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The Pilgrimage (Hajj) and Its Effect on the Purification of the Soul

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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 16th September 2014 11:41
Another of the pillars and essential obligatory practices of Islaam is the Pilgrimage or Hajj to the House of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى (the Ka'bah) in Makkah. It is a very comprehensive and potentially very moving rite. Siddiqi has aptly described the significance of different aspects of the Hajj in the following quote,

"It is rightly said that it [the Hajj] is the perfection of faith since it combines in itself all the distinctive qualities of other obligatory acts. It represents the quality of Salaah [prayer] since a pilgrim offers prayers at the Ka'bah, the House of the Lord. It encourages spending of material wealth for the sake of the Lord, the chief characteristic of Zakaah. When a pilgrim sets out for Hajj, he dissociates himself from his hearth and home, from his near and dear ones to please the Lord. He suffers privation and undertakes the hardship of journey - the lessons we learn from fasting and i'tikaaf. [1]

In Hajj one is trained to be completely forgetful of the material comforts and pomp and show of worldly life. One has to sleep on stony ground [2], circumambulate the Ka'bah, run between Safaa and Marwa and spend his night and day wearing only two pieces of unsewn cloth. He is required to avoid the use of oil or scent or any other perfume. He is not even allowed to get his hair cut or trim his beard. In short, he is commanded to abandon everything for the sake of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى and submit himself before his Lord, the ultimate aim of the life of a Muslim. In fact, physical pilgrimage is a prelude to spiritual pilgrimage to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, when man would bid goodbye to everything of the world and present himself before Him as His humble servant saying: 'Here I am before Thee, my Lord, as a slave of Thine.'" [3]

Allaah سبحانه و تعالى says about the Hajj,




"And proclaim to mankind the Hajj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Hajj). That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on known days over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals. So eat of them and feed the miserable and poor." (Soorah Hajj, 22:27-28)

The word "benefits" is in the indefinite, implying all types and numerous forms of benefit. Most notable among these benefits, Karzoon notes, are the purification of the soul, refinement of character, refreshing of one's spirit and the spiritual training that takes place in the most honourable land on this earth. [4]

Notes:

[1] I'tikaaf is where one secluded himself in the Mosque for personal worship and devotion. Most commonly, this is done at the end of the month of Ramadaan.

[2] This is not a must but it is how many pilgrims spend their nights.

[3] Abdul Hameed Siddiqi, trans., Saheeh Muslim (Beirut: Dar al-Arabia, n.d.), Vol. 2, p. 577. The last statement he made is very close to what the pilgrims chant during the pilgrimage.

[4] Purification of the Soul
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#2 [Permalink] Posted on 17th September 2014 10:32
(1) There are a number of important historical events that the Hajj commemorates. These events should be a source of reflection as well as inspiration for the believers. These events include but are not restricted to the following few examples:

(a) The Prophet Ibraaheem عليه السلام left his wife and baby son alone in a desolate land, out of sight of any other humans. Allaah سبحانه و تعالى mentions Ibraaheem's عليه السلام words in the Qur'aan, showing his concern for their material and spiritual well-being and his reliance upon Allaah سبحانه و تعالى to meet their needs,



"Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful." (Soorah Ibraaheem, 14:37)

Imaam al-Bukhaari رحمه الله records from Sayyiduna 'Abdullaah Ibn 'Abbaas رضي الله عنهما that the Prophet Ibraaheem عليه السلام left his wife Haajar عليها السلام and his beloved son alone in that land with no water or other inhabitants. As he walked away, Haajar عليها السلام went after him asking how it was that he was leaving them in that land with no people and no provisions. Ibraaheem عليه السلام did not even look back at her, Finally, she asked if Allaah سبحانه و تعالى had ordered him to do that and Ibraaheem عليه السلام replied in the affirmative. [1]

In another narration in Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Ibraaheem عليه السلام responded that he was leaving them in Allaah's سبحانه و تعالى care. At that time, Haajar عليها السلام responded that Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, therefore, would not leave them. This demonstrates a true trust in whatever Allaah سبحانه و تعالى has commanded. Once Haajar عليها السلام knew that Ibraaheem's عليه السلام act was based on a command from Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, she felt at ease and she immediately recognised that there was good in it. She knew that Allaah سبحانه و تعالى comes to the aid of the believers.

