Hajj Info Center rss

Hajj Photos: First Day of Hajj 2009

Muslims at Hajj

Muslims at Hajj

These lovely photos of Hajj came from the BBC online. They are from Hajj 2009:

Tagged as: , , ,

Eid Announcement and Eid Wishes

Eid Mubarak from Wael and Zawaj.com

Eid Mubarak from Wael and Zawaj.com

For the 2011 Eid Announcement, see: ISNA Eid Announcement 2011

ISNA’s Eid Announcement:

“Hajj (Day of ‘Arafah) will be on Thursday, November 26 and Eid al-Adha will be on Friday, November 27, insha’Allah.

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Majlis Ash-Shura, the highest policy making body of ISNA, has resolved to follow the position of the Fiqh Council of North America on the issue of determining the beginning of the Islamic lunar months for North America.

After much careful study and consideration, the Fiqh Council has reached the conclusion that Eid al-Adha will follow the Day of ‘Arafah as announced in Makkah. This is also the conclusion of the European Council of Fatwa and Research.

The Fiqh Council does not, and does not intend to, force its decision on anyone or on any Muslim community. People should follow the decision of their Imam and their Masjid. Moreover, people should do so with great respect and avoiding unnecessary disputes and arguments.”

Eid Mubarak to all our faithful readers, first time visitors, brothers and sisters, and friends.

The last year has been difficult for me personally. But I thank Allah that I am alive to see another sunrise, to see my daughter laugh and learn, to enjoy all the blessings that Allah has given me, and to have another day to ask Allah’s forgiveness, pray, work, and think. Another day to strive to be a better Muslim, a better father, and a better human being.

On this day of celebration and commemoration of the sacrifices of Ibrahim, Hajar and Ismail (may Allah be pleased with them all), may Allah ease the hearts of all who are suffering, replace pain with comfort and joy, sickness with health, oppression with liberation, tyranny with freedom, and fill our hearts with the hope and tawakkul (trust in Allah) that is sorely needed by our Ummah.

– Wael Abdelgawad

Tagged as: , ,

If `Eid is on Friday, do We Pray the Friday Jum’ah Prayer?

Bangladeshi Muslims offer their “Jummatul Bida” or last Friday prayer during holy fasting month Ramadan in Dhaka.

Reprinted from SuhaibWebb.com
Answered by Imam Mustafa `Umar

Scholars, past and present, have differed over whether the Friday Prayer remains an obligation on adult males or not, in the occasion that Eid falls on Friday. These are the three opinions and who held them:

Opinion 1: Whoever prays Eid must also pray the Friday prayer if it is normally binding on him.

Opinion 2: People living in isolated areas coming from out of town to attend the Eid prayer are exempted from the Friday Prayer. This is the opinion of: Abu Hanifa[1], Malik, and Shafi’i[2].

Opinion 3: Whoever performs Eid is exempted from the obligation of Friday prayer. This is the opinion of: Ahmad, Shu’ba, Nakh’i, Awza’i[3], Sayyid Sabiq, and Ibn Taymiyah.

Now we will present the evidence and reasoning for these opinions.

Reasoning behind Opinion #1

The verse in the Qur’an ordering people to pray the Friday Prayer is crystal clear:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نُودِيَ لِلصَّلَاةِ مِنْ يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ فَاسْعَوْا إِلَى ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَذَرُوا الْبَيْعَ ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

“O you who believe: When the Prayer is called for Friday hasten toward the remembrance of Allah and leave your business. That is better for you, if only you knew.” (62:9)

The commandment in this verse, and other statements of the Prophet about the necessity of Friday Prayer, are not to be overridden by any reports (ahadith) which indicate something different unless they are of rigorous authenticity. If there are any reports that the Prophet made an exception they should be confirmed by more than one Companion because this is not something that would only be heard by one person. Also, there should be no reason for one obligation to drop because of another.

