LET US BE MUSLIMS
By Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi
Edited by Khurram Murad
The Islamic Foundation
Table of Contents
Brothers in Islam! Hajj, or the Pilgrimage, is the last among those acts of Worship, which Islam enjoins upon you. Like the prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, it mounds your life and prepares you so that you may live in surrender to Allah.
The word Hajj means to make a resolve to visit a holy place: Visiting the Ka’ba in Makka is therefore called Hajj.
How did it begin? The Origin of Hajj is rooted in the Prophet Ibrahim’s life, peace be on him. That story is instructive, and illustrative, too, of the true meaning and significance of Hajj. That story you must know to fully understand the benefits Hajj can bring to you.
Which Muslim, Christian or Jew does not know the name of Ibrahim (peace be on him)! Two-Thirds of mankind revere him as their leader. The Prophets Musa, Isa and Muhammad peace be on them, are all his descendants. It is the lamp of guidance lit by him that has for long illuminated the whole world.
A priest class controlled the class controlled the temples, supervised worship rites and rituals, conducted marriage and funeral ceremonies, and claimed to be oracles able to disclose the unknown, foretell the future, and determine Divine wishes. And the people, in general, believed that they indeed had such powers, that they access to their deities, that they could intercede with them on their behalf or invoke their wrath to fall upon them. For them the priests were the lords of their fate.
The kings were in collusion with the priests, the two sides working together to keep the people under servitude. They gave full backing to the priests, and the priests made people believe that the king of the day, as well as being the owner of his country and complete master of his subjects, was also a god among other gods. His word was absolute. Indeed, worship rites were performed for and before the king so that the belief in his godhood came to be entrenched in the minds of his subjects.
In times like this, the Prophet Ibrahim was born into a family of privileged priests. His forefathers were high priests and it was quite natural that he should follow in their footsteps. He received the same education and training; the same gifts and offerings were awaiting him. Many adherents were eagerly waiting for the moment when they could bow their heads before him with folded hands. The ancestral seat of priestly power could be his for the taking.
In his dismal darkness, where not a single soul existed who knew or believed in the Truth, it would not ordinary have been possible for a man like Ibrahim to find its light, nor break away from the little of comfort and power mapped out for him by his family.
But the prophet Ibrahim was no ordinary man; he was made of different stuff. On reaching maturing he began to reflect thus: How the sun, moon or stars, which are rotating as if by order like slaves, and these stone idols, which are made by man himself; and these kings, who are beings like ourselves, be gods. What is there in these powerless objects, which cannot move of their own volition, which have no power to help themselves and have no control over their own lives and deaths, that man should worship them, seek fulfillment of his wants from them, fear their powers and submit in obedience to them? Among all the objects on earth and in the heavens, there is not a single one which itself is not subject to some higher power and which does not fade away into oblivion at some time or other.
When none of them is my creator, when neither my life nor death is in the hands of any of them, when none of them possesses the key to my of substance or the fulfillment of my needs, why should I accept them as lords, surrender to them, and obey them? Only that Being can be my Lord who created all things, on whom depends everything and in whose hands are the lives and deaths of all people.
These thoughts led the prophet Ibrahim to the decision that he would never worship the deities, which his people worshiped, and he openly declared before them.
O my people, I am quit of all those you take as gods beside God. I have turned my face unto Him who brought into being the heavens and the earth, having turned away from all false gods; and I am not of those who take gods beside God (al-An’am 6: 79-80)
No sooner had he made this declaration than tribulations and calamities of the greatest magnitude descended on him. His father threatened him with expulsion from the family home. His community warned him that no one among them would give him refuge. And the government officials insisted on his case being brought before the King. But Ibrahim, lonely and forsaken by his relatives and friends, stood firm as a rock in the case of the Truth. He told his father respectfully: The knowledge I have has not been vouchsafed to you. As such, instead of my following you, you should follow me [ Maryam 19: 41-5]. In answer to the threats of his community he broke their idols with his own hands to prove how powerless they were [al-Anbiya’ 21: 57-70]. In the court of the King, he boldly declared: You are not my Lord, My Lord is He in whose hands are your life and death as well as mine, and within the bounds of whose law even the movements of the sun are circumscribed [al-Baqarah 2: 258].
The royal court decided that Ibrahim should be burnt alive and he willingly came forward to suffer this horrible punishment for the sake of his unshakeable faith in the One God. After Allah with his supreme power saved him from this fate, he abandoned his home, his relations, his community and his country. He set out with his wife, Sarah, and a nephew, Lut, to wander from one land to another.
To this man the undisputed religious leadership of his people had been available. Yet he gave up wealth and power preferred the homeless and destitute wanderer rather than have to mislead people into the continuing worship of false gods. He chose to live for the purpose of summoning people to their true God, even though he would be driven to place to place.
leaving his home, the Prophet Ibrahim wandered in
During the last period of his life, when he was eighty-six and had despaired of offspring, Allah gave him a child, Ismail. But even then, this loyal servant of Allah did not think that, having himself wrecked his own home life, he should at least prepare his children to earn their living. No. His only concern was that the mission on which, he had spent his whole life should be carried on after his death. It was for this purpose that he had prayed to Allah to grant him children [l-Baqarah 2: 128]. And when Allah granted his request, his only thought was to educate and train them to continue his mission. The life of this perfect man was the life of a true and genuine Muslim. In early adulthood, when he had found God, God asked him: ‘aslim’, that is, enter Islam, surrender yourself totally to Me, be solely Mine. In reply, he gave the pledge: ‘aslamtu li-rabbi ’l-alamin’, that is, I have entered Islam, I belong to the Lord of the worlds, I have entrusted myself wholly to Him, I am ever ready to obey (al-Baqarah 2: 13). To this pledge Ibrahim remained true throughout this life. He gave up, for the sake of the Lord of the worlds, his ancestral religion together with its beliefs and rituals and renounced all the material benefits he could have derived from it. He braved the danger of fire, suffered homelessness, wandered from country to country, but spent every moment of his life in obedience to the Lord and in propagating His Din.
