The Behavioral Impact of Hajj

hajj is a school for the training of the human psycho where it is taught how to control its desires and to limit itself from straying away from what is correct. at the same time, it encourages the inherent qualities of 'goodness' to surface. this becomes clear when we take the following points into account.

self control

hajj has obligatory arkan (essential acts of hajj), manners, as well as optional, and desirable acts. all of these contribute to enabling the human being to control his/her feelings, desires, whims and senses.

in hajj, one is trained to abstain from some things that are halal in other times so that he may reach a point where he/she habitually stays away from haram. we can see that not only is sexual intercourse forbidden, but what leads (to it as well as speaking without thought, argument, wearing that which is stitched, staying away from perfumes, removing hair, clipping nails, covering the head (for men), hunting, starting marital contracts, and other actions. all of the above mentioned actions place the muslim in front of a ritual that requires that he/she re­captures their control over every action. for instance, a husband or a wife is not allowed to look at their spouse to a point that arouses them.

a person running his hand through his hair has to be controlled to the point where it does not cause any hair to fall out. this empowers the human being to have control over desires, and unites the heart and the mind to direct all the actions and the feelings of the muslim. it makes staying away from desires habitual and exercising patience instinctive.

paying attention to details

in the regulations of hajj we find aspects that help the person to increase of his/her control over his/her feelings and desires. this is reflected in the orders of allah and the instructions of his prophet in terms of penalties for those who do or miss out some of those regulations. for example, the pilgrim who goes past the miqat without making ihram must offer a sacrifice; he who kisses a spouse must slaughter an animal too; he who foreplays with his wife without entry must slaughter an animal; and he who engages in sexual intercourse has spoiled the hajj, and he must give an extra offering.

these penalties will inhibit a lot of people from doing what they want to do. these are usually people who have no control over their desires or their actions except when they realize that there is a penalty associated with their actions.

no pilgrim, of course would commit these mistakes on purpose, eve though he can afford ffering the sacrifice. pilgrims willingly abide by the regulations of hajj as a means for getting closer to allah and out of love for doing what he commands them; but weaknesses in human nature may lead some of them to commit a mistake that entails a certain expiation.

when the pilgrims totally comply with the regulations of hajj, and resisthe various temptations that may be raised by their eyesight, tongue, feelings of the heart, [actions of] the hand and private parts, this would lead to raising their moral character. this is because the actions of these limbs are signs of either the elevation or deterioration of morals.

if one is trained from time to time to resist temptations and control his desires, the sources of good will spring out and become evident in his manners. how many a person who have noble aims, yet they fail to reach them because of their uncontrollable desires.

developing generosity in pilgrims

hajj also develops in the muslim the quality of generosity and giving. the pilgrims, happily, spend a lot of money in offering sacrifices, whether as part of hajj acts or as a means of expiating for committing a certain mistake during hajj. they do this for allah's sake in order to feed the poor and the needy, and give also their companions in travel. furthermore, it is one of the desirable acts of hajj to increase one's provision so that one may share it with his hajj partners and give others from it .

according to a respectable scholar, one of the benefits of hajj is to increase one's provisions and train oneself to give others, showing no miserliness or extravagance in this regard. however, mind that giving a lot to others is not a kind of extravagance. ibn `umar was quoted as saying that it is a sign of one's generosity to increase one's provisions during travel. it was also said that the accepted hajj is one in which there is kind treatment of others and much giving of good.

developing self-sufficiency

the regulations of hajj also develop in the pilgrims the characteristic of being not interested with what others have; whether food or other. in this concern, ibn `abbas was quoted as saying, "the people of yemen used to make hajj without taking provisions with them saying, 'we put all trust in allah [to provide us with whatever we need]' then, when they would come to makkah, they would ask the people for provision. hence, almighty allah revealed,

