Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lessons from Hajj

“For Hajj are the months well known. If anyone undertakes that duty therein let there be no obscenity or wickedness nor wrangling in the Hajj. And whatever good you do Allah knows it. And take a provision for the journey but the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear Me. O Men of understanding.” [TMQ Al-Baqarah: 197]

Dear brothers and sisters, the days of Hajj are upon us! May Allah (swt) reward those amongst us who have left and enable those who were unable to undertake this blessed journey to fulfil it in the future. For it is an obligation from the pillars of Islam, the reward of which the Prophet (saw) has spoken about.

Abu Huraira narrated that Allah's Apostle (saw) was asked, "What is the best deed?" He replied, "To believe in Allah and His Apostle.” The questioner then asked, "What is the next (in goodness)? He replied, "To participate in Jihad in Allah's Cause." The questioner again asked, "What is the next?" He replied, "To perform Hajj 'Mubrur" [Bukhari]

Abu Huraira narrated that the Prophet (saw) said, "Whoever performs Hajj for Allah's pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return as if he were born anew." [Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Number 596]

I wish to highlight some of the lessons that can we learn from the Hajj:

1) Unity
If we look to Islam we see that many of the Shariah rules demonstrate the concept of unity of the Ummah, Hajj is one of them.

It is a time where the believers gather in unison to worship their Lord reciting the Talbiya which the Messenger (saw) recited.

Abdullah bin 'Umar narrated that the Talbiya of Allah's Apostle (saw) was : 'Labbaika Allahumma labbaik, Labbaika la sharika Laka labbaik, Inna-l-hamda wan-ni'mata Laka walmulk, La sharika Laka'. “I respond to Your call O Allah, I respond to Your call, and I am obedient to Your orders, You have no partner, I respond to Your call All the praises and blessings are for You, All the sovereignty is for You, And You have no partners with you.” [Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Number 621]

Indeed one of the astonishing things about the Hajj even for the non-Muslims is that people from all colours, the black and white; people from all races – from Europe, Turkey, Indonesia, India, Africa; people from all ages - the young and the old are united in the worship to Allah (swt) and are all equal before Him.

Hajj symbolises the concept of ‘Ummatun Wahida’ ‘One Ummah’. The Muslims from all parts of the world who speak different languages and have different looks upon their faces, all perform the various obligatory acts together like the Tawaf around the Ka'ba, the running between Safa and Marwa, the stoning of the Jamarat and the wearing of the Ihram.

Indeed the concept of one united Ummah with no distinction, with no racism or nationalistic divisions is a fundamental concept in Islam. Allah (swt) says:

“And hold fast all together by the rope which Allah and be not divided among yourselves” [TMQ Al-Imran 3:103]

Abu Musa (ra) narrated that the Prophet said, "A believer to another believer is like a building whose different parts enforce each other." The Prophet then clasped his hands with the fingers interlaced (while saying that). [Bukhari]

The letter that Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz otherwise known as Malcolm X wrote from Makkah after performing the Hajj expresses beautifully the brotherhood of Islam, he wrote:

“Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors.”

“I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Mecca, I have made my seven circuits around the Ka'ba, led by a young Mutawaf named Muhammad, I drank water from the well of the Zam Zam. I ran seven times back and forth between the hills of Mt. Al-Safa and Al Marwah. I have prayed in the ancient city of Mina, and I have prayed on Mt. Arafat.”

“There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.”

“America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white - but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.”

“You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.”

“During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same rug - while praying to the same God - with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the deeds of the white Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.”

“We were truly all the same (brothers) - because their belief in one God had removed the white from their minds, the white from their behavior, and the white from their attitude.”

[Extract from ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X’]

The rules (Ahkam) of Islam promote unity and collectivism not nationalism and individualism. The rules of caring for your neighbours, visiting the sick, helping the believers and keeping relations with the relatives (Silat ar-rahm) all demonstrate this.

Nationalism is a concept alien to Islam because it calls for unity based on family and tribal ties, whereas Islam binds people together on the ‘aqeedah, that is, belief in Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw). In other words, Islam calls for the ideological bond.

It was reported by Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi that the Prophet (saw) said: "Undoubtedly Allah has removed from you the pride and arrogance of the Age of Jahilliyah (Ignorance) and the glorifications of ancestors. Now people are only of two kinds: Either believers who are aware or transgressors who do wrong. You are all the children of Adam and, Adam was from clay. People should give up their pride in nations because that is a coal from the coals of hell-fire. If they do not give this up Allah will consider them lower than the lowly worm which pushes itself through dung.”