Reasoning behind Opinion #2

There is an authentic report that indicates that the second Khalifah, Uthman, gave permission for some people to skip the Friday Prayer:

ثُمَّ شَهِدْتُ الْعِيدَ مَعَ عُثْمَانَ بْنِ عَفَّانَ فَكَانَ ذَلِكَ يَوْمَ الْجُمُعَةِ فَصَلَّى قَبْلَ الْخُطْبَةِ ثُمَّ خَطَبَ فَقَالَ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ هَذَا يَوْمٌ قَدْ اجْتَمَعَ لَكُمْ فِيهِ عِيدَانِ فَمَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يَنْتَظِرَ الْجُمُعَةَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْعَوَالِي فَلْيَنْتَظِرْ وَمَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يَرْجِعَ فَقَدْ أَذِنْتُ لَهُ (البخاري والموطأ واللفظ للبخاري

“…then I witnessed the Eid with Uthman ibn ‘Affan, and that was on Friday. He prayed before the sermon (khutbah) then gave a speech and said: ‘O people. This is a day where two Eids have fallen on the same day. So whoever from amongst the people of the outskirts[4] of Madinah wants to wait for the Friday Prayer, they may; and whoever wants to return (home), I have given them permission.” (Bukhari, Muwatta’)

Uthman clearly only excused the people who lived outside of Madinah. Since the ruling did not apply to everyone, it must only be those people who live on the outskirts of the city and rural areas that are allowed the option of praying the Friday prayer.

Reasoning behind Opinion #3

There is evidence which indicates that the Friday Prayer is optional when Eid falls on a Friday:

ثُمَّ شَهِدْتُ الْعِيدَ مَعَ عُثْمَانَ بْنِ عَفَّانَ فَكَانَ ذَلِكَ يَوْمَ الْجُمُعَةِ فَصَلَّى قَبْلَ الْخُطْبَةِ ثُمَّ خَطَبَ فَقَالَ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ هَذَا يَوْمٌ قَدْ اجْتَمَعَ لَكُمْ فِيهِ عِيدَانِ فَمَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يَنْتَظِرَ الْجُمُعَةَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْعَوَالِي فَلْيَنْتَظِرْ وَمَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يَرْجِعَ فَقَدْ أَذِنْتُ لَهُ (البخاري والموطأ واللفظ

“Two Eids were on the same day during the time of Ibn az-Zubayr. He delayed people from coming out until the daylight had spread. Then he came out and gave a sermon, and made it long. Then he descended and prayed while the people did not pray the Friday Prayer on that day. This was then mentioned to Ibn ‘Abbas who said: ‘He has acted according to the Sunnah [the way of the Prophet]’” (an-Nasa’i)


Clearly, there is a legitimate difference of opinion over the issue. However, it should be kept in mind that it is a fact that the Messenger of Allah used to pray it, and obviously this implies that he had a group with him because you can’t pray the Friday Prayer alone:

بكَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقْرَأُ فِي الْعِيدَيْنِ وَفِي الْجُمُعَةِ بِسَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الْأَعْلَى وَهَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ الْغَاشِيَةِ قَالَ وَإِذَا اجْتَمَعَ الْعِيدُ وَالْجُمُعَةُ فِي يَوْمٍ وَاحِدٍ يَقْرَأُ بِهِمَا أَيْضًا فِي الصَّلَاتَيْنِ

“The Prophet used to read surah al-A’la and al-Ghashiyah in the two Eid Prayers and the Friday Prayer. When the day of Eid and Friday would come together on the same day he would still read both of them in both prayers.” (Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i)

Considering the fact that this Eid al-Adha not only falls on a Friday but on Thanksgiving weekend where most people are off from work, they should take some time out of their celebrations to celebrate the praise of Allah.

And Allah knows best.

[1] This opinion is attributed to him by his student Muhammad ash-Shaybani in his narration of al-Muwatta’.
[2] Nawawi, al-Majmu’.
[3] Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni.
[4] The word used is “al-‘awali” which refers to people living about one or two miles from the masjid in Madinah. Refer to Abdul Hayy al-Lacknawi’s commentary on al-Muwatta’ known as at-Ta’liq al-Mumajjad for more details.
Tagged as: , , , ,

How to give A great Eid Khutba

Dr. Ingrid Mattson

Dr. Ingrid Mattson, elected President of the Islamic Society of North America

A Message to Imams and Khatibs from Dr. Ingrid Mattson, ISNA President

There are many Muslims who seldom attend congregational prayers other than on the two Eids. The question Imams and Khatibs need to ask themselves is this: Will these people show up on the next Eid, or will this be the last time they pray with us?

