Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Ancient House, housed within modern borders

"And complete the Hajj or 'Umrah in the service of Allah" (TMQ 2:196)

"Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah,- those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures" (TMQ 3:97)

"It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah: it is your piety (taqwa minkum) that reaches Him."
(TMQ 22:37)

The components of Hajj have been elaborated for the Muslims by the Rasool-Allah (Sallalahu alaihi wa Sallam). Ja'far ibn Muhammad reported on the authority of his father, "We went to Jabir ibn 'Abdullah and he began inquiring about the people (who had gone to see him) till it was my turn. I said, 'I am Muhammad ibn 'Ali ibn Hussain'... I said to him, 'Tell me about the Hajj of Allah's Rasool-Allah (Sallalahu alaihi wa Sallam) '... The Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu alaihi wa Sallam) then prayed in the mosque and then mounted al-Qaswa (his she-camel) and it stood erect with him on its back at al-Baida'. And I saw as far as I could see in front of me but riders and pedestrians, and also on my right and on my left and behind me like this. And the Rasool-Allah (Sallalahu alaihi wa Sallam) was prominent among us and the (revelation) of the Qur'an was descending upon him. And it is he who knows (its true) significance. And whatever he did, we also did that. He pronounced the Oneness of Allah (saying):, 'Labbaik, O Allah, Labbaik, Labbaik, Thou hast no partner, praise and grace is Thine and the Sovereignty too; Thou hast no partner.' And the people also pronounced this talbiya which they pronounce (today)..."

The pagan Arabs used to perform the tawaaf (circumbulation of the Ka'aba) a long time before revelation came to the Rasool-Allah (Sallalahu alaihi wa Sallam). Tawaaf was in fact one of the main acts of worship that Allah prescribed to the people of Ibrahim (as) and Isma'il (as). However Hajj's manner, method and motions for the Muslims of today are taken purely from what Muhammad al-Mustafa Rasul Allah (Sallalahu alaihi wa sallam) had told us. Tawaaf and sa'i are not performed because of stories of old, but purely because Rasul-Allah (Sallalahu alaihi wa sallam) has commanded us to perform them. However, it is very common today, when teaching adults and children alike about Hajj, for reference to be made to stories of how Hajer (as) ran in search of water for the baby Isma'il (as). The sa'i that is run between Safa and Marwah is somehow supposed to be symbolic of this incident. This story is often taught before the verses of Qur'an about Hajj are taught. This story is often taught before the authentic ahadith about Hajj are taught. This story is often taught before the many incidents related to Hajj that happened during the period of the rightly guided Khulafa'a are taught. So, the real reason for Hajj is lost in the minds of Muslims.

Furthermore others invent reasons, in their effort to 'justify' the event of Hajj. Unfortunately today in the absence of a purely Islamic Education System, as can only be offered by the Khilafah, Muslims are accustomed to many 'reasons' for other acts of worship. For example; Muslims are told that the reason behind fasting is related to creating affinity with the starving. Also we are told that prayer is a form of exercise, that wudu cools the skin and soothes the mind thus protecting us from mental illness and the classic; 'pigs are dirty animals, hence we don't eat pork'. Hajj must surely throw a spanner firmly into the works of the teachers of these 'reasons'. What is the reason for the anti-clock-wise rotation of tawaaf? Why is sa'i seven and not eight? With an even number one would surely end up at one's starting position. Why is Hajj performed only once a year? Surely it would relieve congestion if it were two or three times a year.

There is one answer to all these questions, which is simple. The sole reason for Hajj is that it is for the sake of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) and is performed in the manner He (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) revealed through the Prophet Muhammad Rasool-Allah (Sallalahu alaihi wa Sallam). The real meaning of Hajj is what should be taught, so that it is realised that the clear
intention is the most important thing that Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) will look upon. Such false 'reasoning' merely dulls the intention behind the performance of Hajj.

