Select Page
Hajj: Trusting in the Promise of Allah

Hajj: Trusting in the Promise of Allah

By: Fahad Ansari

Hajj: Trusting in the Promise of Allah

The historical background to the Hajj is about trusting in the promise of Allah.

The Hajj season is upon us once again with millions of pilgrims preparing to don their Ihram and travel to the holy cities in search of Allah’s Mercy and Forgiveness, striving to turn over a new leaf in their lives and come closer to their Creator.

In preparation for this journey, pilgrims will spend many hours hunting for the best value Hajj packages by speaking to friends and family, checking references, and comparing price plans.

Hard earned savings, which may have been accumulated over a lifetime, will be invested for this three week journey. Wives and children may be left at home alone for this entire period.

Basic luxuries such as a change of clothes, toothpaste, and scented soap will be abandoned for those precious few days when the pilgrims undergo severe hardship in the most testing conditions, even sleeping outdoors in the desert beneath the stars without a tent amongst millions of others from all over the world, all dressed identically in a humble pair of towels. The question inevitably arises as to why these pilgrims voluntarily subject themselves to such difficulty.

What motivates them to leave their families, spend their life savings and suffer such troubles? The answer is simple – it is the promise of Allah.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is reported to have said, “The one who performs Hajj and does not commit any obscenity and wrongdoing will come out as the day he or she was born,” i.e. pure and free from sins. (Al-Bukhari)

In another hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “The reward for an accepted Hajj is nothing less than the gardens of Paradise.” (Al-Bukhari)

It is belief in this promise of complete forgiveness, of the treasures of Paradise and the eternal pleasure of Allah that drives Muslims to make these sacrifices for His sake.

In essence, the historical background to the Hajj is about trusting in the promise of Allah. Almost every ritual performed and every step taken derive from a moment in which a member of the family of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham, peace be upon him) trusted in the promise of Allah with complete submission.

Let us reflect upon the moment when Ibrahim was commanded to abandon his wife Hajar (Hagar, peace be upon her) and their baby son Isma`il (Ishmael, peace be upon him) in the empty barren desert of Makkah with not a living soul for miles.

At that time, Makkah had neither inhabitants nor a known source of water. He left them there alone with them a bag full of dates and a waterskin. For any father, it is difficult to leave his infant child in such circumstances. For Ibrahim (peace be upon him), it would have been even more heart-wrenching, for Allah had blessed him with this son after he was childless until he was 86 years old. Now, he had been commanded by that same Lord to leave his precious son in a barren desert valley.

When Ibrahim started to depart, Hajar followed him, saying, “O Ibrahim! Where are you going and leaving us in this valley that does not have any inhabitants or anything else?” She repeated this several times, but he was not paying any attention to her. She then said to him, “Did Allah command you to do this?” Ibrahim replied, “Yes.” She said, “Then certainly, He will not abandon us.” She went back, while Ibrahim kept on walking, until he was next to a hill where he could no longer be seen. He then recited the following supplication,

Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful. (Ibrahim 14:37)

Imagine Hajar sitting with her baby in the scorching desert sands alone in glaring silence not knowing what was to be their fate, how they would survive and how she would raise her child.

It was not long before the water ran out and baby Isma`il began to become weak with thirst. With not a drop of water in sight and her infant’s cries echoing in her ears, Hajar began climbing the hills of Safa and Marwa repeatedly, desperately searching for anyone who could help.

Due to her sincerity and her faith and most of all, her trust in the promise of Allah, Jibril (the angel Gabriel) descended from the Heavens to dig the well of Zamzam which continues to flow and quench the thirst of pilgrims to this day.

Moreover, after a few days a group of Bedouins, seeking new pastures, happened to pass by the mouth of the valley. When they saw flocks of bird circling over it, they concluded that there must be water.

Some of their men rode into the valley to explore it and found a lonely woman with a child sitting by the rim of an abundant well.

By the mercy of Allah, the tribesmen asked Hajar’s permission to settle in her valley. She agreed with the condition that the well of Zamzam forever remain the property of Isma`il and his descendants.