This is a serious concern in our community. We have heard far too many stories about Muslims struggling to hold onto their faith finally being driven away by angry, depressing or demoralizing khutbas.

It is understandable that some Khatibs feel that they have just this one chance to give a strong message to those attending Eid prayers. What they need to realize is that this very well could be the one and only chance if the sermon is a disaster. On the other hand, a well-delivered, thoughtful and encouraging message will make people want to come back for more.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him said, “Give good news, and do not drive people away.” This should be the guiding principle for the Eid prayer.

Here are some guidelines for fulfilling the Prophet’s directive:

Encourage people to do even more good by identifying and praising what they are already doing well –even small things. If you message is, “Muslims are not doing enough, everyone is apathetic and divided,” you will discourage and demoralize them.

Make everyone feel welcomed and a valued member of the community by focusing on our obligations of brotherhood in Islam; do not berate some members of the congregation for not living up to certain dress and behavioural standards. The best way to change people’s behaviour for the better is to have them spend more time with positive role models and to have them establish warm and friendly relationships with good people. They will not be able to do this if they are made to feel like outcasts because of particular bad behaviours.

Give a realistic and balanced picture of the challenges we face as Muslims. It is true that there are many injustices perpetrated against Muslims in today’s world, but it is also true that many self-sacrificing individuals, as well as faith-based and secular human and civil rights organizations, are fighting for the rights of all people, including Muslims. We do not live in a world in which Muslims are on one side and non-Muslims are on the other. Injustice is perpetrated by people of all faiths and nationalities, and justice is advocated by people of all faiths and nationalities. Let your congregation feel motivated and energized to seek out people of good will of all faiths to work for justice in the world.

I pray that you and your community will enjoy all the blessings of this Eid.

Tagged as: , ,

41 Beautiful Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha Photos

Ferozshah Kotla Mosque

In New Delhi, India, Muslims offer Eid al-Adha prayers at the Ferozshah Kotla Mosque on Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)

These beautiful photos, depicting the Hajj as well as Muslims all over the world preparing for and celebrating Eid-ul-Adha, were published in Boston.com’s “The Big Picture”, December 12, 2008:

Yesterday marked the end of the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha, or “Feast of Sacrifice” – which also marks the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. One of the pillars of Islamic faith, the Hajj must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by any Muslim who has the ability to do so. This year, nearly 3 million Muslims made the Hajj, without major incident, and are now returning to their homes across the world. Muslims who stayed closer to home celebrated Eid al-Adha, commemorating the the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son to God. Traditional practices include ritual prayers, the sacrifice of animals (usually sheep), distribution of the meat amongst family, friends and the poor, and visiting with relatives. (41 photos total)

Tagged as: , , , ,

Amazing Hajj Photographs

Mountain of mercy

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

Tagged as: , , , ,

My Hajj Experience: Solidarity with the Muslim Ummah

The Hajj Terminal in Jeddah

The Hajj Terminal in Jeddah is the first stop in Saudi Arabia for most Hajj pilgrims

Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.

Glory be to Allah who brought me to Islam 5 years ago.

I was seven months pregnant with our second child when my husband and I decided to make our Hajj, in 1998, al-hamdu lillah.

We spoke to others who had made Pilgrimage for advice, but the resounding response was that we were mad to make Pilgrimage at such a time. We were also planning to go by ourselves, that is, without a group, which also brought a round of incredulous responses. Others supported us with “in sha’ Allah.

Nevertheless, al-hamdu lillah, we put our trust in Allah, and He took care of us. It seemed that from the moment we made our decision, everything more or less fell into place, subhan Allah. We prepared ourselves by studying about Hajj, and what was required on different days, as well as finding out the approximate dates. Our time was limited, so we had to be quite precise about where we were going to be so that we could fulfill all the rites of Hajj properly.

Last Flight Before the Deadline

We booked our flight from Australia to Saudi Arabia (Jeddah) through a regular travel agent, and applied for our visas through the Saudi Embassy in Canberra. We planned to spend 12 days in Saudi, with the first 4 to 5 days in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah and the rest of the time in Hajj. For this reason, we chose to fly from Jeddah to Madinah return.

