In this regard, one needs to understand that after
the Qur’ān, the second source of Islam is the Sunnah of the Prophet (sws). By
Sunnah is meant those established religious practices of the Prophet Abraham (sws)
to which the Prophet (sws) gave sanction among his followers after reviving and
reforming them and after making certain additions to them. The Qur’ān has
directed the Prophet (sws) to obey these Abrahamic practices in the following
Then We revealed to you to follow the ways of Abraham, who
was true in faith and was not among the polytheists. (16:123)
These Abrahamic practices were in vogue in Arabia and the
pagan Arabs of course were following them in whatever form they were at the
advent of the Prophet (sws). They fasted, did Hajj, offered prayers, gave Zakāh
since they were the progeny of Abraham (sws) and the followers of his religion.
Consequently, it should remain clear that practices of
worship like Salāh, Zakāh, Hajj, animal sacrifice were not introduced by the
Qur’ān or the Prophet through his Sunnah. However, since over the years, many
innovations had crept up in these rituals, the Prophet (sws) cleansed them and
re-shaped them into their original Abrahamic form. The rituals which existed in
their original shape were of course not tampered with and were adopted as they
If we analyse the case of Hajj (from where your question
has originated), it will become evident that some of its practices had been
distorted by the pagan Arabs. For example, they would not go to ‘Arafāt and
would return from Muzdalifah (2:199). The Prophet (sws) corrected it. Similarly,
they would circumambulate the Ka‘bah naked. This was also abolished (7:31).
Now for the philosophy of the Hajj rituals you have
a. In ancient Arabia, covenants and agreements were
strengthened by kissing hands and by moving around in circles. Both these were
adopted in the Hajj ritual because when one comes to the Ka‘bah, one actually
revives the covenant of pleasing the Almighty. This revival is symbolised by
kissing the black stone (the Hajr-i-Aswad) and by circumambulating the Ka‘bah (Tawāf).
b. Pelting stones on columns (the jamarāt) symbolise that a
person must have the will to fight Satan and his accomplices in his life. He
should even be ready to lay down his life for this purpose, if need be.
I think if this symbolism is known, the Hajj rituals become