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Hajj & Hope*

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Hajj & Hope*

By: Br. Sadullah Khan

Many of those intending pilgrimage this year are about to embark on that life-enhancing journey to hajj, that largest annual convention of faith; where millions of Muslims gather in the holy land, merging as streams of devotees from every corner of the earth to become part of the sea of Believers, spiritually swirling in human waves around the Ka'bah in tawaaf.

Each individual pilgrim is a drop in that ocean; an ocean that knows no barrier of race, nor language, color, gender, age or time. The Hajj ...

demonstrates universal Islamic fraternity
acquaints pilgrims with historical and spiritual environment of Prophet Ibrahim (Alaihis-salam), Hajirah, Prophets Isma'il and Muhammad (sall'Allahu alaihi wa sallam)
re-enacts fundamental aspects of our history
reminds of the ‘Grand Assembly' on the Day of Judgment
Hajj, Family and Future

Abraham (Alaihis-salam) was the first to

"announce the pilgrimage" [Qur'an 22:27], while most hajj rites also focus on Abraham (Alaihis-salam) and his family. Ibrahim (Alaihis-salam), Hajirah and Isma'il, played a major role in the re-establishment of tawhid/monotheism in Makkah and much of the annual pilgrimage/hajj undertaken by believers are symbolic re-enactments of significant phases in their life; and this include the tawaaf (circumambulation of the Ka'bah), the sa'iy (running between the hills of Safa and Marwa), the udhiyah (sacrifice of animals).

The story of Prophet Ibrahim (Alaihis-salam), Hajar and Isma'il is about..

- the establishment of tawhid
- the struggle of a family to survive
- about community, about the hope, about preparation for future generations

This family in that wadi ghayri dhi dhar'in ‘ind baytikal muharram / "barren valley near the sacred house" [Q14:37] established the foundation of sound belief for the ideological guidance of generations to come; as a well as the blessing of the well of zamzam which is a source of life and living, a source of hope for generations to this day and beyond. We send salutation on Prophet Ibrahim (Alaihis-salam) and the family as we send salutation on Prophet Muhammad (sall'Allahu alaihi wa sallam) and his family.

Rituals and Beyond

The performance of prescribed rites (manaasik), at specified times, at particular places in a recommended manner is aimed at reflecting a wholesome demonstration of Muslim brotherhood and sisterhood. It familiarizes the pilgrim with the historic, spiritual and physical environment of Adam and Hawa/Eve, of Ibrahim (Alaihis-salam), Isma'il and Hajirah and of Prophet Muhammad (sall'Allahu alaihi wa sallam). By re-enacting some of the significant elements/moments/aspects of the best of our history (Hajirah's running in search for water, Prophet Ibrahim (Alaihis-salam)'s preparedness to sacrifice his willing and obedient son Isma'il or Abraham (Alaihis-salam)'s pelting of the shaytaan, thereby symbolically declaring war against evil; all this identifies us with the best of our past and the lessons we need to learn from our great legacy.
Perpetuating the Abrahamic Legacy
We, as Muslims have the responsibility of continuing the legacy of Prophet Ibrahim (Alaihis-salam), which was perpetuated by Prophet Muhammad (sall'Allahu alaihi wa sallam). We need to be of those who transmit ..

the principles of tawhid
be concerned about the (physical, spiritual and moral) survival of our community
be engaged in manifesting hope for future generations.
Though the statement of the Prophet stating that "Islam is based on five pillars" is well-known, most of us do not pay attention to the wider philosophy behind it. Islam is not just about these five pillars. The Prophet is trying to direct us to understand that the pillars serve as our base but there is a structure on top of these pillars.
We need to realize that most of Islam is beyond of the masjid. We are Muslims for 24 hours each day, as Allah says

"I have created you just to worship me".

prayers takes only 15 minutes of our time, what about rest of the hours in the day? Islam is something that needs to be expressed outside wherever we are. An example can be found in the story of Prophet Yusuf when the inmates who were with him in jail saw a dream and went to him for its meaning, as they remarked that they noticed his goodness and his ability to tell the truth in such matters إِنَّا نَرَاكَ مِنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ [Q 12:36].

