religions: Why is pilgrimage important?

Wiltshire RE Starter Stimulus
Starter ideas for the following key question from the 2011 Agreed
KS2.9 Why is pilgrimage important to some religious believers?
This resource aims to provide some stimulus images and ideas to help
pupils begin to address the above question. This starter resource
focuses on pilgrimage in Islam, although some of the strategies could
easily be used with pilgrimages in other religions.
It links to the following learning outcomes from p.58 of the syllabus:
Pupils can:
ii. explain the meaning of pilgrimage for some believers
iii. ask some thoughtful questions about why pilgrims choose to
undertake a pilgrimage and suggest some possible answers
1. My once in a lifetime journey!
Is there somewhere in the world that you really must visit in your
lifetime? Where is it and why would you want to go there? What
benefits would you get from going there?
Here are some hints to get you thinking:
…somewhere beautiful, alone, or with one or two others?
e.g. a desert island
…somewhere wild, back to nature?
e.g. a safari
…somewhere noisy, with thousands of others like me?
e.g. Twickenham
…doing something fun and exciting?
e.g. Disneyworld
…doing something scary and exciting – a thrill?
e.g. Bungee-jumping
…doing something to help people less fortunate than me?
e.g. drought victims in Africa
…somewhere in the footsteps of my hero/heroine?
e.g. Old Trafford
…somewhere that reflects my own religious belief?
e.g. Jerusalem
2. Hajj – pilgrimage for Muslims
For most Muslims, their once-in-a-lifetime place to visit would
be Makkah, birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad and the
place where he received the revelation of the Holy Qur’an
from God.
One of the five pillars of Islam is Hajj – or pilgrimage. Once
in their lifetime, all Muslims should try and go on Hajj, if they
are able to. They carry out some rituals, following in the
footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad’s last pilgrimage.
On the next slide are six images showing some of the rituals
of the Hajj.
• What do you think is happening?
• What questions do you have from these pictures?
• What might the pilgrim be thinking in each situation?
3. Working out the story
Print out slides 4 and 6. Ask
pupils to match the pictures and
the words, and then to put them in
chronological order.
4. Exploring Images of Hajj
Search for images of Hajj online. E.g.
• What words describe the images?
• How would it feel to be part of this huge event?
• How do the images show the pilgrims’ devotion
to Allah?
• What questions do the images raise?
• What might be going on behind the
5. The heart of Hajj
The key idea behind Hajj is ummah – community.
a) In pairs, sort the cards on slide 8 to see how many of
the rituals of Hajj promote this sense of family and
community between Muslims. Make sure you can
explain why you think they do this.
b) Choose the three actions/rituals which you both think
give Muslims the strongest feeling of community. Why
do you think these actions have such an impact.
Before setting off:
Muslims will make sure they have
paid all their debts and that their
families are okay while they are
Muslims go on Hajj because it is
one of the Five Pillars of Islam –
one of their duties, if they can
afford to go.
Before setting off:
Muslims will pray to Allah,
announcing their intention to go
on Hajj (niyyah).
On the way:
Muslims will keep up their prayer
five times a day, reading the
Qur’an and living a saintly life.
Millions of Muslims travel to
The area around Makkah is called
Makkah in Saudi Arabia, birthplace the Haram. No non-Muslims may
of Muhammad (pbuh), in order to enter it. It is an area of purity and
follow in his footsteps.
On arrival, Muslims change into
Day 1:
ihram clothing – plain, unsewn
Many Muslims keep their ihram
Pilgrims make their way to the
pieces of white cloth. This stands robes. When they die their body is
Ka’ba, the holiest place on earth,
for identity, purity, equality and wrapped in the robes as a shroud.
the closest point to heaven.
Whenever a Muslim prays
anywhere in the world, they turn
to face the Ka’ba in Makkah. It
was the first place built for
worshipping Allah.
Day 1: Tawaf. Pilgrims walk round
the Ka’ba seven times anticlockwise. Some see it as a
rehearsal for the Day of Judgment
after death.
Day 2: Wuquf. Pilgrims stand at
Arafat from midday to sunset,
praying to Allah. It reminds them
of Judgment Day, when everyone
must own up to all their sins.
Day 2: Wuquf. Pilgrims believe
Day 3: Jamra.
Day 4: Eid
that their prayers are 1000 times
Pilgrims throw small stones at a
Pilgrims celebrate the festival of
more effective here than at home. pillar representing Shaytan (Satan Eid ul-Adha. They offer a sacrifice
They ask for their sins to be
– the devil). It shows that they
to Allah. They try to remember
forgiven and wiped away. They
reject evil in their lives and in the people who don’t have as much as
pray for others too.
they do.
c) List at least three benefits Muslims might gain
from going on Hajj. (Think about how it will help
them in their ordinary everyday lives when they
return home from pilgrimage.)
d) Compare the benefits you would get from
going to your once-in-a-lifetime place. In what
ways are your hopes similar to those of Muslims?
In what ways are they different?
Suggested “I can” outcomes from this starter
• I can describe four things that happen on Hajj
• I can say what is similar and different about my
own once-in-a-lifetime place to visit
• I can explain why Hajj is so important for
Muslims, giving at least four reasons, connecting
with the rituals from the pilgrimage
• I can talk about why community, unity, equality
and peace would be valuable for Muslims on Hajj
and also in my own community

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