Hajj: For Every Act There Is a Benefit

Hajj: For Every Act There Is a Benefit

 

Tawaf_Makkah

The sense of liberation and purgation is enhanced by the immediate environment and constant mention of Allah which form part of Hajj.

The benefits accruing to pilgrims are numerous and varied; religious, financial, social, political and intellectual. Down the millennia pilgrims have witnessed these benefits. This truth comes out at its sharpest in their numerous narratives and travelogues.

There is hardly a pilgrim who returns home without experiencing some of these benefits. It is commonplace that each act of worship has its own benefits. However, the benefits gained from Hajj are, relatively speaking, much more palpable and pronounced, observable to both pilgrims and non-pilgrims.

Winning Allah’s pleasure is, of course, its greatest benefit, which cannot be matched by any other gain imaginable. Accordingly, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) clarified that on accomplishing Hajj a pilgrim is akin to a new-born baby in being pure and sinless.

Amazingly enough, the moment one intends to perform Hajj, a sea change sets in one’s mindset, psychological make-up; in sum, on one’s entire outlook on life and benefits start pouring in immediately. For Hajj represents, so to speak, the pervading spirit of all the prescribed acts of worship in Islam.

The constant mention and remembrance of Allah and chanting certain formulae during Hajj are the unmistakable hallmarks of dhikr (remembrance of Allah) which permeate Hajj. This mention of Allah at appointed times during the course of Hajj also captures the spirit of salah, which is incorporated into Hajj.

A set of certain restrictions, forbidding pilgrims the use of otherwise perfectly lawful and wholesome things during the state of ihram (consecration), reminds one readily of the prohibitions placed on one during the month-long fasting during Ramadan.

Taken in this sense, Hajj incorporates features which are special to fasting. The journey undertaken to perform Hajj, often entailing inconvenience and suffering, re-enacts the essential component of the Hijrah (migrating in the cause of Allah). For in both of these acts of worship one willingly undergoes discomfort and emotional, material and monetary loss for the sake of Allah.

By the same token, some features specific to Jihad (striving in Allah’s cause) also characterize Hajj as the pilgrim makes sacrifices related to both his body and belongings. It goes without saying that to perform Hajj the pilgrim incurs expenses. This reinforces the spirit underlying zakah that man is only a trustee over the material resources endowed on him by Allah and that he should spend in consonance with Allah’s directives. Animal sacrifice, another prescribed act of worship in Islam, happens to be one of the major rites of Hajj itself.

Viewed thus, Hajj displays the quintessence of all the main acts of worship in Islam; prayer, fasting, zakah, hijrah, jihad and dhikr. One may therefore, maintain that this single act of worship, Hajj, renews in one the spirit pervading several acts of worship which is a benefit beyond all measure.

Furthermore, each rite of Hajj is characterized by many benefits which have both functional and catalytic value. The donning of ihram makes one realize paradoxically both the importance and worthlessness of clothes, of which one is habitual since birth. Clothes invest one with identity; individual, social and ethnic. Cloth is doubtless one of Allah’s major bounties bestowed on man.

At Allah’s command however, one stops using one’s traditional clothes during the state of ihram. This amounts, in a sense, to removing an artificial barrier to the unity of mankind. Pilgrims dressed in frugal ihram display the essential sameness of mankind, cutting across distinctions of social class, financial status and ethnic origin.

The strong individuality exhibited, rather reinforced by one’s preferential clothes, is instantly replaced by the awe-inspiring unity of mankind, with each one of the millions of pilgrims, assembled every year during the Hajj period, represented only as an obedient servant of Allah. Ihram thus instructs one in the ideal of mankind’s unity, which has assumed greater importance and relevance in today’s conflict-riven and disunited world.

More importantly, the donning of ihram places certain restrictions on one, ranging from refraining from sexual relations with one’s wife to hunting or wearing perfume, etc. This further infuses and strengthens a spirit of self-restraint. A pilgrim in ihram is not allowed to kill even an insect. He is not to indulge in fighting, obscenity or evil. Avoiding aggression and controlling animal instincts are thus the benefits arising out of donning ihram.

