are titles used for Muslims
who have made the pilgrimage to Mecca. In Gambia some
men are actually named Alhajie even though they may
never have left the country and the same applies to
women called Ajaratou.
A "haji" is an honorific title given to a
Gambian Muslim person who has successfully completed
the Hajj to Mecca.
"Al-" is Arabic for "the". So, "Al-Hajji"
is simply a title applied to a haji. Performing these
rituals, known as the Haj, is the fifth pillar of Islam
and the most significant manifestation of Islamic faith
and unity. Undertaking the Haj at least once is a duty
for Muslims who are physically and financially able
to make the journey to Mecca. The emphasis on financial
ability is meant to ensure that a Muslim takes care
of his family first. The requirement that a Muslim be
healthy and physically capable of undertaking the pilgrimage
is intended to exempt those who cannot endure the rigors
of extended travel.
It is a journey toward Almighty Allah, where Muslims
leave behind everything related to worldly life, which
was their companion since birth. Muslims then change
the habits that they have become accustomed to, such
as cutting hair, spraying on perfume, clipping nails,
The terms usually refers to an older person as it can
often take time for one to accumulate sufficient funds
to finance their travels.
Pilgrims also leave behind their families and wealth
and go out to Allah oblivious to all these and focusing
only on the one single aim of returning to Allah. This
is done with appropriate dhikr (Arabic for: remembrance
of Allah), du`aa' (Arabic for: supplication), and qunout
(Arabic for: heartfelt pleading to Allah). All of these
have an effect on improving the spiritual aspects.
In addition to this, hajj is the season when Muslims
meet with their fellow Muslims to celebrate the sense
of belonging to one nation.