United in Hajj, divided by the Rulers

As Muslim it is indeed a beautiful sight to behold, as every year millions travel to the Sacred City with the same pure intention.

"And proclaim to humankind the Hajj. They will come to you on foot and every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Hajj)" (TMQ 22:27)

When this verse was revealed Muslims numbered a few and were confined to the Arabian Peninsula. Yet even at that time Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) revealed that the Muslims would be spread out through this vast creation, as is so evident today, when one considers that Muslims are found throughout the world. So today it can be seen that camels really would become lean from the journey. The spirit of the Hajj is really conjured up in this thought; millions of people using all means of transport to pursue a quest, and journey in the true sense of the word, all in the direction of the Sacred House. This same direction that every individual faces at least five time a day in submission to the Creator, Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala). The magnetism of Allah's house attracts Muslims in prayer, in thoughts and emotions, and the greatest journey that any Muslim will make.

Muslims in the past would spend months travelling for Hajj by foot, by camel, and by boat. Today evidence of this is found throughout Islamic Lands. For example, there are many small communities between what is now Sudan and Nigeria where Xhossa (the language of Northern Nigeria) is spoken. The Xhossa speaking Muslim made a string of communities on the Hajj trail. The potent atmosphere of an old West African village, when it was announced that a family has to set out on the Hajj trial, can only be imagined today. The immensity and importance of Hajj would be put into all of the members of the village. Hajj was always a central part of the communal life of Muslims.

There was a time when a Muslim could get on a donkey in Timbuktu and end up in Makkah some months later, with no obstacles but Allah's created elements and the harshness of the journey. This was at a time when the affairs of Muslims were governed by an authority which drew its guidance from the same source as that of Hajj, the Islamic 'Aqeedah. Hence there was a harmony between the State and the duty of Hajj.

However, since the Khilafah was destroyed in 1924, till today, the rulers in Islamic Lands seek guidance from other than Islam. They turn to man-made law such as democracy, monarchy or dictatorship. Such a harmony as was experienced by previous generations cannot exist in such a situation. The unity of Hajj is destroyed by the present rulers' division of Islamic Lands. So Muslims are forced to contend with border checks, quotas for numbers of Hajjis based on nationality, customs and the polite and pleasant officers at Saudi passport control. Centuries of expert schools have discussed in depth the requirement and prerequisites for Hajj. Books of fiqh elaborate who is obliged to perform Hajj, what can and can't be done in ihram, where to put on ihram, the question of 'umrah before or after Hajj etc. But nowhere in these books of Islamic law is there mention of visas obtained from the Saudi Embassy or the requirement to travel only on certain national airlines. Nor is there mention of the need to carry an EC passport at all times to avoid being arrested or the electronic fingerprint or eyeball records now being taken of Hajjis. Indeed, nowhere within the Book of Allah or the authentic books of hadith will such things be mentioned.


The Islamic Lands today are governed by non-Islam, which has complicated the lives of Muslims in too many aspects. Hajj is one of those. It is so apparent that the present governments act as an obstacle to the worship of Allah. However, Makkah is still the direction of the Muslims in Prayer. On this Muslims are still unified. Makkah is still the destination for one of the main events of the lives of all Muslims. On this Muslims are still unified. Muslims standing at different points of longitude and latitude, are all unified praying in one direction. It is as if Muslims are praying in one massive Jama'ah. The pull of the Sacred City gives this Ummah invigoration at the time of Hajj. Muslims must try to harness this vigour and direct it towards the obstacles that lay in front of them as an Ummah.

May Allah accept the efforts of all of the Hajjis this year, and bring the true meaning of Hajj into all hearts. May Allah give dignity and strength to this Ummah through those things that it remains unified upon. May Allah help the Ummah to destroy the barriers that remain between Muslims: physically, politically and spiritually.

Adapted from Khilafah Magazine 1997 by Salim Fredericks

(TMQ: The Meaning of the Qur'an)

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