Talbiyah (chanting during Hajj) is of immense benefit for the pilgrim. At one level, it facilitates the bonding between man and Allah, between the creature and the Creator. At another, it helps one discover one’s true self – of wholesale surrender to the Supreme Lord.

One’s sense of proximity with Allah is further heightened by the sacred locale of Hajj sites. The House of Allah and other structures and places with thousands of years of rich history and their association with such august figures as Allah’s Messengers, from the Prophets Abraham and Muhammad (peace be upon them) to the latter’s Companions, make one inhale and imbibe the sense of the sacred and sublimate one spiritually and emotionally.

At the same time, this grand setting humbles one, making one all the more conscious of one’s failings and lapses in being true and faithful to one’s covenant with one’s Lord. Psychologically and morally it brings such benefits which a pilgrim treasures throughout his life.

The talbiyah and Hajj-setting help a pilgrim release and ennoble his feelings, especially towards his Creator and Lord. The sense of liberation and purgation is enhanced by the immediate environment and constant mention of Allah which form part of Hajj.

The visit to Haram (the Sacred Mosque) further heightens the sense of the hallowed and the sacred. It is innate in human nature to exteriorize, objectify and perceive the sacred with sense perception.

In Islam the sacred is abstract and rightly belongs to the domain of al-ghayb (the unseen which is beyond the realm of human sense perception). This natural desire on man’s part is, nonetheless gratified, to a certain degree, on seeing and going round the House of Allah, a concrete object yet enjoying such a close association with the sacred and the divine. The visit thus has a sublimating and exhilarating effect on the pilgrim’s spirit. Needless to add, this benefit is not obtainable anywhere else.

Furthermore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) is on record as saying that a prayer offered within the precincts of the Sacred Mosque is equivalent to one thousand prayers offered in any other mosque. This benefit of Hajj is too great to be disregarded by any Muslim.

Tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka`bah) broadens and reinforces one’s spiritual benefits. This rite draws the pilgrim into the proximity of the sanctum sanctorum. Standing near the Ka`bah, praying at the spot on which the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) had once stood, visiting the Zamzam well and drinking its water, and performing Sa`i between Safa and Marwah all being part of the rites of Hajj, help the pilgrim re-enact sacred history.

This benefit, once again, is special to Hajj. While regarding himself as part of the grand tradition, the pilgrim gains firm religious conviction. In other words, revivification of faith is one of the great benefits of Hajj.

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The article is an excerpt from Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s book “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

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Hajj: A Different Level of Existence

Hajj: A Different Level of Existence

 

Ka`bah_Hajj

It brings to mind immediately the grand assembly before Allah at the end of time when each and every human being will be recompensed…

During Hajj the pilgrim imbibes the spiritual experience flowing from the role models of the Prophets Abraham, Ishmael and Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them) and of Hager. Each of them represents an illuminating model of wholesale surrender to Allah’s will, and of steadfastness, characterized by unflinching resolve and undoubting courage, in following the path prescribed by Him.

As the pilgrim observes the places associated with them, he discovers a new level of existence; of surrender to Allah’s commands. Taken in this sense, Hajj stands out as a salvific journey, facilitating the pilgrim’s quest for deliverance.

For as the pilgrim moves away from his mundane, worldly surroundings and moves on to the open and sacred center and witnesses first-hand the religious sacra, the doors of his/her perception are cleansed. Hajj thus has a tremendous transformative effect on the pilgrim, giving a marked measure of coherence, direction and meaning to life.

The standing at ‘Arafat in the company of millions of pilgrims displays the homogenization of the purpose of the journey and of status.

It brings to mind immediately the grand assembly before Allah at the end of time when each and every human being will be recompensed in proportion to the record of his/her deeds.

At another level, this grand gathering has effectual benefits. For this infuses a strong sense of brotherhood among all the pilgrims. This spectacle of Muslim fraternity cutting across ethnicities, polities, cultures and societies, brings into sharper relief the truth underlying the Qur’anic assertion about Hajj.