Today, during our Hajj, we literally follow in the footsteps of Hajar as she ran frantically between these hills in the roasting desert sun, believing in the promise of her Lord, which He fulfilled.

Years later, Allah commanded Ibrahim (peace be upon him) to return to Makkah where he found his wife and son alive and secure, as was promised by Allah. But Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) test of belief in the promise of Allah was not over as he was commanded to sacrifice his son Isma`il (peace be upon him) for Allah, his son for whom he had yearned for decades, his son who he had not seen for years.

Moreover, his compliance did not betray any feeling of distress, horror or panic; it was marked by calm acceptance and reassurance, reflected in his words as he put this most grave matter to his son:

O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” (As-Saffat 37:102)

These are the words of a man in full control of himself and his feelings, knowing that he is only doing his duty.

That it was hard for Ibrahim is beyond doubt. He was not required to send his only son to war, nor to put him to a task that would end in his death. Nothing of the sort.

Instead he was required to undertake the task himself, by his own hand. And what task was that? It was to slaughter his son by way of sacrifice. This was the order he received calmly, the one that he put to his son and asked him to consider carefully. He did not take his son by surprise and do what was bidden. Rather, he puts the question to him as if it were both normal and familiar.

To Ibrahim, the question was one of obedience. Since his Lord wanted something, so be it, without hesitation. His son should also know and accept it willingly, with submission so that he too would earn the reward of obeying God and experience the pleasure of submission to Him. He himself had known that pleasure and now wants his son to feel it as the pure goodness that surpasses all else that life can offer.”

The reply of Isma`il (peace be upon him) can only be the response of the child of a mother and father who sacrificed all comforts out of a firm belief in the promise of their Lord.

He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.” (As-Saffat 37:102)

The response is not one of mere obedience and resignation but marked with acceptance and certainty. Isma`il (peace be upon him) addressed his father with love and affection and fully surrenders to the will of his Lord, trusting in His promise.

During Hajj, the pilgrims commemorate Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) stoning of Satan who tried to tempt him away from obeying Allah in this command by the stoning of the pillars, thereby displaying our enmity towards Satan and our allegiance to Allah.

Finally, let us ponder on the moment after this noble father and son have built the Ka’bah when Allah commands Ibrahim (peace be upon him) to make the call for pilgrimage promising him that

And proclaim to the people the Hajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass (to perform Hajj).(Al-Hajj 22:27)

When Ibrahim (peace be upon him) made this call, how many people would have heard it that people would come from the farthest regions of the world?

Yet, due to Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) unwavering belief in the promise of His Lord, he obeyed without question. The phenomenal result of this call to Hajj can be seen today when millions of Muslims from the four corners of the globe make the journey by plane, by ship, by road, by camel and even by foot. All answering the call of Ibrahim made thousands of years ago.

All firmly believing in the promise of their Lord to forgive them and cleanse them to the state they were in when their mothers gave birth to them – pure and without sin.

______________________

Source: www.islam21c.com

Soucre Link
Makkah Live

Makkah Live

makkah live

Watch the rituals of Hajj live

Makkah (Mecca) is a city that lies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Muslims consider it a holy city as it holds the greatest and most sanctified Masjid (mosque) as well as the Ka`bah, a sanctified building towards which Muslims direct themselves while offering their prayers. Makkah represents a religious symbol for Muslims.

Nowadays, Makkah witnesses the biggest Muslim congregation throughout the year, namely the occasion of Hajj. Muslims head from everywhere for the city of Makkah to perform this worship which is an obligation in Islam. They arrive at the Holy Masjid of Makkah, circumambulate around Ka`bah and do specific rituals of Hajj. Hajj is an obligation in Islam upon those who can afford it financially and bodily. Almighty Allah says,

And Hajj to the House (Ka`bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses; and whoever disbelieves [i.e. denies], then Allah stands not in need of any of the mankind and all that exists. (Aal `Imran 3:97)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Islam is based on five: testifying (the fact) that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is His bondsman and messenger, and the establishment of prayer, payment of Zakah, Pilgrimage to the House (Ka`bah) and the fast of Ramadan. (Muslim)

Below is a live streaming from Makkah where Muslims perform the rituals of this special event and worship in Islam. If you have any question regarding this event or need to know more about the rituals of Islam, you are welcome to our private chat on Chatonfaith.com

 

Soucre Link
Pilgrimage: The Journey of Different Religions

Pilgrimage: The Journey of Different Religions

 

kabah_Makkah

The real significance of the destination of Hajj to Makkah is that Makkah is the site of the first house built for the worship of the One and Only God of the universe.

