Quarterly: Issue No 44
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REVIVE THE TRUE SPIRIT OF HAJJ
Hajj, the fifth and last pillar of Islam, often aptly described as a journey of a lifetime, is, above all, intended to be a life-transforming experience. It is an ardent expression of our love for Allah, a chance to redeem our sins and come clean, an opportunity to reconnect with the sources of our faith. It is a chance to experience human brotherhood in action, while imbibing vital lessons of faith such as self-surrender, self-sacrifice, and trust in Allah. How true are the Prophet's words on the spiritual rewards of Hajj:
"Whoever performs Hajj for Allah's pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Again, he said: "(The performance of) Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed (between it and the previous one). And the reward of Hajj Mabroor (the one accepted by Allah) is nothing except Jannah." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
It is therefore imperative for us to recall some important points in order to enable us to make maximum benefit from our performance of this fundamental pillar of Islam:
FIRST: There is nothing more important for a prospective Haji (pilgrim) than ensuring the purity of his intention while embarking on this journey of a lifetime in order to ensure that it serves as a life-transforming experience. Niyyah means to re-examine one's motive and purify it of all taints of shirk or show-off that may render the entire act as utterly devoid of any benefit whatsoever. One must therefore keep one's intention pure and focused on Allah before, during and after undertaking this journey. Allah says: And perform properly (i.e. all the rites according to the ways of Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), the Hajj and Umrah (i.e. the pilgrimage to Makkah) solely for Allah... The Hajj (pilgrimage) is (in) the well-known (lunar year) months (i.e. the 10th and the 11th month and the first ten days of the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, i.e. two months and ten days). So whosoever intends to perform Hajj therein by assuming Ihraam), then he should not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commit sin, nor dispute unjustly during the Hajj. And whatever good you do, (be sure) Allah knows it. And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is Taqwa (piety, righteousness). So fear Me, O men of understanding! (Surah Al-Baqarah: 196-197).
Know very well that Allah accepts only those deeds that are done solely to please Him.
SECOND: It is equally important to ensure that the expenses and provisions for this journey are obtained through lawful means. One must never embark on this journey with anything less than purest of incomes one can afford. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) narrated the deplorable case of a person who undertakes a journey while earning his livelihood through unlawful means; he raises his hands in supplication before the Lord crying out, "O Lord!" "But how would Allah answer his prayer, when (his entire body) is nurtured through haraam?". (Tirmidhi).
THIRD: Since the group or companions we travel with can help either make or break one's Hajj, it is crucial to choose them carefully. Important considerations for choosing a good company should be sound knowledge and piety above everything else. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us that we stand to benefit or lose through the companions we keep, as we tend to imbibe consciously or unconsciously the traits or qualities of our companions.
FOURTH: In order to ensure that we start the journey with a clean slate, it is imperative that we take all necessary steps for sincere repentance of all our sins, outward and inward, major and minor, before embarking on the journey for Hajj. Sincere repentance involves the threefold steps of feeling remorse, refraining from sins, and resolving never to do them again. And, in the case of sins involving violations of the rights of others, it is also essential to seek forgiveness of them and compensate them for hurts or injuries we may have caused them.
FIFTH: Since one can never tell whether one will return home safe, prior to the journey, one must write a proper will or testament and get it documented in compliance with the laws of the Shari’ah. Its purpose is twofold: (1) to ensure that we provide for proper discharging of our trusts, outstanding obligations, or liabilities; (2) to leave such instructions for our heirs that would direct them to right conduct and behaviour.
SIXTH: There is no good in performing acts of worship without knowledge. This applies to salaah, zakaah and fasting. It is even more applicable to Hajj, as some of the issues relating to it may not be clear even to those who are otherwise knowledgeable. Therefore, one may do well in seeking the guidance of a trained scholar. In addition, in the absence of such guidance, one must take care to take along a comprehensive book on both the rituals and inner meanings of Hajj. For the English speaking, the following are highly recommended: The Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship by Imam Ghazzali, and The Four Pillars by Sayyid Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi.
SEVENTH: It is important to remember that Hajj is incomplete without constancy in celebrating the remembrance of Allah (dhikr). Therefore, one should turn to Allah in supplications both before and during Hajj consistently. Reading of the Qur'an is considered as Dhikr par excellence, except of course when and where there are specific prayers prescribed by our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Increase in the remembrance of Allah is one of the greatest objects of Hajj. Allah says: “Then when you leave Arafaat, remember Allah (by glorifying His Praises, i.e. prayers and invocations, etc.) at the Mash'ar-il-Haraam (in Muzdalifah). And remember Him (by invoking Allah for all good, etc.) as He has guided you, and verily, you were, before, of those who were astray.” (Surah Al-Baqarah: 198).
