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Hajj: Origin and Significance

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By Syed Abul Ala Maududi

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’aba in Makka is therefore called Hajj.
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.
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.
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.
After 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.
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.
It was in Makka that Ibrahim and his son built the Holy Ka’aba, 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 Quran:
Peace always reigned in and around the Ka’aba, 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 truest, 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! (Quran 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 (Quran 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 (Quran 22: 26-8).
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’aba 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.Gentiles are invoked when movements talk of distributive justice and inequality.


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Opinion

Hajj and the Neglected Legacy of a Great Woman

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By MOHAMMAD OMAR FAROOQ

Islam teaches us to submit completely and whole-heartedly. “O you who believe! Enter into Islam completely, whole-heartedly…” (Quran 2:208)
It also calls for a submission that is spontaneous and conscientious, without any hesitation or resistance against the will and guidance of God. “But no, by your Rabb, they can have no (real) faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction.” (Quran 4:65)
There is great – truly great – news from God. “Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures, their reward is with God: Gardens of Eternity, beneath which rivers flow; they will dwell therein forever; God is well pleased with them, and they with Him: All this for such as fear their Rabb (the cherisher and sustainer).” (Quran 98:7-8)
Eid al-Adha is a great and unique occasion of joy and celebration. Ironically, this joy and celebration revolve around sacrifice. It would probably make sense to only those who understand that the joy of giving that touches others’ lives is far greater and deeper than the joy of receiving.
This great occasion of Eid al-Ad’ha is tied to a unique event, the Hajj; a unique city, Makkah; and a unique family, the family of Ibrahim. Indeed, what the Quran refers to the Milla of Ibrahim is essentially rooted in the legacy of a model family. Say: “God speaks the Truth: follow the Milla of Ibrahim, the True in Faith; he was not of the Pagans.” (Quran 3:95)
We cannot discuss Eid al-Ad’ha without remembering Ibrahim, who represents in the Quran an ideal submission. He never hesitated to respond to the call and command of his Rabb (the Creator, the Sustainer and the Evolver). He never considered anything too precious to be withheld when it came to fulfilling the wish of his Rabb. Everything he did was commanded by God, and was fulfilled by him conscientiously with honor and nobility. We are all too familiar with the story of his unwavering faith and conviction, and his supreme sacrifice as embodied in the event when he was ready to sacrifice his dear and only son to fulfill the wish of his Rabb. “Behold! hisRabb (Lord) said to him: “Bow (submit your will to Me): He said: “I bow (submit my will) to the Lord and Cherisher of the Universe.” (Quran 2:131) We know, of course, God didn’t really want him to slaughter his son, he just wanted to see if Ibrahim was ready to submit entirely and unconditionally. No loving God would have exacted such a sacrifice of one’s own child in reality.
Another member of this ideal family was the first son of Ibrahim, Ismail. The Quran presents him as like father like son. “… (Abraham) he said: ‘O my son! I see in vision that I offer you in sacrifice: Now see what is your view!’ (The son) said: ‘O my father! Do as you are commanded: You will find me, if God so wills, one practicing patience and constancy!” (Quran 19:102)
In his submission to the will of his Rabb, Ismail was no less ideal. He submitted to the will of God whole-heartedly and with a heart full of peace and tranquility. Once again, there are very few among us who are not already familiar with the role and position of Ismail in the heritage of Tawheed and the eternal truth.
Going beyond the customary commemoration of the stories of Ibrahim and Ismail, I want to focus here on the not-so-mentioned legacy of a great woman, Mother Hajar (Radhiallahu ‘anha, May Allah be pleased with her) the wife of Ibrahim and the mother of Ismail. Indeed, she is an integral and as important part of the legacy of Tawheed and the Milla (community) of Ibrahim. Her submission to the will of her Rabb and her sacrifice were as ideal as that of Ibrahim and Ismail. God has ennobled her in the Quran by making Safaa and Marwah integral to the performance of Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam. These are the two hills between which she ran back and forth in search of water for her beloved infant son, while she was all alone according to the plan of God Himself. “Behold! Safaa and Marwah are among the symbols of God. So if those who visit the House in the Season or at other times, should compass them round, it is no sin in them. And if any one obeys his own impulse to Good, be sure that God is He Who recognizes and knows.” (Quran 2:158)
If the readers have not read already, I invite them to read the Hadith containing details of her story in Sahih al-Bukhari (Vol. 4, #583, Book of Ambiya or Prophets).
Mother Hajar was not just a wife of Ibrahim, but she was deeply loved by him. But, once again, to fulfil the wish of God, he brought Mother Hajar and their beloved infant son, Ismail, to this abandoned, desolate, barren valley of Makkah. There was no such inhabited place called Makkah at that time.
As Ibrahim brought Mother Hajar and Ismail to that barren, rugged valley, she asks (as in the Hadith): ‘O Ibrahim! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is neither any person nor anything else (to survive)?’ She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her. Then she asked him, ‘Has God instructed you to do so?’ He replied, ‘Yes.’…
That was enough for Mother Hajar. Now she knew that it was according to the Divine Will. With the same nobility and dignity of faith as it ran in that family, “She said, ‘Then God will not neglect us.’ (In another version): ‘I am pleased to be (left) with God.’