It is narrated by Abu Dawud that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “He is not one of us who calls for ‘asabiyyah, (nationalism) or who fights for ‘asabiyyah or who dies for ‘asabiyyah.”

Mishkat al-Masabih, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said “He who calls for ‘asabiyyah is as if he bit his father’s genitals”

There are many examples in the seerah where the Messenger of Allah (saw) had rebuked those who upheld nationalism. On one occasion a party of Jews conspired to bring about disunity in the ranks of the Muslims after seeing the Aus and Khazraj within Islam. A youth from amongst them was sent to incite remembrance of the battle of Bu’ath where the Aus had been victorious over the Khazraj, and he recited poetry to bring about division between them. As a result there was a call to arms. When the news reached the Messenger of Allah (saw), he (saw) said, “O Muslims, remember Allah, remember Allah. Will you act as pagans while I am present with you after Allah has guided you to Islam, and honoured you thereby and made a clean break with paganism; delivered you thereby from disbelief; made you friends thereby?” When they heard this they wept, and embraced each other. This incident clearly highlights how the messenger of Allah (saw) rebuked any forms of tribalism. Allah (swt) then revealed,

“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except in a state of Islam. And hold fast together all of you to the rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favours on you; for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace you became brothers; and you were on the brink of the pit of fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah make His signs clear to you that you may be guided.” [TMQ 3:102-103]

It is transmitted by at-Tabarani and al-Hakim that in one incident some people spoke very lowly about Salman al-Farsi. They spoke of the inferiority of the Persian in relation to the Arabs, and upon hearing this the Messenger of Allah (saw) declared, “Salman belongs to ahl al-bayt (the Prophet’s family).” This statement of the Messenger of Allah (saw) disassociates all links based on lineage and tribal considerations.

It is also transmitted, in two different versions, by Ibn al-Mubarak in his two books, Al-Birr and As-Salah, that some disagreement occurred between Abu Dharr and Bilal and Abu Dharr said to Bilal, “You son of a black woman.” The Messenger of Allah (saw) was extremely upset by Abu Dharr’s comment, so he (saw) rebuked him by saying, “That is too much, Abu Dharr. He who has a white mother has no advantage which makes him better than the son of a black mother.” This rebuke had a profound effect on Abu Dharr, who then put his head on the ground swearing that he would not raise it until Bilal had put his foot over it.

Some people claim that the Messenger of Allah (saw) approved of nationalism because during the migration to Madinah, he (saw) said about Makkah with tears in his (saw) eyes, “You are the most beloved land of Allah to me.” However, this saying has nothing to do with nationalism, and this can be seen from the full saying which people often do not quote, “You are the most beloved land of Allah to me because you are the most beloved land of Allah to Allah.” The Messenger of Allah’s (saw) love for Makkah was based on the noble status that Allah (swt) has given to Makkah, and not because he (saw) was born there. All Muslims should have this love and affection for Makkah because it is the most beloved land in the sight of Allah (swt). After all, the Muslims pray towards Makkah and go there to perform hajj there as it houses the Ka’ba. The above saying of the Messenger of Allah (saw) therefore has nothing to do with nationalism. Also in origin love your city of origin is not haram, but to say you are better than others and look down on them is what is haram as it would be considered from nationalism or tribalism.

It is also forbidden in Islam for the Islamic land to be divided as it is today. It is colonialist powers that divided our lands after they destroyed the Islamic Khilafah state. When Muslims go for Hajj, why do they need a visa? Did Muslims need a visa in past under the Khilafah for over one thousand years? ‘Laa illaha illallah’ should be the only visa which we require!

Ruling according to Islam can only be achieved in one state, with one Khaleefah not the over 50 divided nation state we have today. It is reported in Sahih Muslim that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As narrated that he heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say, “He who gave the bay‘ah to an Imam, giving him the clasp of his hand and the fruit of his heart has to obey him as long as he can. If another comes to dispute with him (his authority) strike the neck of that person.” Abu Said al-Khudri narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “If a bay‘ah is taken for two Khaleefahs, kill the latter one.” And ‘Arafaja said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say, “If someone comes to you when you are united over one man and wants to break your strength and divide your unity, kill him.”

