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Speakers “The Road to Mecca” webinar: Professor of Philosophy at the State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga Amin Abdullah, Executive Director Leimena Institute Matius Ho, and Director Bridge Project Linnea Gabriella Spransy.


IL News 014/2021


Jakarta, 23 December, 2021 – Hajj pilgrimage, as the largest pilgrimage tradition in the world, has a deep and rich spiritual meaning. Through the pilgrimage, a person not only gets a better understanding of the nature of worship or rituals in his/her daily life, but should also able to be more open to all kinds of differences, to be more inclusive, and humble.

This was conveyed by Prof. Dr. Amin Abdullah, professor of philosophy at the State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga, in an international webinar titled “Road to Mecca” hosted by Institut Leimena and a contemporary art gallery in Los Angeles, United states, Bridge Projects. This webinar is part of a group exhibition “We Are All Guest Here” which carries the theme of pilgrimage from various religion perspectives.

“The spiritual wisdom from the Hajj pilgrimage is the transformation of life, changing our outlook of the world, being more open, embracing, and friendly towards all kind of differences,” said Prof. Amin, former vice president of Muhammadiyah, to more than 1.000 participants from Indonesia and other countries on Friday (17/12/2021).

Prof Amin discussed the practice, meaning, and purpose of the Hajj pilgrimage based on his personal experiences, as well as religious analysis and anthropological analysis. The former president of UIN Sunan Kalijaga did 5 Hajj pilgrimages, 4 of which was during his doctorate studies at Departement of Philosophy, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, on 1984, 1986, 1988, and 1990. The 5th journey was done on 2002 at the invitation of Saudi Arabia government.

Prof Amin explained that Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia is the fifth pillar of Islam, which is important, but not mandatory, except for people who can “afford” in terms of health, has the financial means, and availability in Mecca. Hajj pilgrimage has been done even before the apostolicity of Muhammad, and was sustained by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). During his life time, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did one Hajj pilgrimage, which was on the 10th A.H. (hijri year)/632 A.D.

“Performing the Hajj is the aspiration of Muslims worlwide. They are willing to wait even for 30 years, saving for years to be able to have sufficient funds to do it. They were motivated by Quranic foundation and the Prophet Muhammad’s example when he did his wada Hajj,” said Prof Amin who is currently the head of Cultural Committe at the Indonesian Academy of Sciences (AIPI).

Prof Amin remarked that it’s not an exaggeration to say that the Hajj pilgrimage is the most phenomenal religious ritual in the modern world. Although other religions have similar pilgrimage rites, the number of people gathering in one place is not as many as in the Hajj pilgrimage.

Prof Amin mentioned that the Hajj pilgrimage can be seen as a journey to face death. He is one of the witnesses of the historical tragedy in 1990 at the Mina tunnel where 1.426 pilgrims died when two opposite flows of people walked to perform the Stoning of the Devil ritual at Mina collided.

“I almost became one of the victims during the tragedy. Alhamdulillah, I was spared from the disaster after I broke out of the bridge to avoid the jostling human sea,” he recalled.

The atmosphere of the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Source: CNN Indonesia

Universal Tradition

According to Prof Amin, the Hajj pilgrimage is a part of universal spiritual journey tradition. He recalled his trip to a Buddhist compound of worship and religious education in a hilly area outside the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Or when he visited St. Paul’s tomb at Rome, Italy. At those two places he could sense the solemn atmosphere from other pilgrims, just like what he sensed when he visited the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) tomb at Madinah or other pilgrimage places at Mecca.

“I felt the solemn atmosphere without changing the aqidah or my faith as an observant Moslem at all,” stated Prof Amin.

According to him, the right meaning of the Hajj prilgrimage rites should bring one to religious tolerance. All pilgrimage traditions fundamentally contribute to our humanity which is solidarity and helping each other as God’s people.

“What do you expect from the Hajj pilgrimage? The utmost hope is to be Hajj Mabroor or an ‘accepted Hajj’, a Hajj that brings good changes in life,” said Prof Amin.

Meanwhile, Chair Bridge Projects, Roberta Green Ahmanson, said that the group exhibition “We Are All Guest Here” is a part of Jewish festival performance program, Sukkot, on the 15th day of the 7th month in Hebrew calendar. The festival is a Jewish commemoration on the wandering on Sinai’s wilderness when Moses led them out of Egypt towards Canaan.

“So, since Sukkot is rooted in the pilgrimage of a people, we are planning programs that talk about the importance of pilgrimage in other religions. There will be conversations on Buddhist and Hindu pilgrimages, Christian pilgrimages such as those to Santiago de Compostela, Rome, and Jerusalem. And, of course, we want a program on the Hajj, the great pilgrimage that is so important to Muslims,” said Ahmanson.

We are all guests here. is a group exhibition featuring art installations by Brody Albert, Susy Bielak, Mira Burack, Rael San Fratello, SaraNoa Mark, Adam W. McKinney, and Jenny Yurshansky, which translated aspects of the Jewish tradition through the forms of their artistic practice, resulting in works that dialogue with ritual and religious practices while also engaging with timely socio-political issues today.

Leimena Institute Executive Director, Matius Ho, said that Leimena Institute welcomes the collaboration with the Bridge Projects which innovatively introduces the important topic of pilgrimage in the context of art, spirituality, and various religious tradition.

“This is in line with the Cross-Cultural Religious Literacy program which we do with various partner to promote mutual understanding and respect among different religious groups,” said Matius.