In the last few days millions of Muslims visited the holy city of
Makkah ( Mecca) in Saudi Arabia for performing their hajj or pilgrimage -- the
world's largest annual gathering event.
The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam that every capable Muslim must perform at least once in lifetime. It falls on the lunar month of Dhul Hijjah. The pilgrimage ends after Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, which this year was celebrated on Friday. This reminds me of my own hajj in December of 2006. That year the Eid al-Adha also fell on Friday, the day of Muslim congregation or Jumu’ah.
The performance of hajj is a simultaneous show or exhibit of many things. It is a show of creation. It is a show of history. It is a show of unity. It is a show of Islamic ideology. It is a show of Ummah, the community of Muslims. It is beneficial to mankind because it transcends all man-made divisions and brings them closer to each other. That is why, it is said in the Qur’an: “And proclaim unto mankind the hajj. …. That they may witness things that are of benefit to them.” (22:27-8)
Just as in any other good show or movie or theatre-play, the following conditions prevail in hajj. Allah is the stage Manager. The theme portrayed is the actions of these main characters – Adam, Haw’a (Eve), Ibrahim (Abraham), Hajar (Hagar), Isma’il (Ishma’el), and Shaytan (Satan). The main scenes are – Masjid al-Haram, ‘Arafat, Mas’a (space between the mountains – Safa and Marwa), Mash’ar (area between ‘Arafat and Mina) and Mina. Important symbols are – Ka’ba, Safa, Marwa, day, night, sunshine, sunset, idols and rituals of sacrifice. The dress and make-up are – ‘Ihram, halq and taqseer (part of ceremonies of hajj involving cutting of hair and nails, afterward). Lastly, the player of the show is – YOU – the Hajji. You are the main feature of the performance. The role of Adam, Ibrahim, Isma’il and Hajar in confrontation between Allah and Satan is all played by you. As a result, you are the hero of the show!!
The rites of hajj are five – (1) ‘Ihram, (2) waiting at ‘Arafat, (3) Tawaf of the Ka’ba, (4) sa’iy or running between the Safa and the Marwa and (5) cutting or trimming of hair. Others are not pillars, although some may require kaffara or penalty, if not done. The person who puts on the ‘Ihram or cloth for either ‘Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) or hajj (greater pilgrimage) is called a Muhrim.
There are ten etiquettes of hajj. These are:
1. Requite all wrongdoings and satisfy all adversaries.
2. Make provision for hajj from one’s lawful wealth.
3. Learn the pillars of hajj and its ceremonies.
4. Be kind and forbearing with others, lest the reward be nullified.
5. Observe the obligations of prayers and its statutes.
6. Be open-handed, maintain the poor and spend as much as he/she is able to.
7. At the station of ‘Arafat, remember the Day of Judgment (Yawmil Qiamat).
8. Should not miss visitation of the Prophet’s (S) grave in Madinah.
9. After return from hajj, one should turn toward Akhirat (Hereafter).
10. One should remember his parents and other close relatives who have passed away with pious prayers and make-up for them if they could not fulfill their obligations for hajj.
The steps of hajj are the following:
1. Miqat – putting on ‘Ihram at designated places with wadhu.
The show of hajj begins with Miqat. At this point, the participant must change his/her clothes. Clothes show individuality, status, preference and distinction. They create superficial barriers that separate man from man. The concept of “I” (and not “We”) emerges which gives birth to discrimination. At Miqat the pilgrim assumes his/her original shape as a “man” or “woman”, just one of “children of Adam” who will die one day. The cloth of ‘Ihram is, therefore, the anti-thesis to that “individualism”; it is the kafan (or burial shroud). He/she wears the kafan, the two pieces of cloth, just like everyone else. He/she joins the mass, the multitude and becomes nothing or just a drop of water in the ocean that has no special identity of its own. An atmosphere of genuine unity prevails everywhere. It is a human show of Islamic unity; it is a show of universal brotherhood. The bodies were left in Miqat and the souls are motivated here. This is the beginning of the pilgrim’s journey, his/her voyage to nothingness. There is no sex, no perfume, no shoes, no sewn clothes and head covers for men, no face mask, no cutting of hair or nails, i.e., absolutely no signs of aristocracy or distinction. In the state of Muhrim, he/she doesn’t even look in a mirror to see his/her own image. The pilgrim does neither hunt any animal, nor uproots any plant. So he/she kills the tendencies of aggression by being peaceful to nature. He/she ceases to remain or behave as somebody.