As one approaches Makkah and sees the vast desert land all around it, one should keep in mind the faith that Ibraaheem عليه السلام and Haajar عليها السلام had. One should recall how they responded to this command from Allaah سبحانه و تعالى to inhabit this empty land where there was no sign of any sustenance or provisions. They did that because they believed in Allaah سبحانه و تعالى and they believed in Allaah's سبحانه و تعالى promise to help the believers and not to leave their deeds in vain. [2]

Notes:

[1] According to Sayyiduna 'Abdullaah Ibn 'Abbaas رضي الله عنهما, after leaving them a distance, Ibraaheem عليه السلام looked back and made the supplication in the verses quoted above.

[2] Purification of the Soul
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#3 [Permalink] Posted on 18th September 2014 10:27
(b) Although Haajar عليها السلام had full trust in Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, she also understood that it is obligatory upon the believers to utilise the permissible means that are available to them in this world. After consuming the little water she had with her, Haajar عليها السلام went back and forth from the top of the hills of as-Safaa and al-Marwa to see if she could see anyone who might come to her assistance. She was anxiously looking for water, as she could not bear to watch her young baby suffering and almost dying from thirst. The importance of this event can be seen in the fact that to this day the pilgrims commemorate her actions be retracing her steps, going back and forth between these two hills. [1]

It was at that time that Allaah's help came to her. She heard a voice and she asked if it had come to help her. Then she saw an angel with its wing digging the well of Zamzam. This is the same well that pilgrims continue to drink from to this day. Unquestionably, the continued presence of that well should be a very clear reminder for every pilgrim how Allaah سبحانه و تعالى blesses the believers and supports them. The angel told her not to be afraid for Allaah سبحانه و تعالى would not neglect them. [2]

Notes:

[1] Imaam al-Bukhaari رحمه الله records that the Prophet عليه الصلاة و السلام stated that the going back and forth between these two hills during the pilgrimage is in imitation of what Haajar عليها السلام did.

[2] Purification of the Soul
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#4 [Permalink] Posted on 19th September 2014 10:26
(c) Among the most memorable acts of the Hajj is the animal sacrifice that commemorates Ibraaheem's عليه السلام willingness to sacrifice his son, as well as son Ismaa'eel's عليه السلام willingness to submit himself to the command of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى.










"And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: "O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think." He said, "O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast (saabireen)." Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering); And We called out to him: "O Ibraaheem! You have fulfilled the dream (vision)!" Verily! Thus do We reward the doers of good (muhsineen)." Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (i.e. a ram); And We left for him (a goodly remembrance) among generations (to come) in later times. Peace be upon Ibraaheem (Abraham)!" (Sooratus-Saaffaat, 37:103-109)

This event should be very moving with little need for comment. A father's natural love for his child for whom he had hoped for many years, and a young man's natural desire to escape death are obvious to everyone. However, when the love for Allaah سبحانه و تعالى is very strong in the heart and the belief that there is nothing more important than worshipping and submitting to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى is present, the believer is willing to make any and all sacrifices to please Allaah. This is one of the clear messages that comes from this incident that is remembered every year at the Hajj and 'Eed celebrations. This is the type of model that every believer should attempt to emulate. It is this attitude and practice in one's life that every Muslim should be working towards.

[Purification of the Soul]
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#5 [Permalink] Posted on 26th September 2014 10:07
(2) In addition to the historical incidents, there are a number of significant aspects of Hajj. For example, one of the greatest ways to remove sins from one's being - and thus aid in the process of purification - is to perform the Hajj. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, "Whoever performs the Hajj for the sake of Allaah and does not commit lewdness or evils returns like the day in which his mother gave him birth." [1]

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم also said, "One 'Umrah [2] until the next 'Umrah is an expiation for what is between them. And the Hajj that is accepted by Allaah and performed properly has no reward other than Paradise." [3] [4]

Notes:

[1] al-Bukhari and Muslim

[2] 'Umrah is sometimes called the "lesser pilgrimage". It contains fewer rites than the Hajj and may be done throughout the year.

[3] al-Bukhari and Muslim

[4] Purification of the Soul
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#6 [Permalink] Posted on 29th September 2014 11:34
(3) In the Hajj, there is an opportunity for the Muslim to demonstrate his complete submission and obedience to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى. There are some acts in the Hajj concerning which no human can claim to have a complete understanding of their significance or purpose. However, the Muslim still performs them simply out of the fact that Allaah سبحانه و تعالى has commanded them and the individual recognises that his only real purpose in life is to submit to and worship Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, having full trust in Allaah سبحانه و تعالى and following everything and anything that Allaah سبحانه و تعالى may command.

