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FaithPractice

How the Hajj Pilgrimage Transcends Into Our Daily Lives

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FaithPractice

How the Hajj Pilgrimage Transcends Into Our Daily Lives

Hajj in itself is a reflection of Tawhid, the oneness of God.

44

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Hajj in itself is a reflection of Tawhid, the oneness of God.

Hajj (pilgrimage), the journey begins with the neya (intention) and by cleansing the body and wearing the ihram, two pieces of cloths without any stitches and emblems on it. A woman, however, must cover her awrah (the intimate parts of the body) as prescribed in the Quran and for that, she needs additional garments. As the journey begins, the pilgrims declare the Talbiyah: “here I am at Thy service O Lord, here I am. Here I am at Thy service and Thou hast no partners. Thine alone is All Praise and All Bounty, and Thine alone is The Sovereignty. Thou hast no partners.”

The acts and rituals of the Hajj pilgrimage

The obligatory rituals of Hajj commence on the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah (the 12th and final month in the Islamic calendar) by arriving at any point within the boundaries of the plain of Arafah in Makkah Al-Mukarramah (the Holy city of Makkah) before the sunset. Even if it is only for a moment, standing in Arafah on that day before the sunset is the beginning of one’s Hajj. The next obligatory part of the journey continues immediately after sunset, the journey towards Muzdalifah. At least one-third of the night needs to be spent under the open sky at Muzdalifah. Then the pilgrim opts for the next part of the journey either to Mina or to the Al-Masjid-al-Haram. Those who choose to go to Mina first will eventually have to go to Al-Masjid-al- Haram and continue the journey by seven times tawaf (circumambulation) around the Ka’ba (better known as the house of Allah), the first Masjid on the earth built by Prophet Ibrahim. Upon completion of tawaf, the pilgrims continue the journey by marching seven times between Safa and Marwa (two mountains near the Ka’ba), a ritual named Sa’ee. Part of the whole journey includes throwing stones at the jamarat (three pillars where Satan is said to be tied). In addition to these, the whole journey requires spending at least three nights at Mina and offering a qurbani (sacrifice).

In Hajj, each and every ritual is a reminder of how a Muslim must act in relation to his/her iman (faith) in Allah. The ihram reminds us of returning to our Lord (the Creator), as it is similar to the shroud that will be given after death into the qabur (grave). Standing on Arafah reminds Allah of forgiving Prophet Adam and his wife Hawa, and where mankind began their journey on earth. Sa’ee is the remembrance of the event where Hajar, the second wife of Prophet Ibrahim, accepted to stay in the middle of the desert with her baby without any apparent support for food and shelter, following the command of Allah. Spending a night in the desert of Muzdalifah under the open sky reminds the minuscule existence of a human entity in the universe. Throwing stones at Jamarat reminds Prophet Ibrahim’s encounter of Satan and threw stones to get rid of its influence so that he can obey Allah. The event of qurbani is linked to Prophet Ibrahim’s intention to sacrifice his most beloved son for the sake of Allah.

Understanding the journey

Thus the journey of Hajj reminds us of the concept of Tawhid (oneness of Allah) in every dimension. The journey reminds that, Allah is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and everything in between. Only Him we worship and obey, and to Him are all are bound to return. A pilgrim declares that by reciting the Talbiyah as a testimony to surrender to Him at the beginning of Hajj.

While performing Hajj, a pilgrim seems to have the utmost faith that Allah, the most Merciful and the Most Kind, will forgive all his past sins and will grant His blessings for the success in the life hereafter. Those who are yet to perform Hajj, also have similar faith to receive His forgiveness and blessings, if they would have the chance to perform Hajj. Thus Hajj symbolizes a purification to lead towards the success in the life hereafter. Hence, while performing the rituals, every pilgrim dedicates their relentless efforts to complete the journey without any mistakes. Even an unintentional mistake is corrected by offering different forms of kafarah (penalty).

Figure 1. Layers of truth to be observed in human life. Horizontal truth includes events, phenomena, and re/actions which are controlled and performed by man and that may vary with respect to time, space, and the individual. Universal truth includes the natural phenomena that are beyond human control. While the ultimate truth describes the Oneness, Existence and Supreme authority of the Creator, Allah. It is to be noted that horizontal truths fall within the boundary of universal truths that in turn are in the control of the ultimate truth.

So does the Hajj pilgrimage transcend into our daily lives?

Is the level of faith and dedication during the Hajj of a pilgrim reflected during the journey of the daily life of a Muslim? In other words, to what extent does a pilgrim remember the journey to Arafah, Muzdalifah, Mina, Tawaf, Sa’ee and throwing stones at Jamarat, in his/her daily life? Needless to say, regardless of the pledge and effort we all make, we are bound to make mistakes (sins) in the ongoing journey of our daily life. Besides, many of us might not have the opportunity to perform Hajj before we return to our Lord. That obliges the faith and dedication that a Muslim shows while performing Hajj has to be observed every moment during the journey of the daily life.

