LET US BE MUSLIMS
By Sayyid Abul A’la
Table of Contents
One – Origin and Significance of Hajj
Life and Mission of the Prophet Ibrahim
Commitment to the Truth
Tribulations and Calamities
Raising a New Generation
The Greatest of Trials
The Universal Islamic Movement
Lut in Sodom
Ishaq in Palestine
of the Ka’ba
Prayers of Ibrahim
Chapter Two – Restoration of True Hajj
Idol Worship Among
How Corrupted Hajj Became
of Sacred Months
Restoration of Hajj
Fulfillment of Ibrahim’s Prayer
of Ibrahim’s Way
of Indecent Acts
and Showing Off
End of Ostentatious Generosity
Spattering of Blood and Flesh Banned
of Perverse Rites
Changing the Months of Hajj Forbidden
Hajj Provisions Made Obligatory
to Work During Hajj
Peace and Security
Importance of Hajj
Three – Renewal of Self
Virtue and Piety
Ihram and its Conditions
Talbiyyah: the Cry
Round the House
The Impact of Hajj
Hajj, a Collective Worship
Four – Renewal of Society
Growth in God-consciousness
A Season of Reawakening
Inspiring Spectacle of Unity
Greatest Movement for Peace
Center of Peace and Equality
Our Lack of Appreciation
Deriving Full Benefit From
Significance Of Hajj
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.
word Hajj means to make a resolve to visit a holy place: Visiting the Ka’ba in Makka is therefore
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.
Life and Mission of the prophet Ibrahim
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.
Ibrahim was born in what is now Iraq, over four
thousand years ago. At that time the
people had forgotten the One God. No one
recognized him as the Master, no one lived in
surrender and obedience to Him. The people among whom Ibrahim was born, while the most advanced
in the world in art and science, industry and agriculture, were also the most
steeped in ignorance and error. One
simple they despite their technological advance, could not understand:
anything, which has itself been created cannot be worthy of worship. Idolatry was the norm. Superstitions like astrology, idol-worship, divination, Witchcraft and
use of talisman and amulets were widespread.
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.
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.
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.
Commitment to 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.
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
Let Us Be Muslims
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
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].
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.
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 Egypt,
Palestine and Arabia. God, alone, knows what sufferings he went
through on his journeys. He had no money
or possessions nor did he have time to earn his livelihood. His sole vocation, day and night, was to
bring people to the worship of the One God.
If a man of such ideas could not be tolerated by his own father and his
own community, how was he going to be any more successful elsewhere? Where would he be welcomed? Everywhere the same temple priests and kings
claiming godhood held sway; everywhere the same confused and ignorant common
men lived, who were completely hoodwinked by them. How could, then, Ibrahim live peacefully in
such an environment? For, not only was
he himself not ready to accept the godhood of anybody except God, but he was
also committed to proclaiming to the people that none except Allah was their
Master and Lord and that, therefore, they should ignore the authority of their
leaders and demi-gods and submit only to the One
Being. Thus condemned to a nomadic
existence, wandering through Palestine, Egypt and the vast deserts of Arabia,
he passed his whole adult life.
Raising a New Generation
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.
The Greatest of Trials
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).
The Universal Islamic Movement
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.
Lut In Sodom
Ibrahim settled his
nephew, Lut in Sodom,
which was infamous for its moral depravity.
Ibrahim’s objective was to reform the people and also to influence the
far-flung area around; traders traveling between Iran,
Iraq, and Egypt used to
pass through the region, and it was therefore an ideal place from which to
spread God’s message.
Ishaq in Palestine
The younger son, Ishaq, was settled in Palestine. This region, situated between Syria and Egypt, and being on the coast, was
also a good center for spreading Ibrahim’s message. From this region the Islamic movement reached
Egypt through Ishaq’s son, Ya’qub (whose name
was also Israel),
and through his grandson, Yusuf, peace be on all of them. The elder son, Ismail, was assigned his
headquarters at Makka in the Hijaz
and Ibrahim himself stayed with him for a long time to propagate the teaching
of Islam throughout Arabia.
of the Ka’ba
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
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
Prayers of Ibrahim
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:
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.
of True Hajj
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.
Idol Worship Among Ibrahim’s Descendants
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 Iraq, they
turned the Ka’ba into a sort of temple and installed
themselves as priests there. Adopting all the tricks of priests, they began
accepting gifts and offerings from pilgrims flocking from the four corners of Arabia. In this
way all the work done by Ibrahim and Isama’il was
destroyed and the purpose for which they had introduced the system of Hajj was
superseded by different types of objectives.
