Hajj – A Journey of Love

He was Khaleelullah. And Allahﷻ loved him, so He tested him. In each test, by the help of Allahﷻ, he proved true to his Covenant with Allahﷻ. So, Allahﷻ gave him the job of building His House, the Ka’aba. Allahﷻ said:

وَإِذْ بَوَّأْنَا لِإِبْرَٰهِيمَ مَكَانَ ٱلْبَيْتِ أَن لَّا تُشْرِكْ بِى شَيْـًٔا وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِىَ لِلطَّآئِفِينَ وَٱلْقَآئِمِينَ وَٱلرُّكَّعِ ٱلسُّجُودِ

وَأَذِّن فِى ٱلنَّاسِ بِٱلْحَجِّ يَأْتُوكَ رِجَالًا وَعَلَىٰ كُلِّ ضَامِرٍ يَأْتِينَ مِن كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ

لِّيَشْهَدُوا۟ مَنَـٰفِعَ لَهُمْ وَيَذْكُرُوا۟ ٱسْمَ ٱللَّهِ فِىٓ أَيَّامٍ مَّعْلُومَـٰتٍ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّنۢ بَهِيمَةِ ٱلْأَنْعَـٰمِ فَكُلُوا۟ مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا۟ ٱلْبَآئِسَ ٱلْفَقِيرَ

Hajj 22: 26-7   And ˹remember˺ when We assigned to Ibrahim the site of the House, ˹saying˺ Do not associate anything with Me ˹in worship˺ and purify My House for those who circle ˹the Kabah˺, stand ˹in prayer˺, and bow and prostrate themselves. Call ˹all˺ people to the pilgrimage. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel from every distant path. So, they may obtain the benefits ˹in store˺ for them and pronounce the Name of Allah on appointed days over the sacrificial animals He has provided for them. So, eat their meat and feed the destitute (poor).

The Hajj is the story of Ibrahim (AS) and his family and the tests that they faced and passed. Allahﷻ loved this so much that He made their actions, the rites of the greatest act of worship, the reward for which is total forgiveness.

Allahﷻ made Hajj Fardh on all those who can afford it.

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِى بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِّلْعَـٰلَمِينَ

فِيهِ ءَايَـٰتٌۢ بَيِّنَـٰتٌ مَّقَامُ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ وَمَن دَخَلَهُۥ كَانَ ءَامِنًا وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ حِجُّ ٱلْبَيْتِ مَنِ ٱسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَنِىٌّ عَنِ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ

A’al Imraan 3: 96-97   Surely the first House ˹of worship˺ established for humanity is the one at Makkah—a blessed sanctuary and a guide for ˹all˺ people. In it are clear signs and the standing-place of Ibrahim. Whoever enters it should be safe. Pilgrimage to this House is an obligation by Allah upon whoever is able among the people. And whoever disbelieves, then surely Allah is not in need of ˹His˺ creation.

The reciting of Talbiya declares that we are ready to obey Allahﷻ without question, because we know Allahﷻ and love Him over anyone else. Then we don the Ihram. Men in two pieces of unstitched cloth, nothing else, to remind ourselves of our reality and how we will be dressed when we leave this world. Shorn of all our worldly symbols of wealth and status. This reminds us of the true brotherhood of faith in which the single adhesive is our connection with Allahﷻ. Everyone reciting the same Talbiya, everyone making the same declaration, everyone seeking the same goal, the Ridha of Allahﷻ. True brotherhood that transcends all boundaries of color, race, tribe, and social rank. It reminds us of how we will be gathered before Allahﷻ on a Day where everyone will get justice. We ask Allahﷻ for Mercy.

Then we go to the next stage of making Tawaf of the Ka’aba and praying in the place of Ibrahim (AS) which Allahﷻ made a place of worship. We follow in the footsteps of our mother, Hajar (AS), the wife of Ibrahim (AS) and emulate her actions of climbing the two hills of Safa and Marwa and running between them in the valley. She did it because she was looking for help for herself and her infant son. We do it because she did it. The actions of one woman became the rituals of worship, performed by every Haaji of every race, from every part of the world for five thousand years; by all the Prophets and Messengers, including Rasoolullahﷺ. These actions demonstrate the essence of Tawakkul of Hajar (AS). That Tawakkul doesn’t mean to do nothing and wait for victory. It means to make effort but to rely on Allahﷻ for the result. Our arms and legs and back are tired but the heart is at peace.

In Hajj Allahﷻ reminded us about the final and greatest test that Ibrahim (AS) and Ismail (AS) faced. One at an advanced age when he was finally blessed with a son that he had been asking Allahﷻ for, for decades. And the other as soon as he was old enough to walk with his father. Allahﷻ told us:

فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ مَعَهُ ٱلسَّعْىَ قَالَ يَـٰبُنَىَّ إِنِّىٓ أَرَىٰ فِى ٱلْمَنَامِ أَنِّىٓ أَذْبَحُكَ فَٱنظُرْ مَاذَا تَرَىٰ قَالَ يَـٰٓأَبَتِ ٱفْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ سَتَجِدُنِىٓ إِن شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ

Saffat 37: 102    Then when the boy reached the age to walk with him, Ibrahim said, “O my dear son! I have seen in a dream that I ˹must˺ sacrifice you. So, look (in your heart), what you see.” He replied, “O my dear father! Do as you are commanded. Allah willing, you will find me steadfast.”

I always marvel at this conversation between a 90-year-old father and his little son who is seeing his father for almost the first time. He was raised by his mother in an alien environment, among strangers who didn’t even speak their language. Yet when his father asks this question, see the answer of total submission that he gets. He was the son of the one about whom Allahﷻ said:

إِذْ قَالَ لَهُۥ رَبُّهُۥٓ أَسْلِمْ قَالَ أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ

Baqara 2: 131    When his Rabb ordered him, “Submit ˹to My Will˺, he responded, I submit to the Rabb of all worlds.”