EIGHT: While offering supplications, one must never be lazy in saying the prescribed du’as. It is equally important to stress that one must never be inhibited in pouring out one's heart before one's Creator in one's own language as fervently and ardently as possible in a true spirit of reverence, hope and fear. Shedding tears while doing so is a deeply rewarding and spiritually enriching experience.
NINTH: One need to be armed with an endless reservoir of patience, trusting in the Lord and surrendering to His will. It is said that journeying is a sort of punishment because it may expose one to unforeseen circumstances and challenges. One must diligently seek to keep calm and never allow one's emotions or feelings to turn offensive or hurtful to others.
TENTH: While in the state of consecration of ihraam, one must seek diligently to establish peace with oneself, with Allah, and fellow humans and creatures. Therefore, the duties we owe towards others in ordinary times assume greater significance during the Hajj. In Hajj, therefore, one must seize every opportunity to help others and protect them through words and deeds and also respect the sacredness of the Time and Place. Allah says: “And whosoever honours the Symbols of Allah (Safa, Marwa, Ka’bah etc), then it is truly from the piety of the heart.” (Surah Al-Hajj: 32).
ELEVENTH: Be in constant meditation on the perennial lessons of Hajj, which can be encapsulated in the following key words: rekindling one's love for Allah; reconnecting with the sources of one's faith; imbibing the spirit of utter faith in, surrender to, and trust in Allah as displayed by Prophet Ibrahim (Alayhis Salaam) and his family; imbibing a deep sense of equality of all people before Allah; constantly meditating on death and one's journey to Allah; and, finally, visualizing resurrection and one's standing before the Lord of all beings for Final Reckoning.
TWELFTH: Remembering the Day of Qiyaamah as Hajj reminds the pilgrim of the Last Day and its states and conditions in a very clear manner, which includes the following:
- the departure from his country and separation from his family should remind him of his separation from them when leaving this world for the hereafter;
- removal of stitched clothing and lack of adornment reminds him of the coffin and resurrection from his grave on the Day of Qiyaamah barefoot and naked;
- journey and fatigue reminds him of weakness and hardship of the Day of Qiyaamah to the point that some will drown in sweat up to their necks.
One final point: The pilgrim does not earn Hajj Al-Mabroor without abandoning sins. While committing sins is prohibited at all times, Allah gives a specific order to the pilgrims to leave aside sins. He says: “And whoever inclines to evil actions therein (in the Hajj or Umrah) or to do wrong (i.e. practise polytheism and leave Islamic Monotheism), him We shall cause to taste a painful torment.” (Surah Al-Hajj: 25) How then could there be a reward for one who commits sins during the Hajj? The many evils and mistakes which pilgrims commit during the Hajj is the result of their weakness in the fear of Allah and ignorance of the Shari’ah. The evidence of Hajj Al-Mabroor is that the pilgrim remains steadfast on Islam after the Hajj in practising righteous deeds and abandoning sins to the best of his ability.
May Allah grant us all a life-transforming experience through the Hajj, and may He make us all worthy of His Grace of Forgiveness and accepting our Hajj; and of seeing His Beautiful Face in Jannah. Ameen!
HAJJ - SOME INTERESTING PLACES TO VISIT
(Courtesy of: Mufti A K Hoosen - Channel Islam International)
1. Mathaf is next to the Masnaul Kiswah (Ghilaf Factory). You will require one to two hours to spend here and preferably go after Esha Salaah. In here, you will find the old constructed zam-zam well, an old Ka'bah door, a pillar used by Hazrath Abdullah ibn Zubair (RA) for support inside the Ka'bah.
2. In Madinah Munawwarah, there is a museum which opened recently - very informative - Marhazul Buhuth (Research Centre). Go there with your family and see Madinah during Nabi (SAW) time, and the various stages of development until now which
- includes information on all the battles fought during the Prophet's time
- include video film showing the history of Madinah Munawwarah (run by Jordan and Syrian scholars)
contact person for the visit - Ahmad Muhammad Shabaan tel. 827 0561/2 (office) or cell phone: 0506333139.
3. Visit Mina and see the new construction works at the Jamaraat. At the big Jamaraat, there is a place about 300 meters away (open space that is now fenced) where Nabi (SAW) met the Ansaar on the occasion of Aqabah.
4. Masnaul Kiswah - ask your agent or the hotel to arrange a trip for you. It is open to visitors only on request.
5. Visit the graveyards of Makkah and Madinah and other normal places of Ziyaarah commonly known to people by now.
I request your humble du'aas.
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir
Umhlanga Rocks, KZN