Whatever information I have acquired on the subject of this pilgrimage has been gleaned from frequent conversations with Meer Hadjee Shaah, who, as I have before remarked, performed the Hadje from Hindoostaun to Mecca, at three different periods of his eventful life.
If the fatigues, privations, and difficulties of the pilgrimage to Mecca be considered, the distance from Hindoostaun must indeed render the Hadje a formidable undertaking; yet, the piously disposed of both sexes yearn for the opportunity of fulfilling the injunctions of their Lawgiver, and at the same time, gratifying their laudable feelings of sympathy and curiosity—their sympathy, as regards the religious veneration for the place and its purposes; their curiosity, to witness with their own eyes those places rendered sacred by the words of the Khoraun in one instance, and also for the deposits contained in the several tombs of prophets, whom they have been taught to reverence and respect as the servants of God.
Every year may be witnessed in India the Mussulmauns of both sexes forming themselves into Kauflaahs (parties of pilgrims) to pursue their march on this joyous expedition, believing, as they do, that they are fulfilling a sacred duty. The number of women is comparatively few, and those chiefly from the middling and lower classes of the people, whose expenses are generally paid by the rich females. The great obstacle to the higher classes performing the pilgrimage themselves is, that the person must at times be necessarily exposed to the view of the males. The lower orders are less scrupulous in this respect, who, whilst on the pilgrimage, wear a hooded cloak of white calico, by which the person is tolerably well secreted, so that the aged and youthful have but one appearance; the better sort of people, however, cannot reconcile themselves to go abroad, unless they could be permitted to have their covered conveyances, which in this case is impossible.
The qualifications necessary for all to possess, ere they can be deemed fit subjects for the Hadje, are, as I learn, the following:
’They must be true Mussulmauns in their faith; that is, believe in one only true God, and that Mahumud is His Prophet.
’They must strictly obey the duties commanded by Mahumud; that is, prayer five times daily, the fast of Rumzaun, &c.
’They must be free from the world; that is, all their debts must be paid, and their family so well provided for, according to their station, that no one dependent on them may be in want of the necessaries of life during the absence of the pilgrim from his home and country.
’They must abstain from all fermented or intoxicating liquors, and also from all things forbidden to be eaten by the law (which is strictly on the Mosaic principle).
’They must freely forgive their enemies; and if they have given any one cause of offence, they must humble themselves, and seek to be forgiven.