Hajj: A Universal Message of Unity

Hajj: A Universal Message of Unity

Islam promotes brotherhood and equality

“What’s up bro?” A common phrase heard today, but one which has a deep sense of responsibility in an Islamic culture. The reason is that Muslims, those who follow Islam as an entire way of life, try to follow all that the Qur’an teaches, and this is one of its major teachings:

The believers are but brothers. (Al-Hujurat 49:10)

Many countries, schools, and organizations coin phrases like “united we stand”, and “strength in unity”, but it’s rare to see or experience unity in these institutions. As stated by R. L. Mellema, a Dutch anthropologist, writer, and scholar:

The doctrine of brotherhood of Islam extends to all human beings, no matter what color, race, or creed. Islam is the only religion which has been able to realize this doctrine in practice. Muslims, wherever in the world they are, will recognize each other as brothers.

Unity as explained by the Online Merriam-Webster dictionary is (1) a condition of harmony (2) a totality of related parts.

Muslims follow these meanings in their entirety, as they are advised by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to be like one body, when one part of it is hurt, the whole body aches. This is why Muslims in Alaska would feel sad and pray for Muslims whose families died when a boat overturned in Asia.

Why is unity important for a community and for individuals?

Extensive research in the field of psychology has made several connections between depression, suicide, and community. According to popular statistics in America, white male Protestants are more likely to commit suicide than Asian males. This is mainly due to the fact that Asians are more of a community-based people, whereas white Americans stress heavily on individualism.

The phrase, “No man is an island,” by John Donne, sums up a great deal in few words. In this, Donne does not only mean humans are interdependent for their basic physical or material needs like food and clothing, but humans are unable to work to their potential alone, as they acquire motivation from others around.

“Where there is unity there is always victory.” Publilius Syrus, a Roman author, 1st century B.C.

Unity, and especially religious unity, has played an important part in shaping civilizations and continues to play a pivotal role in shaping societies. Many great empires disintegrated due to disparity amongst their people. All nations invest in advertising the unity of the country. China is a good example of achieving great heights due to national unity. But yet they have ethnic groups that are ill-treated and do not feel to be part of this great nation.


Brotherhood & Equality

“Islam replaced monkishness by manliness. It gives hope to the slave, brotherhood to mankind, and recognition of the fundamental facts of human nature.” (Taylor 171-172)

Looking back at the history of Islam right from its advent, one realizes that many Muslim rulers have made great effort to preserve unity and equality amongst their citizens, regardless of their religion, race, or region.

If we look at what most of the Western narrators have to say about Prophet Muhammad’s achievements, the one that stands out above all is his ability to unite not only the Arabs, but all the people of Mecca, Medinah, and the surrounding areas.

Of course Muslims believe that this was all possible due to the will of God. At the time of the Prophet, the Arabs were divided, warring factions, who were brought together as one force. The ideologies of Islam pertaining to equality and brotherhood convinced the various tribes.

“The extinction of race consciousness between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue.” (Toynbee 205)

One should identify that Islam is not only for Muslims; it is for all humanity. Almighty Allah tells us that He created Adam and Eve and made all humans their descendants. This gives all mankind a common start, a roadway on the journey that leads to unity. It makes one realize that colors, tribes, nations, and ethnicity came later — due to expansion and immigration. But, eventually, we are all children of Adam, and hence all one.

This is far from the teachings of Darwin’s theory, where existence depends on the survival of the fittest. Sadly, people who agree with it become individualistic and divided. Muslims reject this theory and can hence strengthen their bonds further.

The noble Qur’an then narrows down the uniting factor to include the people of the three monotheistic religions — Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. It does this by referring to all of them as People of the Book.

According to Islam, Allah sent prophets, as warners and guides, to every nation. A few of these prophets are considered to be specially important, and whose accounts are related in more details, namely Abraham (regarded as the father of the three monotheistic religions by most historians), Moses, Jesus, David, and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

The latter four were provided scriptures and laws by Allah. And hence in this way, Jews and Christians are recognized as People of the Book in the Qur’an and Islamic traditions. Also, all these faiths await the coming of a Messiah, which is declared in their respective religious books.

Eventually the broad scope of the equality and brotherhood in Islam is extended to all Muslims. One of the chief uniting factors for Muslims is found in the testimony of faith, which every Muslim should utter sincerely and wholeheartedly: There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger.

This highlights two factors. Foremost, there is only One God, Allah; He is the ultimate unity. Every Muslim prays, beseeches, and bows down to the same One God. We are all united in this thought and action. Furthermore, it provides all Muslims with one teacher. All Muslims, no matter what name they give their sects, have the same One God, Allah, and the same leader, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This is the highest form of unity in Islam.

