The Philosophy of Hajj-II

In the previous article we saw how the Hajj is deeply rooted in the life of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him). How he overcame all trials and tribulations after declaring his belief in the Oneness of God. You read about his migration and the setting-up of the headquarters of Islamic Dawah at Makkah. The…

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In the previous article we saw how the Hajj is deeply rooted in the life of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him). How he overcame all trials and tribulations after declaring his belief in the Oneness of God. You read about his migration and the setting-up of the headquarters of Islamic Dawah at Makkah. The Hajj established by Prophet Ibrahim soon deteriorated after his demise and was finally restored to its original status by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
The numerous blessings of Hajj can truly be experienced only by the one who undertakes its journey, for the Hajj is quite different from other journeys, as it is exclusively for the sake of Allah and because of a strong sense of duty towards Him. This motivates the pilgrim to bear all privations of separation from family, incur all expenses for travel and suffer loss in business or job thereby awakening the fear and love of Allah in his heart. Virtue and piety are one of the important blessings that are accrued along with Hajj as one repents for past sins and seeks forgiveness from people before the journey so that one can enter the court of Allah without the burden of past injustices. After leaving home, the closer one gets to the House of Allah, more intense becomes the desire to do good, avoid abuse, indecency, dishonesty and squabbles. Thus the entire journey becomes an act of worship.
Ihram: When the pilgrim reaches a certain point (Meeqat) in his journey towards Makkah, he must put on Ihram consisting of two unstitched sheets of cloth and a pair of sandals. The Ihram symbolises that no matter what is one’s worldly position, one must appear as a beggar and destitute in front of Allah both physically and mentally. By refraining from outward adornment, perfume, sexual relations with wives after donning the Ihram, an ascetic attitude is developed which kills all pride and vanity. Thus the impurities that have sullied the soul are washed away and a feeling of piety dominates both the internal and external selves.
Talbiyah: the Cry of Response: As soon as the pilgrim wears the Ihram, he utters certain words Labbayk Allahumma labbayk… (Here I am before thee O Lord…) called Talbiyah that he must repeat in a loud voice after every prayer, when climbing a height or descending from it and getting up in the morning. This in fact is an answer to the general proclamation that Prophet Ibrahim made 4000 years ago asking the slaves of Allah to come to Makkah from every corner of the earth. Thus with every cry of labbayk the pilgrim answers God’s summons and becomes closely knit with the movement that has been inviting people to the true and genuine worship of One God.
Tawaf: Walking around the House Of God: When the pilgrim reaches Makkah he immediately proceeds towards the sacred precincts and goes around it seven times acknowledging that his worship will be exclusively to Allah and it will become the focus of his life.
Sa’i : Hurrying between the Hillocks of Safa and Marwah: This walk makes the pilgrim recollect how the wife of Prophet Ibrahim ran from Safa to Marwah in search of water for her only son Ismail whom Ibrahim had left in the uncultivable valley by the command of Allah.
Wuquf (Stay) at Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah: After the Sa’i the pilgrims become like soldiers in the cause of Allah and have to live a camp-like life for five or six days. The humbling experience of living in a tent under the open sky along with a few belongings brings one closer to God and creates a profound emotion of thanksgiving and gratitude.
Rami Jamarat: Stoning the Pillars: At daybreak the pilgrims march back towards Mina and throw stones at the pillars which mark the place where a king from Yemen had reached with an army of elephants to destroy the Ka’abah. By throwing these stones the pilgrim reaffirms his pledge to God to fight all those who rise to strive against his Deen (religion).
Animal Sacrifice: After the stoning, animals are sacrificed. This sacrifice demonstrates the intention and resolve of the pilgrim to give his life in the way of God whenever required.
Selfless Devotion: For two to three months from the time of deciding and preparing for the Hajj till he returns home, the pilgrim is sacrificing his time, money, comforts, physical desires and pleasures only for the sake of Allah.
Lasting Imprint: The sustained piety and virtuousness generated during the Hajj leaves a lasting impact on the pilgrim with the sacrifices and hardships suffered by Prophet Ibrahim and his kin for Allah become permanently etched in his memory.
Complete Training: Looking closely at the Manasik-e-Hajj reveals a training package for every Muslim to lead a Mujahid’s life and constitutes a preparation for the great task that Islam wants Muslims to undertake.
Apart from generating individual piety and individual reformation, the full blessings of Hajj cannot be appreciated unless we realise that this Hajj is not performed individually but hundreds and thousands perform it communally only during the stipulated time. If everyone were to perform it singly, the effect on individual lives would still be great. But by making it a collective act, its effectives have been enhanced giving it a new dimension
The scene of people from countless communities and countries converging on one ‘Centre’ through a thousand and one routes and then wearing the same common uniform of Ihram distinguishes them as the army of a single King. It becomes the insignia of obedience with all strung in one cord of loyalty and marching toward one ‘Capital’ to do a march past before their ‘King’. Old and young, rich and poor, black and white all head in one direction and continue joining each other. All perform their prayers together, all are dressed in the same garb, all are prostrating at one call of ‘Allah-u-Akbar’ and reciting and listening to one Arabic Qur’an. In this way the differences of nationality, ethnicity, country and race are obliterated and a universal community of God worshippers is constituted.
The nations of the world have been meeting each other but on battlefields cutting each other’s throats or at peace conferences carving up countries and nations for their own greed and avarice. But Hajj is a unique meeting of men with shared sincerity, love, mental and spiritual affinity not once but every year at the same centre. Has anyone devised a better system than this for establishing peace in the world?
It would be fair to say that just as Ramadhan is the season of God consciousness and piety in the Muslim world, so also is the Hajj one of reawakening and rebirth of hearts and societies. As long as the Ka’abah remains, God in His infinite wisdom has ensured the success of the Islamic Movement irrespective of adverse conditions. It has been placed in the body of the Islamic world just as a heart in the human body. As long as the heart beats, the man cannot die. In the same way the heart of the world draws blood from its far off veins and circulates the blood back into each and every artery. As long as this heart throbs and blood circulation continues, it will be impossible to end the life of this body of the Muslim Ummah, no matter how many diseases it has.

[Adapted from Sayyad Abul Ala Maudoodi’s Khutbaat, concluded]