Quarterly: Issue No 76
THE HAJJ (PILGRIMAGE)
All Praise is due to Allah, Glorified be His Name, and the Blessings and Mercy of Allah be upon His beloved Messenger Muhammad, his family and all his companions. Ameen.
Hajj, the fifth important pillar of Islam, refers to that comprehensive form of worship which involves a Muslim’s visit to holy city of Makkah and performance of certain acts and rituals there and in its surroundings. It is the largest regularly held gathering of humans on the planet.
The Qur’an and Sunnah explain in detail the importance, greatness and rationale of Hajj.
The Qur’an says: “Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for mankind was that at Makkah - blessed and a guidance for the worlds. In it are clear signs [such as] the standing place of Ibraheem. And whoever enters it shall be safe. And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House - for whoever is able to find thereto a way. But whoever disbelieves - then indeed, Allah is free from need of the worlds.” (Chapter 3: Surah Ale Imraan: Verse 97)
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was once asked: ‘Which deed is the most superior?’ He replied: ‘Belief in God and His Messengers’. ‘After that?’ he was asked. ‘Jihad in His way’, was the answer. It was then asked: ‘After that’. He replied: ‘the Hajj offered with all its requirements’.
One who offers Hajj in His (Allah’s) way and doesn’t speak obscene language, and doesn’t commit sins, will come back (purified) as he was at the time of his birth. (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “If any one possesses sufficient provision and transportation to take him to Allah’s House (Ka’bah) but still he does not perform Hajj (in his lifetime), it does not matter whether he dies as a Jew or Christian” (Sunan at-Tirmidhi)
The annual ritual of Hajj reminds us of the great Prophet Ibraheem (Alayhis Salaam), called by Allah as Khaleelullah (Friend of Allah) and about whom Allah says in the Holy Quran: “Ibraheem was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah]. And he was not of the polytheists.” (Chapter 3: Surah Ale Imraan: Verse 67)
The faith which Ibraheem (AS) propagated, the faith that all the prophets propagated, the faith that the last Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) propagated is the faith of the One God, Allah. Thus Ibraheem (AS) was the patriarch of Islam. This patriarch of Islam is not only revered by the Muslims alone, but also by the followers of the two other major monotheistic religions of the world — Judaism and Christianity. To understand the true significance of Hajj, we must recall Prophet Ibraheem’s life and his sacrifices. He showed us that we must submit to the Will of Allah, no matter what it may cost, and often this submission is a form of test for us that we may prove ourselves in the process of strengthening our faith and character.
From the very beginning, Prophet Ibraheem’s life was separated from others by Allah. He was born in Babylonia (modern-day Iraq) at a time when superstition and evil ruled the world. At the occasion of his birth, his mother had to hide herself and her son in a cave to escape the soldiers of Nimrod, who had ordered the killing of all new-born male children after he had had a certain dream. During his youth, Ibraheem (AS) had great spiritual experiences, which gave an indication of his future life. He was a thinker of unusual intellect. Even in his youth, he had begun to question the wisdom of his father, Aazar, who worshipped idols. Ibraheem (AS) adopted several methods to dissuade his people from superstitious beliefs and evil practices. He taught them that there is a Supreme Being—infinite and transcendent, above and beyond the limited human comprehension, All-Kind, All-Knowing, and nobody is asked for help or mercy save Him.
He told the people that that Being is the Creator of this universe, and there is no creator but He, no partner to Him. He is the only one who is worth worshipping and He is the sole cherisher of humankind. If one follows the simple and logical proofs set out by Prophet Ibraheem (AS) to his people, one comes to the ultimate conclusion that from him spread the eternally vibrant rays of Islam. No wonder Ibraheem (AS) is linked to the Muslims with such a strong bond.
The greatest test of Ibraheem (AS) by Allah was when Allah commanded him in his dream to sacrifice his only and beloved son Ismail. The Holy Quran relates this incident of Prophet Ibraheem’s supreme sacrifice thus: “And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, "O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think." He said, "O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast and patient." (Chapter 37: Surah As-Saaffaat: Verses: 102-103).