Hajj is a movement to returning to Allah, just as Allah says in the Qur’an: Wa ilal-lahil maseer (24:42), meaning, “Unto Allah is the journeying.” All the selfish egos must be buried at Miqat. It is like witnessing one’s own dead body and visiting one’s own grave. By sacrificing his/her individuality, the pilgrim focuses on reality, the basic purpose for which he/she was created - that being a slave unto Allah. Just as a person would be buried in two pieces of cloth, leaving behind all wealth and worldly belongings, here in Miqat the pilgrim practices a dress rehearsal for that inevitable event.
After putting on the ‘Ihram, the pilgrim proclaims: “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik, Labbaik La Sharika laka labbaik. Innal hamda, wal-niy’mata laka wal mulk, La Sharika laka labbaik ….” (Meaning: Here I am, O Lord, here I am. You indeed have no partner. Here I am. No doubt, all praise and bounties are Yours, and so is the absolute domain. You indeed have no partners. Here I am.”)
2. It is preferable to enter Makkah during the daytime:
The pilgrim’s heart pounds with each step taken towards the Ka’ba. The weight of being close to Allah’s house seems to get heavier and heavier. He/she is endowed with a mixed feeling of love and fear. Love -- because he/she has waited this long to get here. Fear -- because he/she doesn’t know whether he/she can endure the strain of rituals of hajj, fulfill his/her duty unto Allah and be born again as an innocent human being.
3. Making du’a (supplication) for Ka’ba upon seeing it:
The Ka’ba is mentioned in the Qur’an as the Baital Haram – the Sacred House - appointed by Allah (Qur’an 5:97). This is the first house of worship on the face of the globe. It is to this house that Muslims face while praying. It is also the direction in which his/her face would be turned when he/she is buried as dead. It is the center of existence, faith, love, unity and life. It has its own history. It is called Baitil Masabatal-lin-nass wa amana, i.e., the House of resort for mankind and a sanctuary (Qur’an 2:125).
Ka’ba is also called Baitul Atiq – the Ancient House – in the Qur’an (22:29). In the same Surah, al-Hajj, there is a hint for the wise that it existed before the time of Ibrahim (AS) [Tafsir Ma’reful Qur’an by Mowlana Mufti Muhammad Shafi]. Ibrahim (AS) did not build it; he simply reconstructed it on the same spot of foundation after it got damaged during the deluge or great flood of Prophet Nuh (Noah). It is also called the first sanctuary on earth appointed for mankind, a blessed place and a guidance for mankind (Qur’an 3:96).
Ibrahim (AS) prayed for its security and blessings. Allah instructed him how to make Tawaf around this House. In Surah al-Hajj (22:26-28), Muslims are told by Allah that He instructed Ibrahim (AS) four things. These are that (1) he should not ascribe any partner with Allah, (2) he should purify Allah’s House for those who make Tawaf around the House and those who stand, bow and prostrate for salat, (3) he should proclaim unto mankind the hajj so that they come unto the House with whatever conveyance they have, and witness things that are of benefit to them (4) sacrifice the beast of cattle on appointed days and then eat the meat thereof and feed therewith the poor unfortunate. Ibrahim (AS) taught these rituals of hajj to his son, Isma’il (AS), who in turn, taught to his children; and, the practice continued uninterrupted for millennia.
