Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Magnitude of Hajj

It is the time of year when many Muslims will be preparing for Hajj. They will be learning the duties of Hajj and memorising du'as and rituals before leaving for Makkah. Friends and relatives will come to visit before they set off and they will ask forgiveness from each other for past mistakes. The guests will be asking those travelling to remember them in their dua's and excitement and anticipation will start to build long before the departure date arrives. Many will have waited all their lives for this moment, having saved for years to fulfil this great obligation. Many will travel great distances from far off lands for this opportunity to achieve the immeasurable reward that Hajj has to offer. Allah (swt) explains this in the Quran:

“And proclaim to mankind the Hajj. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Hajj).”[TMQ Al-Hajj: 27]

For some, it has become a regular occurrence, going every few years. We all know many people who have performed Hajj, though some have returned only to resume sinful lives. Unfortunately, some of what we see can devalue Hajj in the eyes of the Muslims. It is therefore important that we always maintain a clear understanding of why we perform the Hajj. With Allah's permission, this article hopes to clarify some misconceptions about Hajj and explain some of the attributes that should be present in those who have performed it.


Hajj means in the Arabic language 'to set out for a place'. However, from the shar'i meaning it is 'Setting out to Al-Bait Al-Haraam in order to perform certain specific prescribed acts of worship in a particular prescribed period of time - for whoever is able to find a means to do it.'

The Prophet (saw) said,

“O people! Hajj has been enjoined on you, therefore, perform Hajj.”

It is one of the pillars of Islam; Ibn 'Umar (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said,
"Islam is built upon five (pillars): testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing regular prayer, paying Zakat, Hajj and fasting Ramadan." (al-Bukhari & Muslim).


Some people believe that they should wait until they are old before they go to Hajj. They think they can wait for the bad deeds to accrue and then, when they reach an old age and the likelihood of death coming soon is greater, they will then decide to go on Hajj. This mentality is dangerous and something which Allah (swt) condemns. In fact Allah (swt) alone is the one who takes life and gives it, without any influence from Man.

He (swt) states,
'Wherever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high.' [TMQ An-Nisaa: 78]

Also, the Prophet (saw) encouraged all the people to use their youth before old age overtakes them. He (saw) said, "The foot of the son of Adam will not move from near his Lord on the Day of Judgment until he is asked about five matters: about his life, how he spent it, about his youth, how he took care of it, about his wealth, how he earned it and how he spent it, and about what he had done with the knowledge that he acquired" (Haakim 4/306)

This is an important point which is not just restricted to the obligation of Hajj. It is related to the performance all obligations and to the abstention from all prohibitions; whether it is working to re-establish the Khilafah Rashidah, or to giving up the haram interest bearing transactions.

Allah (swt) also states this,
"…Before death comes to any of you and then he will say. Oh my Lord if only you would give me respite for a few more days then I will indeed give sadaqah and be of the righteous, but Allah will not delay a persons appointed time of death if its time has come. Allah is all aware of what you do." [TMQ Al-Munafiqun: 10-11]

The view of performing Hajj in old age is nothing more than the Capitalist mentality where life needs to be enjoyed to the maximum during youth and concern for worshipping the creator is put on one side. There is no room in Islam for this mentality and, in fact, Islam has attacked this philosophy. This can be seen from the hadith below, which is related to the performance of Hajj before old age and at the earliest possible time available.

Ibn Abbas (ra) said that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, "Whoever wants to go for Hajj, let him hasten to do it, because he may fall ill or lose his ride animal or some other problems may arise." (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 1732, without the phrase also narrated by Ibn Maajah, 2883 and Ahmad, 1836).


The reward for Hajj is great. If accepted by Allah (swt), it is something by which one's sins can be forgiven. Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated that he heard the Prophet (saw) say, "Whoever does Hajj for the sake of Allah and did not have sexual relations (with his wife), and nor commit sin, he will come back like the day his mother gave birth to him" (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1449; Muslim, 1350)

We need to understand very clearly that the Hajj is not a replacement for the neglect of other obligations and is not something to make up for shortfalls in other areas where Islamic duties are not being adhered to. It is in fact something which is the pinnacle of Islamic worships and an obligation like any other. Hajj completes the obligations and is not there to replace them.


