Categorized | Holidays & Occurrences

Hajj and Spiritual Enhancement

Posted on 26 November 2009 by .

In this statement of prayer made by Muhammad, God’s Messenger, there is an overflowing offering of the self in the presence of God. To sincerely acknowledge the Almighty as Provider and Maintainer, Creator and Supreme Lord, is to realize and affirm one’s reason for existence—to live in the humble servitude of God. There is no meaning in existence, if the presence of God is denied and rejected. Life is not simply a time of merriment and pleasure, where nothing matters except the prevalence of human desires and wants.

According to tradition, via a series of dreams, Prophet Ibrahim was asked to sacrifice his son, Ismail. (In Jewish and Christian thought, Isaac was the recipient of this command.) Though extremely difficult, he complied; and at the final moment a ram was divinely substituted. In commemoration of this remarkable event, Muslims make the pilgrimage to the sacred Ka`ba, the House of God, the sanctified shrine to remember God which had been built by Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail (Ishmael).

According to tradition, via a series of dreams, Prophet Ibrahim was asked to sacrifice his son, Ismail. (In Jewish and Christian thought, Isaac was the recipient of this command.) Though extremely difficult, he complied; and at the final moment a ram was divinely substituted. In commemoration of this remarkable event, Muslims make the pilgrimage to the sacred Ka`ba, the House of God, the sanctified shrine to remember God which had been built by Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail (Ishmael).

 In fact, life is a time of responsibility and obligations, a time when the sacred “trust” is completed and the obligation for the devoted service to God is fulfilled. In this context, Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) is a good paragon for representing pristine human obedience and devotion in the fulfillment of God’s commandments.

 According to tradition, via a series of dreams, Prophet Ibrahim was asked to sacrifice his son, Ismail. (In Jewish and Christian thought, Isaac was the recipient of this command.) Though extremely difficult, he complied; and at the final moment a ram was divinely substituted. In commemoration of this remarkable event, Muslims make the pilgrimage to the sacred Ka`ba, the House of God, the sanctified shrine to remember God which had been built by Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail (Ishmael).

There is much merit and limitless blessings associated with the pilgrimage or hajj. The Prophet stated that: “If anyone performs the pilgrimage for God’s sake without talking immodestly or acting wickedly, he will return [pure] as on the day his mother bore him.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

As an important practice of faith, it becomes essential for all Muslims to be able to complete the hajj at least once during their lives. According to the Prophet: “The pilgrimage should be performed once, and if anyone does it more often, he performs a supererogatory act.” (Ahmad, Nasa’i, Darimi) The question arises regarding those who cannot for some reason complete this important practice.

In a narrative from Ibn Abbas, the merit of the pilgrimage can be passed to someone who cannot perform it when another person fulfills the requirements instead. Thus, “A woman of the tribe of Khatham asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah! The ordinance regarding the pilgrimage made obligatory by Allah for his servants found my father a very old man unable to sit firmly on a riding camel, shall I perform a pilgrimage on his behalf?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ And this happened in the Farewell Pilgrimage.”

On another occasion, Ibn Abbas told of a person who came to the Prophet and stated that his sister had taken a vow to make the pilgrimage, but had died. The Prophet asked whether he would pay a debt, supposing she owed one, and when he replied that he would, he said, “Well pay the debt due to God, for it is the one which most deserves to be paid.” (Bukhari and Muslim) 

As for the actual etiquette of the both genders performing the pilgrimage simultaneously, the hadith narratives again provide directives. According to the following tradition, “Ibn Juraij reported that when Ibn Hisham forbade women making circuits along with men, `Ata said: ‘do you forbid them, while the wives of the Prophet made circuits along with men?’ I said, ‘Was it after the verses related to the curtain [were revealed] or before?’ He said, ‘By my life! I found this after the curtain verses.’ I said, ‘How did men mix with them?’ He said,’They did not mix with them; A’isha used to make circuits remaining aside from the men, not mixing with them; … but when they intended to go into the Sacred House, they stopped before entering it till the men were turned out.’” (Bukhari)

The practice of both genders to simultaneously perform this ritual, consolidates the idea that in Islam all people have equal dignity, prestige and respect. One gender is not more superior to another. Despite biological differences, spiritual obligations are the same. Hence as directed with wisdom by the Prophet, men and women were to acknowledge the presence of God as a unified community, with equality and harmony.

The sacred Ka`ba, is a gift to be cherished and respected by all Muslims, and commemoration of the ultimate sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim is formally concluded with the Hajj. The actual existential fulfillment of this sacrifice by all Muslims is to be of service to the creation of God– and willingness to make the peaceful sacrifice of time, resources and energy. With Eid al-Adha we celebrate the human destiny to truly live when we bequeath in peace.

Dr_habibah 

 Author: Dr. Habibeh Rahim is the Professor of Religion at St. John University.

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