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Home » Columns » Hajj Pilgrimage - Part 2

Hajj Pilgrimage - Part 2

Publishing Date : 12 September, 2017

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM



The last article mentioned the importance of performing of Hajj in the life of a Muslim and also mentioned some of the religious observances and rites - added herewith are others.  


Among the rites is one of walking between two hillocks of Safa and Marwa, re-enacting the search for water by Hagar (Hajira), the wife of Abraham for her baby son. She ran seven times back and forth between the two hills, looking for water. It is recorded that when she ran out of water for her and her young son, Hagar went searching for water, prayed to the Almighty. Her prayers were answered when miraculously water was provided via a spring where the baby scraped the ground with his feet, where suddenly water started oozing out. Allah provided them with water via a spring that flows to this day. Millions of pilgrims still drink water from this well called Zam Zam.


The Bible also records this incident: ‘And the water was spent in the bottle…. and God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the bottle with water and gave the lad drink’ (Genesis 21: 15 – 19)  Each year at the end of the Hajj is also the celebration of Eid-ul Ad’haa, (Festival of Sacrifice). Muslims the world over, commemorate the ‘Sacrifice’ of one of the Great Messengers of Allah – Abraham (pbuh).


Abraham (pbuh) was put through various tests and trials by Allah Almighty and he proved to be most dedicated, sincere and steadfast in all cases and at all times. He was chosen and selected by The Almighty yet he was put to a severe test. Through his determination and courage he remained steadfast and took things in his stride. The greatest off all these trials was when he was instructed by Allah Almighty to sacrifice his most beloved son Ismail (pbuh), for the sake of the Almighty. The Qur’anic version, is different from the version in others scriptures, because it records that Abraham (pbuh) had a dream in which he saw himself slaughtering his son Ishmael. He believed the dream as being from Allah.


Then on his way to tell his son of the dream, he was confronted by the devil who tried to convince him that he should not sacrifice his son. But Prophet Abraham remained steadfast and was convinced that he had this command from the Almighty. The then took stones and threw them at the ‘devil’ and went on his way. This gives rise to another practice / ritual that all those who go for Hajj undertake, the symbolic ‘pelting of Satan’, which symbolises the resisting of the temptations that Satan put upon Abraham, but also unto us in our daily lives to disobey Allah.


Prophet Abraham decided not to disobey Allah and continued on his way to tell his son. The Quran says: “……. he said ‘O my son. I see in vision that I offer you in sacrifice. Now see what is your view‘. (The son) said ‘O my father. Do as you have been commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, to be of those who are patient‘. So when they both submitted their wills to Allah and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead for sacrifice We called out to him ‘O Ibraheem (Abraham)’ you already have fulfilled the vision. Thus indeed we reward those who do right. So this was obviously a trial, then we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice …….and We left this blessing among the generations to come in later times”.  (Quran 37: 102-108)
 

We have been taught that as Abraham was just about to sacrifice his son, the Lord called out to him and a ram was presented for slaughter. This is also in the Bible: ‘Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son…the Angel called out…..seeing that thou hast not withheld thy son…….Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw a ram…..took the ram and offered  it up for sacrifice’ (Genesis 10 – 13)


At the end of the Hajj, this is symbolised by each pilgrim arranging for the slaughter (Qurbani) of a sheep, goat, cow in commemoration of Prophet Abraham who showed his readiness to sacrifice his son, in obedience to God’s command. Even those who have not undertaken the Hajj slaughter an animal and the meat is distributed between themselves, their family and friends and to the needy. This can give rise to some misconceptions and misunderstanding in the minds of some non-Muslims who may unwittingly misinterpret the significance and wisdom behind such a ‘sacrificial act’ of worship in Islam.


The sacrifice of an animal is not a pillar of Islam. Allah says: “It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, it is your piety that reaches Him. He has thus made them (animals) subject to you that you may glorify Allah for His guidance to you and proclaim the good news to all who do right. (Quran 22: 37) There are many blessings in the performance of Hajj in the Quran Allah instructs Prophet Abraham (pbuh) to invite mankind to come to Hajj and the Quran summarises this by the Almighty declaring:  “So that they may witness the numerous benefits for themselves”. (Quran 22: 28).  Therefore, the real blessings of Hajj can only be experienced by those who actually perform it.


It is important to note that a Muslim does not earn Hajj Mabroor (accepted Pilgrimage) except by casting away all sins. While falling into sin is prohibited at all times. In performing of Hajj (in the correct prescribed manner) washes away all the sins of a person. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: “Whoever performs Hajj and does not indulge in any obscenity or transgression he returns (free from all sins) as the day his mother bore him.” The Quran declares: “Hajj is (during) well known months, so whoever has decided to undertake the Hajj therein, there shall be (for him) no obscenity and no transgression and no disputing during Hajj”. (Quran 2: 197).


Hajj is one of the greatest deeds that one can accomplish in his or her lifetime and is something that a Muslim dreams of undertaking. The journey of Hajj is different in nature to any other journeys that we would normally undertake, for a holiday etc. because the entire journey constitutes an act of worship. It is not meant for any personal ends but rather it is undertaken solely to seek the Grace of the Almighty and the fulfilment of the duty prescribed to us by Him. Nobody can be prepared to undertake this journey until and unless he has true and deep love of his Creator in his heart, as well as fear of Him, and is convinced that Allah wants him to do what he is doing.


The love of Allah heightens as one starts preparing for the pilgrimage journey with the sole intention of pleasing Allah. With the heart longing to reach that goal, one becomes purer in thought and deed. One repents from past sins, seeks forgiveness from people whom he might have wronged, and tries to render that which is due to others including debt, where necessary, so as not burdened with injustices that we may have done to our fellow human beings. In general, the aim is to do good deeds and slowly the abhorrence of doing evil increases. This is a journey whereby a Muslim attains a purification of one’s inner self.

Thus the entire journey is one of the Pillars of Islam and constitutes an act of worship.

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