The Role of Hajj in Strengthening Equality and Fraternity Among Mankind

“The Role of Hajj in Strengthening Equality and Fraternity Among Mankind

Al-Azhar Magazine – February 1971

Pilgrimage is a spiritual provision for the Muslim. It fill his soul with obedience, fear of God, repentance from sins, love for the memory of the struggle between right and wrong; and it reminds him of the overthrow of the idols and establishment of the worship of the One God. The pilgrimage fills his heart with the brotherly feeling because it bids him remember that all his brother Muslims are facing towards the same sacred spot; that he is one of a great company of believers; united by one Faith filled with the same hopes of reverencing the same things worshipping the same God. It moreover may be considered a world conference for all Muslims; a conference for all Muslims; a conference that is called for by God for the noble purposes. There around and inside the sacred House of “the land made safe” the Muslim meets his brothers in religion from all parts of the world.

The eyes of the whole Muslim would fixed on that central spot, keep alive in the bosom of each some spark of the Divine fire which lighted up the earth in that age of darkness. The Holy Quran says:

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيۡتٍ۬ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِى بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكً۬ا وَهُدً۬ى لِّلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ (٩٦) فِيهِ ءَايَـٰتُۢ بَيِّنَـٰتٌ۬ مَّقَامُ إِبۡرَٲهِيمَ‌ۖ وَمَن دَخَلَهُ ۥ كَانَ ءَامِنً۬ا‌ۗ وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ حِجُّ ٱلۡبَيۡتِ مَنِ ٱسۡتَطَاعَ إِلَيۡهِ سَبِيلاً۬‌ۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَنِىٌّ عَنِ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ (٩٧)

It means: “Lo! The first Sanctuary appointed for mankind was that at Becca, a blessed place, a guidance to the peoples; wherein are plain memorials (of Allah’s guidance); the place where Abraham stood up to pray; and whatsoever entereth it is safe. And pilgrimage to the House is a duty unto Allah for mankind, for him who can find a way thither.” (3: 96-97)

One of the major significances of the pilgrimage is that it reminds us of the fine example of the great prophet Ibrahim. There is much to know about this wonderful man who called ‘Khalil Allah’ (friend of Allah). His life was very long and spent in the service of his Lord. The faith which Ibrahim taught, the faith that Muhammed, the last of all prophets taught is the faith of the One God, Allah. Ibrahim was the father of the upright religion. As the Holy Quran says:

مَا كَانَ إِبۡرَٲهِيمُ يَہُودِيًّ۬ا وَلَا نَصۡرَانِيًّ۬ا وَلَـٰكِن كَانَ حَنِيفً۬ا مُّسۡلِمً۬ا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُشۡرِكِينَ

It means: “Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man who had surrendered to (Allah), and he was not of the idolaters.” (3:67)

To understand the true significance of the pilgrimage and the ‘Eid el Adha’ (the sacrificial feast which takes place on the 10thDhulHijja), we must recall Ibrahim’s life and his sacrifices. He showed us that we must submit to the Will of Allah, no matter what it may cost, and often this submission is a form of testing for us that we may prove ourselves in the process of strengthening our faith and character. From the very beginning, Ibrahim’s life was separated from others by hand of Allah. At his birth his mother had to hide in a cave to escape the soldiers of king ‘Nimrod’, who because of a certain, dream, had ordered the killing of all new born children who were male. When still a youth he had a great spiritual experience and which gave an indication of his future life.

He taught his people, infinite and transcendent, above and beyond limited, human comprehension. He is the All Kind, All Knowing, nobody is asked for help or mercy save him. He is the Creator of this Universe, and there is no creator but He, no partner to Him. He is the only One is distinguished by worship and He is Sole Cherisher of humankind. If one follows the logical and simple proofs set out by the prophet Ibrahim to his people then one comes up to the ultimate conclusion that from him spread out the eternally vibrant rays of Islam. No wonder that Ibrahim is linked to the Muslim nation with strong bonds. The Quran tells off many happening in Ibrahim’s life. One day Ibrahim asked his people: “What are these idols you worship? You are wrong in doing so”. They replied: “Our fathers did so, so do we”.

Once while he was walking to his father’s house the day gradually faded, night came and a star he said: ‘That is my Lord’. But when it set he said: “O I do not love things that set”. Then he saw the moon appeared and said: “That is my Lord who is the greatest of all”. But this also set and when it did so he said: “O my people: I am free from your idolatry. See, I turn my face to the Creator of heaven and earth”. After this there came a time when the people left the town and Ibrahim reminded behind, while they were gone he took an axe and went to the temple where the idols stood. Then he broke them into pieces and scattered them all except one large idol into whose hand he put the axe. When the people returned and saw what had happened in their temple they occurred Ibrahim, of the deed and questioned him saying: “Are you the man who did this to our gods?” Ibrahim people were confused and said: “Surely the largest of them has done this thing. Ask them if they are able to speak”. The people were confused and said: “You know well that they cannot speak”. Then Ibrahim replied: “Do you then, disregarding Allah, the Lord of the Universe, worship those things that cannot help or harm you? Shame on you and your worship at idols.” The people could not answer and were furious with him. As punishment they threw him into a furnace, but Allah protected him and he felt the fire completely unharmed.

