"There was for Saba, aforetime, a sign in their homeland [Yemen] two gardens to the right and to the left . . . be grateful to Him[Allah] . . .But they turned away, and We sent against them the flood released from the Dams [Maarib dam]" (Qur'an. Saba:15-16)
It’s Hajj season! Tomorrow October the 28th, 2011 officially marks the first day of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah . I wasn’t invited to Allah’s Sacred House this year, yet I am not disheartened. Rather I am determined to be on next year’s guest list. I am sad for myself because I know I don’t deserve it yet, and need to work harder on my relationship with Allah [SWT]. Tears stream down my face on seeing thousands of Muslims all over the world heading for Makkah—I wish I were a piece of clothing in their luggage. The sight of the Ka’bah broadcast on TV shakes me to the core, and brings my heart to its knees. Even on TV, it is a sight so majestic just as the Prophet (saw) described it to us in a hadith when he (saw) looked at the Ka’bah and said, “How beautiful you are, how aromatic your scent is, and how great is your sacredness. . . “ I often ask myself this question during Hajj season, maybe because I want to be part of it every season. This question is:
We have five pillars in Islam as the Prophet (saw) taught us in a hadith narrated by Ibn Umar: “Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):
To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s apostle.
To offer the prayers dutifully and perfectly.
To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity).
To perform Hajj (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca).
To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.”
Why was Hajj placed on this list of five principles / foundations/ pillars on which a Muslim’s Islam is built on despite the fact that millions of Muslims, since the advent of Islam, did not perform Hajj during their lifetime? Even today, many Muslims can’t afford Hajj. Does that mean that the foundation of their Islam is lacking? Does it mean that those not financially able cannot afford a strong foundation for their Islam? Impossible! It’s not characteristic of Islam that the financially able have a spiritual advantage over others because of wealth. So there must be something about Hajj that we all collectively benefit from–those of us who actually go on the spiritual journey, and those of us who for various can’t. Else why is it a pillar of Islam that is included as a principle for the foundation of the Islam of every Muslim?
Of all the pillars of Islam none have a Surah in the Qur’an by their name except for Hajj. We don’t for instance have one titled “Salah [prayer]” or “Zakat [obligatory charity]” or “Siyam [fasting]” etc. But we do have an entire Surah [the 22nd] in the Qur’an that is named Surat Al Hajj. Accordingly, scholars say that the name given by Allah [SWT] to a Surah—yes even the names of the Surahs are revelations—indicates the main idea of the Surah? Well, let’s see if this is apparent in this Surah as well. At first glance, Surat Al Hajj discusses an array of topics such as:
1) Al Qiyyamah meaning the Day of Judgment/Day of Resurrection
2) Al Ba’ath wa Al Nushoor meaning resurrection and judgment
3) Jihad in the way of Allah meaningstruggling in the way of Allah [SWT]
4) Worshiping Allah (SWT) with all ones strength and might
So, where are the rites for Hajj [pilgrimage]? Those appear in other Surahs like Surat Al Baqara for instance [2:189. 2:197. 2:203 etc]. Why not in the Surah entitled Al Hajj, where it is most likely for those off on pilgrimage to look into? It isn’t the case, it’s audience is broader than just those going for Hajj. It’s audience is the whole Ummah, and even more it’s message is for the whole of humankind. So we really need to contemplate on the meanings of this Surah that Allah [SWT] has revealed to us. I am sure the answer to my question is in Surat Al Hajj and I will only find it through contemplation of it.
So, let’s reflect on them together and see what we, those of us who aren’t going this year, find in response to the question above. What is in Hajj for us? Those of us whose hearts are following the pilgrims on TV; for those of us whose souls are so attracted to the Sacred House of Allah that their souls want to escape the confines of their physical bodies and head to Makkah and join the pilgrims. Let me push this idea even further! These upcoming Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah, should be a time not just for Muslims to contemplate but Non-Muslims as well. Yeah I am pushing it! My blog, my say 🙂 ! Every year Hajj becomes an event witnessed by the world. Although Islamic channels broadcast the performance of the rites of pilgrimage live, Non-Muslim news channels include news segments on Hajj in their news programs. Nothing is random! Nothing is by chance! If these days are witnessed by the world today, then there’s a message to the world.
So, insha Allah join us as we contemplate on an ayah or two a day this Dhul Hijjah. Share your thoughts/ reflections /contemplations. We would love to hear from you !