(whoever is minded to perform the pilgrimage therein (let him remember that) there is (to be) no lewdness nor abuse nor angry conversation on the pilgrimage. and whatsoever good ye do allah knoweth it. so make provision for yourselves (hereafter); for the best provision is to ward off evil. therefore keep your duty unto me, o men of understanding.‏) (al-baqarah 2: 197)

associated with this is also the instruction not to take debt to perform hajj. had this not been the case, many people who yearn for making hajj might have resorted to borrow so that they could make hajj, and consequently would have exposed themselves to humiliation by asking others for money.

considering others' feelings and interests

the rituals of hajj strengthens in the pilgrims also the value of considering others' feelings. for example, the pilgrim is required to make ghusl for entering into ihram, entering makkah, for tawaf, and standing at `arafah. minding that these are places where people come together in crowds, this ritual teaches them not to offend the feelings of others with a sweaty smell. so is also the case with the instruction of not jostling others when it comes to kissing the black stone and the importance of shaving the head if the pilgrim who has a scalp itch, for example, though the pilgrim is not allowed, in principle because of health issue, to shave his head.

considering the pilgrims' feelings is also shown in allowing them to ride during tawaf and sa`y if they find it difficult to perform these rituals while walking. the weak, children, women and old people are also given a dispensation not to stay at mina until sunrise; and to throw the stones before dawn [so that they avoid the over-crowdedness usually found at these times.

ibn `abbas was quoted as saying that the prophet said to al-`abbas on the night of muzdalifah, "take the weak and women among us and let them pray fajr at mina and throw the stones before the people get to them." (fath al-bari, vol. 3, p. 528)

consideration is also given to the financial interests of the merchant pilgrims. should a pilgrim miss a financial benefit owing to having to stay at mina all night long, he is allowed not to stay all that time. this is based on the hadith in which it is reported that the prophet permitted the camel-herders to spend the night outside of mina, and they threw the stones (once) on the day of sacrifice, and (once) for the following day and the day after that, and (once) on the day when they left mina.‏ (al-muwatta', vol. 1, p. 408)

should the muslims abide by these regulations and dispensations, they would be spared much of the harm and, sometimes some of their lives who are lost every year due to over-crowdedness, jostling one another, and insisting to throw the stones on one time [i.e., the forenoon on the 10th of zhul-hijjah].

developing the characteristic of mercy toward animals

the regulations of hajj also teach the pilgrims mercy toward animals. this is clearly shown in the prophet's instructions regarding the way animals offered in sacrifice should be slaughtered. the prophet, namely, said, in this regard:

"surely allah loves that things be done in the best way, so when you hunt, do it in the best way, and when you slaughter (animal), slaughter in the best way; i.e., let each of you sharpen his knife and put to rest the animal he offers in sacrifice." (al-bukhari)

hajj develops also the characteristic of self-respect

this is shown in the following example in which the prophet, while making tawaf, passed by a person who had tied his hand to another person's hand with a rope. the prophet (pbuh) cut that rope and said, "lead him by the hand." (al-bukhari)

mind, in this hadith, the prophet regarded the scene of leading a human being by a rope as a kind of humiliation and degradation of dignity. so he hurried to cut the rope and order the person in question to lead his companion by hand not as animals are usually led.

this hadith shows the clear refusal of all forms of indignifying the honor of human beings and treating them degradingly.

a journey of change

the hardships the pilgrims encounter, as shown in the high costs of the hajj journey, the change in the life routine of the pilgrims and the various exhausting means of transportation, etc., makes the hajj journey, though highly-desirable to the pilgrims, akin to a piece of torture. this is based upon a hadith in which the prophet was quoted as saying,

"travel is a piece of torture, for it disturbs one's sleep, eating and drinking. so, when you fulfill your purpose [behind traveling], you should hurry up to your family." (al-bukhari)

hence, the journey of hajj strengthens the muslim's confidence in his capabilities and perseverance so that he/she wakes to the serious tasks [required from him/her as vicegerent on earth and] observant of what people do, and thus he/she reaches excellence in all walks of life that are of benefit to him/her in both this world and the hereafter.

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