Al-hamdu lillah, we arrived safely at the Hajj terminal at Jeddah, with Muslims from all around the world prepared to make pilgrimage. I was in awe at the scale of the place, ma sha’ Allah. Unfortunately, due to the sheer number of people, who had to be processed through customs & immigration, we missed our connecting flight to Madinah. Al-hamdu lillah, though, a Saudi official, may Allah reward him, found us a place on the next flight, albeit with a handwritten boarding card. I feel that this was a favor on his part to help us, as I think this was unofficial.

It was helpful that my husband speaks Arabic (he is Moroccan), and I have a little conversational Arabic, al-hamdu lillah, but most of the Saudi officials and helpers speak excellent English, so I think language doesn’t play too much of a role in official dealings.

One should be aware that the Saudi government has strict rules about when is the last day to travel to Madinah or from Madinah to Makkah. Al-hamdu lillah we got that flight, having just boarded prior to midnight, which was the deadline, because if we had not, we would have been unable to go to Madinah at all.

Our passports were taken away from us and sent to Madinah to the Pilgrim’s Office for those who have traveled by air, there is another office for those who have traveled by land. We were given two vouchers, one for each passport, with the address of the office on them, and were told to go to the office as soon as practical to tell of our return trip plans, so that our passports could follow us back to Jeddah. Because we were not with a group, we had to do all this ourselves, which was sometimes quite time-consuming, but al-hamdu lillah, it didn’t get in the way of performing prayers. The offices seem quite chaotic, with no queues and many Hajjis wanting to be attended to at the same time. It took a couple of visits to enter the second room where the passports are held; they were located, and marked with our return journey plans.

Arrival in Madinah


Outside the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah

Outside the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, at night

Ma sha’ Allah, the breathtaking first view of the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) mosque at night on arrival by taxi from the airport, brought tears to our eyes and we will never forget it.

We had not booked a hotel, so the taxi driver kindly dropped us near the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) mosque where there were a lot of hotels. Because we were entering Madinah at a time just days prior to the Hajj, many people were already leaving to go to Makkah, so al-hamdu lillah, the hotels had a few vacancies, and we found a room easily. The room had nine beds! We had the room all to ourselves, but a shared bathroom. It was so close to the mosque that you could hear the Adhan, make wudu’ and get there in plenty of time for Prayer, which was excellent for Fajr Prayers, al-hamdu lillah. The prices were also very negotiable, as the hotels were keen to have business.

Al-hamdu lillah, a friend of ours in Australia had friends who lived in Madinah, so we made contact with them and ma sha’ Allah, they were excellent guides during ziyarah (the visit to the Prophet’s Mosque).

Ziyarah took us a full afternoon in a private taxi. We changed to another hotel, Dar al Bab Al Jumu`ah, that had a smaller room and a private bathroom, at a better price, ma sha’ Allah, we will return there in the future, in sha’ Allah.

Another time consuming occupation was the reconfirmation of flights, as obviously all pilgrims are trying to do the exact same thing. It just takes several visits, patience and perseverance.

Ma sha’ Allah, it is easy to see why the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) loved this city and its people. To walk in a place so steeped in Islamic history is inspiring and humbling. The evenings, with the crescent moon hanging above the minarets of the Prophet’s mosque, were sensational, subhan Allah.

I am sorry to leave out all the details of the Sunnah of visiting Madinah and the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) mosque, but this is something that is easily found in good books, and beautifully simplified and easy to follow in the guidebook provided by the Saudi Government on arrival in Jeddah. Actually, it was my most used book during our visit, as it was very clear about what needs to be done. May Allah reward them for this.

Feeling of Solidarity in Makkah

We were sad to leave Madinah, but equally excited about the main event, Hajj. We flew back to Jeddah, this time in our ihram, intending to make Hajj. We arrived at the “normal” airport, where we had to go to another office within the airport to be triaged into nationality groups, according to the nationality of our passports. We were given the address and number of the Establishment for Pilgrims responsible for us in Makkah, which was number 19. The group including pilgrims from America, Australia, Europe and Turkey. Our passports were again held and sent to that office.

We then traveled by taxi to Makkah, where we dropped off at the Sacred Mosque. We performed our `Umrah before Fajr, al-hamdu lillah. A nearby hotel obligingly kept our luggage for us while we did this.