But even after all these tribulations, there was still one trail left to determine whether Ibrahim’s love for his Lord was supreme above all else. Before the birth of his second son, he was asked tom sacrifice what was then his only child to God. [al-Saffat 37: 99-111]. When Allah had shown that Ibrahim was prepared to slaughter his son for His sake with his own hands, He said: ‘You have fully vindicated your claim to be a totally true Muslim. Now you deserve to be made the leader of the whole world.’ This act of investiture has been described in the Qur’an thus.
And when his Lord tested Ibrahim With [His] commands, and he fulfilled them all, He said, Behold, I make you a leader of mankind. Said he [Ibrahim]: And my offspring [will they too be leaders]? He said: My covenant shall not reach the evil-doers (al-Baqarah 2: 124).
In this manner Ibrahim became a pioneer of the universal Islamic movement and set about establishing permanent missions in different regions. In this task he was aided by his nephew, Lut, his eldest son, Ismail who, on learning that the Lord of the worlds wanted the sacrifice of his life, had himself willingly placed his neck under the knife, and his younger son, Ishaq.
Ibrahim settled his
nephew, Lut in
The younger son, Ishaq, was settled in
It was in Makka that Ibrahim and his son built the Holy Ka’ba, the center of the Islamic movement, on a site chosen by Allah Himself. This building was not intended for worship only, as mosques are; its purpose was to act as the center for spreading the universal movement of Islam, a world-wide gathering point for believers in the One God to assemble to worship Allah in congregation and go back to their respective countries carrying with them the message of Islam. This was the assembly, which was named Hajj. Exactly how this center was constructed, with what hopes and prayers both father and son raised its walls, and how Hajj was initiated are described thus in the Qu’ran:
The first house ever set up for mankind was indeed that at Bakkah, a blessed place, and guidance unto all beings; wherein are clear signs – the place whereon Ibrahim stood; and whosoever enters it finds peace (Al ‘Imran 3: 96-7).
Have they not seen that We have made the sanctuary immune [from violence], while men are being carried away by force all around them (al-‘Ankabut 29: 67).
Peace always reigned in and around the Ka’ba, when all around it were rampant plunder, murder, devastation, conflict, and warfare – such was its sanctity that even the Bedouins who respected no law, if they detected in its precincts the murderer of even their father, did not dare to touch him.
Look at Ibrahim’s prayers to find out what the real purpose and significance of Hajj is:
And when We made the House a place of visitation for mankind, and a sanctuary; take, then, the place whereon Ibrahim stood for place of prayer. And We commanded Ibrahim and Ismail, ‘Purify My House for those who will walk around it, and those who will abide therein in worship, and those who will bow down and prostate themselves.’ And when Ibrahim prayed: My Lord! Make this a land secure and provide its people fruits, such of them as believe in God and the Last Day…
And when Ibrahim was raising the foundations of the House, and Ismail, [they prayed]: Our Lord! Accept Thou this from us. Thou, Thou alone, art the All-hearing, the All-knowing. Our Lord! And make us surrender ourselves unto Thee, and out of our offspring make people surrender themselves unto Thee; and show us our rites of worship, and turn toward us; surely Thou alone turnest, and art the Mercy-giving. Our Lord! Do Thou send to them a Messenger, from among them, who shall convey unto them Thy revelations, and teach them the Book and the Wisdom, and purify and develop them. Thou alone art the All-mighty, the All-wise! )al-Baqarah 2: 125-9).
And when Ibrahim prayed, My Lord! Make this land secure, and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols. My Lord! They have led astray many people. Hence whoso follows me truly belongs to me; and whoso disobeys me – surely Thou art All-forgiving, Mercy-giving. Our Lord! I have settled some of my offspring in a valley where are no arable lands, near They sanctified House, our Lord, so that they may perform the Prayer, and Thou make peoples’ hearts to incline towards them, and provide them fruits so that they may be thankful (Ibrahim 14: 35-7).
And when We assigned unto Ibrahim the place of the House [We said]: You shall not take any god beside Me, and purify My House for those who will walk around it and those who will stand, and those who will bow down and prostate themselves. And proclaim unto mankind the Pilgrimage; and they will come unto you on foot and on every lean mount, they will come from every deep ravine, so that they may witness things that are of benefit to them, and mention God’s name during the days appointed over such heads of cattle He has provided them. Eat, then, thereof, and fee therewith the unfortunate poor (al-Hajj 22: 26-8).
Brothers in Islam! This is the story of the beginning of that Hajj which is the fifth pillar of Islam. You now understand that Makka was the headquarters for the mission of the first Prophet appointed to propagate the message of Islam. The Ka’ba was the focal point from where this preaching was spread across the world, and the worship rites of Hajj were introduced so that all those who chose to live in surrender to God alone should belong to one center where they could assemble every year, and go around it again and again. Their lives of faith were to be like the wheel tied to and revolving around its axle.
Brothers in Islam! Hajj, or the Pilgrimage, was instituted by the prophet Ibrahim to serve as the focal meeting place for all believers in the One God. Thus he made Makka the center of the worldwide Islamic movement and installed his elder son, the Prophet Ismail, there to continue his mission.
Only God knows exactly
how long Isma’il’s children stayed on the right
path. But within a few centuries of the
death of Ibrahim and Isma’il people had abandoned
their teachings and gradually gone astray like all other people around
them. Hundreds of idols were installed
in the sacred Ka’ba, which had been built as a center
for the worship of the One God.
