Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hajj Pilgrimage & Last Sermon of The Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam

Hajj Pilgrimage

The Fifth and the last article of faith in Islam is the annual pilgrimage to Kab'ah, the scared House of Allah or Baitul Haram in the lunar month of Zilhajj from 1st to 10th. It is obligatory, once in a life time on all adult Muslims provided they can afford it, and enough provision is left behind for the maintenance of dependants. Allah (SWT) in the Qur'an commands the performance of the Hajj Pilgrimage (Surah Al-e-Imran -3:96-99 and surah al-Hajj: 22:26 to 29). The Hajj was made obligatory in the ninth year after Hijrah. The first Hajj pilgrimage was performed the same year. Abu Bakr (r.a) was appointed its leader. Kab'ah is the oldest House of Worship for Allah on earth built by Prophet Ibrahim
and his son Ismail (Surah-Baqarah-2:127-128) around 2500 B.C. The Qur'an reveals that "the first house of worship appointed for men was that at Bakkah (ancient name of Makkah)** full of blessing for mankind in it are signs manifest (for example) the station of Ibrahim (Maqam Ibrahim) – whoever enters it attains security; pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah…. those who can afford the journey." (3:96-97) They also were the first two persons to circumambulate around Kab'ah. It symbolizes the focal point for **Besides Bakkah, Makkah has many other names such as "Al-Bayt al-Atiq", Al-Bayt al-Haram (Sacred House), "Al-Balad al-Amin (the city of safety), "Al-Mamum (the city of security), Umm-Rahm (the mother of Mercy), Ummul-Qura (the mother of cities), etc. the submission of Muslims to Allah (SWT) on earth from all over the world. They face Kab'ah wherever they may be while saying their Salah. Kab'ah is therefore called the Qiblah of Muslims.

The Hajj pilgrimage commemorates a unique event in the history of Islam. In obedience to the command of Allah (SWT), Ibrahim (AS) laid the head of his son Ismail (PBUH) on the altar to sacrifice him. Allah (SWT) accepted this supreme sacrifice but Ismail was divinely rescued and replaced by a lamb. This Pilgrimage epitomizes the true spirit and meaning of Islam i.e. total submission to the will and command of Allah (SWT). It also makes man feel small and insignificant before the majesty and glory of Allah (SWT). Man's ego collapses and nothingness overwhelms him when he circumambulates around the House of Allah (SWT), dressed in a simple unstitched two-piece of cloth (Ehram) bereft of all his pomp, dignity and vanity. The Hajj pilgrimage eloquently highlights the universality, equality and unity of mankind. All differences and distinctions based on ethnicity, caste, colour, wealth and worldly status simply disappear, replaced by a sublime and unique bond of brotherhood and fraternity, irrespective of the region one comes from, the language one speaks and the vocation one pursues. Here the king and the commoner, the rich and the poor stand on par with each other as they will be, standing before Allah (SWT) on the Day of Judgment. The Hajj pilgrimage also commemorates Hajera's (Hagar's) anxious moments in desperate search for water for his thirsty and bitterly crying infant son Ismail. She ran impatiently seven times between the hillocks of As-Safa and Al-Marwa. Her anxiety was divinely relieved when she found spring of water, called "Zam Zam", gushing out of the ground where Ismail was agitatedly rubbing his heels while crying in anguish. This agonizing experience of Hajera has been immortalized in Qur'an: "Verily As-Safa and Al-Marwah are among the signs of God." (2:153). The Prophet used to perform Sa'i regularly. According to a Tradition "The Prophet said I start with what Allah has commanded me to start with (meaning start with Sa'I (i.e. fast walking) from the As-Safa". (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, volume I, page: 450).
Sa'i is considered as Wajib.
The Prophet himself led the second Hajj pilgrimage in the 10th Hijrah. It was his first and last pilgrimage, has been called Hajjatu-Waida. During this pilgrimage he delivered his last memorable Sermon. One from Jabal Ar Rahmah (Mount of Mercy), in the Plains of Arafat on 9th. Dhul Hajj and the other in Muzdalfah on 10th. Dhul Hajj or Yaum Al-Nahr (day of sacrifice). In the sermon from Jaba Ar Rahmah he proclaimed unambiguously:
        "O people! Listen to my word, for I do not think that I and you will meet again in this place and perform Hajj together after this year. O people! Allah (swt) says "O people! We created you from one male and female and made you into tribes and, so as to be known to one another. Surely the noblest among you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous." (49:13)Your Lord (Rabb) is one and your father Adam is one who was fashioned out of clay. An Arab has no superiority over an Ajami (non-Arab)nor an Ajami over an Arab. Similarly neither a red coloured person is superior to a black coloured one nor a black coloured one to red-coloured one, but for their Taqwa (fear of God)." He further added that "every claim of privilege whether that of blood and property belongs to pre-Islamic period and is under my feet" As the Prophet concluded his sermon from Jabal Ar Rahmah (Mount Mercy) in the plains of Arafat that the verse relating to the perfection of the Deen was revealed to him: "Today I have perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you and approved al-Islam as a Deen (way of Life) for you." (5:3).

• Thus the concept of privileges based on wealth and cast and colour and complexion were abolished and equality of mankind was firmly established and are among the cardinal principles of Islam. These principles candidly reflect the true spirit of the Hajj pilgrimage. It may not be out of place to mention that since Islamic religious services follow the lunar calendar the hardships involved in the performance of these services are equally borne by Muslims the world over because of the cyclical nature of seasons and changing duration of days and nights.

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