4. Performing Tawaf (circumambulation) of Ka’ba seven times (unless it is time for a regular prayer led by an Imam, which one must join in):
The pilgrim remembers that the Ka’ba is the center of this earth. Just as planets of our solar system orbit around the sun, the pilgrim orbits around the world’s sun, the Ka’ba, and becomes part of a universal system. He/she demonstrates his/her love for Allah by making Tawaf around His house. Tawaf should be started from the corner stone – the Black stone, Hajr al-Aswad - with Ka’ba on the left. This is where the pilgrim makes a contract to join all the tribes of the earth, and becomes like a drop of water entering the ocean. The moment of truth has come and he/she must select his/her path, distinct from those who had rejected their Creator. Three of the seven Tawafs must be at a faster pace than normal walking. The pilgrim should try to touch the stone with his/her hand, and put his/her forehead on it and then kiss it. By touching the stone, the pilgrim shows his/her allegiance to his/her Creator, who had sent this very stone from the heaven, so that He could know love for Him.
By touching the stone, the pilgrim cuts off all forms of allegiance to anything other than Allah. He/she becomes free again from servitude of others and this world. If it is not possible to touch the stone with a stick one can kiss the tip of the stick. If that is not possible either because of too many people around it, then one can make a flying kiss to it. During the Tawaf, men should put the Ihram on in such a way as to bare their right shoulder (‘ibtida).
During Tawaf, the pilgrim becomes part of the cosmos. He/she forgets about him/herself. He/she is in love with the symbol of unity and servitude to Allah. He/she sees nothing but His symbols, the Ka’ba and the Black Stone, Hajr al-Aswad. By denying him/herself he/she has become a lover of Him just like Hajar who migrated to this land, barren and rugged, without vegetation, without any forms of subsistence, but with complete reliance in Her Lord, Allah
ta’Ala (SWT). He/she remembers that Allah did not neglect
either her or her infant son Ishmail. He
brought out the Zamzam well and let
people settle there, making it the most important place in the Arab
peninsula. Subhana Wa
The pilgrim remembers that some rituals of hajj are, in reality, a memory of Hajar. Hijrah or migration is what Hajar did. Any migration like hers is a move toward civilization. During Tawaf, everyone encircles the Ka’ba collectively. The movement is of one unit and there is no individual identification of men or women, black or white, red or yellow. The movement has transformed one person into the totality of a “people.” All of the “I’s” have transformed into “We,” establishing the universality of ummah with the goal of approaching Allah. Likewise, all selfishness and self-centeredness must go and transform into self-denial or ummah-centered activities. Allah’s way is the way of the people. In other words, to approach Allah, one must first approach people. That is why, individual activities in Islam are less meritorious than collective actions. As the pilgrim makes the Tawaf around the Ka’ba, he/she must move anti-clock-wise outward from the inner circle, as if he/she is a planet in an expanding universe. He/she steps out of the Tawaf cycle at the same place he/she started after completion of the seven orbits. This is just like being resurrected from the same spot where one would be buried.
5. After Tawaf, performing two rakah of prayer behind Maqam-e Ibrahim in which one prays Surah al-Kafirun in the first rakat and Surah al-Ikhlas in the second:
Maqam is a very blessed place for praying (Qur’an 2:125). It is the nearest point to Allah. As a matter of fact, there is no place in this entire earth where one gets more reward than this place for praying. The stone has the footprint of Ibrahim (alayhis salam), the rebel against the established despot of his time, Namrud (Nimrod). He stood over this stone to lay the corner stone - Hajr al-Aswad and to re-construct the Ka’ba and to pray (Quran 2:125). Thus, at this place, the pilgrim reminds him/herself about where he/she is standing.
The reconstruction of Ka’ba began after Ibrahim (AS) was saved from the fire of Namrud, and Isma’il (AS) saved from being slaughtered. [Ibrahim (AS) was thrown into the fire for his sound belief in monotheism, but Allah saved him by transforming the same fire to become a very comforting wind for His friend (Qur’an 21:69).] So, by the time Ibrahim (AS) was commissioned to reconstruct the Ka’ba in order that this house could be purified for hajj of all people, both he and his son were more resolutely resigned and dedicated to the will of Allah than ever before. By standing on the same stone, you vow to become like Ibrahim Hanifah wa Khalil-Allah, the upright friend of Allah, who was uncompromising in his conviction for Tawhid (monotheism). In Maqam, symbolically, the pilgrim shakes hands with Ibrahim (AS) by pledging the same dedication to Allah – i.e., to be like Ibrahim and Isma’il (AS), his son.