To evaluate our level of faith in our daily life, compared to the level of faith that we have during the Hajj, let us exemplify an important ritual of Hajj. Sa’ee reminds how Prophet Ibrahim and his second wife Hājar submitted themselves to the command of Allah [Al-Quran, 14: 37]. At the human level, both Nabi Ibrahim and Hajar would consider the absurdity of getting food and shelter in the middle of that desert. Such a calculated fact, a truth at the horizontal level (or “horizontal truth”) (Figure 1) would force them to believe that the mother and the baby would not survive in the desert. However, their submission was guided by their faith on the oneness of Allah who creates everything out of nothing and only He who controls everything on earth and in the heavens and everything in between [Al-Quran, 39: 62]. Thus, their faith in the oneness of Allah eventually proved the horizontal truth, the possibility of being perished in the desert, to be wrong.

A Muslim begins the journey of life by accepting and declaring the shahada (testimony of bearing witness). At different times, Allah sent different Nabi and Rasul (messenger) for different ummah (nation, race, or tribe). All of them called their respective ummah or qowm (tribe) towards the tawhid, i.e., the oneness of Allah [Al-Quran, 51:56]. Thus every prophet called for the same testimony of tawhid, “there is no god but Allah” to their people. Whenever a race or tribe deviates from the right path, Allah sent a Nabi or Rasul to guide them by reminding that “there is no god but Allah”, so that they worship and obey Him but none.

To lead the life on the right path, mankind thus has been reminded of the same truth again and again. Hence this remains as “the ultimate truth” for mankind (Figure 1). A Muslim today is no exception to this. In other words, a Muslim today must lead the journey of life towards the ultimate truth. The testimony of Tawhid i.e., Oneness of Allah is true in every aspect of the universe including human life. It tells that Allah is the only Creator of everything in the heavens and earth and everything in between.

Figure 2. Infinite possibilities in relation to the directions and distances of an individual in the journey towards the ultimate truth.

Prophet Muhammad taught his Ummah the ultimate truth, that there is no god but Allah, like other Nabi and Rasul before him taught their ummah. By accepting Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the last Messenger of Allah, the people of his time accepted the oneness of Allah. Since then, those who accepted this ultimate truth were guided in their journey of life in the straight path, and those who denied this truth remained astray [Al-Quran, 48:29]. Those who accept the ultimate truth enter the boundary of Islam and become a Muslim. Indeed Allah asked mankind to become a Muslim before they die [Al-Quran, 3:102]. Upon accepting the ultimate truth, a Muslim starts his journey as a Mu’min (believer) who not only accepts and declares the ultimate truth but also acts accordingly. There are more than 80 verses in the Quran that command the Mu’min to lead their life accordingly. For instance, a Muslim or Mu’min is asked to establish Salat (five times daily), perform fasting, perform Hajj (if capable), and avoid what is forbidden.

Figure 3. Destinations in the journey of faith. Faith guides an individual to search for the truth and falsehood; faith will also determine the guiding principle of life that one chooses to determine what is right or wrong, good or bad, and harmful or beneficial.

In reality, not every Mu’min can follow all of Allah’s commands in his lifetime. Thus different Mu’min would appear to follow different paths yet towards the same direction, i.e., towards the ultimate truth (Figure 2). A Mu’min then may (aim to) become a successful Mu’min by adding perfections in performing their obligations (Al-Quran, 23:1-10). Such as a successful Mu’min not only establish salat but also offers salat with all solemnity and full submissiveness; turn away from Al-Laghw (dirty, false, evil vain talk, falsehood, and all that Allah has forbidden); and last but not least guard their chastity. Thus a successful Mu’min is obliged to obey the command given to mankind (in general) as well as a Muslim. Hence, the level of obedience to the obligations given by a Mu’min reflects their status of faith and dedication to the ultimate truth.

Conclusion

What an individual believes in and how s/he believes as truth determines how they would re/act. In other words, what we know as truth guides us to build our faith; faith leads us to observe (evaluate) an event in a certain orientation and that observation helps us to develop our perception and eventually that perception leads us in our way to re/act. Thus faith becomes the starting point of a journey from observation to develop a perception and eventually to re/act (Figure 3). Standing on the path towards the ultimate truth, one determines what is right or what is wrong (good or bad, useful or useless, and beneficial or harmful).


by Mohammad Tariqur Rahman (PhD). Dr. Rahman is a visiting Research Associate at the Institute of Halal Research. Professor, Faculty of Dentistry. University of Malaya, Malaysia.

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