Pilgrimage is an allegory of human life on earth. It is the exteriorization of an inner journey towards truth, or an adventure of spiritual discovery. Pilgrims from distant lands converge at a center, pulled in by a spiritual magnetism.

Thus, pilgrimage is considered a way in which man tries to connect to the Ultimate Reality and live in full harmony with himself and his environment. Most religious traditions emphasize this aspect of pilgrimage and give it a central role in religion.

Pilgrimage in Judaism

The earliest notion of pilgrimage in Judaism comes from the Genesis story of Adam and Eve, in which the happy relationship with God is presented as broken, necessitating a struggle on the human part to move towards God for reconciliation.

The Jews believe they are in exile since God chose Abraham to be the father of God’s chosen people and promised him a land for his people. In the time of Moses, the Jews were exiled in Egypt, then in the desert, and finally they started to settle in Palestine.

The second book of Samuel tells how David captured Jerusalem and brought the Ark of the Covenant to the city. To the Jews, the ark was the symbol of God’s presence in their midst, and so the city of Jerusalem became central to the Jewish identity.

There are three festivals celebrated in Jerusalem every year, and the Jewish families were commanded to undertake a pilgrimage to the city to participate in them (Deuteronomy 16:16).

These three festivals came to be known as pilgrimage festivals. They are Pesach(Passover) or the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks, and Sukkot or the Feast of Booths. These three festivals commemorate important events in Jewish history (Exodus 34:18-23).

Pesach celebrates the Exodus from Egypt and the Israelites’ liberation from slavery. Seven weeks are counted from the beginning of Pesach to the feast of Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments.

Sukkot (Tabernacles) is a nine-day festival that celebrates the booths the Israelites lived in during the 40 years in the wilderness. Another name for this festival is The Season of Our Rejoicing.

The Temple in Jerusalem was the center of the Jewish religion until its destruction in 70 CE, and all who were able were under obligation to visit it and offer sacrifices during the mentioned feasts.

The western wall of the original temple, known as the Wailing Wall, remains in the old city of Jerusalem and has been the most sacred sight for Zionist Jews. Jews from many countries all over the world make periodic pilgrimages to the holy sites in Jerusalem.

Pilgrimage in Christianity

Christianity teaches that man was originally in a state of happiness in the garden of Eden, but there he disobeyed God and was banished out of his “earthly paradise”. God did not abandon him and gave him hope by announcing the coming of the Son of God, who will conquer evil and return man to his lost home.

Christianity views man as standing between the recollection of life in paradise and his yearning for a return to that paradise. This means that a Christian has to consider his earthly life as a pilgrimage until he attains his eternal home of peace.

From this perspective, concrete aspects of pilgrimage – the specific destination and the rites and liturgies accomplished there – are of little importance.

The key to the origin of Christian pilgrimage is the devotion to the memory of Jesus. The faithful visited the places that were filled with the memories of their Lord in his earthly life.

For most people, pilgrimage seemed unequivocally a most holy thing to do; and for most Christians, Jerusalem was associated with the earthly life of Jesus. So from the beginning, pilgrims traveled to Palestine with the simple goal of experiencing firsthand the places in which different biblical events had occurred.

Many Christians associate a pilgrimage center with “sacral power” – the power to heal infirmity, solve problems, grant wishes, and have their sins forgiven. Pilgrimages were considered efficacious in this regard.

It was chiefly in the 19th and 20th centuries that a number of new pilgrimage sites were discovered and developed, often as a result of visions of the Virgin Mary in these places.

Pilgrimage in Hinduism

Pilgrimage is deeply embedded in the Indian culture. There are so many pilgrimage sites in India that the entire subcontinent may be regarded as one grand sacred space by Hindus.