Moving a step further, there is only one book that every Muslim is prescribed to read, recite, and understand: the Qur’an. From Japan to Hawaii, the Qur’an is every Muslim’s comprehensive guide, which Muslims believe was sent down by the one God above.

No matter what their language is, the recitation of the Qur’an is always done in Arabic. Many people read translations of the meanings of the Qur’an in their native tongue to comprehend what the illustrious book explains, but when they recite it, it’s always in one language, Arabic. Because of this, many people who are unaware of Islam think it is an Arab religion, whereas most Muslims are non-Arabs.

Islam is an entire way of life. Each person tries to embody it to the best of their abilities. But Islam has five pillars, which are five requirements a Muslim must complete or fulfill.

First: The aforementioned testimony that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger.

Second: Performing five Prayers a day.

Third: Annually paying a certain paltry percentage of savings towards charity.

Fourth: Fasting the month of Ramadan.

Fifth: Performing Hajj to Mecca (the sacred city located in modern-day Saudi Arabia).


Worship That Unites

Hajj, as mentioned above, is one of the five tenets of Islam. It is obligatory upon every able-bodied and financially capable Muslim at least once in a life-time. Approximately three million people from 160 different countries unite for a period of 10 days every year. One can say that there are literally people from every corner of the world in the region of Mecca and Medinah during the Hajj season.

Hajj is declared by all experts to be the most diverse gathering in the world. Yet all the people there are united in their actions and goals. Each person performs the same procedures to complete their Hajj. All the people dress alike, men are to wear two pieces of unstitched white cloth and women wear cloaks or simple gowns and a headscarf.

In fact, several groups have identifiers — arm-bands, headbands, and so on — to make it easier for each group to stay together. This way one can spot one’s relatives and friends amongst the waves of people.

For the people at Hajj, consumerism and worldliness are farthest from daily thought; whereas spirituality and good-will are powerfully present. This spiritually bonds the people to a level above daily life. Hence the fervor and brotherhood seen at Hajj is hard to even glimpse in everyday life.

There are several accounts where people have said they were old or sick and helped through the crowds by total strangers. It is not uncommon to see young sons carrying their elders on their backs and walking miles.

Malcom X, the African American Muslim minister and human rights activist, changed some of his views after performing Hajj. He had never imagined, let alone seen so many different colors with no distinctions. He truly realized that there is no discrimination in Islam, whether towards the blacks or whites, as he mentioned in one of his speeches after his return:

I am a Muslim and my religion makes me be against all forms of racism. It keeps me from judging any man by the color of his skin.

This unity and brotherhood is one of the major attractions of Islam. Many seekers of truth have come to Islam starting with their interactions with Muslims who acted like brothers.

On such unequalled brotherhood, Colonel Donald S. Rockwell, an American Muslim convert, said:

The universal brotherhood of Islam, regardless of race, politics, color, or country, has been brought home to me most keenly many times in my life – and this is another feature which drew me towards the Faith.


This article has been taken with slight modifications from onislam.net.


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How to Make Hajj (3/3)

How to Make Hajj (3/3)

After finishing the rituals of the first day of `Eid, you are done with the major rituals of Hajj – the pillars of Hajj – and therefore you are totally absolved of the state of ihram. These rituals of Hajj remain:

1. Spending two or three nights in Mina

2. Throwing the pebbles

3. Making the Farewell Tawaf

1. Spending Nights in Mina

You have to spend two or three nights following the first day of `Eid in Mina. If you intend to spend just two nights in Mina, you have to leave before the Maghrib Prayer of Dhul-Hijjah 12.

Throughout the three days following the first day of `Eid you are not obliged to stay in Mina in the daytime, yet staying in Mina is the sunnah. These three days are called the Days of Tashreeq. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “The Days of Tashreeq are days of eating, drinking, and remembering Allah.” It is recommended, therefore, that you repeat the Takbir of `Eid throughout these days, especially after each prayer.

2. Throwing Pebbles at the Three Jamarat

On each day of Dhul-Hajjah 11-13, you throw pebbles at the three Jamarat, starting with the small Jamarah (Al-Jamarat As-Sughra), then the middle one (Al-Jamarat Al-Wusta), and finally the big Jamarah (Al-Jamarat Al-Kubra). The time for throwing the pebbles starts from the Fajr Prayer of each day and extends to the next day’s Fajr Prayer. Some people insist that the time for throwing the pebbles starts after Zhuhr Prayer; this is the opinion of some scholars but it is a weak one. Furthermore, it poses a great difficulty on both pilgrims and Saudi authorities because of the huge number of pilgrims.