Since Hajj is an issue of ibadaat (worship), the intention needs to be for the sake of Allah (swt) alone. If it is done to gain a reputation or status in the community and return with the title 'Hajji' or for any other reason, the Hajj will not be accepted. It has been narrated that Muhammad (saw) said,

"In later days, the people will go for Hajj but their object will be four: the rulers will go for holiday, the rich for trade and commerce, the poor for begging, and the learned for name and fame." (Imam Ghazali, Ihya ulum ad deen - Kitab al asrar al hajj)

The money that one saves to perform the Hajj must be from the halal sources. Money which the Muslim has no right to earn, such as the money which is stolen or from interest bearing accounts or the selling of haram products cannot be used to perform the Hajj.

It is related from At-Tabarani that the Prophet (saw) said, "When a person leaves for Hajj with good provisions, places his foot in the stirrup (of his mount) and calls, "Labbayka Allahumma Labbayk" Here I am at Your service, O Allah! Here I am at Your service], he is called from the heavens: "Labbayka wa Sa`dayk [may your call be replied and happiness be your reward], your sustenance is halal, your riding animal is halal, and your Hajj is accepted." And when he leaves with corrupt provisions and places his foot in the stirrup (of his mount) and says, "Labbayk", he is called from the heavens, "La Labbayka wa la sa`dayk [may your call not be responded to and happiness not be your reward], your provision is haram, your expenses are haram and your Hajj is not accepted." (Al Mu`jam al-Awsat by at- Tabarani 5224)


Allah (swt) informs us regarding Hajj:
"The Hajj is (in) the well-known months. So whosoever intends to perform Hajj therein by assuming Ihram, then he should not have sexual relations, nor commit sin, nor quarrel during the Hajj. And whatever good you do, (be sure) Allah knows of it. And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness, etc.). So fear Me, O men of understanding!" [TMQ Al-Baqarah: 197]

Some of the actions which Allah (swt) informs us about can be forgotten by Muslims. Some people arrive with high expectations and find that the accommodation is not as described in the glossy brochure, the food is not what was promised and other facilities are not up to their usual standard. With millions of other Hujaj present, intense congestion is everywhere and there is little room to move or relax. Even the coaches that are laid on for transport are usually overcrowded and gridlocked in traffic.

All in all, one should not expect to find the finer luxuries of life when performing Hajj, as this is not the essence of the pilgrimage in Islam.

All these inconveniences put a great deal of stress and strain on the Hujaj and sometimes cause flare to flare. However, Allah (swt) has made clear that this is part of the sacrifice and struggle we should expect. The Hajj is a time of patience, and He (swt) warns and guides the believers to take care of one another. It is a time to avoid arguments, a time to avoid the haram; it is a time for pure devotion to Allah (swt).

It is something which is not a selfish activity, but a time to look after the wellbeing of others. It is a truly altruistic activity. Thus, the pilgrim tries to be considerate when entering the crowded doors of the Masjid al Haram and when he is in tawaaf he tries not to hinder the other Hujaj and is careful not to hurt them. He ignores the many shortcomings of others and keeps his temper at bay. He mingles with the other Hujaj, and shares his provisions. He does not rebuke those beggars who seem less than genuine but always remembers Allah (swt), seeking his forgiveness, and His (swt) help.


The running between Safaa and Marwah

When he does al-Saa'ee, running between al- Safaa and al-Marwah, he is reminded of the trial endured by Haajir, the mother of Ismaeel (as) and the wife of Ibrahim (as) and how she ran back and forth between al-Safaa and al- Marwah, searching for water to relieve the suffering of herself and, especially, her little son Ismaeel. Since this woman was patient in the face of adversity and turned to her Lord, this taught man that such behaviour is better and more appropriate. When a Muslim remembers the struggle and patience of this blessed woman it makes it easier for him to bear his own problems and the problems facing the Ummah. When waiting on top of mount al-Safaa, one remembers the Prophet's (saw) blessed feet stood on them, calling the people to Islam, and accounting the rulers.

