No annual event on the face of the globe, religious or non-religious, compares to hajj in terms of the sheer number of participants, duration of the event and the breadth of agenda. In spite of this fact, it has always remained equally fascinating and mysterious to not only non-Muslims, who are barred from entering the holy city, but also to millions of Muslims, who had not performed hajj.
What then is hajj? In essence, hajj is
man's evolution toward Allah; his return to Him. It is a symbolic demonstration of the philosophy of creation of Adam
, the first man. To further illustrate this, it may be stated that the performance of hajj is a simultaneous show or exhibit of many things. It is a show of creation. It is a show of history. It is a show of unity. It is a show of Islamic ideology. It is a show of Ummah, the community of Muslims. That is why, it is said in the
Quran: "And proclaim unto mankind the hajj. ... That they may witness things that are of benefit to
them." (Quran 22:27-8)
Just as in any other good show or movie or theatre-play, the following conditions prevail in hajj. Allah is the stage Manager. The theme portrayed is the actions of these main characters
- Adam, Haw'a (Eve), Ibrahim, Hajera, Isma'il , and Shaytan. The main scenes are
- Masjid al-Haram, 'Arafat, Mas'a (space between the mountains - Safa and Marwa),
Mash'ar (area between 'Arafat and Mina) and Mina. Important symbols are - Kaba,
Safa, Marwa, day, night, sunshine, sunset, idols and rituals of sacrifice. The dress and make-up are
- 'Ihram, halq and taqseer (part of ceremonies of hajj involving cutting of hair and nails, afterward). Lastly, the player of the show is
- YOU - the Hajji. You are the main feature of the performance. The role of Adam, Ibrahim,
Isma'il and Hajera in confrontation between Allah and Satan is all played by you. As a result, you are the hero of the show!
Hajj is a duty unto Allah for mankind, for him or her who can find a way or means to get there
(Quran 3:97). It is not a tax on your wealth, but a duty. Thus, to qualify, you must be sane and wise to understand what you are getting into, and able-bodied to go through this task, and lastly, have the means or resources to perform hajj.
The pillars of hajj are five
(1) 'Ihram, (2) waiting at 'Arafat, (3) Tawaf of the
Ka'ba, (4) sa'iy or running between the Safa and the Marwa and (5) cutting or trimming of hair.
Others are not pillars, although some may require kaffara or penalty, if not done. The person who puts on the
'Ihram or cloth for either 'Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) or hajj (greater pilgrimage) is called a Muhrim.
The months of hajj are the three.
These are the Arabic months of Shawwal, Dhul-Qadah and first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Thus, one cannot put on Ihram before Shawwal. Hajj and
'Umrah are performed in three ways - ifrad, tamattu and qiran.
- Ifrad involves first performing hajj and then Umrah.
- Tamattu is when one first performs Umrah and then hajj, both in the same year with some break in between the two.
- Qiran is when one puts on the 'Ihram with the intention of combining both hajj and
'Umrah without any break in between the two.
There are ten etiquettes of hajj. These are:
- Requite all wrongdoings and satisfy all adversaries.
- Make provision for hajj from one's lawful wealth.
- Learn the pillars of hajj and its ceremonies.
- Be kind and forbearing with others, lest the reward be nullified.
- Observe the obligations of prayers and its statutes.
- Be open-handed, maintain the poor and spend as much as he/she is able to.
- At the station of 'Arafat, remember the Day of Judgment (Yawmil Qiamat).
- Should not miss visitation of the
grave in Madinah.
- After return from hajj, one should turn toward Akhirat (Hereafter).
- One should remember his parents and other close relatives who have passed away with pious prayers and make-up for them if they could not fulfill their obligations for hajj.
The steps of hajj are the following:
Miqat - putting on 'Ihram at designated places with wudhu.
The show of hajj begins with Miqat. At this point, the participant must change his/her clothes. Clothes show individuality, status, preference and distinction. They create superficial barriers that separate man from man. The concept of
"I" (and not "We") emerges which gives birth to discrimination. At Miqat you assume your original shape as a
"man", just one of "children of Adam" who will die one day. The cloth of 'Ihram is, therefore, the anti-thesis to that
"individualism", it is the kafan (or burial shroud). You wear the kafan, the two pieces of cloth, just like everyone else. You join the mass, the multitude and become nothing or just a drop of water in the ocean that has no special identity of its own. An atmosphere of genuine unity prevails everywhere. It is a human show of Islamic unity, it is a show of universal brotherhood. The bodies were left in Miqat and the souls are motivated here. This is the beginning of your journey, your voyage to nothingness. There is no sex, no perfume, no shoes, no sewn clothes and head covers for men, no face mask, no cutting of hair or nails, i.e., absolutely no signs of aristocracy or distinction. In the state of Muhrim, you
don't even look in a mirror to see your own image. You don't hunt any animal, you
don't uproot any plant. So you kill the tendencies of aggression by being peaceful to nature. You cease to remain or behave as somebody. Hajj is a movement to returning to Allah, just as Allah says in the
Quran: Wa ilal-lahil maseer (24:42), meaning, "Unto Allah is the journeying." All your selfish egos must be buried at Miqat. You witness your own dead body and visit your own grave. By sacrificing your individuality, you focus on reality, the basic purpose for which you were created - that being a slave unto Allah. Just as when you would be buried in two pieces of cloth, leaving behind all your wealth and worldly belongings, here in Miqat you practice a dress rehearsal for that inevitable event.