The colonialist powers knew this in the past very well, this is why they agitated the Arabs against the Turks using their agents such as the famous Lawrence of Arabia.

The British Foreign minister addressing the Prime Minister shortly before World War II, “We must put an end to anything which brings about Islamic Unity between the sons of the Muslims. As we have already succeeded in finishing off the Caliphate, so we must ensure that there will never arise again unity for the Muslims, whether it be intellectual or cultural unity”.

The colonialist powers today such as Britain and America also wish for us to remain divided. The agent rulers appointed in our lands by them promote the ideas of nationalism, the national anthem, national flag and the nationalistic celebrations such as independence days.

The false borders and disunity in the Muslim lands, the domination of the rules of man over the Ka’ba which Ibrahim (as) and his son constructed with their own hands, the presence of the forces of the Kuffar in the land of Zam Zam and the restriction of the Hajj by a King who places his laws above those of the King of the Universe should make us work harder to liberate the Islamic lands from the yoke of Kufr by the re-establishing the Khilafah which will manifest the truly manifest the unity of this Ummah .

2) Story of Ibrahim (as) and his adherence to the Shariah
We should take a lesson from the well known story of Ibrahim (as) and his son Ismael (as). We are all reminded of this story because Eid al Adha is close. Allah (swt) informs of his story in the Quran,

"O my Lord! grant me a righteous (son)! So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear. Then when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him he said: 'O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: now see what is thy view!' (The son) said: 'O my father! do as you are commanded: you will find me if Allah so wills one practicing Patience and Constancy! So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah) and He had laid Him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice) We called out to him 'O Ibrahim! You have already fulfilled the vision!' thus indeed do We reward those who do right." [TMQ As-Saffat: 99-105]

If one we ponder over the story of Ibrahim (as) carefully we find that Allah (swt) ordered His believing slave, Ibrahim (as), to slaughter his beloved son! Both the father and the son fully submitted to the order of Allah (swt) without questioning it. Ibrahim (as) didn't look for a reason for the command that Allah (swt) gave him, nor did Ismael (as) knowing that he was going to be sacrificed. Rather they both willingly accepted the decision of Allah (swt), because they realised that He (swt) was the creator and that their purpose was to worship Him. The lesson we can learn from this is to submit to the orders of Allah whether Allah has given us a reason for them or not. So we know that Allah (swt) has many actions for us such as the prohibition of Riba (usury), pre-marital relations with the opposite sex and supporting non-Islamic political parties. We must submit to these rules completely without attempting to justify engaging in them based on our own rationale.

3) Eid – a celebration from Islam
As Muslims we have a unique Deen and have our own celebrations, the two eids. We should not fall into celebrating festivals of the Kuffar as this is haram such as the nationalistic celebration of Republic days, independence days, Christmas, Divali and the like.

Ibn Abbas (ra) reported that the Messenger said, “He is not one of us who imitates other than us. Do not imitate the Jews and the Christians” [At- Tirmidhi]

Also, the Prophet said (saw), “Whoever brings something that is not from our affair, it is rejected.” [Bukhari]

Al-Baihaqi reported in his Sunan that Anas Bin Malik (ra) said: When the Prophet (saw) came to Medina, the people had two holidays from the days of Jahiliyyah. He (saw) said: “When I came to you, you had two days which you used to celebrate in Jahiliyyah. Allah has replaced them for you with better days, the days of slaughter (Adhaa) and the day of Fitr.” Also Imam Ahmad in his Musnad reported that Uqbah bin Amir (ra) reported the Prophet (saw) to have said: “The day of Fitr and days of Tashriq are our holidays, the people of Islam.”

Indeed, Eid al Adha is a time of celebration for over one billion people around the globe. Although we will perform the slaughter, pray the Eid Salah and play with the children on this day our hearts and our minds will not be at ease due to suffering felt by our brothers and sisters around the world.

The food that we eat on this day should remind us of the many who are dying hungry in Darfur in Sudan and all over the Muslim world. The slaughtering that we perform on this occasion as a worship to Allah (swt) should provoke us to think about our rulers worship of the Kuffar allowing them to inflict slaughter upon the Muslims of Iraq. The sons of Abu Hanifah (ra) have been repeatedly attacked and barbarically treated by the new age Genghis Khan, America and Britain, the so-called ‘peacemakers’ of the world. On this occasion of Eid when we spend the days with our family and friends, let us make sure that we do not forget the problems of the Muslims worldwide.

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