Ironically enough, idols were made of Ibrahim and Isma’il
too, whose whole lives were spent eradicating idol-worship. The descendants of Ibrahim, who had
repudiated all idols, began to worship idols like Lat, Manat,
Hubal, Nasr, Yaghuth, Uzza, Asaf, Na’ilah
and many more. They also worshipped the
sun, moon, Venus, and Saturn. They also
worshipped jinns, ghosts, angels and the spirits of
their dead ancestors. Superstition rose
to such a level that if they did not have the family idol with them while away
from home, they worshipped any stone they came across on their way. Or, if no stone was available, even a round
ball made of clay with a sprinkle of goat’s milk over it served as their
god. Reverting to the same kind of
priesthood, which Ibrahim had fought so fiercely against in
The degree to which Hajj was corrupted in that period of Ignorance can be gauged from the fact that it degenerated into an annual carnival. For many tribes from near and far, Hajj became an important social event. Poets and clowns used it to brag and boast about the bravery, renown, dignity, strength and generosity of their tribes. They even resorted to hurling insults at one another. The chiefs of the tribes vied with each other in flaunting their generosity. They slaughtered camel after camel with the sole purpose of extolling their name, generosity and hospitality. Singing, revelry, drinking, and adultery were part and parcel of the festivities. The thought of God scarcely occurred to anybody.
Circumambulation [tawaf] of the Ka’ba did continue, it is true; but in what form? Men and women walked together around God’s House stark naked, saying, “We go before God just as our mothers gave birth to us.” Worship also continued to be performed in the mosque of Ibrahim, but again, in what form? By clapping hands, by whistling and by blowing horns. The name of God was proclaimed, but with what words? They said: Here am I, my Lord, I am present. No one is Thy partner except the one who is Thine. Thou art its master, of whatever it possesses.
They did make sacrifices in the name of God. But the blood of the sacrificial animals was spilt on the walls of the Ka’ba and their flesh thrown at its door in the belief that Allah needs that flesh and blood.
Ibrahim had declared four months of Hajj as sacred and had directed that no warfare should be waged in these months. These people partially observed this sanctity; but if they wanted to fight during the sacred months, they simply declared Ibrahim’s ruling null and void for a particular period and added extra “holy months” the following year.
Even those who were sincere towards religion were led into strange, excessive ways by their ignorance. Some people used to set out for Hajj without any provisions for the journey and lived by begging food. They considered this an act of piety, claiming that they had full trust in God and, while proceeding towards the House of God, had no need of worldly goods. Doing business or working during the Hajj journey were generally considered unlawful. Many people gave up food and water during Hajj, and regarded this abstention as worship. Others stopped speaking while on Hajj, which they call al-Hajju’ ‘l-Musmit, the dumb Pilgrimage.
There were countless other customs of this type which I do not want to waste your time describing.
This situation lasted for about two
thousand years. No prophet was born in
Arabia during this long period nor did any prophet’s genuine teachings reach
the people of
Our Lord! Do Thou send to them a Messenger, from among them, who shall convey unto them Thy revelations, and teach them the Book and Wisdom, and purify and develop them (al-Baqarah 2: 129).
The perfect man who descended from Ibrahim was Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, blessings and peace be on him.
Just as Ibrahim was born into a family of priests, so was Muhammad, blessings and peace be on him, into a family, which had been for centuries priests of the Ka’ba. Just as Ibrahim struck a blow with his own hands, against the priesthood of this family, so did Muhammad, blessings and peace be on him, finally eradicating it for good. Again, just as Ibrahim strove to end the worship of false gods and bring people under submission to the One God, so did the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be on him, revive the same pure Din, which had been introduced by Ibrahim. After 21 years, when he had completed this work, once again, at God’s command, he declared the Ka’ba the centre of all those in the world who surrendered to God alone and issued the same summons to the people to come to it for Hajj as had Ibrahim.
A duty owed to God by all men is the Pilgrimage to the House, if one is able to make his way there. And as for the disbelievers, God is All-sufficient, needing nothing from all the worlds (Al ‘Imran 3: 97).
Along with the renewal of Hajj in its proper form came an end to the customs of the time of Ignorance, which had persisted for two thousand years.
All the idols in the Ka’ba were smashed. The worship of any and every object other than God was completely eliminated. All fairs and sports were closed down and it was laid down that worship would be carried out only in the manner ordained by God.
And remember Him as He has guided you, for formerly you had gone astray (al-Baqarah 2: 198).
All indecent acts were strictly banned.
Whoso undertakes the Pilgrimage in those [months] should abstain from lewd speech, from iniquity, and from quarrelling during the Pilgrimage (al-Baraqah 2: 197).
Contention among poets, boasting of forefathers’ achievements, contests in satire and sycophancy were all stopped.
And when you have completed your rites, then remember God as you remember your fathers, or yet more intensely (al-Baqarah 2: 200).
All competitions in so-called generosity which were meant solely for ostentation and fame were banned, and in their place was revived the customs of Ibrahim’s days of slaughtering animals exclusively in the name of Allah, so that the sacrifice made by the well-to-do people provided poor pilgrims with meat.
Eat and drink, but be not wasteful. Surely He loves not the wasteful (al-A’raf 7: 31).
So mention God’s name over them [the animals] when they are lined up; then, when their sides fall [dead], eat of them and feed the beggar and the suppliant (al-Hajj 22: 36).
The practice of spattering the blood of the sacrificial animals on the walls of the Ka’ba and throwing their flesh at its door was stopped.
Never does their flesh reach God, and neither their blood, but godliness from you reaches Him (al-Hajj 22: 37).
Circumambulation in the state of nudity was strictly prohibited:
Say: “Who is there to forbid the adornment which God has brought forth for His servants” (al-A’raf 7: 28).
Say: “Never does God enjoin indecent acts” (al-A’raf 7: 28).
Children of Adam! Take to your adornment for every act of worship (al A’raf 7: 31).
Interchanging the months of Hajj so as to make fighting permissible was prohibited:
Postponing [of a sanctified month] is but an increase in disbelief whereby Kafirs led astray. They allow it on year and forbid it another year, to agree with the number of the months, which God has sanctified and thus they allow what God has forbidden (al-Tawabah 9: 37).
