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Posted Online on Sunday 8, January 2006 14:15 IST

Muslim Islamic NewsThe spirit of Hajj

By Dr Aboobakar Thwahir

The Milli Gazette Online

8 January 2006

The spirit of Hajj
Kabah at Makkah

This Month is the Month of Hajj - Dhul Hajj. Around 30 lakhs of people have already arrived at Makkah to attend the annual ritual of Hajj. They come from all countries of the world with the same intention of completing Hajj, which is acceptable to Almighty God. Qur'an has commanded thus:

"And proclaim to mankind the Hajj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on very lean camel. They will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Hajj), that they may witness things that are of benefit to them. Let them complete their prescribed duties and perform their vows and circumambulate the ancient house" (Qur'an 22:27-29)

"Pilgrimage to the house is a duty to Allah by all people who are able to make the journey. As for those who disbelieve, Allah is in no need of anyone in all the worlds. Say: People of earlier revelation, why do you disbelieve in Allah?s revelations, when Allah Himself is witness to all that you do. Say: People of earlier revelation, why do you try to turn those who have come to believe, away from the path of Allah, seeking to make it turn crooked when you yourselves bear witness (to its being) straight)? Allah is not unaware of what you do" (Qur'an 3:97-99)

"The pilgrimage shall take place in the months appointed for it. And whoever undertakes the pilgrimage in those [months] shall, while on pilgrimage, abstain from lewd speech, from all wicked conduct, and from quarrelling; and whatever good you may do, God is aware of it. And make provision for yourselves - but, verily, the best of all provisions is God-consciousness: remain, then, conscious of Me, O you who are endowed with insight!" (Qur'an 2:197).

Pilgrimage was prescribed to the followers of all Prophets from Adam to Muhammad. It is one form of worship.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam to be performed by a Muslim who has the means and sufficient health to accomplish the same, the other pillars being Kalimah (confirmation of faith in one God), 5 times prayer per day, fasting in the month of Ramadan, Zakat (2.5% of money left with the individual after completion of one full year to be given to poor, needy, orphans, widows etc.). Hajj is the congregation of world Muslims in a specified place and time with the same object viz. obeying the Commandment of Allah - Lord of the Universe, Creator and Cherisher, with no beginning and no end. Hajj is compulsory once in life time, if the person has means to perform, by way money and health.

Hajj tests the patience, belief, spirit of sacrifice, humbleness, kindness, brotherly love, love towards God, readiness to give up all materials comfort and convenience for the will and plan of God.

Though it will be difficult to satisfy a rationalist mind, who asks for reason for each and every act performed in Hajj, it can be told that many of the acts performed in Hajj has a basis and a background, a tradition and a support, which can be seen from the following

Ihram (Wearing two pieces of white unstitched cotton cloth)
The Haji casts away his valuable garments and wears two pieces of linen to cover his nakedness. Simultaneously he casts away his pride and affluence. He has become one of the multitude- A humble creation. Nothing is there to differentiate him from other people. Nobody can make out whether he is rich or poor. No colour and race come in the way. Everyone is equal in front of Allah. The ihram for woman is different. They have to cover their entire body except face and palm. It is the obedience to God?s commandments that will make you more acceptable to God. Hajis repeatedly proclaim thus "Labbaikallahumma labbaika, labbaika la shareeka laka labbaik,innal hamda wanni'matha laka wal mulk, la shareeka laka" (I respond to your call, O Allah, I respond your call and I am obedient to Your Orders. You have no partner, I respond to your call, all the praise, thanks and blessings are for you, All the sovereignty is for You. And you have no partners with you.)?

Tawaf Qudoom (Arrival Circumambulation of Ka'ba)
Allah has made the Kaba the sacred House ?V an asylum of security and pilgrimage, (Hajj and Umra) for mankind, and also the sacred months? (5:97). On 8th Dul Hajj, the Haji has to take seven rounds or circumambulation of Holy Ka'ba, first house built for worship and praising of Creator of Universe, one God, reminding the submission and straightforwardness of Abraham and Ismail. This Baitullah (House of God), exclusively built for worship of one God Allah, is to be circambulated by the believers seven times, in praise of God and in utmost sublimation and reminding himself of the blessings of God given to us -the greatest blessing being on the right path. Muslim all over the world pray facing Ka'ba five times a day and the same is circambulated whole day in Mecca and there is no occasion when Ka'ba is not surrounded by the faithful. It is the focus of Islamic worship and the centre of Tauheed (Oneness of God) 

Sa'ee (walking and running between hillocks of Safa and Marwa)
"Verily Safah and Marwah are of the symbols of Allah. So it is not a sin to perform Tawaf/saee ( going in between them). And whoever does good voluntarily, then Allah is All Recognizer and All-knowing" (2:158)

This commemorates the trials and tribulations of Hajarah who was in need of few drops of water to quench the thirst of her child Ismael. She ran from the Hillocks of Safah to Marwah and found no caravan passing that side and heard the child crying. She came back to confirm that he has not fallen from the place and she returned to Marwah by walking fast and running and again walking . This was repeated seven times. (This is the saee that is performed by the Haji.) Finally the child rubbed his feet against the sand. A pool of water surfaced and by the Grace of Allah shaped itself into a well which came to be named as Zam Zam. This spring continues till today and thousands of people quench their thirst. All the praise is to God , Lord of the earth and heaven and its contents.

