Tag archive for ‘hajj’

Amazing Hajj Photographs

Muslim pilgrims pray on a rocky hill called the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Dec. 7. Nearly 3 million pilgrims converged Saturday around the holy city of Mecca at the beginning of the 5-day hajj pilgrimage, a lifelong dream for many Muslims. AP / Hassan Ammar

Muslim pilgrims pray on a rocky hill called the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Dec. 7. Nearly 3 million pilgrims converged Saturday around the holy city of Mecca at the beginning of the 5-day hajj pilgrimage, a lifelong dream for many Muslims. AP / Hassan Ammar

Here is a collection of 19 astounding, beautiful photographs of the Hajj, taken in 2008. These photos come from the Associated Press (AP) and were assembled and published online by the Sacramento Bee, and one extra photo from the BBC Online. The commentary on the photos also comes from AP:

Islam requires that all Muslims who are financially and physically able to perform the hajj at least once in their lifetime. The pilgrimage is supposed to cleanse Muslims of their sin. The hajj begins and ends in the holy city of Mecca, the birthplace of the 7th century Prophet Mohammed and the site of Islam’s holiest shrine, the Kaaba. Pilgrims on Monday, joined in a feast of freshly slaughtered sheep, goats and camels at a huge tent city in Mina, a desert valley east of Mecca. Muslim tradition says it was at Mina, 3 miles from Mecca, that the devil tried to tempt Abraham to disobey God by refusing to sacrifice his son. Hordes of pilgrims dressed in their white robes streamed across Mina valley Monday toward three walls symbolizing the devil known as the Jamarat, chanting “at thy service, my God, at thy service.” The massive crowds streamed through a four-story platform the size of an airport terminal built around the walls, and each pilgrim stoned the largest wall with pebbles collected earlier on the nearby rocky plain of Muzdalifah. They will return on each of the final two days of the five-day pilgrimage, which ends Wednesday, to stone all three walls. — associated press


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Hajj and the Neglected Legacy of a Great Woman

Indonesian Muslim women at the Hajj

Indonesian Muslim women at the Hajj

By: Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq
Reprinted from IslamiCity.com

Islam teaches us to submit completely and whole-heartedly. “O you who believe! Enter into Islam completely, whole-heartedly…” (Quran 2:208)

It also calls for a submission that is spontaneous and conscientious, without any hesitation or resistance against the will and guidance of God. “But no, by your Rabb, they can have no (real) faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction.” (Quran 4:65)

There is great – truly great – news from God. “Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures, their reward is with God: Gardens of Eternity, beneath which rivers flow; they will dwell therein forever; God is well pleased with them, and they with Him: All this for such as fear their Rabb (the cherisher and sustainer).” (Quran 98:7-8)

Eid al-Adha revolves around sacrifice

Eid al-Adha is a great and unique occasion of joy and celebration. Ironically, this joy and celebration revolve around sacrifice. It would probably make sense to only those who understand that the joy of giving that touches others’ lives is far greater and deeper than the joy of receiving.

This great occasion of Eid al-Ad’ha is tied to an unique event, the Hajj; a unique city, Makkah; and a unique family, the family of Ibrahim (peace be upon him). Indeed, what the Quran refers to the Milla of Ibrahim is essentially rooted in the legacy of a model family. Say: “God speaks the Truth: follow the Milla of Ibrahim, the True in Faith; he was not of the Pagans.” (Quran 3:95)

We cannot discuss Eid al-Ad’ha without remembering Ibrahim, who represents in the Quran an ideal submission. He never hesitated to respond to the call and command of his Rabb (the Creator, the Sustainer and the Evolver). He never considered anything too precious to be withheld when it came to fulfilling the wish of his Rabb. Everything he did was commanded by God, and was fulfilled by him conscientiously with honor and nobility. We are all too familiar with the story of his unwavering faith and conviction, and his supreme sacrifice as embodied in the event when he was ready to sacrifice his dear and only son to fulfill the wish of his Rabb. “Behold! his Rabb (Lord) said to him: “Bow (submit your will to Me): He said: “I bow (submit my will) to the Lord and Cherisher of the Universe.” (Quran 2:131) We know, of course, God didn’t really want him to slaughter his son, he just wanted to see if Ibrahim was ready to submit entirely and unconditionally. No loving God would have exacted such a sacrifice of one’s own child in reality.

Another member of this ideal family was the first son of Ibrahim, Ismail. The Quran presents him as like father like son. “… (Abraham) he said: ‘O my son! I see in vision that I offer you in sacrifice: Now see what is your view!’ (The son) said: ‘O my father! Do as you are commanded: You will find me, if God so wills, one practicing patience and constancy!” (Quran 19:102)

In his submission to the will of his Rabb, Ismail was no less ideal. He submitted to the will of God whole-heartedly and with a heart full of peace and tranquility. Once again, there are very few among us who are not already familiar with the role and position of Ismail in the heritage of Tawheed and the eternal truth.