6. Running between the mountains - Safa and Marwah - seven times, starting with the Safa and ending with the Marwa:
This is called the Sa’iy. Literally it means search, a movement with an aim. It is depicted by running and hurrying. Here the pilgrim acts like Hajar, the mother of infant Isma’il. She had no food, no water, no shelter, neither for herself nor for her child, but only uncompromising, relentless faith that the God of Ibrahim (AS) would not leave her and her only son without sustenance. Here the pilgrim remembers that when Ibrahim (AS) left her and their only son, Isma’il (AS) near the
, Hajar asked
him: “O Ibrahim, where are you leaving us, while there is no habitation of men
nor any provision for food and drink? Who is going to look after us?” Ibrahim (AS) replied, “Ilal-lah (to Allah’s protection only).” She said, “Raditu billah (I am fully satisfied with
Allah?” She also asked, “Have you done this to fulfill Allah’s command?” When Ibrahim (AS) confirmed that by saying,
“Yes,” she simply said, “Well in that case, we have no fear, for Allah will not
let us die without providing any provision [i.e., He will definitely provide
for us in the middle of this desolate, barren desert].” [Bukhari] The pilgrim
similarly remembers the power of trusting in Allah. valley
Away from the view of his wife and son, Ibrahim (AS) prayed, “Our Lord: Lo! I have settled some of my posterity in an uncultivable valley near unto Thy Holy House (Ka’ba), Our Lord! that they may establish proper worship. So, incline some hearts of men that they may yearn toward them, and You provide them with fruits in order that they may be thankful.” (Qur’an 14: 37). Soon, however, Hajar’s water and food were all gone, there was no milk or water or any food either for herself or for her child. She started looking out for water, running to the top of the hill, Safa. No, there is no water anywhere. Then she comes down and looks at her infant to check if he is fine. She then goes to the top of the other hill, Marwah, and takes a deep long look to fetch water. She was searching water, why? Because water is needed for physical salvation, for life to continue. So, should man work for livelihood, trusting in Allah. She searches again and again. After running seven times between these two hills, she comes down from Marwah to see the condition of her infant son. She hears the sound of a gushing water coming from near her son and is surprised to see an angel (Jibril AS) dig a well near the heel of her infant son. The gushing water from the well was making all that sound. She quickly puts a barrier around it so that water could be stored and that it did not overflow. And this well came to be known as the Zamzam. Muhammad (S) said, “May Allah bless the mother of Isma’il (AS). If she had not put that barrier around the Zamzam, instead of a well, the gushing water would have continued to flow like a spring [and flooded the entire valley].” It was a gift from Allah to the mother and son, and all those who came later. It is a mineral water rich with nutritional and medicinal power to cure man of many diseases. The Safa and the Marwah, thus, became among the signs, indications of Allah (Qur’an 2:158).
7. On the seventh day of Dhul-Hijjah, after the Zuhr prayer, Imam explains the meaning of hajj and exhorts people to go to the
(nearly six miles
north of Makkah) next morning after Fajr
8. Visiting and staying at Mina on the eighth day (after arriving there in the morning) till the next Fajr (dawn prayer).
9. Going to ‘Arafat after sun has risen on the ninth day, stopping on the way at Namirah and listening to khutbah before Zuhr (mid-day prayer).
10. Proceeding to ‘Arafat (five miles further north) and seek Allah’s forgiveness there till Maghrib (prayer after sunset):
‘Arafat literally means knowledge and science. ‘Arafat represents the beginning of man’s creation, that of our forefather Adam. It was shaytan who misled our forefather by whispering to him saying: “O Adam! Shall I show you the tree of immortality and power that wastes not away?” (Qur’an 20:120) He caused the downfall of Adam and Haw’a (Eve). For years, they were separated from each other having descended at different places. It was in ‘Arafat that they met again. It was in a small rocky hill of Jabal al-Rahma in the center of ‘Arafat that their sins were forgiven by Allah. So, here in ‘Arafat, the pilgrim acts like Adam (AS) or Haw’a and seeks forgiveness for him/her and his/her loved ones.
