One of the rituals of Hajj is
the throwing of pebbles at the three pillars of temptation that symbolizes
Satan, when he tried to dissuade Prophet Ibrahim from carrying out the command
The pile of broken umbrellas,
huge rocks, and of course, rubber slip-ons of all hue piled around the pillars
of temptation tell more than a story. The minor story of course is that some
people come to Hajj unprepared and thus unaware what to hurl at Satan. The major
story is that why only small pebbles are needed. The questions, what to hurl and
why only small pebbles are closely connected.
The completion of the rites
of Hajj, as we know them, was executed by Prophet Muhammad
after he removed all idols from the Kabah. The objects that needed major
demolition equipment had been done away and what now remain are fresh idols that
keep cropping up at all times. The need for heavy demolition equipment does
exist, but the heavy-duty stuff that needs to be removed are not big rocks of
idols, but the rocks of corruption, greed, power, vanity and
self-indulgence. The equipment needed to remove these rocks, are sincere doses of
God Consciousness (Taqwa).
Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham),
perhaps, the foremost idol-breaker, launched a mission against idolatry when it
was the absolute norm - he stood firm against the tide of idol worship and challenged
this deep-rooted social norm. Today, we live amidst a tide of idols, however,
these idols, although man-made like their predecessors, enjoy a form that is far
more deceptive than the word idol usually conjures up for us. The modern
day idols of the love for power or recognition is taking many forms, and most often
these idols in the guise of current-day social norm are not only hurtful to the
individual but indeed the community.
Prophet Ibrahim was
confronted by the same psychological and emotional challenges that confront us:
making and worshipping idols was the norm, and in his case the family's
livelihood too. This is where his greatness lies that he was able to break from
these barriers and demolish the idols. Yes, there was opposition, but none from
within him. He felt no fear, no hesitancy in undoing his family's source of
income. He was driven by a desire to break the shekels of idolatry and establish
the worship of One true God.
The jihad (struggle) of
Prophet Ibrahim is as relevant for us today, as it was thousands of years ago.
Today, although it seems that no physical idols need be broken, but many
idols confront us: there are still billions who are worshipping man-made idols,
there are many who, drunk with power, are devastating human rights at will, and
above all human beings live with false notions of wealth.
The popular ditty goes:
"What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." Humanity
is held in deception and awaiting Muslims to break psychological and
emotional idols and free themselves and the rest from this temporal world.