The legacy of Hajar (Radhiallahu ‘anha)

Any discussion of Hajj must include Hajar (may Allah be pleased with her)

Any discussion of Hajj must include Hajar (may Allah be pleased with her)

Going beyond the customary commemoration of the stories of Ibrahim and Ismail, I want to focus here on the not-so-mentioned legacy of a great woman, Mother Hajar (Radhiallahu ‘anha, May Allah be pleased with her) the wife of Ibrahim and the mother of Ismail. Indeed, she is an integral and as important part of the legacy of Tawheed and the Milla (community) of Ibrahim. Her submission to the will of her Rabb and her sacrifice were as ideal as that of Ibrahim and Ismail. God has ennobled her in the Quran by making Safaa and Marwah integral to the performance of Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.

These are the two hills between which she ran back and forth in search of water for her beloved infant son, while she was all alone according to the plan of God Himself. “Behold! Safaa and Marwah are among the symbols of God. So if those who visit the House in the Season or at other times, should compass them round, it is no sin in them. And if any one obeys his own impulse to Good, be sure that God is He Who recognizes and knows.” (Quran 2:158)

If the readers have not read already, I invite them to read the Hadith containing details of her story in Sahih al-Bukhari (Vol. 4, #583, Book of Ambiya or Prophets).

Mother Hajar was not just a wife of Ibrahim, but she was deeply loved by him. But, once again, to fulfill the wish of God, he brought Mother Hajar and their beloved infant son, Ismail, to this abandoned, desolate, barren valley of Makkah. There was no such inhabited place called Makkah at that time.

As Ibrahim brought Mother Hajar and Ismail to that barren, rugged valley, she asks (as in the Hadith): ‘O Ibrahim! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is neither any person nor anything else (to survive)?’ She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her. Then she asked him, ‘Has God instructed you to do so?’ He replied, ‘Yes.’…

That was enough for Mother Hajar. Now she knew that it was according to the Divine Will. With the same nobility and dignity of faith as it ran in that family, “She said, ‘Then God will not neglect us.’ (In another version): ‘I am pleased to be (left) with God.’

Then Ibrahim left and she was alone with her infant. Makkah was not an inhabited place yet. Food and water that Ibrahim provided them with were consumed by the mother and baby. Desperately, she started searching for water running back and forth through the valley between the hills of Safaa and Marwah. Surly Allah would not abandon the family of Ibrahim and so, she was visited by the arch-angel Jibril . This is an significant point to ponder: What kind of person is visited individually by Jibril?

Water, in the form of an ever flowing spring, the Zamzam, was made available to them by direct intervention of God. Right during that time, the tribe of Jurhum, passing by the valley saw birds flying. Realizing that water must be available, they searched and discovered Mother Hajar and Ismail. They sought permission to settle there. Thus, the desolate valley of Makkah became an inhabited area. Ibrahim returned there much later and laid the foundation of Ka’ba. Makkah ultimately was to emerge as a city and as the perennial heartland of Tawheed, the belief in oneness of God.

Subhanallah, God is glorified. He took such a significant and noble service from a woman. But consider another aspect. What kind of situation Mother Hajar was placed into? In that desolate, uninhabited valley, what might have been going on in her mind?

While unconditionally committed to her Lord, she was constantly searching, moving and struggling not thinking about herself any longer, but to find some water and save her child. What could she think about herself? Dr. Ali Shariati, in his well known book Hajj, attempts to provide a glimpse. Once she was slave only to be given away by her Master, a king representing the owning class; now a victim and a stranger, exiled and abandoned by her family all alone with her child in her arms! She hardly ever had a dignified identity. Had she not been the mother of Ismail, who would have given her any recognition and worth? There, in that barren place, her identity did not matter any further. Yet, she reposed her complete trust in her true Lord (Rabb) and was determined to pursue whatever she could in the Way of God.

What can we learn from her sacrifice?

Now ask yourself. If any human being needs to be identified, whom would you consider the foremost as far as founding of Makkah as a city?* Is there any other civilization, or even a city of this stature, that has been brought about by such primary contribution and sacrifice of a woman? How ironical, unfortunate, insulting and utterly unacceptable that the city that came into existence through the sacrifice and struggle of a lone woman now does not allow a woman to drive a car by herself. Nor does it allow a woman to travel to hajj by herself, even though the Prophet Muhammad himself had the vision that woman would travel someday alone to perform hajj and indeed, the vision did materialize. (Musnad of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol. 4, #19397, 19400; Also Sahih al-Bukhari: Vol. 4, #793)

It is so unfortunate that so little about her is talked about even on such pertinent occasion of which she is an integral part. I don’t recall myself listening to any Khutbah that highlighted her faith, sacrifice, and contribution that were second to none; yes, second to none. Indeed, I have read Sahih al-Bukhari before too, until the work of a Muslim intellectual of our time, whose mind is keen about women’s contribution in the heritage of Tawheed, drew my attention to this.*

What can men and women learn from a woman, whose service and contribution ennobled the Hills of Safaa and Marwah to the status of “among the Sign of God,” which must be visited, and whose quest for saving the object of her love must be reenacted?