Kissing the Black Stone, and Jamarah - signs of complete devotion

Hajj is unique in that it clarifies the mentality to produce sincere worship and obedience to the commands and prohibitions of Allah (swt). The believer is ordered to do actions which are devoid of any reasoning, but are done for the
sole purpose of seeking Allah's (swt) pleasure. Thus, for example, kissing the Black Stone, which a prized ritual, teaches the Hajji to obey the Sunnah and not to oppose the laws of Allah (swt) with his own reasoning.

He knows that there is wisdom and khair behind the laws and rituals that Allah (swt) has prescribed for mankind, and he trains himself to submit totally to his Creator.

Concerning this, 'Umar (ra) said, after he kissed the Black Stone, 'Umar (ra) said, after he kissed the Black
Stone: "I know that you are only a stone and that you can neither benefit nor harm. If I had not seen the Prophet (saw) kiss you, I would not have kissed you." (Narrated by al- Bukhari, 1520; Muslim, 1720).

When he throws the pebbles at the Jamaraah, the Muslim trains himself to obey Allah (swt) unquestioningly. He fulfils the duty even if he does not understand the reason and wisdom behind this throwing (ramy), and cannot make the connection between rulings and their purpose. This is a manifestation of complete submission to Allah (swt).

The sacrifice - the reminder of patience
When he slaughters his sacrifice (hady), he is reminded of the great event when our father Ibraheem (as) submitted to the command of Allah to sacrifice his only son Ismaeel (as) after he had grown up and become an aid to him. He is also reminded that there is no room for emotions which go against the commands and prohibitions of Allah. This teaches him to respond wholeheartedly to what Allah commands, as Ismaeel said:

" 'O my father! Do that which you are commanded. In shaa Allah (if Allah wills), you will find me of al-saabireen (the patient ones).'" [TMQ al-Saaffaat: 102].

This is a great lesson for us as Muslims with so many of us suffering from the war on Islam and with our Islamic concepts and criteria being attacked from every corner. Allah (swt) reminds us that the patient one is the one who follows the commands of Allah (swt). Hajj reminds us that we do not do our actions for the pleasure of the Kuffar, regardless of worldly consequences; rather we act purely for His (swt) sake. It is a reminder that the Khair (good) is what Allah (swt) has commanded and the Sharr (evil) is what Allah (swt) has prohibited; not the false criteria such as human rights,
benefit, or freedom.

Listening to the sermon while on Arafah
A sea of humanity is gathered, melted into one nation. This becomes evident in the unity between all Hujaj in rituals and feelings, and the negation of traces of material differences between them, such as language, nationality and wealth. When the pilgrim stands performing the rituals of Hajj, he is unaware of societal standing of the person next to him. The Prophet (saw) said during his farewell Hajj, "O people! Verily, your Lord is one, and your father (Adam) is one, verily the Arab is not superior to the non-Arab, nor the non- Arab to the Arab, nor the white to the black, nor the black to the white, except by taqwaa (piety, fearful awareness of Allah)."


When he has finished performing all the rituals of Hajj as they were prescribed by Allah (swt) and in the manner that Allah (swt) loves, he has the hope that his Lord will forgive all his sins, as the Prophet (saw) promised in the hadith, "Whoever does Hajj for the sake of Allah and did not have sexual relations (with his wife), and nor commit sin, he will come back like the day his mother gave birth to him.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1449; Muslim, 1350).

When he comes out of his ihraam and things that had been forbidden to him once again become permissible, this reminds him of the patience and discipline he endured for Allah's sake. The one who responds to the call of Allah (swt) will have joy and happiness, and this joy cannot be known by anyone except those who have tasted the sweetness of obedience, such as the joy felt by the one who fasts when he breaks his fast.

This is a reminder to all the believers that the extreme hardships that we are facing today, as an Islamic Ummah, require us to follow the commands of Allah (swt), for this is patience, and with this Allah (swt) guarantees those who have been sincere in His obedience to His commands, ease will be achieved.

“Allah does not lay on any soul a burden except to the extent to which He has granted it; Allah brings about ease after difficulty.”[TMQ At-Talaq: 7]

Source: Khilafah Magazine, January 2004


Anonymous said...

Asalaamu alaikum,

Just a quick questioin:

If someone was to earn money by selling alcohol such as indian restaurant and then saves money from this to go hajj, would this mean that their hajj may not be accepted?

Anonymous said...

As the article mentions, for the hajj to be accepted the money used for it has to be from a halal source.