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Why Hajj?

The wisdom of hajj appears with the influence of the servant-lord relationship between Allah and the person who has turned towards Allah on the person's own life and also on the community which he is a part of. In Ghazzali's words, hajj is the perfection of religion and the completion of submission.

Hajj is visiting spaces considered to be sacred for a religious purpose and it is one of Islam's five pillars. Meaning "to go, to turn towards and to visit" in Arabic, the word hajj means in Islamic jurisprudence a form of worship incumbent on every Muslim who has the opportunity to visit the Kaaba, Arafat, Muzdelif and Mina at specified times and to fulfill certain religious duties.

According to Islamic sources, hajj goes back to the time of Adam.

After the conquest of Mecca, the Kaaba was completely purified from idols which were inside it and around its vicinity, together with elements of idolatry that were not a part of the pilgrimage worship Abraham conveyed.

A form of worship performed both financially and physically, the hajj is relevant to the whole existence of a person and in this form it is an expression of total submission. Like other responsibilities, hajj is a form of worship that is also human-oriented and aimed at fulfilling goodness that man needs

The Wisdom of Hajj

Describing both the form and spiritual aspects of various stages of the pilgrimage, the Holy Quran indicates that it has diverse benefits (for example, al-Hajj 22/28-33).

A form of worship performed both financially and physically, the hajj is relevant to the whole existence of a person and in this form it is an expression of total submission. Like other responsibilities, hajj is a form of worship that is also human-oriented and aimed at fulfilling goodness that man needs. In this respect, it is possible to determine the wisdom of it from three points: 

  1. Allah's commanding people to do some things and blessing them when they do.
  2. Positive results obtained by someone who performs Hajj, according to his ability, while he is preparing for it, while performing the rights, and after completing it.
  3. In addition to the will of individuals who perform this act of worship for Allah's sake and their sphere of influence, the benefits for the whole ummah and the high level it takes them to.

 The wisdom of hajj appears with the influence of the servant-lord relationship between Allah and the person who has turned towards Allah on the person's own life and also on the community which he is a part of. In Ghazzali's words, hajj is the perfection of religion and the completion of submission (Ihya', I, 314).

It appears that the spiritual gain the performance of hajj has for individuals and Muslim societies varies from person to person, society to society, and era to era. Just as every person can obtain different benefits from hajj according to his intent, will and capabilities, it is also possible for some returning from this journey not to have benefited at all. For hajj appears to look like symbols, but in reality it is a sum various spiritual training provided by different kinds of behavior.

Muslims turn towards the Kaaba and pray five times a day throughout their lifetimes. Every Muslim would like to see the sacred space that comprises the qibla of prayer which is the next most virtuous form of worship after belief; to remember the struggles made for religion by past prophets, Muhammad (pbuh) in particular; and to breathe the spiritual atmosphere where for centuries many believers have performed salah, prayed and pleaded to Allah. In this respect, hajj is a vehicle for personifying history.

The Holy Quran mentions the Kaaba as the "House of God" (al-Hajj 22/26). The believer who becomes bound to Allah with his whole being will consider a visit to His house as the greatest spiritual pleasure. Generally people only become aware of the wisdom of commands and prohibitions after fulfilling them as a necessity. This awareness either appears in their own lives or when they examine the lives of others. What is important in hajj is not just taking an action, but doing so with a special purpose, i.e., fulfilling Allah's command. In this case, one of the basic aims and purposes of hajj is a person's showing that, at the command of Allah, he is ready to abandon his country, family and friends and property and, overcoming his desires, to bear difficulties.

Because hajj is a form of worship that takes place at a specific time and place, it gives awareness to Muslims of the concept of time and place and that everything in the world takes place within a certain order

Circumambulation gives a person the awareness that everything revolves around something else within an order and that human beings are a part of this cosmic order. Due to this, a Muslim realizes what it means to run together with those who have entered the same path and carry the same intention and feelings. An ummah that has coalesced with unified intention and feelings for Sa'y reflects the apex of the spirit.

Because hajj is a form of worship that takes place at a specific time and place, it gives awareness to Muslims of the concept of time and place and that everything in the world takes place within a certain order. Performing the rites of waqfa, circumambulation, sa'y, etc. enables Muslims living in various places throughout the world to turn their eyes and hearts to spaces called "divine symbols" (al-Baqara 2/158) like Arafat, the Kaaba, Safa-Marwa and without a formal agreement, all Muslims at the same time and place are led to an understanding of spiritual alliance. 

There is a connection between what the believer obtains during hajj and the ritual that is performed. A point that needs to be made here is that the place where the hajj is performed and the place that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the first Muslims lived is the same. During hajj a believer encounters the geographical space where the Prophet and his companions lived. By being in spaces described in the Quran as "religious signs and marks put by Allah" (al-Baqara 2/158; al-Hajj 22/32, 36), one shares in the spirit of that time.

In Sufism, in particular, the stage of preparation for hajj is compared to preparation for death in one way, with the difference that hajj can be made at will, but death can take place at an unexpected, perhaps unwanted moment. Because in the performance of hajj a person is removed from his surroundings and desires, and because in a sense he dies before death, he makes an important exercise of will and he suggests to himself that he is ready to submit to divine will. It is possible to observe indications of this feeling especially in people who go to hajj for the first time. For this reason, a believer preparing for hajj has entered a relationship with God in the religious, moral and legal sense and he asks for forgiveness from others, pays his debts and sets aside living expenses for those he is responsible for before setting out for hajj.