Then Ibrahim left and she was alone with her infant. Makkah was not an inhabited place yet. Food and water that Ibrahim provided them with were consumed by the mother and baby. Desperately, she started searching for water running back and forth through the valley between the hills of Safaa and Marwah. Surly Allah would not abandon the family of Ibrahim and so, she was visited by the arch-angel Jibril. This is an significant point to ponder: What kind of person is visited individually by Jibril?
Water, in the form of an ever flowing spring, the Zamzam, was made available to them by direct intervention of God. Right during that time, the tribe of Jurhum, passing by the valley saw birds flying. Realizing that water must be available, they searched and discovered Mother Hajar and Ismail. They sought permission to settle there. Thus, the desolate valley of Makkah became an inhabited area. Ibrahim returned there much later and laid the foundation of Ka’ba. Makkah ultimately was to emerge as a city and as the perennial heartland of Tawheed, the belief in oneness of God.
Subhanallah, God is glorified. He took such a significant and noble service from a woman. But consider another aspect. What kind of situation Mother Hajar was placed into? In that desolate, uninhabited valley, what might have been going on in her mind?
While unconditionally committed to her Lord, she was constantly searching, moving and struggling not thinking about herself any longer, but to find some water and save her child. What could she think about herself? Dr. Ali Shariati, in his well known book Hajj, attempts to provide a glimpse. Once she was slave only to be given away by her Master, a king representing the owning class; now a victim and a stranger, exiled and abandoned by her family all alone with her child in her arms! She hardly ever had a dignified identity. Had she not been the mother of Ismail, who would have given her any recognition and worth? There, in that barren place, her identity did not matter any further. Yet, she reposed her complete trust in her true Lord (Rabb) and was determined to pursue whatever she could in the Way of God.
Now ask yourself. If any human being needs to be identified, whom would you consider the foremost as far as founding of Makkah as a city?* Is there any other civilization, or even a city of this stature, that has been brought about by such primary contribution and sacrifice of a woman? How ironical, unfortunate, insulting and utterly unacceptable that the city that came into existence through the sacrifice and struggle of a lone woman now does not allow a woman to drive a car by herself. Nor does it allow a woman to travel to hajj by herself, even though the Prophet Muhammad himself had the vision that woman would travel someday alone to perform hajj and indeed, the vision did materialize. (Musnad of Imam Ahmad ibnHanbal, Vol. 4, #19397, 19400; Also Sahih al-Bukhari: Vol. 4, #793)
It is so unfortunate that so little about her is talked about even on such pertinent occasion of which she is an integral part. I don’t recall myself listening to any Khutbah that highlighted her faith, sacrifice, and contribution that were second to none; yes, second to none. Indeed, I have read Sahih al-Bukhari before too, until the work of a Muslim intellectual of our time, whose mind is keen about women’s contribution in the heritage of Tawheed, drew my attention to this.*
What men and women can learn from a woman, whose service and contribution ennobled the Hills of Safaa and Marwah to the status of “among the Sign of God,” which must be visited, and whose quest for saving the object of her love must be re-enacted?
From far away as the pilgrims perform this re-enactment, we also want to be like Ismail and have a share of this noble woman’s affection. But there is a greater symbolic implication!
This community of believers follow the Way of Prophet Muhammad, a way that primarily was designed after the Way of Ibrahim and his family. The role that was played primarily by the family of Ibrahim, was broadly assumed by the Prophet Muhammad but now involving not just his family, but the larger community of believers. This community (Ummah) is created for mankind! (Quran 3:110)
As it was true then, it is also true now, the humanity is in pursuit of doom and destruction. Should we not, think of the humanity as Ismail destined for death, to save which love, affection, and restless passion of Mother Hajar are needed again and again? Did not the Prophet Muhammad carry on that mission of mercy and affection, and thus he was the RahmatullilAlamin (mercy for the universe), according to the Quran? Did not his loyal companions fulfil the same mission? Then, does not this community (Ummah) need to be conscious of the trust God has given to them, for which the community will be accountable? What could be a better occasion for us to remind ourselves of that trust and invite ourselves to reflect on this and respond accordingly?
In conclusion, what is there, then, to celebrate?
“Our Lord! Grant us what you did promise to us through your Prophets, and save us from the shame on the Day of Judgment: for you never break Your promise.” And their Rabb (Lord) has accepted of them, and answered them: “Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: you are members, one of another; those who have left their homes, or been driven out therefrom, or suffered harm in My Cause, or fought or been slain; Verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing beneath; A reward from the Presence of God, and from His Presence is the best of rewards. (Quran 3:194-195)
For all the toil and struggle, the hardship and sacrifice, the efforts and pursuits, is it not truly deserving of celebration that our works will not be in vain, will not suffer any loss? This is a guarantee from none other than God.
For me, that is more than good enough. With all the worldly promises, guarantees, and warranties that give us a sense of security, one tends to forget that there is also a vast world of deceptions. If we cannot have peace of mind with the promise from God, we have nowhere to turn to. Thus, what could be more worthy of our celebration than the invitation of God to an eternal life of peace, happiness, and prosperity, an invitation that comes with the unfailing promise of God. This, of course, requires that we commit ourselves to the positive and constructive pursuit of bringing peace, happiness and prosperity to the humanity.

