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Hajj in Islam

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Post Hajj in Islam   Thu Sep 09, 2010 6:23 pm

by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
It is incumbent upon Muslims to perform Haj, at least once in a
lifetime, as long as they possess the means. As is clear from the
following excerpts from the Quran and Hadiths, Haj is one important pillar among the five foundation pillars of Islam.
“Pilgrimage to the House is a duty to God for all who can make the Journey.” (3:97).
“The first House ever to be built for men was that at Mecca, a blessed place, a beacon for the nation.” (3:96)
“There are five basic pillars of Islam,” said the Prophet Muhammad:
“To bear testimony that there is no deity save God, and that Muhammad
is His Prophet; to establish prayer and pay the poor-due; to make
pilgrimage to the House and, fast during Ramadan.”
The root meaning of the word Haj is “to set out” or “to make
pilgrimage.” Canonically, it has come to refer to a Muslim act of
worship, performed annually, in which the worshipper circumambulates
the House of God in Mecca, stays awhile in the plain of Arafat and
performs other rites which together constitute Haj — the act of
pilgrimage.
Haj is a comprehensive act of worship, involving both financial
outlay and physical exertion. Both remembrance of God and sacrifice for
His sake are part and parcel of Haj. Haj is an act of worship in which
the spirit of all acts of worship has, in some way or another, been
brought into play.
The sacred duties of Haj revolve around the House of God, the Kaaba,
in Mecca. What does the House of God represent to a believer? It brings
to life a whole prophetic tradition, stretching from Abraham to
Muhammad (May peace be upon them all). The House of God stands as a
model of true faith in God, and submission to the Master of the House.
“The Prophets gave up everything and followed the Lord,” is the message
that rings out from the Lord’s House; “leave all and follow Him. They
were obedient to His will; be you so also. They served His cause on
Earth; serve Him until you die, and you will prosper forever.”
The journey to Haj is a journey to God. It represents the ultimate
closeness one can achieve to God while living in this world. Other acts
of worship are ways of remembering God; Haj is a way of reaching Him.
Generally we worship Him on an unseen level; in Haj we worship Him as
if we saw Him face to face. When a pilgrim stands before the House of
God Himself, he is then moved to revolve around the Lord’s House, like
a butterfly encircling a flower, clinging to His doorstep as a slave
begging for his master’s mercy.
To make Haj is to meet God. When the pilgrim reaches Meeqat, the
border of the Sacred Territory, he is filled with awe of God; he feels
that he is leaving his own world, and entering God’s. Now he is
touching the Lord, revolving around Him, running towards Him,
journeying on His behalf, making sacrifice in His name, smiting His
enemies, praying to the Lord and seeing his prayer answered.
Among all Muslim acts of worship, Haj holds a prominent position. In one hadith,
the Prophet called it the supreme act of worship. But it is not just
the rites of pilgrimage that constitute this importance, it is the
spirit in which Haj is performed. Let us put this another way and say
that it is not merely a matter of going to Mecca and returning. There
is much more to Haj than that. Haj has been prescribed so that it may
inspire us with new religious fervour. To return from Haj with one’s
faith in God strengthened and rekindled — that is the hallmark of a
true pilgrim.
The House of God in Mecca is one of God’s signs on earth. There,
souls that have strayed from the Lord take comfort in Him once again;
hearts, which have become hard as stone are brought low before Almighty
God; eyes, which have lost their vision, are filled with divine
radiance. But these blessings of Haj are only for those who come
prepared for them. Otherwise Haj will be just a tour, a visit that
leaves no lasting impression upon the tourist.
“Haj is to stand in the plain of Arafat.” These words of the Prophet
Muhammad illustrate the importance of sojourning in the place. The
plain of Arafat, in which pilgrims spend one day, presents a picture of
the arena of Judgement Day. Host upon host of God’s servants flock in
from all sides to witness the spectacle. And what a spectacle! All are
dressed in similar, simple attire. There is nothing to single out any
person. All are reciting the same words: “Here we are at Your service,
Lord,” How can one who witnesses this spectacle but call to mind the
like of this verse of the Quran:
“When the Trumpet is blown, and behold, from the graves they rush forth to their lord.” (36.51)
“When the Trumpet is blown, and behold, from the graves they rush forth to their lord.” (36.51)
For all these reasons, Haj reigns supreme among all acts of
devotion. Like the Sacred Mosque in Mecca has a station above all other
mosques, so the worship that is performed there — as part of the
pilgrimage — stands head and shoulders above all other acts of devotion
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