Muslims who come to the Kaaba during hajj from every part of the world do the same things in the same way although they have not previously agreed to do so. Thus, Muslims realize that without knowing it they are making efforts towards a common ideal; they attain the awareness at this time that they share the same goal with millions of other people.

On the other hand, a Muslim going to hajj realizes that, while putting on the ihram which is similar to the shroud he will be wrapped in when entering the grave, he is conforming in a sense to a non-worldly order and he feels the effects of this. Wearing the ihram is not just an external change of clothing as suggested in the dictionary; rather a deep-rooted change in a person's lifestyle and behavior should occur. As a result, a person wearing ihram must abandon much behavior that is legitimate for him at other times. This irregular life is an important opportunity for a person to be saved from habits and addictions and take himself to account. Every violation made during this time is either atoned for or it spoils the hajj which in a sense means living the wholeness of this world and the next in a vital way (Ali Shariati, p. 23-24; Karaman, III, 25).

The term "harem" used for the Kaaba and its surroundings indicates that all the relations in the region are arranged in accordance with respect to Allah's commands and prohibitions, and that all creatures in the region from trees and groundcover to animals and man, in particular, are under divine protection.

Circumambulation gives a person the awareness that everything revolves around something else in a determined order and that humans comprise a part of this cosmic order.


The believer who is together with other believers at Arafat and whose dress shows that he has abandoned this world becomes aware of his responsibility and accountability by representatively living the scenes of resurrection and judgment

Sa'y is a walk that a Muslim participates in just because Allah wants it. By this means a Muslim becomes aware of what it means to run together with those who have entered the same path and carry the same intentions and feelings. The jog-trot and swift walk during Sa'y called "harwala" reflects the majesty of the ummah spirit which has fused with the unity of intention and emotions.

The believer who is together with other believers at Arafat and whose dress shows that he has abandoned this world becomes aware of his responsibility and accountability by representatively living the scenes of resurrection and judgment. The person turned towards his Lord at Arafat understands while he is still in this world the meaning of standing before Him with help from no one and that the real value of superior things like position, wealth and knowledge will appear at the time of judgment. He perceives what superiority being only in piety means.

Prayers made during hajj for various reasons are an essential expression of surrender only to Allah and living this in words and deeds. Talbiya is especially meaningful: "I respond to Your call O Allah, I respond to Your call, and I am obedient to Your orders. You have no partner, I respond to Your call. All the praises and blessings are for You. All the sovereignty is for You. And You have no partners with you."

Finally the animal sacrificed there is an indication that the believer can forego his goods just for the sake of Allah and it is meaningful in respect to showing that he can even sacrifice himself on Allah's path.

Because giving no harm to anything is a basic principle during hajj, a person has to be extremely careful in his relations with his surroundings. The degree of caution required on this subject can be understood by the clear style of verses in the Quran that give prohibitions and punishment to be given in case of violations of them (see al-Baqara 2/158, 196-200; Ali Imran 3/96-97; al-Maida 5/2, 95-96; al Hajj 22/26-29, 33-34). In particular, the care that needs to be shown to plants and animals gives a degree of sensitivity that cannot be gained at other times. In addition, just as virtuous behavior like restraining anger, not hurting anyone and having a smile on one's face are necessary during hajj, rewards for accomplishing these are among the spiritual gains a person can obtain.


Hajj enables a Muslim to gain many traits pertaining to faith and morality that he knew theoretically before, but had not practiced fully. Positive qualities possessed by a person gain strength and resoluteness. Hajj is a period of getting to know oneself

As a result, hajj enables a Muslim to gain many traits pertaining to faith and morality that he knew theoretically before, but had not practiced fully. Positive qualities possessed by a person gain strength and resoluteness. Hajj is a period of getting to know oneself.

Ummah Awareness

A person who has visited the grave of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the places where he lived and the places where he successfully fulfilled his call has made witness to his apostleship one more time. At the same time, he has observed many races found in the world and the languages they speak. However, he also has realized that these differences are just signs created by Allah for people to know others better and communicate with them (al-Hujurat 49/13). In addition, he has discovered that these differences among people do not prevent unity and togetherness, and that with these existent differences surrender to God has formed every kind of principle of unity. Thus, the boundaries of his world have expanded, his geographical knowledge has gone beyond theory, he has come together with hundreds of thousands of people living in various regions of the globe, and through personal experience he has understood what it means to show tolerance to others even under the most negative conditions. Coming to the Kaaba during hajj from every part of the world, Muslims do the same thing in the same way without any previous agreement. Thus, Muslims realize that without talking about it they are striving together towards the same ideals and they become aware that they share the same goal with millions of others. Hajj puts forth the truth that regardless of where they live in the world, all Muslims possess the same values and that these values comprise a common foundation for them. A Muslim leaves his country as a member of a family, a village, a town or a city and as a citizen of a state; he returns to his country as a member of the ummah.

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