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The obligatory Hajj pilgrimage



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By M. M. AFZAL CADER


It is compulsory for every Muslim to make at least one journey in their lifetime to perform Hajj if they can afford it both physically and financially.


Hajj pilgrimage is performed by millions of Muslims from around the world at the holy city Makkah –Saudi Arabia, chanting Labayk Allahuma Labayk,La shareeka laka Labayk. Innal hamda wannimata laka wal mulk.La shareeka Lak ( meaning: Here I am at your service at your service, oh ALLAH, here I am here I am. No partner do you have.Here I am.Truly,the praise and the favour are yours,and the dominion.No partner do you have.) .


Hajj is considered as one of the five "Pillars’of Islam, The Holy Quran reveals that this is the highest point of their serving to God (Almighty ALLAH).


"Hajj Al Mabrur" means a Hajj that is done solely for the sake of ALLAH and it is accepted by ALLAH.


This pilgrimage takes place from the 8th to 12th day of the month Zul Hajj , which is the last month of the Islamic Calander.


The teachings of Hajj are very significant to a Muslim’s daily life.


It is a act of worship just like Salath the five times daily prayers, Fasting in the month of Ramazan etc.


The Hajj is associated with the life of our Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH from the 7th century,but the ritual of Pilgrimage to Makkah is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years during the time of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham).


People arrive from every corner of the globe, of all nationalities, ages and colours, they come together for the largest religious gathering.


About 2000 CCTV cameras are installed in the Holy Mosque to monitor the large crowd which will be filled to capacity during the this period.


According to the Saudi Immigration about Two and a half to three million pilgrims participated in this pilgrimage last year, and was supposed to be the record high gathering at the Holy Kaaba in Makkah .


The extension programme of the Masjid al Haram the Grand mosque and surrounding areas of the holy Kaaba is in progress, and inshaalah this project is to be completed in a few years time.


When the expansion project is completed the accommodation of pilgrims will be much more.The Saudi government is making all efforts to accommodate more pilgrims for future occasion with the constructionof more star class hotels and apartments for the overnight stayovers.


According to the Quran and Hadees Almighty ALLAH ordered Prophet Ibrahim to leave his wife Hajara and his infant son Ismail(Ishmael) alone in the desert at Makkah.This is what ALLAH almighty says in the Holy Quran that every inch of this land testifies to the fact that ALLAH never destroys those who offer sacrifices.While Prophet Ibrahim was away the infant son Ismail became thirsty, and Hajara ran back and forth seven times in the hills of Safa and Marwah searching for water for her son.The baby was crying and suddenly hit the ground with his foot and the water miraculously sprang forth.This Holy water is today called the well of Zam zam. Since then this holy water was used for drinking, and now it is consumed in gallons by all the pilgrims who visit the Kaaba. During Prophet Ibrahim’s time the Kaaba was surrounded by idols of each tribe,all these were destroyed by Ibrahim, because idol worshipping was prohibited in Islam.


And later the time of our beloved Prophet Muhammaed PBUH, he regularly performed the Umrah, even before he began receiving revelations.


In 631 CE Muhammad PBUH led his followers from Madinah to Makkah,it was the first Hajj to be performed by Muslims alone,and the only Hajj ever performed by Muhammad PBUH. He cleansed the Kaaba,destroyed the balance idols which were left behind during the time of Ibrahim,and re-ordained the building as the house of ALLAH. It was from this point that Hajj became one of the pillars of Islam. Therefore every year pilgrims follow the rituals of Prophet Muhammad PBUH.


Pilgrims generally travel to Hajj in groups,as an expression of unity.


Upon arrival in Makkah a pilgrim will be called a Hajji.Perfoming the series of rituals, the Male pilgrims are required to dress only in the Ihram, a garment consisting of two sheets of white unhemmed cloth,with the top draped over the torso and the bottom secured by a white sash,plus a pair of sandals.Women’s Ihram are simply required to wear their hijab(white), which does not cover the hands or face. Ihram is meant to show equality of all pilgrims in the eyes of ALLAH that there is no difference between a king and a pauper. On arrival at Makkah the Hajjees perform a series of ritual acts symbolic of lives of prophet Ibrahim and his wife Hajara.


On the 8th day of Zul Hajj the pilgrims leave Makkah for a nearby town of Mina where they spend the rest of the day.Here the Saudi Government has put up thousands of large white tents, to provide accommodation for all the pilgrims where they spend the night in prayer.


On the next day (9th day) the pilgrims leave Mina for Mt.Arafat where they stand in vigil and pray and recite the Holy Quran near the hill called Jabal Al Rahmah ( The hill of forgiveness).This is where the Prophet Muhammad PBUH gave his last sermon,and this is the very important aspect of Hajj and is is a gathering of humanity in one place,at one time. A pilgrim’s Hajj is considered invalid if they do not spend the afternoon at Arafath.As soon as sunsets,the pilgrims leave Arafath for Muzdalifa, a place between Arafath and Mina, where they collect pebbles for the next days stoning of the Devil(Shaitan).Many pilgrims spend the night sleeping on the ground or back at their tents at Muzdalifa.Next day early morning after dawn (fajr) prayers the pilgrims return to Mina and perform the throwing of pebbles(stones) to signify their defiance of the Devil.This symbolizes the trials experienced by Prophet Ibrahim while he decided whether to sacrifice his son Ismaeel as demanded by Almighty ALLAH.The devil challenged him three times and Ibrahim refused.And now each pillar marks the location of one of these refusals.All the three pillars are stoned by every pilgrim during the rituals.After the stoning of the devil the pilgrims perform the Qurban(animal sacrifies) to symbolize ALLAH having mercy on Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, and miraculously replacing with a lamb,which Ibrahim later sacrificed.


The following day (10thday) the pilgrims revisit the Masjid Al Haram Mosque in Makkah and perform another Tawaf(to walk around the Kaaba),and this is called Tawaf al Ifadah,and afterwards return back to Mina,where the night is spent.


The 11thday after the noon prayers the pilgrims revisit the 3 pillars to perform the stoning rituals,seven pebbles at each of the jamrat.


Following day 12th day the pilgrims get prepared to leave Mina to Makkah before sunset.


On arrival at Makkah the pilgrims perform the farewell tawaf(walking arround the Kaaba)which is called the Tawaf Al Wida.


The Hajjees in batches leave for Madinah Al Munawarh, the Mosque of our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH ,which contains the tomb of the Prophet. This is also a very important aspect for every Muslim, that is to visit this Mosque and the sacred shrine.Later the pilgrims visit the graves of the companions of the Prophet,and his family members which are in the surroundings of the Mosque in Madinah at Janathul Baqi.


Inshallah May Almighty ALLAH invite us to perform Hajj at his sacred House,and also visit the Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH Mosque at Madina during the coming years.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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