People were prohibited from starting out on Hajj without taking adequate provisions. Clarification was made that not take provisions for a journey in this world did not mean, as was popularly believed, that one was thereby taking provisions for the Hereafter:
And take provision for yourselves, but the best provision is God-consciousness (al-Baqarah 2: 197).
The popular belief that it was an act of piety no to work for money or earning a livelihood during Hajj was refuted:
It is no sin for you that you seek bounty from your Lord [by trading] (al-Baqarah 2: 198).
The customs of performing Hajj, while remaining silent, hungry and thirsty were also ended.
After abolishing all perverse customs of the pre-Islamic days, Hajj was made a model of piety, fear of God, purity, simplicity and austerity. The pilgrims were ordered to purify themselves spiritually, to give up worldly things, to avoid all sexual desires, even refrain from intercourse with their wives, and to totally refrain from using bad and abusive language.
Boundaries were defined on all roads leading to the Ka’ba to indicate the points beyond which no pilgrims were allowed to proceed without putting on two seamless garments, the Ihram, or the robes of poverty, so that rich and the poor would become equal, distinctions of nationality would disappear, and everyone would arrive at the court or Allah in a state of oneness as humble suppliants.
It was prohibited to kill any animal while wearing Ihram, let alone a human being. The object was to ensure that peace and security prevailed, aggressiveness was controlled, and spiritually gripped the hearts and minds of the pilgrims. The four months of Hajj were made sacred so that no fighting took place during this period, peace reigned on all the roads leading to the Ka’ba and no pilgrims were molested en route.
When the pilgrims reached the Ka’ba, there were no fun fairs, no carnivals. Instead, there were Prayers, sacrifices and circumambulation (tawaf) of the Ka’ba. The only cry that one could hear was that which rose from the heart of the pilgrim:
Here am I before Thee, O God, doubly at Thy service. Before Thee I am, there is no partner unto Thee, doubly at They service here am I. All praise and blessings are Thine, and power. There is no partner unto Thee.
Such selfless and sincere Hajj the prophet, blessings and peace be on him, has described thus:
Whosoever performs Hajj solely for the sake of God and, in the course of it, abstains from sensuality and disobedience, he returns from there as immaculate as child just born (Bukhari, Muslim).
See, now, how important this Hajj is.
A duty owed to God by all men is the Pilgrimage to the House, if he is able to make his way there. And as for the disbeliever, God is All-sufficient, needing nothing from all the worlds (Al-Imran 3: 97).
Here, failure to perform Hajj if you have the means to do so, is described as Kufr. Its explanation is found in two Hadith of the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him:
Whosoever possesses provisions and conveyance for the journey to the House of God, but in spite of this, does not perform Hajj, then his dying is like the dying of a Jew or a Christian (Tirmidhi).
Whosoever is not prevented from proceeding for Hajj by any clear, dire need that he must fulfill, or by a tyrant ruler, or by a disease which confines him, and yet he fails to perform Hajj and dies in this condition, he may as well choose to die either a Jew or a Christian (Darimi).
Elucidating this Hadith, Umar said: I wish to impose jizyah (poll tax meant specifically for non-muslims who were exempt from conscription) on those who do not perform Hajj in spite of possessing the required means. They are not Muslims, they are not Muslims!
From the commandment of Allah and its elucidation by the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, and his Caliph, you can clearly see that Hajj is not something, which may or may not be performed according to personal whim. It is Obligatory at least once in a lifetime on all Muslims, wherever they live in the world, who can afford to make the journey and who are physically able to. Responsibilities to one’s family or business are no grounds for exemption.
Those who, despite the necessary means, put off Hajj year after year on some pretext or other should take care of the state of their Iman. As for those who never bother to think about performing the Hajj at all, but who nonetheless manage to travel all over the world, perhaps even passing within a few hours’ journeying time of Makka on their way to Europe – such people are certainly not Muslims. They lie if they call themselves Muslims, and people who consider them Muslims are ignorant of the Qur’an. At least their hearts are devoid of any feelings of obedience to God and they have no faith in His commandments.
Brothers in Islam! What are the blessings of Hajj? One may describe them in great detail. But, in the Qur’an, where Allah instructs Ibrahim to invite people to come to Hajj, it is said:
So that they may witness things that are of benefit to them (al-Hajj 22: 28).
Hence, the real blessings of Hajj can only be experienced by those who actually perform it. Imam Abu Hanifah, it is narrated, was unsure which act of worship was more excellent among the various ones laid down by Islam. But once he had performed Hajj, he had no hesitation in declaring that Hajj was the most excellent of all.
Still, I shall now try to give you, briefly, some idea of its blessings.
We usually think of journeys as of two kinds: those made for business and those made for pleasure. In both cases, it is to fulfill your worldly desires and benefit yourselves that you leave your homes, separate from families, spend money – all is done for your own sake. No question arises of sacrifice for any higher, sublime purpose.
But the journey that is the Hajj is quite different in nature. This is not meant for any personal end. It is undertaken solely for Allah, and the fulfillment of the duty prescribed by Allah. Nobody can be prepared to undertake this journey until and unless he has love of Allah in his heart as well as fear of him, and is convinced that Allah wants him to do what he is doing. That you are willing to bear the privations arising from separation from your family, to incur great expenses on a journey that will bring no material rewards and to suffer any loss of business or job, all are signs of certain inner qualities: that you love and fear Allah more than anything, that you have a strong sense of duty to Him, that you are willing to respond to His summons and ready to sacrifice your material comforts in His cause.
You will find that your love of God heightens as you start preparing for your pilgrimage journey, with the sole intention of pleasing Allah. With your heart longing to reach your goal, you become purer in thought and deed. You repent for past sins, seek forgiveness from people whom you might have wronged, and try to render your due to others where necessary so as not to go to God’s court burdened with injustices that you may have done to your fellow beings. In general, the inclination for doing good intensifies and abhorrence for doing evil increases.