11. After sunset proceeding slowly to Muzdalifah (halfway between ‘Arafat and Mina) without praying Maghrib (Qur’an 2:198). However, according to the Imams Abu Hanifah and Sufyan al-Thawri (R) it is permissible to pray Maghrib before reaching Muzdalifah. Once in Muzdalifah, the pilgrim prays both Maghrib and ‘Isha prayers together.
12. Spending the night before Eid in Muzdalifah, praying the Fajr prayer early (on the tenth day), and collecting pebbles there (70 per person):
Muzdalifah is part of Mash’ar-ul-Haram. The Prophet Muhammad (S) prayed for long duration here. The pilgrim must be in Mash’ar by the nightfall (while he/she was at ‘Arafat during the day). Darkness engulfs him/her in Mash’ar. ‘Arafat is knowledge; it requires daylight for clear vision. Mash’ar literally means consciousness and understanding, which blossom at night through deep reflection or meditation. So, Mash’ar is the stage of insight while ‘Arafat was the stage of experience. Intuition needs no light. It can see in the darkness. It is the stage between knowledge and love, or ‘Arafat and Mina.
Here the pilgrim reflects upon him/herself and strengthens his/her spirit. He/she questions: am I in the right way? Am I ready to fight against Satan or his insinuations?
In Makkah, during tawaf the pilgrim had joined the crowd and became part of them. Here he/she is alone, despite being within a crowd. Here he/she is for him/herself only. Therefore, he/she confesses his/her sins to Allah. And this night is a good cover for confessions and tears. He/she takes preparation for tomorrow by getting ready tonight. There is a great battle in which he/she will have to participate tomorrow. So, he/she collects his/her weaponry – the pebbles - before the day breaks. The pebbles will be used against his/her enemy. He/she has to act like Ibrahim (AS) here just as he fought against the insinuations of Satan on his way to sacrifice his beloved son, Isma’il (AS).
13. After praying Fajr, going back to Mina and throwing seven stones at Jamrat-ul Aqabah, reciting Takbir each time. The remainder 63 stones should be thrown over the next three days of Ayyam al-Tashriq (11th, 12th and 13th of Dhul Hijjah) at a rate of 21 stones per day. Every day, the pilgrim must throw the first 7 stones at Jamarah near Mina, and the last seven at Jamarat al-Aqabah, located closer to Makkah:
The tenth day has arrived. This is the day for sacrifice of animal. The pilgrim is armed with weapons to fight Satan, the enemy of his/her forefather (Adam), the devil (Satan) who tried to confuse Ibrahim (AS).
Mina literally means love. Ibrahim (AS) felt too much love for his only son, Isma’il (AS). And Allah wanted to test how great or how real his love was for Him. Ibrahim (AS) saw a vision of sacrificing his most beloved son. That was the command from Allah to test Ibrahim (AS) of his love and devotion. Can Ibrahim (AS) pass this test? He ponders on this unusual, rather cruel, test. He has grown old and he has no other offspring. In his very old age, Allah has listened to his prayer and has blessed him with this son through his second wife, Hajar. Out of his gratefulness for answering to his prayer, he has named his son, Isma’il (meaning: God listened [to my prayer]). Yet, he was asked to settle them in the
when the child was still an infant. And
now that the lad has become old enough to walk, Allah wants him to sacrifice
that son to prove that his true love is only for Allah. The pilgrim should ponder on this for a
moment. Does he/she get a chill in
his/her back? Satan tries to create doubt in his mind: O Ibrahim, are you sure
you want to sacrifice your son, your true love, your joy, the meaning of your
existence, the fruit of your life; who would there be after you to worship your
Lord; don’t you have heart, any soft feelings toward your son? Ibrahim (AS) is momentarily confused. Should he or shouldn’t he carry out Allah’s
command, “you must sacrifice your son?”