It is preferable that you enter Makkah during the daytime.
Each step you take toward Ka'ba, your heart pounds. The weight of being close to
Allah's house seems to get heavier and heavier. You are endowed with a mixed feeling of love and fear. Love, because you have waited this long to get here. Fear, because you
don't know whether you can endure the strain of rituals of hajj, fulfill your duty unto Allah and be born again as an innocent human being.
Make du'a (supplication) for Ka'ba upon seeing it.
Remember this is the Baital Haram - the Sacred House - appointed by Allah
(Quran 5:97). This is the first house of worship on the face of the globe. It is to this house that you face while praying. It is also the direction in which your face would be turned when you are buried as dead. It is the center of existence, faith, love, unity and life. It has its own history. It is called Baitil Masabatal-lin-nass wa amana, i.e., the House of resort for mankind and a sanctuary
(Quran 2:125). It is also called Baitul Atiq - the Ancient House - in the Quran (22:29). Ibrahim
prayed for its security and blessings.
You perform Tawaf (circumambulation) of
Ka'ba seven times, unless it is time for a regular prayer led by an Imam, which you need to join in.
Just as planets of our solar system orbit around the sun, you orbit around the
world's sun - the Ka'ba, and become part of a universal system. You demonstrate your love for Allah by making Tawaf around His house. Tawaf should be started from the corner stone
- the Black stone, Hajr al-Aswad - with Ka'ba on the left. This is where you make a contract to join all the tribes of the earth, and become like a drop of water entering the ocean. The moment of truth has come and you must select your path, distinct from those who had rejected their Creator. Three of the seven Tawafs must be at a faster pace than normal walking. You should try to touch the stone with hand, and put your forehead on it and then kiss it. By touching the stone, you have shown your allegiance to your Creator, who had sent this very stone from the heaven, so that He could know your love for Him. By touching the stone, you have cut off all forms of allegiance to anything other than Allah, you have become free again from servitude of men and this world. During Tawaf, you become part of the cosmos. You forget about yourself. You are in love with the symbol of unity and servitude to Allah. You see nothing but His symbols, the
Ka'ba and the Black Stone, Hajr al-Aswad. By denying yourself you have become a lover of Him just like Hajera who migrated to this land, barren and rugged, without vegetation, without any forms of subsistence, but with complete reliance in Her Lord, Allah Subhana Wa
ta'Ala (SWT). And Allah did not neglect either her or her infant son. He brought out the Jamjam well and let people settle there, making it the most important place in the Arabian peninsula. Remember that some rituals of hajj are, in reality, a memory of Hajera. Hijrah or migration is what Hajera did. Any migration like hers is a move toward civilization.
During Tawaf, everyone encircles the Ka'ba collectively. The movement is of one unit and there is no individual identification of men or women, black or white, red or yellow. The movement has transformed one person into the totality of a
"people." All of the "I's" have transformed into "We," establishing the universality of ummah with the goal of approaching Allah. Likewise, all your self-centeredness must go and transform into self-denial or ummah-centered activities.
Allah's way is the way of the people. In other words, to approach Allah, you must first approach people. That is why, individual activities in Islam are less meritorious than collective actions. You step out of the Tawaf cycle at the same place you started after completion of the seven orbits. This is just like being resurrected from the same spot where you would be buried.
After Tawaf, perform two rakah of prayer behind Maqam-e Ibrahim in which you pray Surah al-Kafirun in the first rakat and Surah al-Ikhlas in the second.
Maqam is a very blessed place for praying
(Quran 2:125). It is the nearest point to Allah. As a matter of fact, there is no place in this entire earth where you get more reward than this place for praying. The stone has the footprint of Ibrahim
, the rebel against the established despot of his time, Nimrod. He stood over this stone to lay the corner stone - Hajr al-Aswad and to re-construct the
Ka'ba and to pray (Quran 2:125). Do you now understand where you are standing? By standing on the same stone, you vow to become like Ibrahim Hanifah wa Khalil-Allah, the upright friend of Allah, who was uncompromising in his conviction of Tawhid. In Maqam, symbolically, you shake hands with Ibrahim
by pledging the same dedication to Allah - i.e., to be like Ibrahim and Isma'il , his son.
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