وَنَـٰدَيْنَـٰهُ أَن يَـٰٓإِبْرَٰهِيمُ

قَدْ صَدَّقْتَ ٱلرُّءْيَآ إِنَّا كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِى ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ

إِنَّ هَـٰذَا لَهُوَ ٱلْبَلَـٰٓؤُا۟ ٱلْمُبِينُ

وَفَدَيْنَـٰهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ

وَتَرَكْنَا عَلَيْهِ فِى ٱلْـَٔاخِرِينَ

Baqara 103-109    Then when they submitted ˹to Allahs Will˺, and Ibrahim laid him on his forehead ˹for sacrifice˺, We called out to him, “O Ibrahim! You have already fulfilled the vision.” Indeed, this is how We reward the good doers. That was truly a revealing test. And We ransomed his son with a great sacrifice, and blessed Ibrahim ˹with honorable mention˺ among later generations.

In Hajj, we remind ourselves that we are enacting a way of life that is beloved to Allahﷻ. A life of obedience without question. In the journey of Hajj, we begin by reminding ourselves that one day we will meet Allahﷻ in the state that we came into this world, without any of whatever we accumulated. We relive the actions of the family that Allahﷻ praised for their obedience and honored them by turning their actions into rites of worship. Then we sacrifice the animal symbolizing our desires that are the root of our problems and emerge from this beautiful Ibaadah, clean as the day we were born.

We are in the blessed days of Dhul Hijja which Allahﷻ mentioned in the Qur’an and took an oath by them. Allahﷻ said:

 وَٱلْفَجْرِ- وَلَيَالٍ عَشْرٍ

Fajr 89: 1-2   By the dawn; by the ten nights

Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn al-Zubayr, Mujahid and others said that this refers to the first ten days of Dhul-Hijja. Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (RA) reported that Rasoolullahﷺ said: “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” In another place Ibn Abbas (RA) narrated; “There is no deed more precious in the sight of Allah, nor greater in reward, than a good deed done during the ten days of Sacrifice.” The people asked, “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said, “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause and came back with nothing.” (Bukhari).

Among the best deeds to be done during these days is fasting. Allahﷻ chose fasting for Himself, as is stated in the Hadith Qudsi: “Allah says: ‘All the deeds of the son of Adam are for him, except for fasting, which is for Me and I am the One Who will reward him for it.’” (Bukhari). It is Sunnah to fast on the 9th day of Dhul-Hijja and that is expiation of sins of the year before and after it. Rasoolullahﷺ used to fast all the first 9 days of Dhul-Hijja. Reviving aspects of the Sunnah that have been virtually forgotten brings immense reward, as Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Whoever revives an aspect of my Sunnah that is forgotten after my death, he will have a reward equivalent to that of the people who follow him, without it detracting in the least from their reward.” (Tirmidhi).

I remind myself and you to do more good deeds in these days. Don’t waste time in useless arguments and debate about moon sighting or anything else. Keeping hearts together and brotherhood intact is more important than winning arguments. We who have not gone for Hajj should occupy ourselves by worshipping Allahﷻ, praying (Nawafil after Fardh), making Dhikr, reading Qur’an, remembering Allahﷻ, making dua, giving charity, honoring parents, upholding the ties of kinship, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, and other good deeds and acts of worship.

One of the most important things to do during these ten days is to repent sincerely to Allahﷻ and to give up all kinds of disobedience and sin. Repentance means returning to obedience of Allahﷻ away from all that He dislikes with deep regret for what has passed, giving them up immediately and being determined never to return to them, but to adhere firmly to the Truth by doing what Allahﷻ loves. Let us purify our earnings and food because we don’t know when we will die. Fulfill the rights of others and return people’s trusts because Allahﷻ will not forgive the person until the one he wronged forgives him first. Seek forgiveness before it is too late.

 Finally, the best deed to do on Eid ul Adha or Yawm-un-Nahr, the Day of Sacrifice, is to sacrifice an animal for the sake of Allahﷻ. The sacrifice (Udhiya or Qurbani) is Wajib on anyone who is liable to pay Zakat, even if he became eligible on that day. The blessing (Baraka) is for their entire family. The time for sacrifice is after the Eid Salah and not before.

On the day of Eid, which is the 10th of Dhul Hijja, it is Mustahabb to bathe, wear good or new clothes and go to the place of prayer, reciting Takbir and to continue to do that until the Imam comes to start the prayer. Please do not pray Tahiyyatul Masjid when you come for Eid Salah. The Eid Salah has no Iqama and is followed by the Khutba of Eid which is very important to listen to. Please don’t get up as soon as the Salah is over, unless you have an emergency. Continue to remain seated and listen to the Khutba and make dua and then meet and greet your brothers and sisters before you go home.

May Allahﷻ grant us the Tawfeeq to do what pleases Him especially during these days and to continue that during the rest of our lives. Let this time be a time of transformation. Not a time of episodic action which reverts to the default when the time passes. May Allahﷻ ease the path of those who have gone for Hajj and honor them as His guests and make them our intercessors when they stand in Arafa and ask Allahﷻ for His Mercy. May Allahﷻ cover them with His Mercy and accept their duas and give more from His Bounty. May they be counted among those about whom Rasoolullahﷺ said:

Abdullah ibn Amr Ibn Al-A’as (RA) reported that Rasoolullah said, “Verily, Allah boasts to His angels of the pilgrims on the afternoon of the day of Arafat, saying: Look at My slaves, coming to Me disheveled and dusty! (Ahmad –Sahih)

May Allahﷻ grant us the opportunity and ability to make Hajj again and again.