Imaam al-Bukhaari رحمه الله records that when Sayyiduna 'Umar رضى الله عنه kissed the black stone, he said, "By Allaah, I am kissing you while I am fully aware that you are a stone and that you do not bring about benefit or harm. If I had not seen the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم kissing you, I would not kiss you."

In fact, the pilgrim is constantly reminded of this attitude that he is developing in himself by what he chants coming to the Hajj, "O Allaah, I am repeatedly at Your service." [لَبَّيْكَ اللَّهُمَّ لَبَّيْكَ]

In this chant, the person is committing himself to a continuous and immediate obedience to Allaah.

The pilgrims repeat the chant, لَبَّيْكَ اللَّهُمَّ لَبَّيْكَ [LabbaykAllaahuma Labbayk]. The word لَبَّيْكَ [Labbayk] means, "immediate in response to Allaah's call and demonstrating one's obedience." It comes from the expression, "the man 'lubb' in the place," meaning he remained and stayed there. In the chant, the word لَبَّيْكَ [Labbayk] is repeated to either imply emphasis or a continuous and repeated expression of obedience. [1] [2]

Notes:

[1] Cf., Hamd Ibn Muhammad al-Khattabi, Shan ad-Du'aa' (Damascus: Daar ath-Thaqafiyyah al-Arabiyyah, 1992), pp. 127-129; 'Abdur Rahmaan Ibn Rajab, Sharh Hadeeth LabbaykAllaahumma Labbayk (Makkah: Daar Aalim al-Faraa'id, 1417 A.H.), pp. 23-26.

[2] Purification of the Soul
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#7 [Permalink] Posted on 1st October 2014 10:37
(4) One practical aspect that occurs from the Hajj and that anyone who has performed the Hajj can testify to is that during the Hajj one can see the willingness of other humans to sacrifice for the sake of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى. While circumambulating the Ka'bah, one sees people with no legs or unusable legs pulling themselves around the Ka'bah. One can feel the poverty of some of the fellow pilgrims and realise how much and how long they must have sacrificed and saved to make this one Hajj for the sake of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى.

This definitely moves a person and makes him reflect upon his own sacrifices for the sake of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى. It makes him wonder whether he himself would be willing to make such great sacrifices for the sake of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى if or when needed.

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#8 [Permalink] Posted on 2nd October 2014 12:08
(5) Furthermore, every believer must realise the relationship between his faith and sacrifice. Sacrifice is an essential aspect of this religion. A true believer should be willing to sacrifice one's time, wealth and even life for the sake of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى. In addition, the true believer must sacrifice all desires and pleasures that are not consistent with the Qur'aan and Sunnah. In fact, a true believer must sacrifice anything that comes between him and the true worship of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى alone. Anything that takes a person away from Allaah سبحانه و تعالى and following His path is detrimental to the well-being and spiritual health of a human. Anything that takes that place in the heart that rightfully belongs to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى can spell disaster for the human. Thus, the person must either control that thing, give it up or be willing to sacrifice it, thus removing it from his life and keeping himself firm on the path to the true worship of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى.

Islaam is not about practicing those aspects of the faith that one finds easy or pleasing - choosing what one wants to apply of Islaam and ignoring what one wants to ignore of the teachings of Islaam. Islaam is, in fact, about submission and sacrifice for Allaah سبحانه و تعالى alone. This fact should be very clear in the Muslim's mind as every year the Hajj is performed and every year the intended sacrifice of Ismaa'eel عليه السلام is commemorated. This sacrifice that is commemorated is not one of blood and flesh. It is the sacrifice by one's heart and soul, demonstrating one's ultimate willingness to submit to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى and to sacrifice any and all things for the sake of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى. This is the true believer - his life, his wealth, his ties of kinship and friendship, his aspirations, his position in life are all simply matters that he is willing to sacrifice if and whenever called upon by his faith. Allaah سبحانه و تعالى says in the Qur'aan,



"By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, etc., it means here Allah's Reward, i.e. Paradise), unless you spend (in Allah's Cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well." (Soorah Aali 'Imraan, 3:92)

Allaah سبحانه و تعالى also says while describing the true believers who are deserving of His love and pleasure,




"Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah , so they kill and are killed. [It is] a true promise [binding] upon Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur'an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? So rejoice in your transaction which you have contracted. And it is that which is the great attainment. [Such believers are] the repentant, the worshippers, the praisers [of Allah ], the travelers [for His cause], those who bow and prostrate [in prayer], those who enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and those who observe the limits [set by] Allah. And give good tidings to the believers." (Soorah at-Tawbah, 9:111-112)

