Spiritual Meanings of the Hajj Rituals – A Philological Approach


NOW AVAILABLE! After making the Hajj twice, Abdulla Galadari found himself wanting to more deeply understand the significance of the ancient rituals he had performed. What was behind them, making them so important and meaningful?

From a career grounded in the sciences—engineering to astrophysics—he changed course. Galadari began studying Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic, hoping to learn more about the rites of Pilgrimage through the etymological breakdown of word roots. He was not only drawn to the origin and historical development of words and their meanings, but to the study of, and relationship between, languages and their oral and written historical sources. He noted compelling parallels and similarities of narrative among faith traditions. His personal insights, suppositions and conclusions suggest a common underlying spiritual heritage and a profound interconnectedness with the People of the Book.

His research can enrich any pilgrim, whether on the journey of life, or the Hajj itself. Galadari demonstrates how, through language itself, Pilgrimage may be viewed as a struggle against the lower self, nafs, leading to purity of heart, an archetypal journey of the soul. The rites of Hajj help a pilgrim divest him — or herself of all but God’s presence.


“Religion without spirituality is like marriage without love. SPIRITUAL MEANINGS OF THE HAJJ RITUALS is a labor of love that through careful analysis of the intricate details of the Hajj uncovers its deeper meaning. This work succeeds in being both thorough academic scholarship and also a vibrant and flowing text.

A careful philological study of ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek sources uncovers how deeply rooted are the parallels between the Islamic Hajj to Mecca and the ancient pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem as interpreted in both Judaism and Christianity. This connection illuminates the commonality of the traditions and spirituality of the Abrahamic religions. Indeed, the underlying meaning that emerges of the Hajj, a journey in which the ego and self die in order for the soul to be reborn in the surrender to God is a universal message that reflects the longings and aspirations of spiritual searchers of all religions. As a talmud scholar I am awed and enthralled by the insights in the book.”

— Rabbi Dr. Yakov Nagen, Director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Blickle Institute for Interfaith Dialogue.

Product Description

Abdulla Galadari is an Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at Khalifa University. His area of interest is in Qur’anic hermeneutics, philology of the Qur’an, and its possible engagement with Near Eastern traditions in Late Antiquity. He also works in comparative theology and religion. Galadari is the author of Qur’anic Hermeneutics: Between Science, History, and the Bible (2018) and Metaphors of Death and Resurrection in the Qur’an: An Intertextual Approach with Biblical and Rabbinic Literature (2021).

Abdulla completed a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering with minors in Astrophysics, Computer Science, and Mathematics from the University of Colorado, a second B.Sc. in Applied Mathematics, a M.Sc. in Civil Engineering, a M.Eng. in Geographic Information Systems, and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. He also completed a Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Aberdeen. Abdulla’s work is often interdisciplinary, combining religion and science. He is invited to give lectures at various universities, institutions, and academic societies around the world, including Harvard University, University of Notre Dame, University of Toronto, and New York University. He is active in interfaith dialogue both locally and internationally.


The Hajj is the most ritualized of practices in Islam, and yet its theological and spiritual meanings affecting upon its practitioners is extensive. Seamlessly Abrahamic in its exposition of the Qur'an and the Bible, Galadari masterfully explores the polysemy of narrative and ritual elements in salvation history. Oriented to the time and geography of the ritual, this work presents the abundant array of allusions to prophets' lives by which practitioners embody the Hajj's meaning and transformative effects. Demonstrating the high utility of intertextual method, the author offers the reader a milestone in ritual interpretation.
Dr. Kurt Anders Richardson, Director of the Institute for Abrahamic Relations, University of Toronto
This innovative and thought-provoking work uses the method of ‘intertextual polysemy’ to uncover the richness of the Qur'an's references to death and resurrection. Abdulla Galadari carefully analyses the Qur'an's Biblical subtext and its theological strategies. He thereby uncovers new meanings in Islam's scripture. A must-read for students and scholars of the Qur'an and the Bible.” (Note: Endorsement for 'Metaphors of Death and Resurrection in the Qur’an')
Gabriel Said Reynolds, Crowley Professor of Islamic Studies and Theology, University of Notre Dame, USA
This is the first detailed monograph study of death in the Qur'an. Galadari has done Qur'anic studies a great service. This book is a must-read. (Note: Endorsement for 'Metaphors of Death and Resurrection in the Qur’an')
Walid Saleh, Professor, University of Toronto, Canada