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Short History of Hajj

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Post Short History of Hajj   Thu Sep 09, 2010 6:18 pm


Hajj
literally means 'to set out for a place'. Islamically however it refers
to the annual pilgrimage that Muslims make to Makkah with the intention
of performing certain religious rites in accordance with the method
prescribed by the Prophet Muhammad .
Hajj
and its rites were first ordained by Allah in the time of the Prophet
lbrahim [Abraham] and he was the one who was entrusted by Allah to
build the Kaba - the House of Allah - along with his son Ismail
[Ishmael] at Makkah. Allah described the Kaba and its building as
follows:
<blockquote>"And
remember when We showed Ibrahim the site of the [Sacred] House
[saying]: Associate not anything [in worship with Me and purify My
House for those who circumambulate it [i.e. perform tawaaf] and those
who stand up for prayer and those who bow down and make prostration [in
prayer etc.]."
[Surah Al-Hajj 22:26]
</blockquote>After
building the Kaba, Prophet Ibrahim would come to Makkah to perform Hajj
every year, and after his death, this practice was continued by his
son. However, gradually with the passage of time, both the form and the
goal of the Hajj rites were changed. As idolatry spread throughout
Arabia, the Kaba lost its purity and idols were placed inside it. Its
walls became covered with poems and paintings, including one of Jesus
and his mother Maryam and eventually over 360 idols came to be placed
around the Kaba.
During the
Hajj period itself, the atmosphere around the sacred precincts of the
Kaba was like a circus. Men and women would go round the Kaba naked,
arguing that they should present themselves before Allah in the same
condition they were born. Their prayer became devoid of all sincere
remembrance of Allah and was instead reduced to a series of hand
clapping, whistling and the blowing of horns. Even the talbiah
was distorted by them with the following additions: 'No one is Your partner except one who is permitted by you. You are his Master and the Master of what he possesses'.Sacrifices
were also made in the name of God. However, the blood of the sacrificed
animals was poured onto the walls of the Kaba and the flesh was hung
from pillars around the Kaba, in the belief that Allah demanded the
flesh and blood of these animals.
Singing,
drinking, adultery and other acts of immorality was rife amongst the
pilgrims and the poetry competitions, which were held, were a major
part of the whole Hajj event. In these competitions, poets would praise
the bravery and splendor of their own tribesmen and tell exaggerated
tales of the cowardice and miserliness of other tribes. Competitions in
generosity were also staged where the chief of each tribe would set up
huge cauldrons and feed the pilgrims, only so that they could become
well-known for their extreme generosity.
Thus
the people had totally abandoned the teachings of their forefather and
leader Prophet Ibrahim. The House that he had made pure for the worship
of Allah alone, had been totally desecrated by the pagans and the rites
which he had established were completely distorted by them. This sad
state of affairs continued for nearly two and a half thousand years.
But then after this long period, the time came for the supplication of
Prophet Ibrahim to be answered:
<blockquote>"Our
Lord! Send amongst them a Messenger of their own, who shall recite unto
them your aayaat (verses) and instruct them in the book and the Wisdom
and sanctify them. Verily you are the 'Azeezul-Hakeem [the All-Mighty,
the All-Wise]."
[Surah Al-Baqarah 2:129]
</blockquote>

Sure enough, a man by the name of Muhammad ibn 'Abdullaah
was born in the very city that Prophet Ibrahim had made this
supplication centuries earlier. For twenty-three years, Prophet
Muhammad

spread the message of Tawheed [true monotheism] - the same message that
Prophet Ibrahim and all the other Prophets came with - and established
the law of Allah upon the land. He expended every effort into making
the word of Allah supreme and his victory over falsehood culminated in
the smashing of the idols inside the Kaba which once again became the
universal center for the worshippers of the one True God.
Not
only did the Prophet rid the Kaba of all its impurities, but he also
reinstated all the rites of Hajj which were established by Allah's
Permission, in the time of Prophet Ibrahim. Specific injunctions in the
Quran were revealed in order to eliminate all the false rites which had
become rampant in the pre-Islamic period. All indecent and shameful
acts were strictly banned in Allah's statement:
<blockquote>"There is to be no lewdness nor wrangles during Hajj."
[Surah al-Baqarah 2:197]
</blockquote>Competitions
among poets in the exaltations of their forefathers and their
tribesmen's achievements were all stopped. Instead, Allah told them:
<blockquote>"And
when you have completed your rites [of Hajj] then remember Allah as you
remember your forefathers; nay with a more vigorous remembrance."
[Surah al-Baqarah 2:200]
</blockquote>Competitions
in generosity were also prohibited. Of course, the feeding of the poor
pilgrims was still encouraged as this was done during the time of
Prophet Ibrahim but Allah commanded that the slaughtering of the
animals which was done for this purpose should be done seeking the
pleasure of Allah rather than fame and the praise of the people. He
said:
<blockquote>"So
mention the name of Allah over these animals when they are drawn up in
lines. Then, when they are drawn on their sides [after the slaughter],
eat thereof and feed the beggar who does not ask, and the beggar who
asks."
[Surah al-Hajj 22:36]
</blockquote>As
for the deplorable practice of spattering blood of the sacrificed
animals on the walls of the Kaba and hanging their flesh on alters,
then Allah clearly informed them that:
<blockquote>"It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is Taqwaa (piety) from you that reaches Him."
[Surah al-Hajj 22:37]
</blockquote>The Prophet
also put a stop to the practice of circling the Kaba in a state of
nudity and the argument that the pagans put forward to justify this
ritual was sharply rebutted in Allah's question:
<blockquote>"Say: Who has forbidden the adornment [i.e. clothes] given by Allah which He has produced for His Slaves?"
[Surah al-A'raaf 7:32]
</blockquote>

Another
custom which was prohibited through the Quran was that of setting off
for Hajj without taking any provisions for the journey. In the
pre-Islamic period, some people who claimed to be mutawakkiloon (those
having complete trust in Allah) would travel to perform Hajj begging
for food through the whole journey. They considered this form of
behavior a sign of piety and an indication of how much faith they had
in Allah. However Allah told mankind that to have sufficient provisions
for the journey was one of the preconditions for making Hajj. He said:
<blockquote>"And take a provision [with you] for the journey, but the best provision is at-Taqwaa (piety)."
[Surah al-Baqarah 2:197]
</blockquote>In
this way, all the pre-Islamic practices, which were based on ignorance,
were abolished and Hajj was once more made a model of piety, fear of
Allah, purity, simplicity and austerity. Now, when the pilgrims reach
the Kaba, they no longer find the carnivals and the frolic and
frivolity that had once occupied the minds of the pilgrims there
before. Now, there is the remembrance of Allah at every step and every
action and every sacrifice was devoted to Him alone. It was this kind
of Hajj that was worthy of the reward of paradise, as the Prophet said: "The reward for an accepted Hajj is nothing less than paradise."
May Allah grant us all the ability to visit His House and perform the Hajj in the manner of the Prophet Muhammad . Aameen.
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