What Is Hajj?
The pilgrimage (Hajj) is
1) One of the most important pillars of Islam.
2) A principal means of obtaining proximity to the Almighty.
3) One of the most difficult physical forms of worship.
4) So, vital that one who does not perform Hajj will be barred from Heaven.
The main aim of human creation is to recognize God and attain a stage of acquaintance and love for Him and this depends on the purity and loftiness of the human soul. i.e. The purer the soul becomes the more love will it have for the Almighty.
This stage of love can be attained by abstaining from desires and refraining from worldly pleasures and distractions, and by exerting oneself in the rigorous self-training activities for the sake of God, and, remembering him continuously. For this purpose, the Almighty has legislated certain forms of worship (Ibadat).
a) Those involving the expenditure of wealth for His sake e.g. Zakat and Khums which serve to sever the deep attachments to worldly possessions.
b) Those involving abstinence from desires and pleasures e.g. fasting.
c) Those related to His remembrance and diverting total attention towards Him e.g. Salat/Namaaz.
But Hajj involves all these and more, such as
i) Leaving one’s hometown.
ii) Physical exertion.
iii) Expenditure of wealth.
iv) Renewal of the covenant with God.
v) Circumambulation (Tawaaf).
vi) Supplication (Dua).
vii) Prayers (Salat/Namaaz).
And others like throwing pebbles, running between Safaa and Marwah, etc.
Those who wonder at these actions do not realize that when we do not know the hidden meanings and reason of certain commands, we manifest more complete obedience and total submission to the Absolute Master in carrying out those orders. Those actions whose secrets we have been successful in understanding, our soul, besides obeying the Master’s commands, is also inclined and pleased in performing them. Thus, it is only for Hajj that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said, “O Almighty, I have responded to your call for Hajj with complete submission and humility.”
Furthermore, the Hajj constitutes the congregation of people from all parts of the world, in the place where revelation was repeatedly sent down to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), where the beloved (Khaleel) of God resided, where angles used to descend every now and then. In fact, it is the holy place, which has been the abode of the majority of the Prophets.
Here the leader of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) was born, his holy feet walked, and the Almighty has chosen it for His house so that people should pray towards it. He has sanctified its surroundings and has kept Arafah at the beginning of the Holy Land. He has prohibited hurting animals and uprooting vegetation therein as a mark of respect to the holiness of the land. He has designed it to be like the throne of Kings so that visitors from far-off lands, disheveled and dusty, should remain there in humility to the Absolute Monarch realizing the fact that He is above all needs of time and space. While such a congregation leads to new acquaintances, meeting with virtuous personalities, and stimulates a quicker response to supplications (Dua), it invariably reminds of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and his efforts at spreading the Word of God. In this way, one attains the purity of the soul.
The intention for Hajj
1. The intention (Niyyah) must be pure and sincere for the sake of God only, but not for any other worldly motives, such as,
1) Showing off (Riyaa).
2) Avoiding rebukes for not performing Hajj.
3) Fear of poverty for it is known that one who does not perform Hajj is afflicted with poverty.
4) Business prospects, etc.
All these other motives destroy the sincerity (Ikhlaas) of the deeds and deprive one of the promised rewards. It is foolish to undertake all this rigor and expense only to end up in Damnation because the motive was adulterated.
2. One should sincerely repent of past sins and clear all the dues, (Huquq-un-Naas), and cleanse himself of all distractions so that the mind is easily turned towards God. One should write his will and prepare for the journey to the Hereafter as he leaves his house, relatives, friends, and possessions behind.
3. One should remember the majesty of the House and the Absolute Owner, and that one has chosen to leave family, friends, and possessions for the lofty and noble purpose of visiting a House, which the Almighty has designed as a sanctuary for all people. Hence this journey differs from all other worldly journeys. The pilgrim is one of those who have responded willingly to the invitation made by the Almighty’s messenger.
4. The pilgrim should free himself of all matters, which tend to worry him so his total attention is towards the Almighty.
5. Any financial loss or physical affliction in this journey should be greeted happily, for, it is a sign of acceptance of Hajj.
6. The Pilgrim should ensure his earnings are acquired through lawful means and he should be liberal in expenditure, not extravagant (Israaf) though. But spending for the needy and deserving is not extravagance as it has been reported that there is no goodness in extravagance and no extravagance in goodness!
7. He should behave courteously towards his fellow travelers, smiling and talking gently with them, avoiding harsh words, abuses, or vain talk. He should be humble to the other guests of the Almighty. Magnanimity does not only mean not to hurt others but also to endure when others hurt.
8. He should be disheveled and dusty, avoid cosmetics or any cause of pride and beauty, and if possible, travel on foot, especially from Makkah to Mina, Masher, and Arafah, not as a means to avoid extra expenses (in which case, transport is better!) rather for exerting oneself for the sake of God, except if it affects other worship (Ibadat) or supplication (Dua).