Is he dreaming or is it the reality?
No, there is no confusion what he saw in his vision is crystal clear:
God truly wants him to sacrifice his beloved Isma’il. He wins over Satan, the sneaking
whisperer. But then Satan returns and
tries to digress him from his task.
Ibrahim (AS) wins over again. But
Satan does not give up that easily, he tries to create confusion for the third time. Ibrahim (AS) wins over Satan’s temptations
yet for the third time. He is mentally
all prepared to carry out the task. His
choice is obvious – absolute obedience and devotion to Allah, Isma’il must be
sacrificed. He wanted to share the
message with his lad. Thus, he talks to his young lad, Isma’il (AS), of his
dream and asks his opinion. And what
does this “gentle” son (whom the Qur’an calls Ghulamin Halim) reply? He
calmly says: “O my father! Do that which you are commanded. Allah willing, you shall find me of the
steadfast.” (Qur’an 37:102) He answers like the rock of valley of Makkah Gibraltar,
the worthy son of Ibrahim (AS), the upright!
So, here in Mina, the pilgrim must act like Ibrahim (AS), the soldier of Tawhid (monotheism), ready to defeat, subdue or shoot down his/her real enemy, the Satan within him/her representing his/her personal egos, desires, cravings, and preferences. These “other” things, the “idols”, were distracting him/her from the true worship of God. But here in Mina, he/she is now ready to fight against these taghoots (demi-gods) to show his/her true devotion and obedience to Allah. The pilgrim must fight Satan just as Ibrahim (AS) had fought against him. To mimic that event, he/she throws stones at Satan at the three Jamarats.
14. Qurbani or sacrificing an animal, saying only Bismillah:
When both the father and the son - Ibrahim and Isma’il (AS) - had surrendered to Allah and Ibrahim (AS) had flung Isma’il (AS) down upon his face and was about to put the knife on his son’s neck, Allah called Ibrahim (AS): “O Ibrahim! You have already fulfilled the vision.” (Qur’an 37:104-5) Ibrahim (AS) doesn’t have to sacrifice his son. Instead, he should sacrifice this ram, which has been sent to him, as ransom for Isma’il (AS). Unlike the false-gods of polytheism, Allah, the One True God, is not bloodthirsty. He just wanted to check where Ibrahim (AS) stood in his devotion and love, whether he was capable of overcoming his personal feeling of love for his son to please Allah.
A lesson was taught by Allah – from now on there would be no human sacrifice in the altar of God. Sacrifice of a halal (lawful) animal whose meat one can eat and distribute among the poor is a sufficient substitute. The pilgrim must ponder again. What was Ibrahim (AS) asked to sacrifice? It was nothing short of the most beloved thing/entity among his possession. But when he was ready, his Isma’il was returned unto him, unscathed and unharmed. And he was made a model for humanity: “And We left for him [Ibrahim (AS)] among the later folk (the salutation): Peace be unto Ibrahim. Thus do we reward the good.” (Qur’an 37:108-9)
If the pilgrim loves something more than he/she loves Allah, then that thing has become his/her idol and he/she must be ready to sacrifice that. Is he/she ready to slaughter his/her worldly desires, worldly love, his/her Isma’il in Mina in order that he/she be free from all attachments save those of Allah? If he/she is, then he/she must slaughter a goat, sheep, ram, cow or camel as a ransom towards his/her Isma’il. As Dr. Shariati rightly puts it, “To offer a sheep instead of Isma’il is a “sacrifice”, but to sacrifice a sheep just for the sake of sacrifice is “butchery”!” (Hajj by Dr. Ali Shariati) For surely Allah says, “Their flesh and their blood do not reach Allah, but the devotion from you reaches Him.” (Qur’an 22:37)
15. Men should shave their head or trim their hair, at least, one-quarter of head. Women should not shave their head, but only trim slightly at the end of the lock of a hair.