In the Vedas, one of the most important Hindu scriptures, mountain valleys and the confluences of rivers are spoken of with reverence, as the gods are believed to have dwelled there. The merits of travel to such places are mentioned, but the act of pilgrimage itself in not specifically discussed.

There are many reasons why Hindus go on pilgrimage. First, it is considered an act of devotion to God. Many of the Hindus believe it will add to their good deeds and bring them nearer to salvation.

Other Hindus go on pilgrimage to fulfill a vow as a thank-you to God because they had a good harvest or passed an examination. Some go to make up for a bad deed, and others go to offer a devotional rite for a relative who has died. Many pilgrims take home small jars of river water and other objects they deem holy.

To the Hindus, as to devotees of other religions, pilgrimage is of special spiritual significance. Since Hinduism allows personal inclinations in matters of worship, the importance of pilgrimage places may vary with individuals.

Hindus honor the concept that Dharma is Karma, or religion is morally correct action, and pilgrimage is an essential part of it. Thus, a sinner seeking purification will be advised to go on arduous pilgrimages to acquit his or her soul from earthly errors and to gain salvation. From ancient times, pilgrims have always been held in high esteem because of the difficulties they undergo in their devotion.

One of the hundred pilgrimage destinations in India that attract millions of people every year, and probably the most famous, is Varanasi, which is a holy city and the home of 50,000 Hindu priests. Historically, the city has served as a center of Hindu worship and pilgrimage for nearly 3,000 years, making it perhaps the oldest continually functioning sacred city in the world.

Among the several hundred shrines in Varanasi, the most important is the Golden Temple, dedicated to Shiva. The city is also surrounded by a 35-mile sacred road, the Panch Koshi. Devout pilgrims take six days to walk its circuit, visiting numerous shrines, temples, and gardens along the way.

Another example of Hindu pilgrimage centers is the Four Dhams or the Four Abodes that represent the four points of the compass encapsulating the subcontinent of India.

Pilgrimage in Islam

In commemoration of the trials of Abraham and his family in Makkah, which included Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael in response to God’s command, Muslims make a pilgrimage to the sacred city of Makkah at least once in their lifetime. This pilgrimage to Makkah and its surroundings, known as Hajj, is the fifth pillar of Islam.

Hajj is an obligatory pilgrimage prescribed by God Almighty on all Muslims who are capable; whereas the pilgrimages of other religions are optional. The origin and history of such pilgrimages show that they were initiated by humans much later than the putative origin of those religions, and the purpose of those pilgrimages is set by the pilgrims themselves: for example, the expiation of sins or a special blessing for themselves.

The real significance of the destination of Hajj to Makkah is that Makkah is the site of the first house built for the worship of the One and Only God of the universe; whereas other pilgrimages derive their importance from their connection to the birth, death, or burial of a prophet or saint. The rites performed at Hajj are commemorative of Abraham, the patriarch revered by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.

Before performing the rituals of Hajj, pilgrims enter a state of consecration known as ihram. The specific rituals of Hajj include circumambulating  the Ka`bah seven times, which is known as Tawaf;  walking back and forth seven times between the hillocks named Safa and Marwah, which is known as Sa`i; standing on the Mount of Mercy (`Arafat); throwing pebbles at the stone pillars known as Al-Jamarat; and slaughtering a sheep or a goat, and distributing its meat to the poor, which is known as the sacrifice.

The way and timing of doing these rituals were taught by Prophet Muhammad as prescribed by Allah.

During Hajj, the pilgrims are asked to focus their attention and devotion on Allah alone, in order to gain His promised forgiveness.

Pilgrims come from different parts of the world; they differ in their culture, ethnicity, and color, but this is never an obstacle, as they are supplicating the One God Who unites them under His guidance and protection.

Prophet Muhammad clarified to all Muslims, in a sermon during the Hajj season, that being superior has nothing to do with a person’s ethnicity, language, or race. Whether a person is Arab, non-Arab, yellow, black, or white is of no significance. The only measure of superiority and goodness in Islam is one’s piety and God-consciousness.

_________________________

Source: onislam.net.

Soucre Link