Hajj, a manifestation of a correlation between religion and politics

The importance of Hajj lies in the fact that it constitutes the largest gathering of Muslims around the Kaaba, the symbol of monotheism. Hajj rites are based on what happened to Prophet Abraham (pbuh), who is known as the hero of monotheism in the Qur’an.[1] Therefore, the Hajj is the largest gathering of the Muslims and the greatest symbol and manifestation of monotheism. On this basis, an analysis of the Hajj rites is dependent on examining two issues: 1) monotheism and 2) Muslims’ gathering during Hajj. The present Op-Ed examines the Hajj mainly based on the former aspect and then briefly discusses the second one.


Monotheism is mostly deemed and discussed as a theoretical belief and awareness by the Muslim scholars; the human’s awareness and knowledge of the origin of creation. Accordingly, the issue of concern with regard to monotheism is generally human awareness. Any human being knows by conscience that his/her awareness of issues does not enjoy the same amount of importance; some are more important and some are of less importance. The types of awareness that make no difference in his/her path of life will be of no importance to him/her. Although beyond the scope of the present article, to put it briefly, it is clear that any change primarily depends on an accurate knowledge and understanding and, secondly, rightly putting it into practice. On this basis, in the Islamic hadiths, knowledge has been divided into beneficial and non-beneficial and in some hadiths non-beneficial knowledge is considered as the knowledge that is not put into practice by human being.[2]

Knowledge of monotheism is not an exception in this case. Human knowledge about the origin of creation will be beneficial only when the purpose (of life) and the path to achieve this purpose are clarified and determined for human beings by this monotheistic knowledge, leading to humans entering this path based on his/her free will. Therefore, in Islamic monotheism, the theoretical and practical aspects are not at all separate but closely intertwined.

Now the question is what kind of action monotheistic insight requires. This question can be answered by examining the deep and genuine meaning of monotheism. To put it in brief, monotheistic insight includes considering the origin of creation as one and unique. On this basis, there are two concepts lying at the heart of monotheistic insight: the creatorship and the oneness of the Creator. The first concept introduces the relationship between God and human as the relationship between the creature and the Creator; this relationship is practically referred to in the framework of worshipping and human obedience to God—“O mankind! Worship your Lord, who created you”[3]—which has been introduced as the purpose for the creation of man and jinn: “I did not create the jinn and the humans except that they may worship Me.”[4]

However, the second concept, which is the basis of monotheism without which the status of God the Almighty is not recognized, is the issue of God’s oneness and the negation of polytheism. As belief in the creatorship of God is practically reflected in human servitude to God, oneness of the Creator is also reflected in exclusiveness of servitude and obedience to the Glorious God in human actions. The negation of worshipping and obeying anyone/anything other than the one and only God is obviously expressed in the principal Islamic phrase “There is no god but Allah” (“La illah ha illalah”). Indeed, in monotheism, freedom and servitude come together; human freedom from anyone/anything but God and at the same time servitude and obedience to the one and only Creator. Here the emphasis is on this essential point that human servitude and obedience to any being is realized by his/her obeying the orders of that being and, in contrast, human freedom from the bondage of a being requires his/her disobedience to that being. In other words, servitude to any being means accepting the dominance of that being.

Therefore, theoretical monotheism requires obedience to God and accepting His dominance and simultaneously the negation of obedience to anything but God and rejection of their dominance. Given the fact that in human communities, the best example of practicing leadership and dominance are the governments, the most obvious practical result of monotheism is the negation of governments that do not represent Divine principles. However, what a Divine government is and who is responsible for its establishment and execution of its laws does not fit within the scope of the present article, but it can be briefly stated that a Divine government is the one whose laws are consistent with God’s orders and based on the Divine revelations. These laws are primarily adopted by the prophets and their successors and when the prophets or their successors are not present, they are executed by those for whom the qualifications and conditions required for the legitimacy of their sovereignty have been set out in the hadiths; these qualifications include being aware and knowledgeable about the Divine laws and being just and virtuous.

In the Holy Qur’an, the contradiction between servitude to God, which is the direct result of monotheism, and accepting the dominance of non-divine powers has been clearly emphasized: “Certainly We raised a Messenger in every nation [to preach:] ‘Worship Allah, and shun fake deities.’”[5] The Islamic governance is introduced, right in contrast to the dominance of fake deities. Considering the fact that, on the one hand, the existence of a government is essential for managing a society, and on the other, governance of fake deities is illegitimate, the only remaining option would be the religious government.

Of course, fake deities are of different types and they can be shunned in different ways depending on the conditions and level of power of the monotheistic community. Concepts such as Hijrat (emigration of the faithful ones), Jihad and revolution can be interpreted in this framework and any Muslim should take action in any of these ways as much as he/she can.

