Hajji (sometimes spelled Hadji, Haji, Alhaji, Al hage, Al hag or El-Hajj) is a title which is originally given to a Muslim person who has successfully completed the Hajj to Mecca. It is also often used to refer to an elder, since it can take time to accumulate the wealth to fund the travel (particularly before the advent of mass air travel), and in many Muslim societies as an honorific title for a respected man. The title is placed before a person's name; for example Joshua Omo becomes Hajji Joshua Omo.
"Hadži" is also used in Christian Orthodox religion for people who go on pilgrimage to the grave of Christ in Jerusalem. It can then be added to the pilgrim's first name, e.g., Hadži-Prodan.
Hajji is derived from the Arabic ḥājj, which is the active participle of the verb ḥajja ("to make the pilgrimage"). The alternative form ḥajjī is derived from the name of the Hajj with the adjectival suffix -ī, and this was the form adopted by non-Arabic languages. In some areas the title has become a family name, for example in the Bosniak surname Hadžiosmanović ("son of Hajji Osman").
In Arab countries, ḥājj and ḥājjah (pronunciation varies according to the form of Arabic spoken) is a commonly used manner of addressing any older person respectfully, regardless of whether or not the person in question has actually performed the pilgrimage.
In Malay-speaking countries, Haji and Hajah are titles given to Muslim males and females respectively who have performed the pilgrimage. These are abbreviated Hj and Hjh.
The term is also used in the Balkan Christian countries that were once under Ottoman rule (Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Montenegro, Macedonia and Romania) for a Christian who had traveled to Jerusalem and the Holy Lands.
In Cyprus the title became so prevalent as to be permanently integrated into some Greek Christian family names, such as Hajiioannou. This was due to Cyprus being so close to the Holy Lands and Jerusalem, as Cyprus became a place where Christians and Muslims intermixed freely for many centuries.
Hajji, Haji, Hadji or Hodgie has become a phrase used as a racist term for Iraqis, Arabs, Afghans, or West Asian, North African, and South Asian people in general. It is comparable to the term "gook," used by U.S military personnel during the Vietnam War.
- Malise Ruthven (1997). Islam: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-19-285389-9.
- "Jerusalem and Ancient Temples (in Greek)". apologitis.com. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
- "Learning to 'embrace the suck' in Iraq" - http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jan/28/opinion/op-bay28
- Slang from Operation Iraqi Freedom http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iraq-slang.htm
- Herbert, Bob (May 2, 2005). "From 'Gook' to 'Raghead'". The New York Times.