We should therefore heed ...

وَلاَ تُفْسِدُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ بَعْدَ إِصْلاَحِهَا وَادْعُوهُ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا
إِنَّ رَحْمَتَ اللّهِ قَرِيبٌ مِّنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

Do not cause mischief/corruption on earth after it has been set proportionately in order; rather call upon the Almighty with deep consciousness and heartfelt desire. Surely, Allah is near to those who do good.

[Qur'an 7:156]

Look at the major issues affecting the world ...

Global Climate Change is the single biggest threat to the planet and will affect everyone on Earth.
Nuclear War could destroy the human civilization
The United Nations Joint Program on AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that since the start of the global HIV pandemic over 30 million people have been infected with HIV. Over 3 million people die annually due to AIDS, and it is estimated that 25 million children will be orphaned due to AIDS by 2010.
In the past decade, more than 4million children have been killed due to war (31 000 a month), and 6 million have been seriously injured or disabled due to war. The onset of war inflates the average child death rate up to 24 times. Thousands die as the result of direct violence; millions more die from indirect consequences, including destruction of food supply, water systems, health services and sanitation.
Approximately 1 million children have been orphaned by war in the past decade and an additional 4 million have been subjected to physical mutilation and torture.
Hunger, Starvation, Lack of Water. Hunger, poverty, and homelessness are sources of desperation in all parts of the world. Most victims of these social ills are found in developing countries. Consider these statistics from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP):Worldwide:
- nearly 800 million people do not get enough food daily
- half a billion people suffer from some form of malnutrition, 250 million of these are children of preschool age. Talking about children, recent UNICEF and Save the Children reports indicate that ...

34,000 of the world's children die each day from starvation and related causes
Every three seconds, poverty takes at least one child's life, resulting in 30,000 deaths each day. 11 million children every year and more than 5 million of these are un Only 1% of the world's water is usable to us. About 97% is salty sea water, and 2% is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. Thus that 1% of the world's water supply is a precious commodity necessary for our survival. Dehydration (lack of water) will kill us faster than starvation (lack of food). Since the plants and animals we eat also depend on water, lack of it could cause both dehydration and starvation.
More than one billion people worldwide lack access to clean water and over two billion do not have adequate sanitation facilities. During the past 10 years more people have died from lack of clean water than in armed conflict. 2.4 billion people - or just under half the world's population - have no adequate water supply for daily needs. The World Resources Institute predicts that by 2025, at least 3.5 billion people, or nearly 60 percent of the world's population, will face water scarcity.


The case of the English school teacher Gillian Gibbons indicates how some people are often more passionate about non-issues than about the real issues. People are dying in Sudan, there is internal strife, hunger... and people are emotionally over-charged over a teddy-bear being used as a teaching tool being called by the name of Muhammad (sall'Allahu alaihi wa sallam); a name chosen by the school students due to the popularity of the name in that area. The teacher is accused of publicly insulting or degrading religion, its rites, beliefs and sacred items or humiliating its believers -- she may face up to six months in jail, 40 lashes and a fine. We must ensure that we never lose our sense of priorities, focusing on major issues, then minor issues; always avoiding non-issues from our priority list. There are enough major issues affecting the world, let's start there.

The Crucial Question

How are we, the perpetuators of the tradition of Prophet Ibrahim (Alaihis-salam) responding to these crises? How are we engaging in the affairs of community, in bringing about hope,and laying the groundwork in preparation for future generations?

Glory to the Almighty

Glory be to Allah for making the Ka'bah the meeting of the ummah, for making hajj the key expression of solidarity among Believers and as a manifestation of the bond of fraternity and mutual affinity. All praise is due to Allah for making this unique, international gathering of hajj an inexhaustible source for spiritual revival and as a continuous re-affirmation of faith and may Allah accept the hajj of all who are going.

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said,
“When Allah wishes good for someone, He bestows upon him the understanding of the Deen.” [bukhari]

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