And recall when We appointed the House (the Ka`bah) a resort to mankind and a place of security… (Al-Baqarah 2:125)

Hajj embodies the virtuous inclination of the pilgrim’s will. It thus serves as an excellent opportunity for ennobling and sublimating one’s emotions and responses. As already hinted, Hajj trains pilgrims in exercising and developing self-restraint.

On the way to Hajj, the pilgrim may be afflicted with troubles which are sent by Allah to test his/her moral mettle. Apart from this, the restrictions flowing from donning ihram aim at imbuing the pilgrim with a whole array of moral values. Of these, the avoidance of aggression or controlling one’s animal instincts is to the fore.

The Qur’anic directives of Hajj are, significantly enough, tempered with exhortations for self-restraint, something which is pivotal to leading an excellent moral life. Take the following as an instance in point:

For Hajj are the months well known. So whoever undertakes that duty, let there be no obscenity, wickedness or wrangling during Hajj. And whatever good you do, Allah surely knows it. And take provision for the journey. Surely the best provision is piety. (Al-Baqarah 2:197)

Likewise, the command for animal sacrifice is followed by the precept denoting charity and fellow feeling … “Eat some of it and feed the needy and the poor,” (Al-Hajj 22:28). All lewdness in word and deed is forbidden.

Islam introduced this moral strain at a time when the visit to the Ka`bah during the pre-Islamic period was vitiated by obscenity. The above moral precepts are part of the Islamic code of conduct. These are nonetheless emphasized during Hajj as part of the pilgrim’s moral training.

The union of the separate but similar emotional and moral dispositions of pilgrims facilitates this effectual benefit. Through the strong sense of brotherhood and the common bonding of devotion to the same goal as also the moral tenor leaves an indelible imprint on the mind and soul of the pilgrim.

The convergence of pilgrims from all parts of the world, representative of a vast socio-economic catchment area, provides pilgrims with many associational benefits. Acquaintance and social contact with fellow believers revitalizes the sense of community and solidarity and opens up avenues for trade and commerce.

Furthermore, the exchange of views on a wide range of issues may be likened to a fresh blood supply in the Muslim polity. More rewarding is the interaction among the `ulamaa’ (scholars) and jurisprudents from different parts of the world. Hajj serves as an international gathering of members of various strata of society. It provides an excellent platform for da‘wah, its strategies, challenges and prospects.

Above all, it helps raise the morale of pilgrims as believers.

The benefits of Hajj are staggering, especially the salvific, associational and effectual ones. Little wonder then that the Qur’an makes a point of mentioning that Muslims should perform Hajj so as to witness the benefits accruing to them” (Al-Hajj 22:28).

Some of these benefits are recorded graphically in the travelogues of pilgrims of all times and places, especially of new Muslims. Even Orientalists, inimical to Islam, feel compelled to pay a glowing tribute to some of the benefits of Hajj, as is evident from the following extracts:

This great international gathering … is an impressive manifestation of the unity of the Muslim world, and serves to keep alive the feeling of brotherhood in Islam. The same thought is impressed upon those Muslims who have been unable themselves to make the pilgrimage in that on the very same day in which the sacrifices are being offered outside the city of Mecca, the faithful … are linked by bonds of sympathy with their more fortunate brethren in the sacred city.

In the same vein is the observation of a distinguished Western historian of Arabia:

Down through the ages this institution (Hajj) has continued to serve as the major unifying influence in Islam and the most effective common bond among the diverse believers. It rendered almost every capable Muslim perforce a traveler for once in his lifetime.

This socializing influence of such a gathering of the brotherhood of believers from the four quarters of the earth is hard to overestimate. It affords opportunity for Negroes, Berbers, Chinese, Persians, Syrians, Turks, Arabs – rich and poor, high and low, to fraternize and meet together on the common ground of faith.

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The article is an excerpt from Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s book “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

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Fruits of Hajj (3/3)

Fruits of Hajj (3/3)

Part 1, Part 2

Pilgrims throw stones at Satan.

