The point is that the key concepts connected with the root H-j is an intellectual challenge or confrontation based on reason, rational argument, debate or discourse that has nothing to do with going on a pilgrimage.
We find an interesting message in surah 9 about a temporary suspension of enmity between God and His messenger against the idol-worshippers:
Reprieve is herein granted from God and His messenger to those among the idol-worshippers who sign a peace treaty with you. Thus, you may roam the earth freely for four months, and know that you can never escape from God, and that God will inevitably defeat the rejecters. And a declaration is herein issued from God and His messenger on the Day of the Big Challenge (yau-mal-Hajii-akbar), that God disowns the idol-worshippers, and so does His messenger. If you repent it is good for you. But if you turn away then know that you can never escape from God. (9:1-3)
The believers are encouraged to strive or to struggle in the path of God against those who are corrupting the earth through idol-worship and religious practice in the name of God. Humans are supposed to free themselves from any kind of religious bondage and to practice God’s way of life in total freedom. Those who can find the way to God’s system will discover that religion is part of idol-worship. It is the duty of anyone committed to God’s system to strive against idol-worship.
The Day of the Great Challenge (Hajii-Akhbar) is the time when a declaration is made to the idol-worshippers that the truth-bearers challenge them. The Reading in its infinite wisdom allows a four months peaceful agreement before any engagement in a confrontation. As long as the idol worshipers observe their commitments to the agreement, the truth bearers should not confront any of them. Contrary to the traditional understanding of physical war, the Readingic concept of war is fought solely for the purpose of cultivating the truth against falsehood. The greatest jihad or Jihadan Kabiro or the greatest struggle to promote peacefulness is by the Reading, not by any form of physical contact. The Reading is the strongest weapon to fight against falsehood.
Do not obey the disbeliever, and struggle against them (waa-jaheed-hum) with the Reading – the greatest struggle (Jihadan Kabee-ror). (25:52)
Nowadays, it can be done in so many ways without anyone having to carry any destructive weapons. After all, the war is about falsehood and about idols. Abraham did not carry any weapon to wage war against his people when he told them to stop serving the idols. He used his common sense. Similarly, we do not need weapons to tell people to use their common senses in serving idols virtually or actual. Although God encourages the believers to fight against those who fight them, but He discourages aggressions. If we intend to challenge the disbelievers and the idol-worshippers we are to follow the guidelines the verse sets out.
The non-Muslims have always blamed the teachings of the Reading for propagating the killing of ‘infidels’. This is an understandable misapprehension. We cannot blame people for associating the Book with the people who profess to believe in it. The war declared in this verse clearly says the enemies are expected to repent to God and reform. That is all. If they refuse then they should be told that they can never escape from God. In other words, God will deal with them for the falsehood they profess either in this world or in the Hereafter. There is no such thing as a physical war fought against anyone unless the enemies initiated it.
In 2:190-193, it says it is the duty of those who believe in God and the Last Day to strive in the cause of God against those who fight against them, but not to commit aggression. This is the true jihad according to the Reading. Killing is only allowed if enemies attack you with a view to killing you, and you may evict them only from whence they evicted you.
The Reading stipulates that oppression is worse than murder. If the enemies refrain, then there is no reason to fight with anyone. Fighting is encouraged only to prevent oppression so that people can practice God’s consented decree in total freedom.
During the four restricted months the truth bearers must not fight against their enemies. In case they are attacked during these restricted months, then 2:194 applies.
If they attack you during the restricted months, then you may fight during the restricted months. And sacrilege (the violation of agreement) may be met by equivalent retributions. If they attack you, then you may attack them to inflict an equivalent retribution. However, you shall observe God and know that God is with those who observe Him. (2:194)
Once the restricted months are over, you may confront the idol worshipers wherever you encounter them, agitate them, provoke them and keep after them. However if they repent and observe their commitment and keep them pure, then you shall pardon them. God is forgiver and merciful. (9:5)
The concept of striving in the cause of God (or jahadu-fi-sabi-lil-lah) in the Reading is the opposite of the jihad of the Arab religion. The religionists are happy to kill people. They promise their followers heaven for killing ‘infidels’. Such teachings are falsely attributed to God and not to be found anywhere in the Reading – a book they have sorely abused.
Thus, 9:1-4 is also among the most abused verses in the Reading by the Arab religionists although it emphasises the significance of the declaration to disown the idol-worshippers, which is called Hajii Akbar or the day of the Great Challenge from the Messenger or those who follow the Messenger. It is not a great ‘pilgrimage’ of any kind.