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Opinion

The Observance of Eid ulAdha

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By Rida Ghaffar

Eid ulAdha is the second largest religious festival for Muslims worldwide. This occasion is also referred to as the “Festival of Sacrifice”. It is fervently celebrated and marks the remembrance of Hazrat Ibrahim’s (AS) willingness to sacrifice Hazrat Ismail (AS) as an act of obedience to the command that had been made by Allah (SWT). As Eid ulAdha falls on the 10th of DhulHijjah, this year the tentative dates are accounted as the 21st or the 22nd of August 2018, depending on the region.
That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on known days over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals. So eat of them and feed the miserable and poor. (22:28)
Eid is just around the corner and the shopping sprees for its preparations have begun by fellow Muslims across the globe. From the purchase of sacrificial animals such as goats, cows, lambs and camels to new outfits for this happy occasion. Apart from the embarkment of several Eid preparations, the extensive Ibadaah by Muslims is not behind at all. Muslims all over the world drape this cape of protection around themselves by immersing themselves into constant dhikr around this time.
And do not eat of that upon which the name of Allah has not been mentioned, for indeed, it is grave disobedience. And indeed do the devils inspire their allies [among men] to dispute with you. And if you were to obey them, indeed, you would be associators [of others with Him]. (6:121)
The day of Eid begins with the Eid prayer, offered on the morning of 10th DhulHijjah after the sun rises completely; before the time for the Zuhr prayer starts. This prayer consists of two rakats and is performed with complete devotion worldwide.
After offering the Eid prayer, Muslims are meant to sacrifice the animals and divide out the meat amongst people. As far as the meat distribution of the slaughtered animals is concerned; the meat division is split into three parts; poor, relatives and friends, and family respectively.
In regards to the sacrifices offered, the term Dhabiha is used to reflect the act of slaughtering the animals in the Halal way; pronouncing Tasmiyah (The name of Allah (SWT)) and Takbir; “BismillahAllahu Akbar”. The knife to be used in the slaughter must be razor sharp; straight and smooth. Moreover, the blood should be drained completely before the removal of the animal’s head. In Islam, flowing blood is considered to be impure and highly prohibited for food consumption. The reason behind this is that blood is a good medium for germs, bacteria, toxins, etc. Therefore, Dhabiha is to be done such that the meat is purified and suitable for consumption. Furthermore, the blood should ideally be drained in the corner area of the garden, so that the blood is absorbed by the land rather than being drained directly in gutters. For instance, a devastating sight of blood flooded across the streets of Dhaka was witnessed back in 2016.
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said: “Whoever slaughtered the sacrifice before the prayer, he just slaughtered it for himself, and whoever slaughtered it after the prayer, he slaughtered it at the right time and followed the tradition of the Muslims.”
We hope that this Eid will bring immense joy for each Muslim individual and confer ease as they carry out their respective sacrifices. We wholeheartedly wish our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters a very happy Eid!

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Opinion

The Hajj ending in Eid-ul-Adha

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By Ashfaq Hussain

Eid-ul-Adha (‘Celebration of Sacrifice’), also known as the Greater Eid, is the second most important festival in the Muslim calendar. It marks the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca). It takes place on the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. Although only pilgrims to Makkah can celebrate it fully, Muslims elsewhere also mark the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha.
The Hajj is the Fifth Pillar of Islam and therefore a very important part of the Islamic faith. All physically fit Muslims who can afford it should make the visit to Makkah, in Saudi Arabia, at least once in their lives. Every year around 2 million Muslims converge on Makkah. They visit a shrine in the city known as the Ka’bah, built by Ibrahim (Abraham) and Isma’il (Ishmael) at the command of Allah (God). It is a place for all who want to reaffirm their faith.
Eid-ul-Adha celebrates the occasion when Allah appeared to Ibrahim in a dream and asked him to sacrifice his son Isma’il as an act of obedience to God. The devil tempted Ibrahim by saying he should disobey Allah and spare his son. As Ibrahim was about to kill his son, Allah intervened: instead Allah provided a lamb as the sacrifice. This is why today all over the world Muslims who have the means to, sacrifice a sheep (alternatively a goat or cow can be used), as a reminder of Ibrahim’s obedience to Allah. They usually share out the meat with family and friends, as well as the poorer members of the community. In Britain, the animal has to be killed at a slaughterhouse.
Eid-ul-Adha is a 1-3 day celebration and in Muslim countries is a public holiday. It starts with Muslims going to the Mosque for prayers, dressed in their best clothes, and thanking Allah for all the blessings they have received. It is also a time when they visit family and friends as well as offering presents. At Eid it is obligatory to give a set amount of money to charity to be used to help poor people buy new clothes and food so they too can celebrate.

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