They remember the action of the Prophet Ibrahim with the cursed Satan, when he attempted to cast doubts in the heart of Ibrahim.

Allah, the Almighty, has made sublime purposes for the legislation of the acts of worship. For example, regarding Prayer, Almighty Allah says,

And establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing. (Al-`Ankabut 29:45)

Concerning fasting, Allah (glory be to Him) says,

O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous. (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

As regards Hajj, Almighty Allah says,

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 pass. That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah…(Al-Hajj 22:27-28)

These verses indicate that the acts of worship have been enacted for certain goal, which is only attainable through performing the worship in conformity with the commands of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Notably, these goals are focusing on the enrichment of morals and ethics and enhancing faith.

In the former articles, we touched on a number of the lessons and messages taken from Hajj. We are going to complete this topic in this article.

Eighth: The Message of Facilitation

While performing his only one time of Hajj, the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught his companions the right way to perform the rituals of Hajj. Yet, some companions would mistake the right order of performing these rituals. The Prophet (peace be upon him) responded to this confusion with utmost easiness and facilitation. It is reported that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked on the day of `Eid Al-Adha about anything that has been advanced or deferred he would say, “Do, there is no harm.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) He did not approve negligence at all, but, in forgiven matters, there should be facilitation and pardoning.

It is the message of facilitation and moderation confirmed by the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Almighty Allah says,

Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship. (Al-Baqarah 2:185)

`A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said, “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was never given the choice between two things but he would choose the easier of the two, so long as it was not a sin; if it was a sin he would be the furthest of the people from it. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Extremism and intolerance are abhorred by Islam. Keep as much as you can to the orders of Allah and do not overburden yourself because you may lose your enthusiasm and fall short to perform even the basic acts. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded.” (Al-Bukhari)

Have you got the message!!

Ninth: The Message of Abandoning Erroneous Customs

We all know that the Ka`bah was rebuilt by the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Isma`il (Ishmael) (peace be upon them). Since its foundation, people would come to visit and make pilgrimage to it. However, they would make a plenty of acts of disbelief and repugnant acts while performing Hajj. Among the rites of Hajj during the pre-Islamic period of ignorance was to circulate around the Ka`bah fully naked. Also, they surrounded the Ka`bah with the idols they worshipped. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) came, he eliminated all the censured customs of disbelievers and all the forms of disbelief from Hajj and Ka`bah and admitted the only good things, such as providing water to the pilgrims.

It is reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Allah has taken away from you the arrogance of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic period of ignorance) and its pride in forefathers.” He (peace be upon him) refused and disdained the bad habits of the Jahiliyyah, such as pride in forefathers, riba (interest-based dealings) and revenge. He taught us that Islam corrects the Muslim’s way of life, sets his principles aright, improves his good morals, admits the good things with the other even if he is a dissenter and builds the independent Muslim personality.

Have you got the message!!

Tenth: Message of Man’s Enmity with Satan

Stoning the Jamarah is one of the obligatory rituals of Hajj. It was narrated from Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) seated Al-Fadl behind him on his mount, and Al-Fadl said that he did not stop reciting the Talbiyah until he stoned the Jamrah. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (may Allah have mercy on him) said:  “As for the stoning of the Jamarat, the purpose behind it is to follow the command and manifest submission and servitude to Allah… The aim is also to imitate Ibrahim (peace be upon him), when Iblis (may Allah curse him) appeared to him in that place to instill confusion in his mind or tempt him to sin, and Allah commanded him to throw stones at
Satan so as to drive him away and dash his hopes.” (islamqa.com)

So, the pilgrim inspires this fact while throwing the pebbles. They remember the action of the Prophet Ibrahim against the cursed Satan, when he attempted to cast doubts in the heart of Ibrahim (peace be upon him). Actually, the enmity and deceit of Satan never end as he always tries to tempt the human beings to take them away of Allah’s way. So, always remember that Satan is your greatest enemy.

Have you got the message!!

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