him surrender ye yourselves, and do thou [O Muhammad ] give good tidings to those who humble themselves, whose hearts are moved with awe when Allah is mentioned, also to those who steadfastly endure what befalls them, and to those who observe prayer and from what We have given them as provision give freely (in charity). The sacrificial victims (budn) We have appointed for you as among Allah's rites in which there is good for you, so make mention over them of the name of Allah as they stand in line, and when they have fallen on their sides eat of them and feed both the contented and the clamourous. Thus have We subjected them (i.e., the cattle) to you. Mayhap ye will give thanks. Their flesh reaches not to Allah, nor does their blood, but piety on your part will reach Him.


1 i.e., the Ka'ba at Mecca, where it is the eternal shrine. Bait, 'house,' is the Arabic equivalent of the Hebrew beth, which we find in Beth-el, Beth-dagon, Beth-peor, Beth-shemesh, and such names in the Old Testament.

2. Tafath here means the state of neglect into which they have been forced to let their persons get because of the ritual restrictions of the sacral state as pilgrims. The rites being now over, they are to cut their nails, trim their beards, etc., in a kind of desacralization which allows them to resume normal life again.

3 i.e., the Qur'anic passages concerning foods forbidden to a Muslim, such as swine, the flesh of an animal that has died of itself, or of any animal offered in sacrifice to other than Allah. Such forbidden foods are listed in XVI, 115/ 116; II, 173/168; V, 1-3/4.

4 Sha'a'ir here probably means the rites and ceremonies at the holy sites other than the Ka'ba.

Translation and notes by Arthur Jeffery, Islam: Muhammad and His Religion (New York: Liberal
Arts Press, 1958) pp. 200-1

Bibliography for this page:

Books by Mircea Eliade:

Man and the Sacred | Main Menu | Keyword Search