Hajj: Eternal Lessons
Allah says, [That they may witness things that are of benefit to them] (Al-Hajj 22:28). The benefits of Hajj are both worldly and religious (spiritual). With regards to the religious benefits, the one who goes for Hajj earns the pleasure of his Lord and comes back with all his sins forgiven. He also earns immense reward that he cannot earn in any other place; one prayer in the Sacred Mosque in Makkah, for instance, is equal to a hundred thousand prayers elsewhere, and Tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka`bah) and Sa`i (pacing between As-Safa and Al-Marwah) cannot be done anywhere else. Other benefits include meeting other Muslims and discussing their circumstances, meeting scholars and learning from them and asking them about one’s problems. Whereas the worldly benefits include trade and business, as well as other kinds of earnings that have to do with Hajj.
Furthermore, there are many virtues of the rituals of Hajj and there is much wisdom to be found behind them. Whoever is blessed with proper understanding of them is blessed with much goodness. For example:
When a person travels to perform the rites of Hajj, he is reminded of his journey to Allah and the Hereafter. When he travels, he leaves behind his dear friends, wife, children, and homeland, and the journey to the Hereafter is similar.
The one who goes on this trip equips himself with enough provisions to help him reach the sacred land, so let him remember that for his journey to his Lord, he needs to have sufficient provisions to help him get there safely, as well. Regarding this, Allah says, [And take provision, but indeed, the best provision is taqwa (fear of Allah)] (Al-Baqarah 2:197).
Traveling is a kind of torment and the same is true, but on a larger scale, of the journey to the Hereafter. Ahead of man there are the stages of passing away, the grave, the gathering, the accounting, the scales and As-Sirat (a bridge that will be laid across Hellfire, for people to pass over on the Day of Judgment), followed by either Paradise or Hell. The blessed one will be the one whom Allah saves.
When the pilgrim puts on the two garments of his ihram, he cannot help but be reminded of the shroud in which he will be wrapped after he dies. This prompts him to give up disobedience and misdeeds. Just as he gives up his regular clothing for Hajj, likewise he has to give up sins. Just as he has put on two clean, white garments, he has to make his heart clean and pure, and guard his senses so they remain clean and pure, uncontaminated by the stains of sins and disobedience.
When he says “Labbayk, Allahumma, labbayk (Here I am at your service, O Allah, here I am)” at the miqat (the place where one enters into the state of ihram), he means that he has responded to his Lord; so how can he still insist on sinning and not respond to his Lord’s call to refrain from disobedience? When he proclaims “Labbayk, Allahumma, labbayk,” he must also take it to mean, “I am responding to Your prohibition of committing sins, and this is the time from which I am giving them up.”
By ceasing to do some originally permissible things, let alone forbidden matters, while in the state of ihram and keeping himself busy with the Talbiyah and dhikr (remembrance of Allah), the pilgrim gives himself a good idea about how a Muslim should be. In this way, he trains himself to give up some things that, in principle, are allowed but that Allah has forbidden for him at the time of ihram. So how come he violates the commands of Allah and commits forbidden deeds, at all times and in all places?
When he enters the Sacred House of Allah, which He has made a sanctuary for mankind, the pilgrim remembers Paradise, which no one can reach without striving hard and making a rigorous effort—the greatest thing that will keep a person safe on the Day of Resurrection.
Kissing the Black Stone, which is among the first rituals to be carried out, teaches the visitor of Allah to honor the Sunnah and to not oppose the laws of Allah with his feeble reasoning. He comes to recognize that there is wisdom and goodness behind the laws and rites that Allah has prescribed for mankind and trains himself to submit totally to his Lord. It is narrated that `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said after he kissed the Black Stone, “I know that you are only a stone and that you can neither benefit nor harm. If I had not seen the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) kiss you, I would not have kissed you” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
When the pilgrim does Tawaf, he is reminded of his father Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him) who built the house so it would be a place of resort for mankind and a haven, and that he called them to perform pilgrimage to this house. Moreover, our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also called humanity to perform pilgrimage to this house, to which prophets Musa, Yunus, and `Isa (peace and blessings be upon them) also came for the same purpose. This house was a symbol and a meeting place for these prophets.
When the pilgrim drinks the water of Zamzam, he is reminded of the blessing that Allah has bestowed upon mankind in the form of this blessed water, from which millions of people have drunk throughout history, yet it has never dried up. The pilgrim is encouraged to make du`aa’ (supplications) when he drinks it, according to the hadith in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “The water of Zamzam is for whatever it is drunk for” (Ibn Majah and Ahmad).
When he does the Sa`i, the pilgrim is reminded of the trial that afflicted Hajar, the mother of Isma`il (peace and blessings be upon him). He remembers how she ran back and forth between As-Safa and Al-Marwah searching for water that would save her from what she was suffering, and especially so she could give her little son, Isma`il (peace and blessings be upon him), water to drink. When one remembers the struggle and patience of this great woman, it makes it easier to bear one’s own problems and to face, with full determination, the challenges of life.
The standing in `Arafah reminds the pilgrim of the throngs of people on the Day of Resurrection. If the pilgrim is tired due to being in a crowd of thousands, how will it be to stand among the hordes of people on a day that is as long as fifty thousand years?
When he throws the pebbles at the Jamarat (the three stone pillars in Mina), the Muslim trains himself to obey Allah unquestioningly, even if he does not understand the reason and wisdom behind this act, and cannot make the connection between rulings and their purpose. This is a manifestation of complete submission to Allah.
When he slaughters his sacrificial animal, the pilgrim is reminded of the great incident when our father Ibrahim submitted to the command of Allah to sacrifice his only son Isma`il (peace and blessings be upon him) after he had grown up and become a helping hand for him. He is also reminded that there is no room for sentiments that go against the commands of Allah. This teaches him to respond to what Allah orders, as Allah tells us that Isma`il (peace and blessings be upon him) said, [“O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the patient”] (As-Saffat 37:102).
Once the pilgrim comes out of the state of ihram that he was in and things that had been forbidden to him become permissible again, he is thus taught about the consequences of patience and that after hardship comes ease. The one who responds to the call of Allah will have joy and happiness and such delight that cannot be felt by anyone except those who have tasted the sweetness of obedience, such as the joy felt by one who is fasting upon breaking his fast or by the one who prays during the last part of the night, after he has finished praying.
After he concludes performing all the rituals of Hajj as they were prescribed by Allah and in the manner that He loves, the pilgrim has hope that his Lord will forgive all his sins, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) promised in the hadith:
Whoever does Hajj for the sake of Allah, shunning (during his Hajj) all sexual matters, and keeping away from sins, will come back as (free from sins) as he was on the day his mother gave birth to him. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
This encourages him to turn over a new leaf, free of evil deeds.
When he comes back to his wife and children and experiences the joy of meeting them again, this reminds him of the greater joy of meeting them in Paradise. This also teaches him that the greatest loss is losing one’s self and family on the Day of Resurrection, as Allah says, [Indeed, the losers are the ones who will lose themselves and their families on the Day of Resurrection. Unquestionably, that is the manifest loss!] (Az-Zumar 39:15).
By Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid**
All articles published not necessarily the official points of view held by islamonline