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Hajj – the great act of piety!


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The Quran says: Perform to their completion both the pilgrimage and the Umrah purely for God’s sake. If you are prevented from doing so, then make whatever offering you can easily afford. (2: 196).The first article stresses the fact that once one has decided to perform the HajjPilgrimage or the Umrah, one must do so in full and dedicate one’s actions to God: “Perform to their completion both the pilgrimage and the `Umrah purely for God’s sake.”Some scholars have taken this statement as instituting the Hajjpilgrimage as a religiousduty, while others have understood it to be a mere instruction that once one begins performing the pilgrimage, one should go on to complete its rites. The latter interpretation seems more accurate, since the `Umrah is not universally considered by scholars an obligatory duty. Nevertheless, the order to complete the rites, once begun, applies equally to the Hajjpilgrimage and the `Umrah. The latter involves the same rites with the exception of attending at `Arafat, but differs in that it can be performed any time throughout the year.The Hajj pilgrimage takes place once a year, in the month of Dhul-Hijjah, whereas umrah (the minor pilgrimage) may be performed at any time. Be it Hajj or umrah, any worship, when performed purely for God, is valuable in the eyes of God. When the true worshipper of God undertakes a religious duty like Hajj, he spiritually experiences in its rites worship surrender to a being whom he loves and fears more than anything else. The greatest concern of such a worshipper is to escape God’s punishment in the Hereafter. Thus a believer is one who lives not for the satisfaction of his desires, but for a worthy goal. His goal is to completely abstain from all that God has forbidden. He must refrain from all kinds of misdeeds and quarrels with his fellow men.  The Hajj pilgrimage successfully serves the purpose of this moral training. That is why the believers are especially enjoined to undertake it.The pilgrims take provisions with them to meet their requirements during the journey. However, we are reminded that the best provision for a believer is to live in fear of God. Going in fear of God (taqwa) relates to the intellect. It has nothing to do with the observance of certain outward forms.  It is, in fact, a state of heightened consciousness. When man finds his Lord at the level of the keenest awareness, his mind is filled with God’s greatness and beauty. Then at the spiritual level, that state which may be described as God-fearing (taqwa, or God consciousness) is produced.  Fear of God is the basic element of worship. As long as one remains in this frame of mind, it does not matter if the order of a rite is changed by mistake in performing the rites of pilgrimage, or if one attends to some private business while in the holy land. What is important is that one should enter into the spirit of pilgrimage—fear of God, remembrance of Him, prayerfulness, thanksgiving and wholehearted submission to God.  While on a pilgrimage, one should make sure not to do anything which runs counter to this spirit. There should be no feeling of superiority over fellow pilgrims, that is, one should ‘press on from where the pilgrims stream forth.’ Making too much of one’s forefathers, praising their great deeds, is also against the spirit of pilgrimage: pilgrimage is for the glory of God, not for praise of the self. What place can such attitudes and activities have in Hajj, the very lesson of which is the equality of man before one, supreme God? If one does not assimilate this lesson during the pilgrimage, what chance is there of one applying it throughout the rest of one’s life?(Tazkirul Quran)According to Muhammad al Ghazzali: “Hajj is performed once a year, and it becomes clear that it is a magnificent and inspiring demonstration of man’s devotion to God. It is a mass celebration of Tawhid, held at a time and in a place designated by God Almighty Himself, bringing people together from all corners of the globe .This excellent and worthy tradition was established many centuries ago by Prophet Ibrahim (AS)”.He says further: “The Ka’bah is venerated for its universal symbolism as the first house built on earth for God .It is the citadel of Tawhid”Highlighting its significant role for creating a blend of unique symbolism, He further says,“A strong community must be built on a powerful mix of history and religious practices which combine nostalgia, emotions, and sound cultural roots:“Those who observe and revere the rituals God has enjoined, reflect God –consciousness’ that is in their hearts.”(22:32) Makkah has been called mubarkan meaning hereby having the bounteous benefits, which attracts blessings of Allah for all the people who are there in Makkah, one of which is forgiveness of sins and increase in the pious deeds and the peace and security for those who enter Makkah. (Zad al Maseer) and hudan lil Aalimin means having guidance for people, or itself being guidance,there are four meaning of Huda:One, it is in the sense of being Qiblah, in the sense of being mercy Rahmah, in the sense of being reformation because who so ever comes here his condition gets corrected and reformed, it is in the sense of explanation and indication (al Bayan wal Dalalah) about Allah due to the presence of signs of Allah in it.The Ayat al Bayanat are the apparent indications like its being the building established by Abraham, and Allah has made it honoured, respected and adorned and in it is the Maqâm of Ibrahim.The impact on pilgrims of performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is very positive according to various surreys even. The Hajj leads to a feeling of unity with fellow Muslims. We find that participation in the Hajj increases observance of global Islamic practices such as prayer and fasting while decreasing participation in localized practices and beliefs. It increases belief in equality and harmony among ethnic groups and Islamic sects and leads to more favorable attitudes toward women.It is very significant to note that unity within the Islamic world is not accompanied by antipathy toward non-Muslims. Instead, Hajjis show increased belief in peace, and in equality and harmony among adherents of different religions. The evidence suggests that these changes are more a result of exposure to and interaction with Hajjis from around the world, rather than religious instruction or a changed social role of pilgrims upon return.According to Said Nursi: “For the blessed Hajj is worship at a universal level for everyone. Just as on a special day like a festival a soldier goes to the king’s celebrations like a General in the sphere of General, and receives his favours, in the same way, a Hajji, no matter how lowly, is turned towards his Sustainer under the title Mighty Sustainer of every region of the earth, like a saint who has traversed all the degrees. He is honoured with universal worship. For sure, the universal degrees of dominnicality opened with the key of the Hajj, and the horizons of the tremendousness of Godhead which are visible to his eye through its telescope, and the spheres of worship which gradually unfold to his heart and imagination through its observances, and the heat, wonder, awe, and dread of dominnicality caused by the levels of sublimity and last stage of manifestation, can only be quieted by “God is Most Great! God is Most Great!”, and those observed or imagined unfolded degrees can only be proclaimed by it. After the Hajj, this meaning is found in various exalted and universal degrees in the Festival (‘Eid) Prayers, the prayers for rain, and those recited at solar and lunar eclipses, and in prayers performed as a congregation. Thus, the importance of the marks and observances of Islam, also even if of the category of Sunna, lies in this reason”.After this detailed discussion about the significance and objectives of Hajj as elucidated by some of the prominent Islamic scholars of past and present when we observe minutely the behaviour of some people performing Hajj we get disturbed by their demeanor. During my Hajj pilgrimage in 2007 and again in 2011 ,I was feeling perturbed by the ignorance of most pilgrims of Asia especially Kashmir about the basic rites and obligations of Hajj and I had mentioned this fact in my interview to the Saudi Radio’s Urdu service in 2007 that it was the duty of the ulama and Islamic organisations of the India Pakistan and Kashmir to educate first the Hajjis of their places before they proceed for Hajj as most of them display utter ignorance of the basic prerequisites of philosophy ,obligations and acts of Hajj and Umrah.

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