Tawaf around the Ka'bah

Muslim pilgrims perform the “Tawaf” ritual around the Kaaba at Mecca’s Grand Mosque before leaving the holy Saudi city at the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage on December 10, 2008. The official Saudi News Agency (SPA) reported that the most recent statistics put the total number of pilgrims this year at more than 2.4 million, almost 1.73 million from abroad and 679,000 from within the kingdom, mostly foreign residents. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Sacred mosque is one of the largest structures I have ever seen; its sheer bulk just seemed to dwarf me, subhan Allah. The atmosphere is almost tangible, the feeling of solidarity with the Muslim Ummah just made me feel that I had really come “home”. The sighting of the Ka`bah for the first time is awesome, its beauty cannot be portrayed in any other way except by pure experience of its presence and its meaning to us as Muslims. The fact that everyone is there to do exactly the same thing in praising their creator, Allah, just elevates and magnifies the feelings, so that it feels as though your heart is going to leap out of your chest with joy. Subhan Allah, nowhere else have I felt such a strong sense of “rightness” and belonging.

During our Tawaf, we were lucky enough, al-hamdu lillah, to meet with a Moroccan woman, who seeing my condition and knowing we had no hotel booked, invited us to her hotel for a rest after our `Umrah. She guided us to the Zamzam well, and to Safa and Marwah to make our Sa`i, may Allah reward her.

The miracle of Zamzam water, subhan Allah, still never ceases to astound me. So many people drinking and washing with it and taking liters back home with them to their home countries, it truly is a blessing of Allah, and the sweetest and most refreshing water on Earth.

We rested for a while at her hotel. She had gone with a group and there were many people in each room, segregated by sex, unless part of a large family group, in which case they had a room together. I rested with the women, while my husband of course, was with the men.

We went by taxi to Office 19, and met the people responsible for us during the days of Hajj. This is what you are paying for when you apply for your visa, and get your bus travel vouchers. You are paying for the infrastructure and organization, accommodation in tents at Mina and `Arafat, plumbing, sanitation and water supply. They were also selling vouchers for meals at Mina and we bought some. We met Abdullah, the head of Number 19, who was very helpful and friendly and really went out of his way to help us, may Allah reward him for that. He and most of the staff there spoke perfect English, so, as I was saying before, communication was no problem.

Unfortunately, our Australian passports were not at his office and that made us worried. Al-hamdu lillah, to his credit, he reassured us, and told us he would look after us under the group number 19, gave us our Number 19 ID bands, told us to have a good Hajj in sha’ Allah, and he would sort it out. We trusted him. We left for Mina that night on a group 19 bus from the 19 office. Al-hamdu lillah, it was all very easy, they even stored our luggage at the office for us. All we had to do was stick to buses and tents with group 19 on them, and we would be all right in sha` Allah.

Mina, ‘Arafat and Muzdalifah

The bus trip took a very long time, but al-hamdu lillah, we eventually arrived in Mina. We met with a lovely, ma sha’ Allah, Jordanian-American couple, with whom we traveled most of the time while performing our Hajj. It was good to have another sister to talk to and two men to help guard us in the particularly crowded areas such as the Jamarat.

On our first night in Mina, we climbed up on a nearby mountainside, and watched the big picture unfolding around us. People walking, the cars and buses jostling for space amongst the sea of people, the little community of people living in tents on the hillside, who have gathered there to sell cooked food to the pilgrims, and most impressively, the massive city of tents that is Mina, with peaked tents reaching as far as the eye can see, Subhan Allah.

The accommodation was simple and adequate, al-hamdu lillah, with rugs on the floor, fans spaced regularly, and dispensers of cold iced water.

Lots of ablution blocks, but obviously, with so many people there was often a wait, especially at peak traffic times, such as before Prayers. Our tents were not partitioned off at all, which meant that there was no privacy, but it didn’t matter, as privacy wasn’t really required.

