By Mufti Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf
The pillars of Islam are all intrinsically linked to each other. They all provide us with different lessons, and as a whole, form the training programme devised to mould humans into the best possible characters.
Salat the second pillar of Islam is performed solely for the purpose of glorifying Allah. That is why our salat in its entirety is filled with the phrase, “Allahu Akbar,” (Allah is Most Great). Every action and movement of salat is filled with the glorification and praise of Allah Most High. When we ascend from ruku’ (movement of bowing) we declare, “Allah Most High has listened to the one who has praised Him.” We then praise Allah Most High again and recite, “O Allah, for you is all praise.” Hence, our entire salat is a means of magnifying and glorifying Allah and reiterating His greatness, grandeur and majesty.
Zakat, the third pillar of Islam is a way of purifying our wealth. It teaches us to be generous and charitable to others, thus creating a greater awareness of those less fortunate than we are. The other two fundamentals of the faith are fasting and hajj.
During the blessed month of Ramadan, we abstain from food and drink, gain self-discipline and control over our desires and develop nearness to Allah. He then rewards us with the beautiful and blessed day of Eid al-Fitr; a day of thanksgiving and unity to celebrate the opportunity of being able to fast in the holy month of Ramadan.
Then follows Eid al-Adha, which is the greater Eid. Eid al-Adha consists of a sacrifice, which is an expression of our devotion to Allah Most High. We sacrifice an animal to emulate the complete obedience, submission and sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (upon him be peace) to the will of Allah thousands of years ago. This act of Prophet Ibrahim (upon him be peace) was so beloved to Allah Most High that He established it as a sunna for the later generations to follow.
The ‘Ulama state that Ramadan is a time of great endeavour and effort to worship Allah and to gain His favour, forgiveness and nearness. Some of those who strove to attain closeness to Allah Most High in Ramadan, will be rewarded with the honour of an invitation to His House in Makka.
When we invite people to our homes, we make special preparations for the visit. We carefully select whom we would like to invite into our homes, inviting different individuals for different reasons. Similarly, hajj is a time for those that Allah Most High has honoured to receive the great privilege of visiting His House through which the person accrues enormous merit and reward.
Many people perform ‘umra or go on holiday every few years, yet they do not manage to perform hajj. They use the feeble excuse of not being able to procure time off work. However, this is poor justification; hajj can be fulfilled in less than two weeks and annual leave is usually more than two weeks in most, if not all, workplaces and organisations.
We must never view hajj as an obligation, which we have to simply fulfil. We should comprehend that the rituals of hajj including circumambulation around the Ka’ba, visiting Mina and Muzdalifaand praying at ‘Arafa are a means of expressing our love, obedience and devotion to Allah Most High. The purpose of hajj is not to complete a tick box of all the rituals we completebut to highlight our dedication and love for Allah Most High and to experience His power and majesty.
An example of such powerful devotion is displayed in the famous story of Majnun and Layla. Majnun was the historical character Qays ibn al-Mulawwa of the Banu ‘Amir tribebut he was given the epithet Majnun, ‘Madman,’ because of his great love for Layla, despite her family’s fierce objections and strategies to keep them apart.
Majnun would often visit the area in which Layla resided in face of abuse and ridicule, and would lovingly touch the walls of her locality. When queried as to why he did this he expressed through his poetry that he touched the walls not out of love for them, but out of love for the one who dwelled within them.
Here we find a human display of great loyalty and adoration. If we could truly understand our true benefactor, the one who is the essence of benevolence and compassion, He who created us and maintains our needs, then we will understand that we owe Him a much higher level of devotion and loyalty.
Once while Hasan Basri was going around the Ka’ba, he saw a young woman singing love poems, as though singing to her lover. He immediately rebuked her for reciting such poetry in this sacred and holy place.
The lady replied, “You do not appear to understand; you are circumambulating the stone structure of this house, whilst I am circumambulating the manifestation of the Owner of this House. This is the Lord unto whom I am expressing my love through poetry.”
An example to highlight this point is when a light appears in complete darkness; the insects in the vicinity immediately converge towards its radiance; this is the effect of the light on its recipients.