After leaving home, the closer you get to the House of God, the more intense becomes your desire to do good. You become careful so that you harm nobody, while you try to render whatever service or help you can to others. You avoid abuse, indecency, dishonesty, squabbles and bickering, because you are proceeding on the path of God. Thus your entire journey constitutes an act of worship. How can, then you do wrong. This journey, in contrast to every other, is a continuing course through which a Muslim attains a progressive purification of the self.
On this journey, then, you are pilgrims to God.
When the pilgrim reaches a certain point in his journey on the way to Makka, he must put on Ihram, the mendicant-like clothes consisting of two unsewn sheets of cloth and a pair of sandals. What does putting Ihram symbolize: whatever your position in the world, before God you must come as a beggar and destitute, as in outward appearance so in the depths of your heart. Take off your colorful clothes; put on simple ones. Do not wear socks. Keep your heads bare. Do not use any perfume, nor comb your hair. Do not use any kind of adornment. Stop sexual relations with your wives, refrain even from any gestures, which may arouse eagerness for, and be reminder of, these relations. Do not hunt, and do not help anyone you see hunting.
Adopting such outward postures will influence your inner lives also. You will develop an ascetic attitude. Pride and vanity will disappear. Humility and peace of mind will grow. The impurities that have sullied your souls due to indulgence in worldly pleasures will be removed and a feeling of godliness will dominate both your internal and external selves.
Soon after putting on Ihram the pilgrim utters certain words that he must repeat in a loud voice after every Prayer, when climbing a height and descending from it, when meeting other pilgrims and when getting up in the mornings. These words are:
Labbayk, Allahumma labbayk, labbayk, la sharika laka labbayk, inna ’l-hamda wa ‘n-ni’mata laka wa ‘l-mulka la sharika lak
Here am I before Thee, O God, doubly at Thy service. Before Thee I am, there is no partner unto Thee, doubly at Thy service here am I. All praise and blessings are Thine, and power. There is no partner unto Thee.
This, in fact, is an answer to that general proclamation which Ibrahim, as commanded by Allah, made more than four thousand years ago: O slaves of Allah! Come to the House of Allah. Come from every corner of the earth, either on foot or by transport.
Thus, with every cry of labbayk the pilgrim answers God’s summons; every time he answers His summons he becomes more closely knit with that movement which has been inviting to true and genuine worship of the One God since the time of Ibrahim and Isma’il. The distance in time of four and a half thousand years vanishes and it appears as if Ibrahim is here calling on behalf of Allah and the pilgrim is answering his call.
At every step, as the pilgrim, thus responding to Ibrahim, proceeds further and further, the yearning and longing get more and more intense. At every ascent and descent the voice of Allah’s proclaimer rings in his ears and he goes on and on welcoming it with labbayk. Every group of pilgrims appears to him like a message-bearer of is Lord; and, like a lover, on getting the message from his beloved, he cries out: “I am present, I am present.” Every morning is a message from his Friend to which he has but one answer: “I am at Thy service.”
This recurrent cry of labbayk in conjunction with the ascetic dress of Ihram, the special nature of the journey and the feeling of getting nearer and nearer to the Ka’ba combine to produce in the pilgrim the feeling of being enveloped in Divine love; nothing of any importance any longer resides in his heart except the remembrance of his Friend.
Thus overwhelmed with the love of God, the pilgrim reaches Makka, and immediately proceeds towards the sacred precincts to which he has been summoned. He kisses the ‘threshold’ of his Friend’s house. Then he goes round and round it, the focus of his faith, the hub of his life. Every round he starts and ends by kissing His ‘doorstep’, symbolizing a renewal of his pledge of allegiance and loyalty and obedience to his Lord and Master.*
After completing the seven rounds, he goes to the place where lies the stone on which Ibrahim stood and called men to the House of God, called Muqam Ibrahim. He then offers two rak’ahs of Prayer to thank God.
Sa’i: Hurrying Between Safa and Marwah
From Muqam Ibrahim he proceeds to climb the hillrock of Safa, from where he looks down at the Ka’ba and cries out:
La ilaha ill allah wa la na budu illa iyyahu mukhlisina lahu d-dina wa law kariha l-kafirun
There is no God by Allah. We worship none but Him, making exclusive for Him our submission, even though Kafirs may dislike it.
Then he hurriedly walks between Safa and the other hillock, Marwah. This act, which is called Sa’I, symbolizes that the pilgrim will be ceaselessly endeavoring to serve his Master and seek His pleasure. In the course of this Sa’I, he may say:
Allahumma ista’milni bi sunnati nabiyyika wa tawasffani ala millatihi wa a’idhni min mudillati I-fitan
Grant me to live, O God, the way, as was Thy Prophet’s way, and to die on his path. Protect me from trials, which lead astray.
Or he may say:
Rabbi ghfir warham wa tajawaz ‘amma ta’lam, innaka anta ‘l-a’azzu ‘l-akram.
O Lord! Forgive me and have mercy on me and overlook all that Thou knowest I have done wrong. Thou art the Mightiest and the Noblest.
Wuquf (Stay) at Mina’, ‘Arafat and Muzadalifah
On completion of the Sa’I, the pilgrims become like soldiers in the cause of Allah. Now they have to live a camp like life for five or six days. For one day they will camp at Mina’,* and the next day at ‘Arafat*1 where they will hear their commander’s directives too. Returning from ‘Arafat, they encamp for the night at Muzdalifah *2.
*A place 5-6 kilometers to the east of Makka, where the pilgrims stay on the eighth day of Dhu’ l’Hajjah, the twelfth month, and then from the tenth to the twelfth.
