Manners Befitting Pilgrims

elaborating on acts of worship, many people tend to interpret the juristic aspect of these acts as being dissociated from the ritual and spiritual aspect. as a result, their acts of worship appear as if they were spiritless practices. hence, they seem to belong more to habitual movements than to worshipful acts. this is despite the fact that the acts of worship constitute performances ordained by almighty allah as a means whereby the servants can draw closer to their lord.

besides, every act of worship, when performed, must fulfill an aspect of people's servitude to their lord, with the understanding that worship is devoted by the worshipper to the worshipped: allah. accordingly, hajj is an obligation that represents an act of worship whose rituals must be rightly observed by muslims, who, on their part, must couple the performance of it with good manners.

worship and good manners

it is worth noting that in the noble qur'an almighty allah associates the acts of worship with the ethics and manners assumed by those who perform them. he, for instance, links the obligation of hajj to good manners and ethics. speaking about hajj, almighty allah says,

(that [is the command], and [for] whoever respects the sacred ordinances of allah, it is better for him with his lord. and the cattle are made lawful for you, except that which is recited to you; therefore, avoid the uncleanness of the idols and avoid false words.) (al-hajj 22:30)

so, almighty allah has forbidden the worship of idols and the utterance of false statements, and has linked both forbidden acts together.

other prohibitions are also stressed in the following verse:

[the hajj is [performed in] the well-known months, so [for] whoever determines the performance of the hajj therein, there shall be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the hajj.] (al-baqarah 2:197)

moreover, prophet muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said,

"cursing a muslim is a sin, and killing him is [tantamount to] disbelief." (al-bukhari and muslim)

thus, almighty allah commands the pilgrims to avoid sexual intercourse, foreplay, and erotic talk with their spouses, as well as cursing, lewdness, and unjust disputes. this is meant to purify the believers and protect them from any stains that could taint their hearts, through polytheism, or their tongues, through cursing and wrangling. these sins have a negative impact on the heart. after prohibiting these sinful acts, almighty allah says in the same verse,

[and whatever good you do, [be sure] allah knows it. and take a provision [with you for the journey], but the best provision is piety, so fear me, o men of understanding.] (al-baqarah 2:197)

hence, a believer's heart is purified when her or she avoids such evils. as a result, his or her piety increases, and this is the best provision to be taken.

some exegetes of the noble qur'an hold that the phrase (nor wrangling in the hajj) refers to contention, for it is impermissible to stoop to contention in the places where hajj is performed. other exegetes take it to indicate argument. still, a third group interprets it as meaning anger. however, it could indicate all forms of evil interaction with others.

it becomes clear from the foregoing argument that hajj involves good treatment of others as one of its desired outcomes: a muslim who is careful to observe good manners during the performance of hajj will most probably adhere to them after the fulfillment of this obligation. indeed, one of the sweetest fruits of hajj is good manners.

the prophet during hajj

prophet muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) used to teach his companions good manners during hajj, just as he would teach them legal rulings and jurisprudence. it is reported that asmaa' bint abu bakr said,

we went for hajj with the prophet (peace and blessing be upon him), and when we reached a place called `arj, the prophet stopped, and so did we. `a'ishah sat by the prophet, and i sat next to abu bakr. the victuals were with a servant of abu bakr, and he sat down waiting for his servant. afterward, the servant came walking on foot, and had no camel with him. when abu bakr asked him about his camel, the servant replied, "i lost it yesterday." at this, abu bakr got angry and said to him, "you had only one camel [to look after] and you lost it?" and he beat him. thereupon, the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) smiled and said, "look at this muhrim [pilgrim in a state of consecration] and what he is doing!"

(abu dawud)

as clearly indicated in this hadith, the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) disliked beating the servants, especially during hajj, for pilgrims are required to assimilate the spirit and atmosphere of this noble obligation and to refrain from all acts that could undermine their piety and good character. in doing so, they will surely advance to a higher degree.

in light of the prophetic instruction given in the above hadith, it is necessary to shed light here on some misbehaviors assumed by pilgrims during hajj.

jostling during tawaf

during tawaf (circumambulation of the ka`bah), roughly shoving women and aged people, which may result in their falling down, is among the misbehaviors committed by some pilgrims as they seek to get closer to the ka`bah and hold on to its curtains. there is indeed nothing wrong with getting close to the ka`bah or holding on to its curtains; it stimulates the feelings of affection and yearning and reveals one's devotion and dedication to almighty allah in his sacred house.

however, such eager desire to attain such closeness and to grapple the curtains of the ka`bah should not come at the expense of the safety of people. getting closer to the ka`bah and grappling its curtains is a commendable act, whereas harming people is religiously prohibited, not to mention that it suppresses the spirit of tawaf as a ritual. avoiding jostling will allow the pilgrims to heartily and spiritually taste the ritual of tawaf and feel its fruits in their hearts.

hustling to kiss the black stone

among the misbehaviors that are manifest during tawaf is people's insistence to reach the black stone and kiss it, instead of only touching or pointing to it. in their attempt to do so, some people pass out because of the rough shoving. i saw with my own eyes a person clutching the black stone and kissing it roughly for a long time. being youthful myself, i managed to get near to him, and i addressed him, saying, "my dear brother, you have already kissed the stone, so leave it so that other people may do the same." he loudly retorted, "go away! i now care about none but myself." thus, i forsook the attempt to kiss the stone and went on to circumambulate the house, content with merely pointing to the stone, as this is sufficient and fulfils the obligation, according to jurists. one can observe the ritual of kissing the stone at any convenient time, such as the time before or after dawn.

jostling while throwing the pebbles

another misbehavior that people persistently commit is the convulsive throwing of pebbles as if they were actually throwing the pebbles at satan. throwing the pebbles is nothing but a symbolic ritual of subjugating the devil. yet, such subjugation does not occur through convulsion or violent jostling, which can at a moment cause the death of some people. hence, we can resort to the juristic opinion that it is permissible for pilgrims — especially women and children — to depute other people to throw the pebbles on their behalf. besides, the time appointed for throwing the pebbles can be extended, contrary to the opinion of the majority of scholars, who hold that throwing the pebbles in the three days is to be performed after az-zawal (noon).

however, the hanafi scholars — along with some other contemporary scholars like al-ghazali, al-qaradawi, ibn jibrin, and others — deem it permissible to throw the pebbles before az-zawal, so as to make things easy for people.

standing on `arafah

among the common practices that clearly contradict the morals of islam is what some pilgrims do while standing on `arafah, like smoking different kinds of tobacco and frequently jesting with others using the hands. given that "hajj is `arafah," as prophet muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, pilgrims standing on `arafah should engage in many good deeds, such as remembering allah and imploring and entreating him; they should eschew all sinful acts.

a pilgrim should deal with others mercifully, kindly, caringly, and graciously. in doing so, he or she can hope that his or her hajj will be accepted by almighty allah, lord of all the worlds. in this way, the fruits of hajj can be truly reaped. the prophet is reported to have said, "whoever performs hajj without indulging in lewdness or abuse returns [from hajj] as free from sins as they were on the day they were born" (al-bukhari).

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