Accordingly, there is a clear connection between monotheism and the issue of the power ruling over the society. On the other hand, the concept of politics mainly refers to the issue of the ruling power and how the society is governed and managed. Therefore, monotheism, which is the basis of Islam, is directly related to politics. This has been emphasized by Imam Khamenei in different ways. For example, he stated:

“Islam is a monotheistic religion and monotheism means freedom from servitude, obedience and submission to anything and anyone but God; it means breaking the chains of dominance of the human domineering systems; it means breaking the spell of fear of devil and material powers; it means reliance on an infinite powers that God has put in human heart and asked human to use as an inviolable duty; it means reliance of God’s promise of making the oppressed victorious over the oppressors and the arrogance if they rise, fight and resist against them…”.[6]

Among the most obvious manifestations of monotheism is the Abrahamic Hajj. Most of the Hajj rites refer back to one of the happenings related to the prophecy of Prophet Abraham (pbuh). In the Holy Qur’an, Abraham (pbuh) not only did not smear himself with polytheism and polytheists’ domination, but tried to relieve other people from polytheism and idolatry and put an end to Nimrod’s illegitimate rule. In fact, if Abraham’s monotheistic fight against Nimrod and the ignorance of idolatry had been based on a compromise with Nimrod and his followers’ sovereignty, how could we justify Nimrod’s warmongering against Abraham? In this case, could this action of Abraham (pbuh) mean anything but an attempt to turn a polytheistic community and system into a monotheistic system, which is most obviously a political action?

Imam Khamenei, in a monotheistic context, do consider a relation between the Hajj and politics: “The Hajj is at the center of Islamic knowledge and indicative of a general policy in Islam for managing human life. The Hajj is a manifestation of monotheism and rejection and stoning of Satan and a repetition of Abraham’s (pbuh) slogan that “I repudiate the polytheists.”[7][8] The Leader of the Islamic Revolution, further describes the ceremony of Hajj as the “scene of unity of the Islamic nation based on monotheism and hatred of the polytheists and negation and rejection of all idols. An idol is anything that replaces God and turns God’s wilayah (rule) into its own and takes humans’ force and willpower under control, whether it is stone, wood or the Satanic domineering and despotic powers or the unfair biases at the Age of Ignorance: “So what is there after the truth except error?” [9][10] Imam Khamenei, then concludes that real servitude to God the Almighty is only achievable through a simultaneous turning toward God the Almighty and negating all the false deities.”[11]

What distinguishes the Hajj from other religious rites is the great gathering that happens during it and, as it was already mentioned, this is very important. The great gathering of Muslims and their unity around the pivot of monotheism is in itself a source of power and greatness for the Muslims. In his statements on the Hajj, Imam Khamenei emphasizes that: “Anyone who sees monotheism—the slogan of spirituality and unity of Muslims—in the Hajj understands that this great gathering is to show the greatness of Islam and monotheism to the disbelievers.”[12] And it is obvious that the power resulting from the unity and gathering is regarded as a political issue: “What we need today in the Hajj in terms of political affairs is exactly based on the Islamic teachings; creation of unity is a political issue, an Islamic issue, an act of worship; “Hold fast, all together, to Allah’s cord, and do not be divided [into sects].” [13][14]

Therefore, both conceptually and in terms of form, the Hajj is intertwined with politics; its concept indicates the negation of the fake deities and the need to be obedient to the Divine government and its form in terms of gathering and unity of the Muslims leads to political power. The effect of this unity and gathering on the glory and power of Muslims will be maximized if accompanied by a knowledge and recognition of the political reality of monotheism.

[1] Holy Qur'an 2:258; Holy Qur'an 14:25; Holy Qur'an 19:42-45; Holy Qur'an 21:52-67; Holy Qur'an 26:70-82; Holy Qur'an 29:17, Holy Qur'an 43:26-27, and Holy Qur'an 60:4.

[2] Tohfatul-Oghul, p. 70; Nahj al-Balaghah (Sobhi Saleh), letter no. 31; Kanz al-Foad, volume 1, p. 385; Oyun al-Hekam-e wa al-Mawaiz, p. 341; Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, pp. 463 and 793.

[3]Holy Qur'an 2:21.

[4]Holy Qur'an 51:56.

[5] Holy Qur'an 16:36.

[6] His message on the first anniversary of Imam Khomeini’s demise (31st of May, 1990).

[7] .Holy Qur’an 9:3.

[8] Message to the Hajj pilgrims (5th of July, 1989).

[9] . Holy Qur’an 10:32.

[10] Message to the Hajj pilgrims (5th of July, 1989).

[11] Message to the Hajj pilgrims (5th of July, 1989).

[12]His speech on his visit with the Hajj authorities (5th of April, 1995). 

[13] Holy Qur’an: 2:103

[14] His speech on his visit with the Hajj authorities (3rd of July, 2019).


  • Hajj