*1 A place 15-17 kilometers further to the east of Makka, where the pilgrims stay on the ninth day of Dhu’ l-Hajjah.
At daybreak, the pilgrims march back
toward Mina’ and throw stones at the pillars which mark the place where army of
Abraha, the Christian king of
Allahu akbar, raghman li ‘sh-shaytani wa hizbihi Allahumma tasdiqan bi kitabika wa ittiba’an li sunnti nabiyyik
God is the Greatest, I throw these stones against Satan and his party, testifying to the truth of Thy Book, O God, and following the way of Thy Prophet.
By throwing these stones the pilgrim reaffirms his pledge: “O God! Like this, I will fight whosoever rises to destroy Your Din and subdue Your word, and thus I shall strive to make Your word supreme.
After throwing stones, animals are sacrificed. This sacrifice demonstrates the intention and resolve of the pilgrim to give his life in the way of God, whenever required.
After sacrifice, the pilgrims return to the Ka’ba just as a soldier, having performed his duty, returns triumphantly to his headquarters. After performing another round of tawaf and offering two rak’ahs of Prayer, Ihram, the dress of consecration, is removed. Whatever was especially prohibited (Haram) during the period of consecration now again becomes permissible (Halal) and the pilgrims’ lives resume their normal pattern.
They now come back to Mina’ and continue to camp there for another two or three days. The following day they again throw stones at the three pillars. These are called jamarat and serve to remind them of the defeat and destruction of that elephant army which we have just referred to. It was in the year of the birth of the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, that it invaded Makka at the time of Hajj to demolish the House of Allah, but which, by the command of Allah, was destroyed by stones dropped by birds.*
After finally throwing stones at these pillars on the third day, the pilgrims return to Makka and perform seven circumambulations of the center of their Din. This is called tawaf wada’ (tawaf for taking leave) and completing it means the completion of Hajj.
It is now easy to see that for two or three months,* from the time of deciding and preparing for Hajj to the time of returning home, a tremendous impact is made on the hearts and minds of pilgrims. This process entails sacrifice of time, sacrifice of money, sacrifice of comfort, and sacrifice of many physical desires and pleasures – and all this simply for the sake of Allah, with no worldly or selfish motive.
Together with a life of sustained piety and virtuousness, the constant remembrance of God and the longing and love for Him in the pilgrim leave a mark on his heart which lasts for years. The pilgrim witnesses at every step the imprints left by those who sacrificed everything of theirs in submission and obedience to Allah. They fought against the whole world, suffered hardships and tortures, were condemned to banishment, but ultimately did make the word of God supreme and did subdue the false powers which wanted man to submit to entities other then God.
The lesson in courage and determination, the impetus to strive in the way of God, which a devotee of God can draw from these clear signs and inspiring examples, can hardly be available from any other source. The attachment developed with the focal point of his Din by walking round (tawaf) the Ka’ba, and the training received to live a Mujahid’s life through the rites (manasik) of Hajj (such as running from place to place and repeated departures and halts) are great blessings indeed.
Combined with the Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, and looked at as a whole, you will see that Hajj constitutes a preparation for the great task, which Islam wants Muslims to do. This is why it has been made compulsory for all who have the money and the physical fitness for the journey to the Ka’ba. This ensures that, in every age, there are Muslims who have passed through this training.
The great blessings of spiritual and moral regeneration, which Hajj imparts to each person, are before you. But you cannot fully appreciate the blessings of Hajj unless you keep in view the fact that Muslims do not perform it individually: hundreds of thousands perform it communally during the time fixed for it. At one stroke Islam achieves not one or two but a thousand purposes.
The advantages of performing the Prayer singly are by no means small, but by making it conditional with congregation and by laying down the rule if Imamah (leadership in the Hajj) and by gathering huge congregations for the Friday and ‘Id Prayers, its benefits have been increased many times. The observance of the Fasting individually is no doubt a major source of moral and spiritual training, but by prescribing that all Muslims must fast in the month of Ramadan those benefits have been greatly increased. The Almsgiving, too, has many advantages even if dispensed individually, but with the establishment of a centralized Baytulmal (exchequer of the Islamic state) for its collection and disbursement it usefulness is increased beyond measure.
The same is true of Hajj. If everyone were to perform it singly, the effect on individual lives would still be great. But making it a collective act enhances its effectiveness to a point, which gives it a new, dimension altogether.
Brothers in Islam! Muslims who should perform Hajj, because they the means to do so, are not few in number. They are found in thousands in every city and hundreds of thousands in every country. Many of them set out every year to perform the Pilgrimage. Imagine how, in every part of the world where Muslims live, the life of Islam becomes alive as the season of Hajj approaches, and how this sense of lively purpose extends over many months of the year.
From the month of Ramadan till Dhu ‘l-Qa’dah, many people from different parts of the world start off for Hajj, while afterwards, from the last part of Dhu ‘l-Thani, the homeward journey continues. For these six to seven months an incessant religious movement prevails among Muslims throughout the world. Those who go to perform Hajj and return home are no doubt enraptured with devotion to God. But even those who do not go receive some share of the experience by virtue of the emotional farewells and homecoming welcomes they accord to the pilgrims, and listening to their accounts of Hajj.
As soon as the intending pilgrim makes up his mind to perform Hajj, fear of God, piety, repentance, seeking forgiveness from God, and desire to do good begin to blossom within him. As he starts saying goodbye to his relatives, friends and associates and settles all of his pending affairs, everyone can notice that he is no longer the same man as before: his heart is now pure and clean because of the newly-kindled spark of love of God. It is easy to imagine the effect of the changed condition of the pilgrim on the people around him. And if every year all over the world hundreds of thousands of pilgrims prepare for Hajj in this manner, the aura cast by their enthusiasm and renewal must improve the moral state of vast numbers of people.