Then the prophet Ibrahim had to make a supreme sacrifice. He was going to sacrifice his only son Ismail to his Lord who had put him to such a hard and severe test. In a dream he was commanded by Allah to sacrifice his son. When he told his son of his dream, he understood and told his father that he must do what he thought he had to do. Together they went to a certain place in the valley of ‘Mina’ and there prepared a place for sacrifice. When it was ready Ismail laid himself down on the altar and exposed his throat to his father’s knife. Ibrahim stood over his son, knife in hand, about to give the life of his beloved son. What courage and faith this father and son had, for this was no easy thing to do for either of them, for the one to take life of his son and for the other to submit himself to his father’s wish: both of them submitting to the Will of Allah. Just as Ibrahim’s knife was about to descent to his son’s throat he heard the bleating of a ram and suddenly saw the animal and Divine Voice commanded him: “This animal well be sacrificed and not your son”. Then taking the ram which had miraculously appeared obediently made a sacrifice to his Lord who had put him to this particular sacrifice.

It was this man and his son who rebuilt the first sanctuary on earth, the Ka’ba at Mecca. It is to this Holy place that all Muslims turn at the time of prayers and make their pilgrimage. It is something wonderful and unforgettable to gaze upon the Ka’ba, for there is concentrated the adoration of millions. The Ka’ba for there is concentrated the adoration of millions. The Ka’ba, for there is concentrated the adoration of millions. The Ka’ba is an inescapable part of the Islamic religion. Islam rejects all forms of idolatrous worship and the Ka’ba is but a holy place where man has worshipped Allah since the time of Adam, no more, no less.

There are many traditions and legends surrounding the Ka’ba and ‘Black Stone’ but it is accepted by all Muslims that the Ka’ba is the first sanctuary to be erected on earth and was rebuilt by Ibrahim and his son Ismail. The Black Stone is the only original stone left after many centuries and many reconstructions. Historical references to the Ka’ba is very limited before Islam, and only begins at the time of Muhammed (peace be upon him), when the Ka’ba was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt of stone and wood.

It is reported that when the time came to replace the Black Stone, the people of Mecca quarreled for the honor and so Muhammed, placing the stone in his Cloak, ordered the chifs to take each end and carry it, and he himself placed it in its position. Thanks to his wisdom, everyone was pleased and no one was offended. At that time Ka’ba became a place of heathen worship and when the prophet conquered Mecca there was found nearly 400 idols around the Ka’ba. All these were destroyed and the building then purified to become once more a place of true worship, all idolaters forbidden to enter Mecca. In the year 10th A.H. the Prophet led the first pilgrimage in which no idolater was present. At this time, the guardianship of the Ka’ba entrusted to Uthman and the BanuShaibahave retained this title until the present day.

The Ka’ba is a simple stone structure about fifty feet square which stands on a marble base in the middle of the great mosque of Mecca. In the eastern corner of the room is the Black Stone.

The four corners of the Ka’ba indicate the cardinal points of the compass. There is a very interesting view in Islamic cosmology which states that before the world was created the Ka’ba was a focus in the flux of pre-existence and that world has formed from this particular point.

Thus it becomes the navel of earth. Also in cosmography the Ka’ba corresponds with the polar star and as the latter is the highest point in the heavens, so the former is the highest point in the earth.

The following is the prayers of Ibrahim from the Holy Quran:

وَإِذۡ قَالَ إِبۡرَٲهِيمُ رَبِّ ٱجۡعَلۡ هَـٰذَا ٱلۡبَلَدَ ءَامِنً۬ا وَٱجۡنُبۡنِى وَبَنِىَّ أَن نَّعۡبُدَ ٱلۡأَصۡنَامَ (٣٥) رَبِّ إِنَّہُنَّ أَضۡلَلۡنَ كَثِيرً۬ا مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ‌ۖ فَمَن تَبِعَنِى فَإِنَّهُ ۥ مِنِّى‌ۖ وَمَنۡ عَصَانِى فَإِنَّكَ غَفُورٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬ (٣٦) رَّبَّنَآ إِنِّىٓ أَسۡكَنتُ مِن ذُرِّيَّتِى بِوَادٍ غَيۡرِ ذِى زَرۡعٍ عِندَ بَيۡتِكَ ٱلۡمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُواْ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ فَٱجۡعَلۡ أَفۡـِٔدَةً۬ مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ تَہۡوِىٓ إِلَيۡہِمۡ وَٱرۡزُقۡهُم مِّنَ ٱلثَّمَرَٲتِ لَعَلَّهُمۡ يَشۡكُرُونَ (٣٧)

It means: “When Abraham said: My Lord: make safe this territory and preserve me and my son from serving idols. My Lord! Lo! They have led many of mankind astray. But whose followeth me, he verily is of me. And whose disobeyeth me still Thou art Forgiving, Merciful. Our Lord! Lo! I have settled some of my posterity in an uncultivable valley near unto Thy Holy House. Our Lord! That they may establish proper worship; so incline some hearts of men that they may yearn toward them; and provide Thou them with fruits in order that they be thankful”. (14: 35-37)

In the conference of pilgrimage Muslims meet in the service of God exchanging ideas, investigating their problems and strengthening the bands of fraternity and unity. The pilgrimage also adds to man’s knowledge and experience. Differences of color, race and nationality are leveled off and real bond among them is sincere brotherhood.