Throw seven pebbles into the basin of each Jamarah, saying “Bismillah, Allahu Akbar” when throwing each pebble. After finishing the first jamarah (the small one), it is recommended that you stand and supplicate Allah Almighty as long as you can. It is recommended that you also do so after you finish the second jamarah (the middle one).

If you plan to spend only two days and nights in Mina, you throw the pebbles on Dhul-Hijjah 11 and 12 only.

3. Making the Farewell Tawaf

Now that you are going to leave the sacred sites, you have to bid farewell to the sacred mosque and refresh your eyes with the sight of the Ka`bah before departing. This is done by performing Tawaf Al-Wada` (Farewell Tawaf), which you should do immediately before leaving Makkah. This Tawaf is performed in the same way as Tawaf Al-Ifadah; no idtiba` (exposing the right shoulder) or ramal (jogging) is involved.

You may prefer to delay Tawaf Al-Ifadah until you are about to leave Makkah. This practice is acceptable, but note that the intention of this Tawaf should be that it is Tawaf Al-Ifadah. After finishing it, you need not make another special Tawaf for leaving.

A menstruating woman need not make the Farewell Tawaf so long as she has already made Tawaf Al-Ifadah. But if she has not made Tawaf Al-Ifadah yet, she has to stay until she is pure and performs ghusl (ritual bathing) and then she can make Tawaf Al-Ifadah (which would serve also as the Farewell Tawaf if she leaves directly after it). If such waiting would pose an unbearable difficulty on her, for example if she would miss her flight, she is allowed to make Tawaf Al-Ifadah even if she has her period. This opinion is held by the prominent scholars Ibn Taymiyah and Ibn Al-Qayyim and is preferred by Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.


Taken from Onislam.net


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How to Make Hajj (2/3)

How to Make Hajj (2/3)


After you have made the necessary preparations – paid your debts, repented, absolved yourself of
any wrongdoing toward others, etc. – you are ready to take the first step in the blessed journey: ihram.

What is ihram?

The word ihram is used for three meanings:

1. The two pieces of cloth worn by male pilgrims.

2. The very act of starting Hajj or `Umrah by making the intention that one is now starting Hajj or `Umrah and saying the Talbiyah.

3. The state of consecration in which the pilgrims are during Hajj or `Umrah. After putting on ihram (first meaning) and making the intention of ihram (second meaning), the pilgrims enter automatically the state of ihram, which requires them to avoid certain things. Below are more details on ihram in its three senses.

How do I put on ihram?

Cleanliness is recommended before putting on the clothing of ihram. It is recommended that you clip finger and toe nails, shave off armpit and pubic hair, comb the hair and beard, trim the moustache, bathe (perform ghusl) or at least make wudu’. Men, but not women, are also recommended to put on perfume.

For men, the clothing of ihram comprises two sheets of cloth. One is wrapped round the upper part of the body except the head. It is normally draped over both shoulders but in certain times it is to be draped over one shoulder. This will be discussed later. The other is wrapped round the lower part of the body. You can fix this piece by a belt, a money belt, or a pin.

For women, the ihram is ordinary loose-fitting clothes that cover all of the body except the face and hands. In some countries it is a tradition for women to wear special clothes, such as white dresses or black cloaks, for ihram, but this is not required.

There are no restrictions as for women’s footwear. But for men, footwear should not cover the toes and ankles. Socks and shoes, therefore, should not be used by men.

Putting on ihram is the first step in Hajj and `Umrah. As mentioned above, you first put on ihram and then make the intention of starting Hajj or `Umrah (the second meaning of ihram). You can put on ihram in your home or wherever you want, provided that when you intend to start Hajj or `Umrah, you are dressed in the clothing of ihram.

As you will see later in this article, there are prescribed places that you should not pass before putting on ihram and making the intention of starting Hajj or `Umrah.

How, where, and when do I start pilgrimage?

Now after putting on the clothing of ihram, you are ready to start your pilgrimage by making the intention of starting Hajj or `Umrah. It is recommended to make the intention after performing one of the obligatory prayers or after praying two rak`ahs. You express this intention by saying, in the case of `Umrah, “Labbayka, Allahuma, `Umrah” (O Allah, I answer Your call by performing `Umrah). As for Hajj, the intention varies according to the mode of Hajj you choose:

1. In ifrad Hajj, you are going to perform only Hajj and therefore you make the intention of Hajj saying “Labbayka, Allahuma, Hajjan” (O Allah, I answer Your call by performing Hajj).

