The Purpose of the Hajj

The Purpose of the Hajj
hajj-0Throughout human history, people have been assembling for various purposes. Commercial, cultural, political, and recreational purpose have drawn millions. But nothing compares to the Hajj – a spiritual gathering is like nothing else on Earth.

This sacred pilgrimage was established by Abraham (peace be upon him), the father of the Prophets, when Allah commanded him to: “Declare to the people the Hajj. They will come on foot and on every lean camel. They will come from every remote path.” [Sūrah al-Hajj: 27]
but Allah is the one who calls the people, and their hearts respond to His call. The result is an awe-inspiring gathering of faith. Abraham proclaimed the Hajj, and today, the people assemble in Mecca following the rites of Hajj as taught by Allah’s final messenger to humanity, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them both). What assembly could be greater than this?
When Allah made the Hajj an obligation, people began coming to Mecca “from from every remote path.” This is because humanity is one in their being called to worship their Creator. Allah’s message is universal. Allah says: “And upon humanity is the pilgrimage to the House, whoever among them is able to undertake the journey.” [Sūrah Āl `Imrān: 97]
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever performs the Hajj without engaging in any obscenity nor wickedness, will return (as sinless) as the day his mother gave birth to him.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī]
The Hajj is an event of great spiritual, moral, and worldly significance. It is an opportunity for purification and for strengthening our relationship with our Lord. It is an act of formal worship and devotion with prescribed rites to be carried out. At the same time, carrying out those rites along with a huge crowd of our fellow Muslims teaches us the virtues of patience, good conduct, and love in how we relate to our fellow pilgrims.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) always stressed the values of patience, compassion, and clemency, especially during the Hajj. He urged the pilgrims on the Day of `Arafah to act in a calm and composed manner: “Be calm and steady, because righteousness is never attained through gruffness and haste.” [al-Muwatta’]
The pilgrims should not shout at each other or jostle and shove one another as they strive to observe the rites of Hajj. They should maintain their dignity, exhibit good manners. They should have mercy and love in their hearts for their fellow pilgrims. What purpose is there in donning humble garments and forsaking material comforts if we are going to conduct ourselves selfishly and arrogantly? How can we claim that we are pelting the jamrahs as a rite of worship and obedience to Allah, if we are kicking and shoving others in order to carry it out?
The Hajj was established for us in order to unite us through our collective worship, so we come together in faith and love, and the worship of Allah alone. How is this realized by pilgrims who cause disorder, defy the policies set in place to ensure the safe conduct of the people, and shove aside anyone who stands in their way? They surely know that Allah sees what they do. Can they think that He is pleased with their behaviour?
Moreover, the Hajj is televised these days, and millions of people from around the world, including Europe, America, East Asia, and Japan are watching how the Muslims conduct themselves. What impression will they have about Islam after seeing such unruly conduct and disregard for common courtesy? Will it attract them to Islam? It turns out that every year, the Hajj footage turns people away from the faith who might otherwise have been attracted to it, had the pilgrims behaved according to Islam’s teachings.
It is not righteousness to carry out ritual acts divorced from meaning, so that we can claim to be worshipping Allah while mistreating others and acting rudely.
This is why Allah tells us in the Qur’an: “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards east or west; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah and the Last Day, the angels, and the scripture, and the messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, the orphans, the needy, the wayfarer, those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which you have made; and to be firm and patient, in suffering, adversity, and times of strife. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.” [Sūrah al-Baqarah: 177]
My fellow Muslims, we should remember that the Hajj is for the sake of our faith in Allah. It is an occasion for us to remember Him and glorify His name, and to uphold what He has made sacred. Indeed, among the most sacred of things is human life, as well as their dignity, property and their right to be treated with respect.
Hajj is not about going through the motions, but about honoring what Allah has made sacred. Its purpose is to bring together in a single expression our faith, worship and love of Allah on the one hand with our love and respect for other fellow worshippers. We glorify Allah by carrying out the rites of Hajj, and we should know that our shoving and jostling to carry out our rites do not attain His favour, but rather our piety and good conduct.
This is why Allah says about the sacrifices offered on Hajj: “It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is your piety that reaches Him.” [Sūrah al-Hajj: 37]
Among the essential values that Islam came to protect are human rights and human dignity. How many of us violate these rights while carrying out the Hajj rituals, and while wearing the pilgrim garb?
When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) performed the Hajj at the end of his life, he set out for the plain of `Arafah. In doing so, he broke with the traditions of the times of ignorance before Islam. Back then, members of the tribe of Quraysh would not go to `Arafah since it was deemed outside the sacred precincts. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) put an end to that custom and in doing so put an end to another type of social stratification that plagued society. Islam negates all considerations that separate people into castes, one above another. This is also why every male pilgrim dresses the same, wearing two simple white sheets.
Allah tells us: “Indeed, the noblest among you are those among you who are the most God-fearing.” [Sūrah al-Hujurāt: 13]
When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had assembled all the pilgrims on the plain of `Arafah during that final pilgrimage, he addressed them saying: “O people! What day is this?”
They replied: “A sacred day.”
He asked: “What land is this?”
They replied: “A sacred land.”
Then he asked: “And what month is this?”
They replied: “A sacred month.”
He then said: “Then know that your lives, your property, and your honor are as sacred as this day, this land, and this month.” He then paused and said: “O Allah! Have I conveyed the message?”
The people said: “You have.”
So he said: “O Allah, bear witness to this.”

By: Sheikh Salman al-Oadah
Source: Islam Today

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