From far away as the pilgrims perform this reenactment, we also want to be like Ismail and have a share of this noble woman’s affection. But there is a greater symbolic implication!

This community of believers follow the Way of Prophet Muhammad, a way that primarily was designed after the Way of Ibrahim and his family. The role that was played primarily by the family of Ibrahim, was broadly assumed by the Prophet Muhammad , but now involving not just his family, but the larger community of believers. This community (Ummah) is created for mankind! (Quran 3:110)

As it was true then, it is also true now, the humanity is in pursuit of doom and destruction. Should we not think of the humanity as Ismail destined for death, to save which love, affection, and restless passion of Mother Hajar are needed again and again? Did not the Prophet Muhammad carry on that mission of mercy and affection, and thus he was the Rahmatullil Alamin (mercy for the universe), according to the Quran? Did not his loyal companions fulfill the same mission? Then, does not this community (Ummah) need to be conscious of the trust God has given to them, for which the community will be accountable? What could be a better occasion for us to remind ourselves of that trust and invite ourselves to reflect on this and respond accordingly?

In conclusion, what is there, then, to celebrate?

“Our Lord! Grant us what you did promise to us through your Prophets, and save us from the shame on the Day of Judgment: for you never break Your promise.” And their Rabb (Lord) has accepted of them, and answered them: “Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: you are members, one of another; those who have left their homes, or been driven out therefrom, or suffered harm in My Cause, or fought or been slain; Verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing beneath; A reward from the Presence of God, and from His Presence is the best of rewards. (Quran 3:194-195)

For all the toil and struggle, the hardship and sacrifice, the efforts and pursuits, is it not truly deserving of celebration that our works will not be in vain, will not suffer any loss? This is a guarantee from none other than God.

For me, that is more than good enough. With all the worldly promises, guarantees, and warranties that give us a sense of security, one tends to forget that there is also a vast world of deceptions. If we cannot have peace of mind with the promise from God, we have nowhere to turn to. Thus, what could be more worthy of our celebration than the invitation of God to an eternal life of peace, happiness, and prosperity, an invitation that comes with the unfailing promise of God. This, of course, requires that we commit ourselves to the positive and constructive pursuit of bringing peace, happiness and prosperity to the humanity.

*******

* I became enlightened about this particular aspect from an important work of Dr. Kaukab Siddique. I can’t speak for his positions on many other matters, but his contribution to issues related to Islam and women is quite relevant, enlightening and valuable.
Abridged from a Khutbah delivered on Eid al-Ad’ha in Iowa City, Iowa. The author is a professor of economics and finance at Upper Iowa University; Homepage: http://www.globalwebpost.com/farooqm; The author requests volunteers if anyone is interested in translating this piece in their native language. email: farooqm59@yahoo.com
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Hajj in Pictures

A beautiful panoramic photo of Masjid-al-Haram in Makkah and the Ka'bah during Hajj

Click to see full photo. A beautiful panoramic photo of Masjid-al-Haram in Makkah and the Ka'bah during Hajj

These photos are from Hajj in 2007 and come from the website of the BBC news online:

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A Short History of Hajj

A Hajji prays at Mount Arafat duriing Hajj

A Hajji prays at Mount Arafat duriing Hajj

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:

“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]

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 [1] 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’.

Setting off for the journey to Hajj

Setting off for the journey to Hajj

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:

“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]

An old photo of the Kaba, the Sacred House of Islam

An old photo of the Kaba, the Sacred House of Islam

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:

“There is to be no lewdness nor wrangles during Hajj.”

[Surah al-Baqarah 2:197]

Competitions among poets in the exaltations of their forefathers and their tribesmen’s achievements were all stopped. Instead, Allah told them:

“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]

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:

“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]

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:

“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]

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:

“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]

The custom of begging during Hajj was prohibited by Islam

The custom of begging during Hajj was prohibited by Islam

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:

“And take a provision [with you] for the journey, but the best provision is at-Taqwaa (piety).”
[Surah al-Baqarah 2:197]

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.

Footnotes
1 Labbaik Allahumma labbaik… (Here I am present, O’ God, I am present…) This is the chant which the pilgrims say when they are traveling for pilgrimage.
Source: Invitation to Islam, Issue 1, May 1997
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