2. In tamatu` Hajj, you are going to perform a full `Umrah followed by a break and then a full Hajj. Therefore, you make the intention of `Umrah saying “Labbayk, Allahuma, `Umrah” (O Allah, I answer Your call by performing `Umrah). On Dhul-Hijjah 8, you start Hajj so you make then the intention of Hajj saying “Labbayk, Allahuma, Hajjan” (O Allah, I answer Your call by performing Hajj).

3. In qiran Hajj, you are going to combine `Umrah with Hajj, so you make the intention of both `Umrah and Hajj saying “Labbayk, Allahuma, `Umratan wa Hajjan” (O Allah, I answer Your call by performing `Umrah and Hajj).

There are certain places at which you should make your intention. These places are called mawaqit (plural of miqat). You should not pass your fixed miqat without putting on the cloth of ihram and making the intention of ihram. These are five places:

1. Dhul-Hulaifah, a place southwest of Madinah and 18 km from its mosque. It is the miqat for the people coming from Madinah and beyond.

2. Dhat-`Iraq, a place 94 km to the northeast of Makkah. It is the miqat for the people coming from Iraq and beyond.

3. Al-Juhfah, a place 187 km to the northwest of Makkah. This was the miqat for the people coming from or passing through Syria and Egypt. It was on the eastern coast of the Red Sea, but it has completely disappeared and Rabigh (to the north of Al-Juhfah) is used as this miqat now.

4. Qarn Al-Manazil, 94 km to the east of Makkah. It is the miqat for the people of Najd and the pilgrims who pass by it.

5. Yalamlam, 54 km to the south of Makkah. It is the miqat for those coming from Yemen and the pilgrims who pass by it.

If you are traveling by land, it is easy to stop at the miqat and make the intention. People traveling by air are usually notified when reaching the miqat or a short time before so that they can make the intention. In such a case you are supposed to be ready, having put on your ihram clothing in advance.

There is a prescribed time for Hajj: the months of Shawwal, Dhul-Qi`dah and Dhul-Hijjah. So making the intention of Hajj should take place in the period from Shawwal 1 to Dhul-Hijjah 9. It is not possible to start Hajj on Dhul-Hijjah 10 or afterwards because this means missing the ritual of staying in `Arafah on the day or night of Dhul-Hijjah 9, which is one of the pillars of Hajj.

What are the prohibitions while in the state of ihram?

Having started Hajj or `Umrah, you are now in the state of ihram. From now until you finish the `Umrah or until you are done with the major tasks of Hajj, you are supposed to abandon certain things (called mahzhurat al-ihram) or the don’ts of the state of ihram. They are the following:

1. Clipping nails and shaving hair from any part of the body.

2. Using perfume in any way.

3. Making foreplay, speaking lustful words, touching your spouse with desire, and having sexual intercourse.

4. Contracting marriage.

5. Hunting or eating from game meat. Pilgrims are forbidden to hunt, help in hunting, or eat of any land game prepared for their sake, at their suggestion, or with their help.

6. For men, covering the head or wearing clothes sewn to fit the body’s limbs. So wearing shirts, robes, trousers, turbans, hats, gloves, socks, etc. is prohibited.

7. For women, wearing Niqab or gloves.


Taken from Onislam.net.

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How to Make Hajj (1/3)

How to Make Hajj (1/3)

The first steps in Hajj are to put on the clothing of ihram and then to make the intention of ihram at the miqat. The intention of ihram varies according to the mode of Hajj you choose. What to do after that depends too on the mode of Hajj as follows:


Having made the intention of `Umrah, you should make a full `Umrah. After finishing it, you automatically go out of the state of ihram. The restrictions of ihram no longer apply to you until you go into the state of ihram once again on Dhul-Hijjah 8, this time for making Hajj.



Having arrived at Makkah, you make the Tawaf of arrival, which is recommended, not obligatory. It is performed in the same way the Tawaf of `Umrah is performed.

After performing the Tawaf of arrival, you can make the Sa`i of your Hajj. This Sa`i is obligatory and is one of the pillars of Hajj. You can do it either after the Tawaf of arrival or after the second Tawaf of Hajj – Tawaf Al-Ifadah.

You remain in the state of ihram until you are done with the major rituals of the `Eid day, Dhul-Hijjah 10. It is recommended to repeat Talbiyah from time to time until you cast the pebbles of Al-`Aqabah on the day of `Eid.


Generally speaking, pilgrims who perform Qiran perform the same rituals of ifrad with one exception, they have to offer hadi (animal slaughtered in Makkah as a gift for its poor people.)

