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Exploring the psychology behind Hajj

by Zahid Jadwat

Hajj 2022 has drawn to a close, Hujjaj from all over the world have returned home to expectant family and friends
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With the 2022 Hajj pilgrimage now done and dusted, nearly one million people will head back home worldwide. Each will have a unique story to tell about the profound spiritual and psychological impact of what has often been dubbed ‘the journey of a lifetime’. 

Sh. Seyed Jamaluddin, co-founder and director of International Students of Islamic Psychology (ISIP), said many people have lost touch with the psychology behind various rituals – including Hajj.

According to Jamaluddin, the psychology behind Hajj is that the pilgrimage should remind us about the stories of previous prophets and pious people. Such a reminder, he said, should be used to “embody [their] strong faith” in one’s own life.

“We are always reminded, when we think about Hajj and the different rituals that are connected to Hajj, to always be mindful of the qadr of Allah; to never question the qadr of Allah, to be reminded of the sacrifices that our ancestors did and that they never questioned the will of Allah,” he said.

“This is the psychology of Hajj. This is a way of reminding ourselves of the stories of these encounters, the things that make us really understand our situation today, and how we can embody this strong faith.

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Holistic psychology in Islam

Jamaluddin said that the interconnected nature of the journey of Hajj is an indication of how Islamic psychology is holistic. He said the different aspects of the rituals of Hajj are used “to make all of our senses align to our hearts”.

“We connect the physical with the emotional and with the psychological. This is the beauty of Islamic rituals and the Five Pillars. We’re using our bodies and we are connecting it to our aql, which is our cognitive functioning and we’re connecting [the aql] to our heart. That is also why Islamic psychology is so holistic,” he said.

“There’s a lot of elements connecting to Hajj and other rituals that we have in our beautiful Deen that reminds us of why we need to internalize the psychology – which is not reductionistic, rather spiritual and holistic – which is the essence of Islamic spiritual practices,” he added.

Furthermore, he noted, such holistic psychology can be identified in several other areas of Islam. These include fasting and praying.

“Why we fast… this is also something that we have forgotten these days. Are we just fasting just to benefit from the iftar afterwards, are we fasting to celebrate the benefits of iftar afterwards? Of course, that’s part of it but we’re not fasting only with our stomachs. We’re fasting psychologically by disconnecting ourselves from dunyavi things and instead focusing on ukhravi things,” he said.


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