27 Oct Your Pilgrimage: Part 3
Virtues of Hajj
A person who intends to perform hajj or ‛umrah must learn about the Islamic rulings relating to them.
Performing hajj has numerous virtues including the following:
1) It is one of the best deeds in the sight of Allah. The Prophet May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him was once asked, “What is the best deed?” He replied, “Belief in Allah and His Messenger.” He was then asked, “What next?” “Fighting in the way of Allah,” he replied. He was further asked, “What next?’ He replied, “Hajj that is preformed correctly and is accepted by Allah.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 1447; Saheeh Muslim: 83)
2) It is a season of great forgiveness. The Prophet May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him said, “Whoever performs the pilgrimage for Allah’s sake, avoids intimate relations [with his wife], does not fight with anyone nor abuse anyone, he will return home free from sins like the day his mother gave birth to him.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 1449; Saheeh Muslim: 1350)
3) It provides a great opportunity to be saved from the hellfire. The Prophet May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him said, “There is no day on which Allah frees people from the Fire as He does on the Day of ‛Arafah.” (Saheeh Muslim: 1348)
4) The reward for it is Paradise, as evidenced by the saying of the Prophet May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him: “There is no reward for a hajj that is preformed correctly and is accepted by Allah except Paradise.” (Saheeh Muslim: 1349)
However, these and other merits will be enjoyed only by those who perform it solely for the sake of Allah and follow in the footsteps of the Prophet May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.
The Ultimate Goals of Hajj
Hajj has numerous goals and objectives. After instructing pilgrims about what to do regarding the sacrificial animal they have to slaughter to seek closeness to Allah, Allah May He be glorified and exalted states, “Their flesh and blood do does not reach Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him.” (Soorat Al-Hajj, 22:37) The prophet May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him also said in this connection, “Going round the Ka‛bah, running between the hills of As-Safaa and Al-Marwah and the stoning of the pillars are only meant for the remembrance of Allah.” (Sunan Abu Daawood: 1888)
These goals and objectives include the following:
1) A demonstration of total submission and humility to Allah
This is realised when pilgrims forsake all forms of luxury and adornment and wear simple seamless garments before assuming the condition of ritual purity (ihraam), showing their total need and dependence on their Lord and ridding themselves of all worldly concerns and pursuits that may otherwise distract them from demonstrating total devotion to Him, which is bound to invite His mercy and forgiveness. This demonstration of total submission becomes all the more vivid on the Day of ‛Arafah when they stand before their Lord, in a state of awe and reverence, giving thanks to Him for His countless blessings and seeking His forgiveness for their slips and failings.
2) A demonstration of gratefulness to Allah
Gratefulness to Allah for performing hajj is shown for both the money and good health Allah May He be glorified and exalted has provided, which are amongst the greatest worldly blessings Allah has bestowed on man. When a Muslim performs hajj, he actually demonstrates gratefulness to Allah for these two blessings by undergoing great physical hardships and spending his money to seek closeness to Allah, in total obedience to Him. Showing gratefulness is a duty that is not only established and affirmed by reasoning but also ordained by divine law.
3) A wholesome demonstration of the universality of Islam
Muslims from the four corners of the world gather in the holy land in response to the call of Allah. They get to know one another, and the barriers of гасе, colour, language and social class аге set aside in this fraternity of faith that unites all Muslims in the largest, annual human gathering in which they help one another in furthering virtue and God-consciousness.
4) It is a reminder of the Day of Judgement
Hajj reminds those who perform it, of the Day of Resurrection when all human beings will stand equal before Allah for the final judgement. When pilgrims stand in the plain of ‛Arafah, after assuming the state of ritual purity (ihraam) by replacing their ordinary clothes with simple garments and expressing their readiness to serve Allah, and perceive the countless multitudes of pilgrims, all dressed in what looks like shrouds, this will open their eyes to what they will go through after death and will prompt them to strive harder in preparation for the hereafter.
5) It is a demonstration of true worship of Allah alone
This is realised through the pilgrims’ recitation of the talbiyah: Labbayk-Allaahumma labbayk, labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk, innal-hamda wanni‛mata laka wal-mulk, laa shareeka lak (Here I am at Your service O Allah, here I am. Here I am at Your service. You have no partners. Yours alone is all praise and all bounty, and Yours alone is the sovereignty. You have no partners.” Describing talbiyah the one of the Prophet’s companions once referred to them as words of “pure monotheism”. (Saheeh Muslim: 1218) Indeed, pure monotheism is apparent in all the hajj rites, words and deeds without exception.
Muslims are required to perform ‛umrah once in their lifetime if they are able to do so.
Umrah, or minor pilgrimage (hajj being the major pilgrimage), is an act of worship which consists of ritual practices that are confined to the Sacred Mosque area only, namely entering the sacred state of purity (ihraam), walking seven times round the Ka‛bah, walking seven times between the hills of As-Safaa and Al-Marwah, and then having one’s head shaved off or one’s hair cut short
The Islamic ruling regarding ‛umrah: It is obligatory for those who can afford it once in their lifetime and it is recommended to perform it again and again.
Its time: It may be undertaken anytime throughout the year, but performing it during the month of Ramadan has a special merit, as the Prophet May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him states, “Performing ‛umrah during the month of Ramadan is equal to performing hajj (pilgrimage) in merit and excellence.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 3186; Saheeh Muslim: 520)