Rituals of Dhul-Hijjah 8

If you are performing tamattu` Hajj, put on your ihram clothing again and make the intention of Hajj saying “Labbayka Allahuma Hajjan” (O Allah, I answer Your call by performing Hajj.) Now you are ready to undertake the rituals of Hajj. Pilgrims who perform ifrad or qiran Hajj are already in the state of ihram so they skip this step.

On the morning of Dhul-Hijjah 8, it is recommended for all pilgrims to go to Mina where they spend the rest of the day and the night, performing five prayers there, namely Zhuhr, `Asr, Maghrib, `Isha’ and the Fajr of Dhul-Hijjah 9, shortening the prayers of Zhuhr,`Asr, and`Isha’ to two rak`ahs.

Rituals of Dhul-hijjah 9

After the sun rises on Dhul-Hijjah 9, pilgrims leave Mina to `Arafah. Staying in `Arafah is a major pillar of Hajj. The Prophet said, “Hajj is (staying in) `Arafah.”

The time for staying in `Arafah starts from the Zhuhr Prayer of Dhul-Hijjah 9 and ends at the Fajr Prayer on Dhul-Hijjah 10. Staying for any portion of time within this range is acceptable. The Prophet stayed in `Arafah until the sun set, and therefore some scholars hold that pilgrims should not leave `Arafah before sunset. The preponderant opinion, however, is that this is not necessary, especially if there is a need for leaving `Arafah earlier. In `Arafah you pray Zhuhr and `Asr, joining them at the time of Zhuhr if possible, and shortening each of them to two rak`ahs.

While being in `Arafah, you should busy yourself with dhikr, du`aa’, and asking for Allah’s forgiveness. The Day of `Arafah is a very blessed day. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

There is no day in which Allah frees a greater number of His slaves from the Hellfire than the Day of `Arafah. Allah comes close to His slaves and boasts about them to the angels, then asks (a rhetorical question): “What do these slaves seek?” (Muslim)

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also said,

The best supplication is that of the Day of `Arafah, and the best thing that I and other Prophets before me said, is:

La ilaha illa allahu wahdahu la sharika lah, lahu al-mulku wa lahu al-hamdu wa huwa `ala kulli shai’in qadeer.

There is no god but Allah alone. He has no partners. To Him belong the sovereignty and all praise. He has power over all things.

Mistakes to Be Avoided at `Arafah

  1. Some pilgrims do not recite the Talbiyah aloud on their way from Mina to `Arafah. It was proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) continued to recite the Talbiyah until he threw the pebbles of Al-`Aqabah on the day of `Eid.
  2. One of the most serious mistakes that some pilgrims make is to stop outside `Arafah and then stay there until the sun sets, after which they leave for Muzdalifah. Those who stand in these places have not performed Hajj. There are big and clear signs showing the boundaries of `Arafah.
  3. Some people think that they have to go to the place where the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) stood beside the mountain and to stand there. They put themselves through a great deal of trouble in order to reach that place. This is wrong. It was proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “I am standing here but all of `Arafah is the place of standing.”
  4. Some pilgrims think that the mountain by which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) stood is holy, so they go and climb it seeking blessings from the stones and soil around it. These are unacceptable bid`ahs (innovations in religion).
  5. Some people think that it is essential to pray Zhuhr and `Asr Prayers with the imam in the mosque, seeking that place from far away. This causes them a great deal of difficulty and many of them go astray, which makes Hajj extremely hard for them, and they crowd one another and upset one another.

The Night of Dhul-Hijjah 9

After spending some time in `Arafah, preferably from Zhuhr till Maghrib Prayers, you leave to Muzdalifah. On your way from `Arafah, keep remembering Allah and seeking His forgiveness.

On reaching Muzdalifah, join Maghrib and `Isha’ Prayers at the time of the latter; three rak`ahs for Maghrib and two for `Isha’.

If you fear that you may miss these prayers due to the throng of people at Muzdalifah, then you may perform prayers on your way to it. Then when you reach Muzdalifah, you can sleep till dawn. This is the Sunnah of the Prophet. However, according to some scholars you can leave after midnight. The Maliki school even holds that it is adequate to pray Maghrib and `Isha’ in Muzdalifah, have a meal, and then leave for Mina. This opinion is preferred by the prominent scholar Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi because of the huge number of pilgrims these years.

Take note of this: Muzdalifah is an open area; you will find no tents there. So remember to ask your journey’s organizers if they will provide you with blankets or sleeping bags; these will prove very useful, especially if it is cold that night.


Taken from Onislam.net.

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