My husband and I decided to move from Mina to `Arafat by foot, while our companions chose the bus. Al-hamdu lillah, I am pleased that we decided to do that, as it was such a group experience, everyone chanting “Labbayka Allahumma, Labbayk”, and the swarming tide of the crowd all heading to `Arafat, made the day of `Arafat a real glory and thanksgiving for the bounties bestowed on us by Allah. The site of Masjid Namirah was again joyous, marking our imminent arrival, Al-hamdu lillah. The walking road is very comfortable, with ablution blocks and cold-water fountains all along the way. Ma sha’ Allah, considering that there were four million people everything was very clean. Compare this to an event such as, for example, the Grand Prix, which has been held in Adelaide, Australia, and although only attracted crowds in the thousands, there was lots of vandalism and filthy toilet facilities. Hajj to me was spotless, al-hamdu lillah.

However, on reaching `Arafat, we had no idea where, in this sprawling tent city, our tent 19 was. Obviously, being pregnant, I needed a good sit down in the shade by this stage. Al-hamdu lillah, we stumbled upon a group of tents with an Algerian flag. The finding of the Algerian tent-being the next best thing to finding the Moroccan tent-was really sent by Allah! My husband asked a man near the tent at the front if I could sit down in the shade with some women. He was a Saudi national, who had come to perform Hajj with his extended family, al-hamdu lillah, their acceptance of us as part of their family and their hospitality towards us is a credit to them, and may Allah reward them in full. My husband stayed with the men, and thanked them, but they responded that it was they who must thank us, because it is because of the pilgrims and the service that Saudi Arabia provides them, that in sha’ Allah, they, the Saudis, are rewarded many times over. I truly do believe it is with this spirit that the Hajj organizers do their duty, ma sha’ Allah.

We made our du`aa’s, and spent some time at the Mount of Mercy, which was full of an incredible hum of people, all thanking, glorifying and pleading to Allah Most High. It is the day where the tears fall and the heart overflows with thankfulness to Allah, and belief in his mercy and that all our sins will be forgiven.

After Maghrib Prayers, again we made our way with the flowing exodus of people, to Muzdalifah. We had brought a backpack with us that contained a “therm-a-rest” mat, which is a very small blow-up insulated mattress found at camping stores, and some sleeping bags, but, due to my pregnancy, we only stayed in Muzdalifah until after midnight before making our way back to Mina. Again, rules-and their exceptions-can be found in books on Hajj, so please check. May Allah find this acceptable,in sha’ Allah.

After Fajr Prayers in Mina, we performed the rites of Yaum An-Nahr, al-hamdu lillah. I am thankful to my husband who encouraged me to be brave and to throw my own stones at the Jamarat, and, al-hamdu lillah, it was relatively easy, with a space opening up just at the right time. Yes, I will admit there were a few times where the push, pull and ebb of the crowd was a little too close to my baby for comfort, but, al-hamdu lillah Allah protected us as we just prayed constantly to Him to make it easy for us. Our du`aa’s were answered, al-hamdu lillah.

With this rite personally accomplished, rather than by proxy, I felt a real accomplishment in the completion of Hajj, al-hamdu lillah. We actually preferred the downstairs part of the Jamarat, and found it easier to gain good access there.

In Madinah we had bought sacrifice vouchers, which I feel is an excellent idea on the part of the Saudis, ma sha’ Allah, with the sacrificial meat slaughtered, frozen or canned, and sent to people in need all over the world. It was good to feel that you were benefiting Muslim brothers and sisters, al-hamdu lillah.

Festival Atmosphere in the Days of Tashreeq

We went by taxi back to Makkah to perform Tawaf al Ifadah and Sa`i, having broken our ihram. We survived at Mina on packaged food such as processed cheese, bread, fruit and juice. I can recommend “Tang” as a must for the traveler as it adds extra salts, vitamins and sugars to the diet. The food we had bought vouchers for was unfortunately spoiled by the heat, and on our return, we were offered a full refund, ma sha’ Allah, of which we only accepted half. We returned to Mina that evening, tired and sore although elated. We spent the next two days in the festival atmosphere of Mina in the Days of Tashreeq, when all the traders put out their wares to create a colorful street market.

Al-hamdu lillah, I was also able to throw my own stones at the three Jamarat on the first day, but on the second day, we, and the rest of the pilgrims, had gathered at the Jamarat waiting for Zhuhr, after which time it is permissible to throw the stones on these days. It was obvious that everyone else had the same idea as us, that is, to throw the stones as soon after Zhuhr as possible and to execute a quick exit back to Makkah. After all, we had passports to find.