Similarly, the spiritual luminosity of the Ka’ba Al-Masjid al-Haram invites and attracts people from all around the globe. Different people from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and speaking varied languages all unite and congregate in the centre of the world at the Sanctified Masjid with a shared and common objective—the love and pleasure of Allah Most High. Some will undertake the strenuous journey by walking thousands of miles and some will invest large amounts of money in order to arrive at Masjid Al-Haram through various modes of transport.
Unfortunately, in this day and age the predicament we have is that Makkah has become very easy to get to. We merely board the flight and arrive there in less than eight hours, but we are so engrossed and busy in our daily lives that we have no time to prepare for this significant event. We simply do not have the time to create the zeal, fervour and passion in our hearts for the blessed Journey to Allah Most High.
In the past, people would travel for months and sometimes years to reach the House of Allah. Every step on their travel would increase their craving, desire and yearning to reach the House of Allah. In this day and age it is much easier to travel, but do our hearts experience such emotions? Do our hearts possess the powerful longing and passion required to visit the house of Allah Most High?
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has stated in a hadith that a time will come when people will come to the two sanctuaries, not for the sake of worship, but for the sake of tourism. We must ensure that this narration of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is not applicable to us in this present time.
Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad Naqshbandi states that hajj is like a spiritual washing machine. When you travel to perform hajj you possess two garments of cloth, the sun is scorching hot and you are prohibited from using scented toothpaste, fragrance, or cutting your hair nails and other such daily rituals. You walk for endless hours, resulting in fatigue and pain in your legs and your patience is intensely tested throughout. Every moment of the journey is designed to please Allah Most High. In the same way a washing machine completely saturates and wrings your clothes to remove every trace of dirt and grime, every moment of the hajj experience cleanses and purges your body from sin to ensure that you attain the pleasure of Allah Most High.
The greatest day of hajj is the Day of ‘Arafa. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) stated, ‘Hajj is ‘Arafa’. On the Day of ‘Arafa, Allah Most High blesses us with the opportunity to open our hearts and make sincere, continuous and frequent du’a’ (supplication)to Him. Allah Most High allows us to beg and beseech Him and the only restriction we have is the scope of our incapability to request.
When a person performs hajj, Allah Most High is essentially gifting the person a blank cheque. This pilgrim can cash it in for whatever he or she desires and one will only be constrained by their sins and shortcomings.
It is stated that Shaytan was never seen more depressed, disheartened and dejected than on the day of the battle of Badr. In the battle, three hundred and thirteen Muslims fought against a thousand of the well-armed Quraysh. Seventy of their leaders were killed during the course of the battle. On that day, Shaytan witnessed at first hand the mercy of Allah Most High descending upon the Muslims, hence the reason for his utter despair. On the Day of ‘Arafa Shaytan experiences similar feelings of dejection, rejection and distress upon witnessing the love, commitment and dedication of the pilgrims to their Lord and His showering them with His mercies, compassion and rewards.
When a person is in the state of ihram during the days of hajj, they appear dishevelled and unkempt. This highlights the fact that they have have completely cast the world and its affairs aside and their sole purpose is to gain the closeness and pleasure of Allah Most High.
When we raise our hands to Allah Most High in the days of hajj, our du’a’s are accepted immediately. If we sincerely desire to change our life, hajjis the perfect opportunity to soften hearts and attain spiritual connection and rejuvenation with the Almighty. It has been stated in a hadith that the pilgrims have such an elevated status after performing hajj that people have been advised to greet them before they enter their homes, because they have returned from hajj cleansed from their sins and they are in the purest of states.
Many people have a desire to change their lives and observe greater obedience to Allah Most High before performing hajj. They want to reform themselves first, but in doing so they delay the performance of hajj for many years. Undertaking hajj brings about life-changing effects. Hajj is the occasions for changing oneself. So it is the other way round. One should go to hajj to ask Allah for their needs and to glorify Him, however great a sinner one maybe. Shaytan will continually try to deceive one in believing that they are not righteous enough to perform the hajj.
Do not to fall into this trap of Shaytan. If hajj is compulsory on you and you have the provision to go for hajj but do not fulfil the obligation, you maybe sinful for every moment you delay. Do everything possible to secure time of work to perform this obligation. Prepare for it both financially and psychologically and undertake this journey of submission.
May Allah Most High accept those who have performed their hajj and enable us all to continue to visit His Sanctuary repeatedly until we depart this world to His presence.
Transcribed by Aaishah Nathani
Edited by Sufiyah Patel