In another verse, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى makes it very clear that the love for Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, His Messenger and striving for His sake must take precedence over any and all other feelings of love. Allaah سبحانه و تعالى has said,



"Say, [O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم], 'If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.'" (Soorah at-Tawbah, 9:24)

In fact, in the soorah named after the Hajj itself, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى has described those people who do not fathom this aspect of putting Allaah سبحانه و تعالى and His religion above everything else and who think that they are free to worship Allaah سبحانه و تعالى only in those things that are pleasing to them. Allaah سبحانه و تعالى says,



"And among mankind is he who worships Allah as it were, upon the very edge (i.e. in doubt); if good befalls him, he is content therewith; but if a trial befalls him, he turns back on his face (i.e. reverts back to disbelief after embracing Islam). He loses both this world and the Hereafter. That is the evident loss." (Soorah al-Hajj, 22:11)

It was this attitude of sacrifice that was the way or religion of Prophet Ibraaheem عليه السلام and that Muslims recall and contemplate every Hajj season. This is the only true way to be. If anyone follows a way other that of submission and sacrifice, that is, a way other than that of the Prophet Ibraaheem عليه السلام, he is simply fooling and deceiving himself concerning his own faith. Allaah سبحانه و تعالى has said,





"And who turns away from the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham) (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) except him who befools himself? Truly, We chose him in this world and verily, in the Hereafter he will be among the righteous. When his Lord said to him, "Submit (i.e. be a Muslim)!" He said, "I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists)." And this (submission to Allah, Islam) was enjoined by Ibrahim (Abraham) upon his sons and by Ya'qub (Jacob), (saying), "O my sons! Allah has chosen for you the (true) religion, then die not except in the Faith of Islam (as Muslims - Islamic Monotheism)." (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:130-132)

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#9 [Permalink] Posted on 3rd October 2014 11:35
(6) Selfishness, arrogance, looking down upon others and greed are some of the dangerous diseases that despoil the soul. One must work valiantly to remove any remains of these diseases. The Hajj should be a helpful step in this process. This is fulfilled via a number of means:

First, in most cases, the Hajj requires a great deal of expenditures (travel, purchasing an animal to be sacrificed and so forth). These are all eagerly spent for the sake of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى. This helps in purifying the soul from selfishness and greed. It allows the soul to experience the joy of spending some of his wealth directly for the sake of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى.

Second, as all of the pilgrims gather at one place, in one dress, all submitting to and calling upon their one Lord for forgiveness for the multitude of sins that people commit in this world, the feeling of brotherhood and love should fill the heart of the believer. He should realise that he himself and all the Muslims all only have one purpose in life, are all marching toward one end and they are all the servants of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى and Allaah سبحانه و تعالى alone. There is no room for pride and arrogance here. The reality sets in that the only ways by which these different Muslims differ in is their sincerity to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى and their good deeds. Otherwise, there is no preference nor distinction given to anyone based on nationality, race, wealth or standing in society.

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#10 [Permalink] Posted on 3rd October 2014 11:43
(7) The Day of 'Arafah, which the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم described as the "essence of the Hajj,"[1] should be a very moving experience. On this day, everywhere one looks on the Mount one sees others dressed in the same simple garments, standing and beseeching Allaah سبحانه و تعالى for forgiveness. It is a moving experience that immediately brings thoughts of the Day of Judgement to one's mind. In one's lifetime, there is probably no other experience that can be such a strong reminder of the day in which the souls will be brought forth from the graves, standing and waiting for the judgement to take place.

In fact, the soorah named after the Hajj begins with a strong reminder of the resurrection itself. For example, the first couple of verses state,




"O mankind! Fear your Lord and be dutiful to Him! Verily, the earthquake of the Hour (of Judgement) is a terrible thing. The Day you shall see it, every nursing mother will forget her nursling, and every pregnant one will drop her load, and you shall see mankind as in a drunken state, yet they will not be drunken, but severe will be the Torment of Allah." (Sooratul Hajj, 22:1-2)

Notes:

[1] Literally, the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, "The Hajj is 'Arafah." Recorded by Imam Ahmad رحمه الله, Imam Abu Dawood رحمه الله, Imam an-Nisaa'ee رحمه الله and others. According to Shaykh al-Albaani رحمه الله, it is saheeh. See, Saheehul Jaami', vol. 1, p. 606

[2] Purification of the Soul
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#11 [Permalink] Posted on 5th August 2015 07:33
Masha Allah Thanks For this beautiful sharing.
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