Lessons from the Hajj

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from a transcript of discourse delivered by Mawlana Waffie Mohammed.

As we enter the month of Dzu al-Hijjah, many people would be journeying to the sacred land in order to perform a fundamental principle of Islam that entails leaving everything and going to do what has been prescribed by Allah (s.w.t.).  As such we wish all those who would be making the blessed journey Allah’s (s.w.t.) Blessing, Guidance and Protection.  Allah (s.w.t.) Says in His Holy Words:

Such (is the pilgrimage): whoever honours the sacred rites of Allah, for him it is good in the Sight of his Lord… (Surah al-Hajj:30)

Allah (s.w.t.) has Prescribed the hajj as something sacred.  There is no doubt about this fact.  And Allah (s.w.t.) has Prescribed what is called the rituals of hajj or all that is obligatory to be done while on that sacred journey.  Those who look at these rituals on the basis of reason and logic will not be able to understand.  Even we ourselves cannot fully comprehend some of the rituals that are done on the basis of reason and logic.

However Allah (s.w.t.) Tells us that we are not all knowing; only He is All-Knowing as He Says:

… but over all endued with knowledge is One, the All-Knowing. (Surah Yusuf:76)

Thus, whether we understand the Islamic command or not; we do it because only Allah (s.w.t.) is All-Knowing and He Knows why He Prescribed it.  Allah (s.w.t.) has, for example, Ordered that anyone who enters Makkah from outside its boundaries must perform the ‘umrah.  And one of the rituals of the ‘umrah is to get into a state of ihram; and the ihram is something really different.  Imagine some people possess all the luxuries of life, all the power and status in the respective field and when they are going to Allah’s (s.w.t.) House; they are Commanded to tone down, put on two pieces of unstitched cloth and circumambulate the Ka’bah barefoot.  What is the rationale behind this?  It is a discipline that Allah (s.w.t.) Inculcated in the believers.  The hajj teaches us some very pertinent things.  A few of these are mentioned hereunder.

Firstly, hajj teaches us that we are not great.  Only Allah (s.w.t.) is Great; so we must not let our material belongings fool us as it fooled Pharaoh.  We must learn to understand that we have to return to our Lord one day and we have to leave all our acquisitions behind.  And it is Allah (s.w.t.) Who is Responsible for our existence.  Allah (s.w.t.) Alone is All Knowing.  Why do we run around the Ka’bah and run from Mount Swafa’ to Marwah?  We do not know.  Yes, we have a little understanding concerning the rituals but it is Allah (s.w.t.) Who Truly Knows.  He Knows why He Prescribed it.  And we understand that we have limited knowledge.  He Says in the ayat quoted above that if we honour the sacred things it is better for us.  Whatever that means; He Wants us to show to ourselves that we are really nothing.  One poet composed a poem in Persian about his life experiences and at the end of his journey he concluded by saying “I realise that I am nothing”.

And we will realise that when we perform hajj, we are really nothing, because if we are not careful at times we can get run over and trampled by those over exuberant.  Reason and logic cannot give us knowledge of everything, no matter how much we rationalise.  How can we rationalise standing up and worshipping Allah (s.w.t.) five times for the day?  How can we rationalise leaving all our luxury, comfort, family and business and go and run around the Ka’bah and say. “Here I come, O Allah.”

Pharaoh tried to rationalise everything Moses (a.s.) was doing, so when Moses (a.s.) threw down his staff and Allah (s.w.t.) Caused it to be transformed into a snake, Pharaoh said he was a magician.  We are demonstrating to ourselves that we are nothing, unlike Satan.  This is the attitude and spirit we develop because of the hajj.  We leave everything to go there so it is not a question of reason and logic but rather faith.  Allah (s.w.t.) Wants us to strengthen our faith and reliance in Him and the hajj directly impacts on this.

We do not entertain the thought that if we cannot understand the commandments of Allah (s.w.t.), we will refrain from performing it.  We do what is Prescribed and with the understanding that the Command came from the Lord of the Worlds.  And if He Commands us to do it we have no choice.  One of the greatest experiences of hajj is that it makes us feel and know that we are nothing.  We are insignificant.  We are just another person counted amongst the millions.  Our power and status has no weight.  We move in the same direction as everyone else.  Allah (s.w.t.) Brings us there to show something of His Greatness.  And if we are observant and dedicated, we will see the Workings of our Lord.

We cannot rationalise hajj.  Only Allah (s.w.t.) Knows why He Commanded us to do it.  But one thing we understand is that one day, willingly or not, we have to submit to our Lord; first through death and then the onward journey.  And hajj is a real rehearsal and eye-opener because we leave everything and go there in submission.  Hajj shows us that today we can be up materially and tomorrow, we can be down.  We must not place any importance on the material.  Yes, it is nice to have in order to live comfortable but all that is from Allah’s (s.w.t.) Blessings.  That is why most of the pilgrims return humbled.  We do not emphasise the material.  Our Lord is the goal and purpose of our life and we can experience some of it through the spiritual blessing here.  We understand that we must cultivate humility.  It is a sin to say, “I am better.”   This attitude destroys our spirituality more than we can imagine.  We must be careful especially when we are emotionally agitated as one of the most effective ways of expressing arrogance is through anger and malice to others.

One way of honouring the sacred rights is by refraining from the major sins, all for the sake of Allah (s.w.t.).  These include shirk, murder, disrespecting ones parents and giving false statements or witnesses as written in Swahih al-Bukhari.  One way of honouring Allah (s.w.t.) and upholding the sacredness of the duties of a believer is to avoid these major sins and giving less importance to the things that Allah (s.w.t.) has not prescribed.  And the rights of hajj inculcate this.  At the time of tawaf, at ‘Arafat or during sa’i; we are giving importance to that and nothing of the material.  If we honour Allah’s (s.w.t.) rights as He Ordains it, it will be spiritual beneficial above everything else.  It is truly a great blessing and possible this is one of the reasons why the narrations state that after a person performs hajj, it is as if they are newborn babies.  Their sins are Wiped Out.

And after all this we should build upon our spirituality.  Blessings can increase or decrease.  We must not let our blessings decrease.  We must build on it by doing good and staying away from the prohibited and, insha’Allah, Allah (s.w.t.) will Bless us all.  May Allah (s.w.t.) Make the hajj for those who are going easy and may He Accept their efforts and sacrifice.  May He also Accept the qurbani from those who will be performing it and may He Continue to Bless us, Guide us and Protect us, insha’Allah.


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