How Corrupted Hajj Became
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.
of Sacred Months
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
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.
Restoration of Hajj
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 Arabia. Finally, however, the time arrived for
granting Ibrahim’s prayer, which he had made while raising the walls of the Ka’ba:
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).
Revival of Ibrahim’s Ways
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).
Prohibition of Indecent Acts
All indecent acts were strictly
Whoso undertakes the Pilgrimage in those [months] should abstain from
lewd speech, from iniquity, and from quarrelling during the Pilgrimage (al-Baraqah 2: 197).
and Showing Off
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
of Ostentatious Generosity
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:
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).
of Blood and Flesh Banned
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).
of Perverse Rites
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).
the Months of Hajj Forbidden
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).
Provisions Made Obligatory
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:
to Work During
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).
of Other Customs
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.
Peace and Security
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).
Importance of Hajj
See, now, how important this Hajj
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).
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).
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
Renewal of Self
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
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.
Virtue and Piety
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.
Ihram and its Conditions
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.
Talbiyyah: the Cry of Response
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
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.
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.
Tawaf: Walking Round the House
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.*
*Some ignorant people object to the
kissing of the Black Stone, arguing that it is a kind of idol worship. It is in
fact no more than a symbol for kissing the ‘doorstep’ of the Master. The
circumambulation of the Ka’ba starts where the Black
Stone is fixed and, during the seven rounds, it is either kissed or touched, or
a sign is made towards it ate the end of every round. There is not the slightest vestige in this or
worshipping it. That the Stone itself is
ascribed no power is demonstrated very well in what ‘Umar
is reported to have said while kissing it: You are a mere stone. If the
Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, had not kissed you, I would have never
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
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
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:
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
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.
*2 A place where the pilgrims spend the night on their way back to
Mina’ from ‘Arafat.
Rami Jimar: Stoning the Pillars
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 Yemen, known as
the Ashabu ‘l-fil (the
people of elephants), had reached in their effort to demolish the Ka’ba. While throwing each stone, the soldiers in the cause
of Allah say:
raghman li ‘sh-shaytani wa hizbihi Allahumma tasdiqan bi kitabika wa ittiba’an li
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.*
*It is often said that this act of
flinging stones is done in commemoration of the incident, which happened to
Ibrahim when he was about to sacrifice Isma’il: Satan
tried to tempt him, and he flung stones at him. It is also said that when a
lamb was given to Ibrahim to sacrifice in place of Isma’il,
the lamb ran away and Ibrahim threw stones at it. But in no authentic Hadith
have these incidents been narrated from the Prophet, blessings and peace be on
him, as the background of rami jimar.
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.
The Impact 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.
was the average duration of time required to perform Hajj in 1938, when this
address was delivered. In this jet age it may take as few as seven days.
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.
Hajj, a Collective Worship
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.
Renewal of Society
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.
Growth in God-consciousness
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.
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
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.
A Season of
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.
Inspiring Spectacle of Unity
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”.
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.
languages are different but the words they utter are the same; they have the same
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
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.
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.
Movement for Peace
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 League
of Nations, indulging in deception and plotting against each other
or conspiring against each other. The meeting of common men of all nations,
with sincerity and love, with mental and spiritual affinity, with unity in
thoughts, deeds and aims – and not only once but always at the same center
every year – is a blessing available to mankind nowhere else but in Islam. Has
anyone else devised a better system than this for establishing peace in the
world, for removing hostility among nations and for creating in the place of
quarrels and bickering an atmosphere of love, friendship and brotherhood?
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.
of Peace and Equality
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
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:
shall cause them to taste a painful punishment (al-Hajj 22: 25).
given a center to the world, which is defined as:
A place where the resident and the visitor are equal (al-Hajj 22:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our Lack of
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
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
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.
brothers! You must have heard this couplet of the poet:
the ass of Jesus goes to Makka,
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
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
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
Full Benefit From Hajj
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.
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.
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
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?*
*This address was given in 1938.
Conditions have now greatly improved and the Saudi Arabian Government is trying
to enforce further reforms. Two matters require special attention. Firstly, the
two sacred precincts of Makka and Madina
must be protected from the onslaughts of Western civilization. Second, the
methods and procedures employed by Mu’allims should
be improved. May God enable the Saudi Government to adopt correct measures 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.