That day the crowd was far too intense for me, and my female traveling companion, to throw our own stones. We tried, but the flow was pressured. Therefore, we appointed our husbands as proxies for us and waited in proximity. Al-hamdu lillah, Allah kept them safe from harm and we left for Makkah.

Office 19

We went back to Office 19, where Abdullah, unfortunately, had not located our passports. He recommended we return after `Isha’ Prayers. Again, the Sacred Mosque is a miracle. The background hum of people, mixed with the chirping of the swallows that nest in the various corners of the mosque is an unforgettable sound. The swallows even nest inside the speakers, subhan Allah, and we saw some of them actually flying back into their nests next to the speakers, after the Adhan for Prayer. How beautiful that all of Allah’s creatures find His Glorious Qur’an harmonious, subhan Allah.

After `Isha’, Abdullah sent one of his workers to drive us to the far away Central Office for Pilgrims, in the hope we could find our passports. Ma sha’ Allah, it was very far, and he drove us to several places until they were located, having been held at one of the offices, and marked on the computer. It was reassuring to have an inside look into the organization the Saudis actually have for locating passports, as from an outside view it can certainly look like there is no organization at all. It was impressive, that at the central office the computer easily located the passports. The mind boggles at the amount of time it must take to log on all the information. I’m sure that most of the organizers work 24 hours a day to serve the pilgrims, ma sha’ Allah.

That night we were accommodated at Office 19, and then left for Jeddah after making our Tawaf Al-Wada`. Al-hamdu lillah, all praise to Allah who made our Hajj easy and gave us patience.

Moved and Enriched by Our Experience

I think that we had several good experiences by virtue of going by ourselves. We met many good people, whom we still have contact with, we walked everywhere we could, and we were not restrained by having to wait for, or do what, other group members wanted to do, al- hamdu lillah. Al-hamdu lillah, we were able to concentrate on our prayers and rites without being sidetracked by idle talk, which can often happen in a group. We also were able to ignore, without criticism or discussion, the inevitable “bad” things that one sees during travel, as we should overlook these things while on Hajj. Al-hamdu lillah, it seemed that if a situation developed, a person was sent, or a space opened up whenever needed, thanks to Allah.

We were so moved and enriched by our experience that we could not resist the call to Allah in 1999, and this time we took our three and a half year old first-born daughter… But that’s another story, in sha’ Allah.

*Excerpted by IslamOnline.net with modifications from ICM/The Web Plaza (TM).

Tagged as: , , ,

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)

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: [email protected]
Tagged as: , , , ,

Hajj in Pictures

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:

Tagged as: , ,

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.

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
Tagged as: , , , ,

Eid Ul-Adha Special Announcement

Masjid-al-Haram in Makkah (the Sacred Mosque) during Hajj season

Masjid-al-Haram in Makkah (the Sacred Mosque) during Hajj season


Special Announcement

Eid ul Adha 1430/2009

According to astronomical calculations, the month of Zul Hijjah will begin on November 18 and thus theexpected date of Eid ul Adha is Friday, November 27. The final decision will be posted after receiving the announcement of ‘Arafah date by the Hajj authorities in Saudi Arabia.

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Majlis Ash-Shura, the highest policy making body of ISNA, has resolved to follow the position of the Fiqh Council of North America on the issue of determining the beginning of the Islamic lunar months for North America.

Muslims in America as well as in many other parts of the world hold two different opinions about the observance of Eid ul-Adha. Some observe it on the 10th of Zul Hijjah according to their local lunar date and others follow the announcement of Hajj by the authorities in Makkah and celebrate this Eid after the day of ‘Arafah. After much careful study and consideration, the Fiqh Council has reached the conclusion that Eid ul-Adha will follow the Day of ‘Arafah as announced in Makkah. This is also the conclusion of the European Council of Fatwa and Research (EFCR).

The Fiqh Council does not, and does not intend to, force its decision on anyone or on any Muslim community. People should follow the decision of their Imam and their Masjid. Moreover, people should do so with great respect and avoiding unnecessary disputes and arguments.

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi
Chairman, Fiqh Council of North America

Tagged as: , ,