As the pilgrims’ caravans pass through various places the hearts of more and more people are warmed by seeing them, meeting them and by hearing from them the cry of labbayk, labbayk (I am present before Thee). There must be many whose thoughts will be redirected towards Allah and His House, and the eagerness for Hajj will reawaken their slumbering souls.
And when the pilgrims, enthused with the spirit of Hajj, return from the center of their Din to their cities and towns and villages in all parts of the world, they are met and welcomed by all those who have stayed at home. Their words and deeds telling the story of the Pilgrimage must rekindle the devotional feelings of those listening to them.
As such it will not be wrong if we say that just as the month of Ramadan is a season of God-consciousness and piety throughout the Islamic world, so also is the Hajj one of reawakening and rebirth of hearts and societies. The Wise One who has given us the Shari’ah has thus ensured that whatever adverse turn world conditions may take and however bad times may become, they will never succeed in erasing the universal Islamic movement so long as the Ka’ba is there.
For, it has been placed in the body of the Islamic world just like a heart in a man’s body. As long as the heart beats, a man cannot die. In exactly the same way this ‘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 throbbing of the heart continues and as long as this process of drawing the blood and circulating it lasts, it will be impossible to end the life of this body of the Muslim Ummah, however run-down diseases may have made it.
Close your eyes and visualize what it must be like to see people from countless communities and countries converging on one ‘Centre’ through a thousand and one routes – from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Their faces are different, their colors are different, their languages are different, but on reaching a frontier near the ‘Centre’ all exchange the varied clothes they are wearing for a simple uniform of the same design. This single, common uniform of Ihram distinguishes them as the army of one single King. It becomes the insignia of obedience and service to one Being; all are strung in one cord of loyalty and are marching toward one ‘Capital’ to file past their ‘King”.
When these uniformed soldiers move beyond the frontier, the same cry issues forth loudly from their mouths:
Labbayk, Allahumma labbayk, la sharika laka labbayk
Here am I before Thee, O God, doubly at Thy service, There is no partner unto Thee, here am I.
There languages are different but the words they utter are the same; they have the same meaning.
As the center approaches, the circle containing the pilgrims contracts. Caravans from different countries continue joining each other. All perform their Prayers together in one and the same manner. All are dressed in similar uniforms, all are led by one Imam (leader), all are moving simultaneously, al are now using the same language, all are rising, sitting, bowing down (ruku) and prostrating themselves (sujud) at one signal of Allahu akbar, and all are reciting and listening to one Arabic Qur’an. In this way the differences of nationality, country and race are obliterated and a universal community of God-worshippers is constituted.
When these caravans pass on, loudly raising with one voice the call of labbayk, labbayk, when at every ascent and descent the same words resound, when at the time of meeting of caravans these same voices are raised from both sides, and when at the time of every Prayer and at dawn these exclamations reverberate, a unique atmosphere is created whose exhilarating effect makes a man forget his self and become absorbed in the ecstasy of labbayk.
After reaching the Ka’ba comes the act of circumambulation, then the doing of Sa’I by all together between Safa’ and Marwah, then the encampment of all at Mina’, then the departure of all towards ‘Arafat and the listening to their leader’s address, then at night’s sojourn by all at Muzdalifah, then the return of all together towards Min’, then the throwing of the stones in unison by all at jamarat, then the animal sacrifice performed by all, then the return of all together to the Ka’ba for further circumambulation, and then the offering of Salah by all together around the center – all this carries within itself an effect which has absolutely no parallel.
assembling at one center of people drawn from all nationalities of the world,
and that, too, with a remarkable unity of heart and purpose, identity of
thought and harmony of feeling, pure sentiments and noble objectives and deeds,
is the greatest gift of Islam to the children of Adam. The nations of the world
have long been meeting each other, but in what circumstances? On battlefields,
cutting each others throats; or at peace conferences, carving up countries and
nations for themselves; or in the
Nor do the blessings of Hajj in establishing peace stop here. During the four months fixed for Hajj and ‘Umrah (the lesser Pilgrimage performed outside the days of Hajj), every effort must be made to maintain peace on all roads leading to the Ka’ba.
This is the greatest movement of a permanent nature for the establishment of peace in the world. And if the reins of world politics were in hands of Islam, it would be the Muslims’ main concern to ensure that no disturbances took place in the world that would disrupt Hajj and ‘Umrah.
Islam has given to the world an inviolable territory, a city of peace till Doomsday. Within the prescribed boundaries around the Ka’ba, called the Haram, the hunting and shooting of animals is strictly prohibited, the cutting of grass is not allowed, thorns may not be pruned, nor fallen articles picked up. And, of course, no human being may be harmed.
Islam has given to the world a city where it is forbidden to bring arms, where it is tantamount to ‘heresy’ to hoard cereals and other articles of common need and sell them at a higher price, and where those doing wrong to others or oppressing them are thus threatened by Allah:
We shall cause them to taste a painful punishment (al-Hajj 22: 25).
Islam has given a center to the world, which is defined as:
A place where the resident and the visitor are equal (al-Hajj 22: 25).
This means that the rights of all human beings are equal here. Whoever acknowledges the sovereignty of God and accepts the leadership of Muhammad, blessings and peace be on him, enters the brotherhood of Islam, no matter if he is American or African, Chinese or Indian. If one has become a Muslim, his rights are identical to those of the Makkans themselves.
The position of the whole area of the Haram is similar to that of a mosque in that if anyone moves into any part of a mosque that portion belongs to him. Nobody can remove him or ask for rent from him. But, at the same time, he has no right to call it his property, even if he lives there for his whole life. Nor can he sell it or rent it to anybody. When this person leaves his place in the mosque, another person has the same right to occupy it as he had had.
This is exactly the position of the whole of the Haram at Makka. The Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, said: Whosoever first comes to this city and settles at a place, that place is his.
‘Umar issued an order to the people of his time not to fix doors on the compound around their houses so that whoever wanted to could come and stay in the compound. Some jurists have gone so far as to say that nobody has the right to own houses in Makka or to leave them to their heirs when they die.