Mabeet fil Mina (Night halt at Mina)
Staying at Mina for one night before departure to Arafat is another act in the Hajj rituals. It denotes man?s readiness to abandon all the homely comforts and pleasure. He is not supposed to take part in sexual union and he is not allowed to kill any beast in precincts while he is in the condition of Ihram. There he is expected to make his own temporary dwelling, impoverished, and make his own food, for fasting is forbidden during Hajj. He may take rest and spend the half day and a full night in mediation and prayer, reading the holy Qur?aan. But this stay here is limited and he is not allowed to take rest there from the following morning. He is asked to leave for Arafat before he could settle down there. This is an indication that this life is temporary and nothing is permanent. It is lesson in the temporariness of this life. He is exhorted to think about the creations of God and praise him

Qiyam fi Arafat (Standing/Gathering at Arafat) 
On 9th of Dhul-Hajj, Hajis have to remain from morning till sunset near Jabal Noor at Arafat. Those who cannot reach here on this day will not accomplish the ritual of Hajj. This is the greatest annual assemblage of Muslims. Some three million people throng this place every year with one and the same message. "There is no God except Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet" and repeating it. While believing men and women assemble five times a day in their local mosque, every Friday in their Juma Masjid of their town or village, twice a year they assemble in Eid prayers in the main Masjid or open maidan (Eidgah) and people from all parts the world come together and assemble at Arafat, every year. (Eidul Ad-ha). Duhar and Asar prayers are performed in Arafat (shortened and joined - Qasr and Jam'). On 10th Dhul Hajj the Muslims all over the world celebrate the successful completion of Hajj by thanks-giving to Almighty.

Mabeet fil Muzdalifah (Night Halt at Muzdalifa)
Back to Muzdalifa after sunset on 9th Dul Hajj, the Hajis make their temporary stay there after delayed maghrib and isha prayers with one aadhan and two iqamats (isha shortened). Hajis spend the night in prayers and meditation get ready to move to Mina in the morning after morning prayer. This is yet another proof of the uncertainty of life

Jamrah (Symbolic stoning of Satan)
Back to Mina on the morning of 10th Dhul Hajj, the pilgrims have to throw seven pebbles collected from Muzdalifah at the evil one (space provided). This reminds us of the sacrifice which Abraham, forefather of Jewish, Muslim and Christian sects, was ordered by God, which he consented without any unwillingness -that he was to sacrifice his only son Ismaeel. But Iblis (accursed Satan) tried to dissuade both father and son pretending to be their well-wisher.... But the faith of Abraham in Allah was so great, he pelted stones at the misguiding Satan (Allah's curse be upon Satan). Both the son and father were ever ready to carry out the commands of Allah. This incident confirms that Allah though experiments a believer, finally blesses him if he is patient and successful in those tests. Ismaeel was spared and a ram (goat) was sent for sacrifice.

Dhab-h (Sacrifice) and Tawaf Idafah
It was reported that Prophet Muhammad slaughtered on the day of sacrifice two horned white and black castrated rams. When he placed them facing the Qiblah, he said: " Verily I turned my face towards the One who created the heavens and the earth, upon the religion of Ibrahim, being upright, and I am not one of the polytheists. Verily, my prayer, my sacrifice and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds. There is no partner for Him and I have been ordered with that, and I am one of the Muslims. O Allah, it is Thine and for Thee, from Muhammad and his people: In the Name of Allah. Allah is the Greatest." After then, he slaughtered. (Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawud)

Allah is not asking for the flesh and blood of the slaughtered animal, but he looks into your heart and your intention and sincerity and sacrifice. Following the above incident, Hajj is exhorted to repeat sacrificing the animal in the spirit of obedience to Allah's orders remembering the trial of the Great Prophets Abraham and Ismail, 10th Dhul Hijjah is the day of sacrifice and Tawaf at Kabah for the second time. After sacrifice the Haji goes to shorten or cut off his hairs of head in utmost simplicity and sense of submission and avoidance of any pomp and style. He is ready to remove his beautiful hair and go without it for the pleasure of God. Only a command from God will compel man to resort to this act. If any one else would have told to do so, he would refuse. Man is ready to sacrifice for the will and pleasure of God, including a life , even if it was his own life

Ayyamul Thashriq and Tawaf Wida'
These are the days after the day of sacrifice, 11th, 12th and 13th Dhul Hajj. Muslims from all parts of world arrive and stay at Mina for two consecutive days where they can mix with other people and know more about their place and life. This gives, a golden opportunity for understanding the Muslims from other parts of world. They can share information about their country and their experience and know each other more closely which was not possible for them hitherto. Here another higher aim of Hajj is fulfilled viz coming closer with people form all parts of the earth. During these days, one should increase doing good deeds. Hajis recite the following words on these days "God is great, God is great, God is great and all the praise is to Lord..." On Dhul Hajj 13th Hajis go back to Kabah after the final stoning of satan and do the Tawaf Wida'.

Visit to Madinah
Pilgrims visit Madinah and send their salams to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him). Some of the pilgrims spend eight days to complete 40 congregational prayers (Jamaat) in Madinah (five compulsory group prayers per day). Pilgrims return to their hearth and homes far and near with a sense of fulfillment and increased faith and conviction in Islam.

A Hajj without any blemish will be rewarded nothing less than eternal paradise. He is just like a newborn child devoid of any sin. Prophet Muhammad (sawa) said: "Whoever performs Hajj for Allah's sake only and does not have sexual relations with his wife (during 5 days of Hajj) and does not do evil or sins, then he will return as if he were born anew (free from sins)" (Hadidth No. 773, Bukhari)

If he continues to live peacefully and sinless in the earth and perform prayers regularly, give the poor-due properly and fast during the month of Ramadan and lead a righteous life, he shall be one of those who shall inherit the paradise.

It is very important not to repeat the past mistakes and then alone the Hajj will have its full effect on the individual life and his peace of mind. Hajjan Mabrooran wa Dhanban Maghfooran (Hajj accepted and sins forgiven).

"Our Lord, Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the fire (Hell)" (Qur'an 2:201)


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