After the Qurbani (sacrifice) of the animal, the pilgrim has almost completed the basic requirements of hajj, so he/she can make an end of his/her unkemptness (Qur’an 22:29). He/she has defeated Satan but he/she may not have succeeded in completely killing it. He/she may have defeated him outside but he comes back inside of him/her. So, the pilgrim should stay the next three days in Mina and continue with his/her battling of the Satan at Jamarat.
16. After shaving or trimming the hair, the pilgrim should go to Makkah and make the Tawaf of visitation and run seven times between the Safa and the Marwa. Then one’s hajj is complete and one can come out of ‘Ihram. [Or, he/she may return to Mina to complete the 3 days of Ayyam al-Tashriq and then return to Ka’ba for the last Tawaf-ul Wadaa’ on the 13th day, before leaving for home or Madinah.]
This is the later tawaf of the Ka’ba (Qur’an 22:29), performed after the pilgrim returns from Mina. In Mina, he/she has defeated Satan and renewed his/her ties with Allah by following the footsteps of Ibrahim (AS). When he/she first approached Ka’ba he/she had not, by then, purified him/herself. He/she was still impure and unconscious. In ‘Arafat he/she gained consciousness. In Mina he/she purified him/herself. So, this is appropriate that he/she do the tawaf and sa’iy in the purified state before he/she returns home. During the rituals of hajj he/she played the roles of Ibrahim (AS) and Hajar. The pilgrim must remember not to replace his/her role-playing to something else when he/she returns. Like Hajar, he/she must always trust in Allah. Like Ibrahim (AS), he/she must fight the fire of Nimrod, i.e., oppression. Like Ibrahim (AS), he/she must be prepared to sacrifice his/her Isma’il, i.e., love or desires, for the sake of his/her faith. That is the essence of hajj. The pilgrim returns to Allah the way He wanted him/her to be: a slave totally dedicated to his/her Master.
I would like to close this discussion on hajj by quoting from the Kashf al-Mahjub of Ali bin Uthman al-Jullabi al Hujwiri (R). A certain man came to Junayd [al-Baghdadi] (R). Junayd asked him whence he came. He replied: “I have been to hajj.” Junayd (R) said: “From the time when you first journeyed from your home have you also journeyed away from all sins?” He said, “No.” “Then,” said Junayd (R), “you have made no journey. At every stage where you halted for the night did you traverse a station on the way to Allah?” He said: “No.” “Then,” said Junayd (R), “you have not trodden the road stage by stage. When you put on the Ihram (pilgrim’s garb) at the proper place did you discard the attributes of humanity as you cast off your ordinary clothes?” “No.” “Then you have not put on the Ihram. When you stood on ‘Arafat did you stand one instant in contemplation of Allah?” “No.” “Then you have not stood on ‘Arafat. When you went to Muzdalifa and achieved your desire did you renounce all sensual desires?” “No.” “Then you have not gone to Muzdalifa. When you circumambulated the Ka’ba did you behold the immaterial beauty of Allah in the abode of purification?” “No.” “Then you have not circumambulated the Ka’ba. When you ran between Safa and Marwa did you attain to the rank of safa (purity) and muruwwat (virtue)?” “No.” “Then you have not run. When you came to Mina did all your wishes cease?” “No.” “Then you have not yet visited Mina. When you reached the slaughter place and offered sacrifice did you sacrifice the objects of sensual desire?” “No.” “Then you have not sacrificed. When you threw the stones did you throw away whatever sensual thoughts were accompanying you?” “No.” “Then you have not yet thrown the stones, and you have not yet performed the pilgrimage. Return and perform the pilgrimage in the manner which I have described in order that you may arrive at the station of Ibrahim (AS).”
Muhammad (S) taught the rituals of hajj to his ‘ummah so that Muslims can observe its proper sanctity. He said, “The person who has performed hajj for Allah and saved himself or herself from all lewd and sinful deeds, he or she returns after hajj as a newly born innocent child who was delivered that day.” (Bukhari and Muslim: Abu Hurayrah (RA).
May Allah give us the tawfiq to follow the dictates of hajj, as stated above, so that this duty is acceptable unto Him.
[For further reading: see Dr. Ali Shariati’s – the Hajj.]