The Abrahamic Hajj (1)
As you know the sacred month of Zil-Hijjah has started.
It is the month in which God has decreed the Hajj pilgrimage to His Symbolic House, the holy Ka’ba in Mecca, for those who have the financial means to afford the journey and are in sound health to perform the rituals. Thus, this year also devotees from all over the world have converged on the Land of Divine Revelation, Hijaz, to perform the annual Hajj, which provides a beautiful example of university in diversity of the Ummah which is made up of Muslims from all over the world, speaking different languages, having different colour of skin, of different features, and of different ethnicities, as well as various strata of society. The unifying factor for humanity is undoubtedly monotheism that reflects the power, glory, and unity of Muslims.
The following is the first episode of an interesting series on this occasion titled: The Abrahamic Hajj.
Prophet Abraham (PuH) has a special place among the prophets, to the extent that God Almighty has expressed his name 69 times in the holy Qur'an spread over 25 Surahs and has highlighted his outstanding merits by introducing them as the salient features that Muslims and monotheists should follow. And on the commandment of God Almighty, Abraham, along with his firstborn son, Ishmael formalized and institutionalized the annual Hajj after rebuilding the holy Ka’ba, the first ever structure built on Planet Earth by the Father of the human race, Adam, and which was ruined during the great deluged that submerged most of the world in the days of Prophet Noah (peace upon them).
He was commanded to announce the performance of the Hajj in the wilderness of the then remote town of Mecca, and when he asked God that who will hear his voice, he was told that even those who are yet to be born till the end times, and who will answer his call.
His call thus ricocheting the mountains of Mecca echoed around the world and penetrated the layers of time, from which came voices of the faithful, unheard by normal human ears, Labbaika, Allahumma Labbaik. It means “here I am O Lord, here I am”.
"Labbaika Allahumma Labbaik, Labbakia La sharika laka Labbaik. Innah hamda wan ne’mata laka wa’l-mulk.La Sharika lak"
What you heard was the “Talabiyya” which the pilgrims recite while performing the Hajj rituals. When translated from Arabic into English, it means: “Here I am my Lord. Here I am. Here I am. You have no partner. Here I am. Indeed the praise, grace, and the kingdom are for You. You have no partner.”
These are the words of monotheism chanted by millions of pilgrims coming from all over the world to Mecca, of different ethnicities, and speaking different languages. But this superficial diversity, there is unity of purpose and goal for the faithful who join each other to move towards a single sacred spot, as if pulled by a magnet. This is what the Last and the Greatest Messenger of God, Abraham’s illustrious descendant, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny), has taught the Muslims by reviving the rituals which by the command of God, his Iconoclast ancestor had conveyed to humanity. It is a call that emanates from the depth of the hearts of the believers responding to Allah's call.
Among all acts of worship, the Hajj enjoys a special status. It is one of the pillars of Islam and it is among the most glorious manifestations and symbols of Islam. The Hajj pilgrimage is held in Mecca in the month of Zil-Hijjah and its specified days, and at the specified spots, whereas the other acts of worship can be performed anywhere. The Hajj instills in us the characteristics of faith, resolve, patience, endurance, selflessness and devotion for attaining proximity to God the Almighty Creator. While performing the Hajj, the pilgrims unshackle all chains of attachment to the world and its pleasures. What matters is the proper cognition of God, and this could be achieved by developing the true cognition of one’s own self. The Hajj is indeed a spiritual journey, which has its own unique conditions. The pilgrim should first make the sincere intention of undertaking the Hajj pilgrimage solely for the sake of God through repentance and imploring forgiveness for the sins committed. Another condition is to repay the loans and restore to the owners, if property has been seized from them. The Khoms and Zakat that are due and pending, ought to be paid. We come across many hadith where it is said that God might forgive the violation of His rights, but will not forgive the violation of the rights of others, unless that person who has been wronged first forgives. Thus, the means of the Hajj journey should be procured through legal and lawful means.
In Surah Ma’edah, ayah 97, the holy Qur’an says:
“Allah has made the Ka’ba, the Sacred House, a [means of] sustentation for mankind”
This ayah refers to the gathering of Muslims from all over the world in one place, regardless of the colour of skin, ethnicity, language spoken, or social ranks. It is a chance to get familiar with the problems of each other, and to exchange views on commerce, cultures, technology, and politics. The Hajj and its rituals thus create social amity and solidarity among Muslims, and there is no difference between the rich and the poor. According to the holy Qur’an, eligibility for performing the Hajj, and of assuming responsibility for custodianship of the holy Ka’ba, is of prime importance. God warns the incompetent in ayah 34 of Surah Anfaal:
"Its custodians are only the Godwary, but most of them do not know."
The Hajj pilgrimage is indeed a grand display of unity in diversity. Thus, once the Hajj pilgrimage becomes a factor of unity and understanding, it removes distances and brings hearts closer to each other. In other words, the spirit of Hajj ought to create profound development not only for an individual but also for the social life of Muslim communities. The Hajj pilgrimage is a collective or mass form of worship, for; it is the Will of God to inculcate consciousness amongst Muslims through it. The pilgrims to the House of God can benefit from the various aspects of the Hajj, since this grand pilgrimage benefits the whole Muslim world.
In this regard, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, has said: “The Abrahamic Hajj is the same as the Mohammadi Hajj, in which the movement toward unity is the essence of all ceremonies and rituals. The Abrahamic Hajj inspires Muslims to set aside differences by solidifying their ranks through circumambulating the holy Ka’ba, the pivot of monotheism that negates all forms of polytheist and atheist tendencies. In short, the Hajj purifies the pilgrims and provides opportunity for rejuvenation of the life of the Ummah, if the rituals are properly observed in the genuine Abrahamic and Mohammadi manner.”