Understanding the Why of Hajj
muslims believe that islam is not just a religion; rather, it is a comprehensive way of life. thus its articles and deeds of worship serve as a long term and short term training for its followers on how to conduct themselves in life.
in every worship there is wisdom and it just needs some reflection and meditation to explore the hidden secrets. of all the five main deeds of islam, hajj stands on its own as a unique act of worship by all merits.
aspects of worship
when we look into hajj, we will discover that it gathers all other meanings inherent in the other acts of worship. the testimonial of faith is an action of the tongue that represents it submitting to almighty allah and accepting his lordship of this universe.
prayer is an action that represents paying some of your time and effort to show your submission to almighty allah and dedication to him. it also represents a small meeting of a congregation of the larger muslim nation five times everyday to celebrate their unity on that small level.
zakah is a representation of sacrifice. people sacrifices some of their money to show that they trust the reward of allah and prefer it to all the gains of the world.
muslims give to show solidarity with their brothers and sisters and their care for their want and need, to show that they are not enslaved by money. rather, they use it for the benefit of the society and the welfare of the community.
fasting is another representation of avoiding certain things which are allowed at other times as a token of showing devotion to allah and sharing the sufferings of the poor and the needy as well as training oneself on how to control one's desires and lead one's body towards spiritual refinement.
hajj: five in one
if we look into hajj, we will discover that the previous four main deeds are represented in this last one as if hajj is the culmination and compendium of all islamic deeds.
in hajj, one's heart and tongue shows submission to allah when one intends to go out and take up such a beautiful journey. your tongue starts stressing the will of your heart when you utters the talbiyah (the announcement of answering) which is chanted by all pilgrims from all parts of the world in the same wording and the same amazing tone:
labbayka allahuma labbayk, labbayka la sharika laka labbayk innal hamda wan ni`mata laka wal mulk la sharika lak.
here i am o my lord, here i am. i am answering the call testifying that there is no associate with you. truly, all praise is due to you, all blessings are coming from you, the whole dominion belongs to you. truly, there is no associate with you!.
we can also see the essence of prayer represented in every action of hajj as muslims will be praying beside the ka`bah and while in tawaf (circumambulating the ka`bah) they avoid engaging in speech or any form of talk and confine themselves to the remembrance of allah and using certain words of supplication in the same way they do in normal prayer.
as you intend to go to hajj, you realize that there is a financial responsibility to be taken, for you have to pay a certain amount of your money or savings towards the making of that journey; something that requires sacrifice and resembles zakah in many aspects.
here, people are actually sacrificing their money, time and effort, which represents again and again a combination of the wisdom of prayer and zakah at the same time.
above all, hajj is the time when a male pilgrim is not allowed to wear perfumes, sewn clothes, pluck or trim any of his hair as if he is in another form of fasting avoiding what is originally allowed as a token of full obedience and total devotion to the lord.
a pilgrim shows allah that he, or she, is able to relinquish all types of worldly pleasure and lead some type of rough and serious life if allah wants him or her to do so.
in addition to this, hajj is the season when muslims meet with their fellow muslims to celebrate the sense of belonging to one nation and to discuss the issues that concern all of them and glorify almighty allah in congregation.
we still have more to say about hajj as i have had a personal experience in going to hajj in 2001. in fact, the experience of hajj is unique in an indescribable way.
imagine yourself stepping on the same land where prophet muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) used to step and going through valleys and mountains wherein he used to receive the divine revelation.
it gives you another perspective of how much he and his companions did suffer in order to get this message communicated to us in its most perfect and purest form.
it happens a lot that we hear about things but when we see them with our own eyes, it places us in a different atmosphere.
when you go to the mountain of hira', you realize that this is the same place where the prophet used to seclude himself from the whole world for one month every year. it is the place that witnessed the revelation of the first words of the qur'an and the appearance of the arch-angel gabriel.
when you move in the sacred mosque of makkah and remember abraham and his son ishmael, you can feel the true meanings of sacrifice and how a father left his newborn with his weak mother in that barren piece of land.
hajj is a journey into history as well as a planning for a future. it is a journey of spiritual and intellectual rebirth.
coming back from hajj, a person comes with new ideas and perspectives, learns new things and practices new things like humbleness and unity. people come back as clean and pure as the day they were born.
in fact, if i want to dedicate pages and spend ages writing about hajj, i am sure it will not be even sufficient.
therefore, i leave it here and call upon anyone who wants to realize how precious that experience is to go ahead and take up the journey and then write to us about their feelings and the impact it left on them.
i am sure everyone will get new meanings and perspectives.