Brothers! This is the Hajj about which it was said: ‘Undertake it and see how many blessings it has in store for you.’ No words are adequate to express all of its advantages; you can only get a glimpse of them from the brief sketch that I have tried to give here.
Now, listen to the voice of my afflicted heart! We, the present-day born Muslims, are like a child born in a diamond mine. He may have diamonds all round, but if he plays with them as if they were stones, these diamonds become as valueless for him as stones. Our attitudes toward Islam are exactly similar, because the treasures which the world is searching for, and is suffering through being deprived of, have all been given to us by virtue of our having been born Muslims.
The Kalimah Tawhid (the creed of Oneness of God), which shows men the right way to lead their lives, has been drummed into us from our earliest childhoods; those priceless prescriptions of Salah and Sawm, which elevate men from a mere animal existence to the human level, we have inherited, without effort, from our forefathers; that matchless practice of Zakah, which purifies the heart as well as the financial systems of the world, without which people of the world are at loggerheads with each other, is ours as our birthright.
Similarly Hajj has been part of our heritage for hundreds of years. This magnificent way is more effective and powerful than any other ever conceived to propagate our movement throughout the world and keep it alive for all eternity. This universal movement is more powerful than any other to draw out human beings in the name of God and make them into a brotherhood transcending race, color and nationality.
We are surrounded by treasures, but how do we treat them? We play with them in the same way as that ignorant child who, surrounded by diamonds, regards them as stones. My heart bleeds when I see us frittering away such tremendous wealth and power through ignorance and foolishness.
My dear brothers! You must have heard this couplet of the poet:
If the ass of Jesus goes to Makka,
It remains an ass when it returns.
That is to say, an ass, even one living in the company of a Prophet like Jesus, cannot benefit from a visit to Makka; it would still be as unenlightened as before. Today we have at our disposal gifts like the Prayer, Fasting and Pilgrimage. But these devotional acts are meant to train human beings, not to tame animals. Although the people carry out the external trappings of these precious gifts, their minds have no concept of their inner significance. They have no concern for their outcome. They imitate the actions of their forebears, but it is a stereotyped imitation, devoid of comprehension or spiritual content. How can good results be expected out of such exercises?
Every year thousands of pilgrims go to the center of Islam and come back after having had the privilege of performing Hajj without that experience having had the slightest effect on them. Nor do they make any impact on those they meet upon their return or live with. Worse, many of them continue to exhibit their bad habits and bad manners; thus the very name of Islam is tarnished by their behavior. Not only in the eyes of strangers but also among Muslims. Eventually some young Muslims who have not themselves been on Hajj have come to question its value.
Year after year for centuries, hundreds of thousands of the adherents of a powerful movement, Islam, gather at one place, travel along various routs, pass through villages, towns and cities and demonstrate their faith through their words and deeds. How can, one wonders, such an even fail to impress people with the blessings it can bring.
Yet if only Hajj was performed as it was intended it should be, even the blind would see its benefits and the deaf would hear of its advantages! Every year it would change the lives of millions of Muslims, and attract thousands of non-Muslims to Islam!
To derive the full benefits from Hajj, what we need at the center of Islam are such hands that could make it effective, such hearts that would pump pure blood into the body of the Ummah, such minds that could turn the pilgrims into ambassadors of Islam, carrying its message far and wide. At least Makka should have been living example of Islam.
Alas, this is not the case at present. From the time of the Abbasids till the Ottomans, the kings of every period, in order to serve their political ends, tried to weaken the Arabs. They brought them to the lowest levels of decadence in knowledge, morals and culture. The result was that the land from which emanated the light of Islam, spreading its rays to all corners of the world, reached almost the same state of ignorance in which it was before the advent of Islam. There is little knowledge of Islam or Islamic life. People from far-off places flock to the sacred precincts of the Haram with the deepest devotion, only to find ignorance, filth, greed, indecency, love of this world, bad manners and disorganization. The result is that, for many, the experience of Hajj, instead of strengthening their faith, weakens it.
Priestly exploitation which was imposed in the Ka’ba after Ibrahim and Isma’il, and which was abolished by the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, has again been revived. The administration and the Mu’akkunub ( who guide the pilgrims) have again adopted the ways of priests. The House of God has become their property and Hajj a source of business. They consider the pilgrims as their customers. Agents have been appointed in different countries on big salaries to canvas and bring in the customers. Every year a whole army of brokers leaves Makka to seek out and fetch them from all parts of the world. People are induced to perform Hajj by having Quranic verses and Hadith quoted at them. The motive is not to remind them of the duty imposed by Allah but to make money.
It almost looks as if Allah and His Messenger initiated Hajj for the sole purpose of sustaining the Mu’allimin and brokers. Trading in religion, Mu’allim, Mutawwif, their attorneys, keepers of keys to the Ka’ba – all confront a pilgrim at every stage. They and the Government itself are all co-sharers in the Hajj ‘industry’. The performance of all rituals of Hajj is conducted on payment and even the door of the Ka’ba is only opened for a fee. How strange that such is the condition of the followers of a religion, which abolished all priesthood!
How can the true spirit of worship survive where the word of conducting it has become a source of wage-earning and trade, where sacred places are exploited for personal gain, where Devine commandments are employed to lure people to empty their pockets, where a man is obliged to make payment for every rite he performs, and where Din has become a business commodity?*
In mentioning these facts I do not intend to cast blame on anyone. My purpose is simply to point out what factors have so seriously weakened such a potentially tremendous source of spiritual, moral and social power as Hajj. There should be no misunderstandings in anybody’s mind that this state of affairs is due to any deficiency in Islam. The deficiency lies with those who do not follow Islam correctly. The situation is like that of an expert physician whose prescriptions falls into the hands of quacks and thus become useless and possibly positively harmful.