Submitting their will to Allah, both of them went to a certain place in the valley of Mina, near Makkah, and there prepared a place for sacrifice. When it was ready Ismail laid himself prostrate on his forehead for sacrifice. Ibraheem (AS), knife in his hand, stood over his beloved son about to take his life. What courage and faith this father and son had, for this was no easy thing to do for either of them—for Ibraheem (AS) to take the life of his son and for the latter to submit to his father’s wish. Both of them submitted to the Will of Allah. Just when Prophet Ibraheem’s knife was to descend on to his son’s throat he heard the bleating of a ram and suddenly saw the animal, and a Divine Voice commanded: “O Ibraheem, You have fulfilled the vision!” (Chapter 37: Surah As-Saaffaat: Verse: 105).
Thus Ibraheem (AS) implemented Allah’s command and succeeded in the trial. Ismail was not to be killed. Ibraheem (AS) withdrew his hand. Allah commanded him to sacrifice the ram in place of Ismail. Then taking the ram, which had miraculously appeared, he obediently made a sacrifice to his Lord. It is to remind the Hajj pilgrims of this great sacrifice that Allah has commanded every one of them to sacrifice an animal during Hajj. The Holy Quran has also pointed out that it is through Prophet Ibraheem (AS) that the ritual of Hajj came into being:
And when We designated for Ibraheem the site of the House, [saying], “Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaaf and those who stand (in salaah) and those who bow and prostrate. And proclaim to the people the Hajj (Pilgrimage); they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant mountain-pass.” (Chapter 22: Surah Al-Hajj: Verses: 26-27)
A lesson for total submission to God
During Hajj, one can seldom do anything on his own. One is totally submitted to Allah; from wearing the prescribed clothes of Ihraam, going to the prescribed places of Mina, Muzdalifah, Arafaat and Makkah at the right times in the right sequence, pelting stones at the Jamaraat at fixed times and days, and evening abstaining from any sort of intimate relations with one’s partner; all train us for ultimate submission to Allah.
Discipline, Self Restraint and Taqwah
The restrictions of the state of Ihraam are very rigorous in terms of the way the pilgrim behaves with others, with himself, and with Allah and also in terms of using regular worldly things such as putting perfume, cutting one’s hair…etc. This makes Hajj a school of discipline, taqwah and self-control. A school, which can produce righteous, decent, honest and hardworking people as the five daily prayers and the fasting of Ramadan and the pillars of Islam do.
Equality Among Muslims
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims, belonging to different nationalities and races, drawn from all walks of life, the rich and the poor, ‘the princes and the slaves’, the doctor and the mechanic, the ruled and the ruling all gather together in Hajj as EQUALS. They all wear the same clothes; recite the same phrases “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik”; are shoulder to shoulder in similar lines during Tawaaf around the Ka’bah, while performing the Sai (brisk walk) between Safa and Marwa and while peltering stones at the Jamaraat, besides standing together at the five daily prescribed salawaat.
A Rehearsal for Meeting for With the Lord
When leaving for Hajj, one leaves almost everything behind: family including often wife and children, friends, and all ones wealth including ones belongings. It’s a similar situation to what one happens when one dies. So this blessed journey becomes a rehearsal for meeting with the Lord. Over there he will see so many people at one place, that he never saw before, all in similar clothing, a site that one will face on the day of Judgment.
Hajj is an effective factor in establishing unity amongst the ranks of the Muslims. It is an instrument to combat nationalistic and racial fanaticism, and oppose confinement (of the Muslims) within their geographical boundaries. Hajj is a means for eliminating the shackles of censorship and breaking the stranglehold of the oppressive leaderships prevalent in Islamic nations.
Hajj is a tool for transferring news of political affairs of the Islamic nations from one corner of the globe to another, and finally, it is an effective means for breaking the fetters of captivity and colonialism, and liberating the Muslims.
May Allah grant us all the tawfeeq to make these Adhkaar every day and night. Ameen!
May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad, the WITNESS to all Mankind. Ameen.
O Allah! Your Forgiveness is far greater than my sins and I have more hope in Your Mercy than in my own deeds.
Requesting your humble duas!
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir
Kyalami Glen, Gauteng
Johannesburg, South Africa