Hajj: Renewal of Self

Wuquf (Stay) at Mina’, ‘Arafat and Muzadalifah

On completion of the Sa’i, the pilgrims become like soldiers in the cause of Allah. Now they have to live a camp like life for five or six days.  For one day they will camp at Mina’, [*] and the next day at ‘Arafat [*1] where they will hear their commander’s directives too.  Returning from ‘Arafat, they encamp for the night at Muzdalifah [*2].

[*] A place 5-6 kilometers to the east of Makka, where the pilgrims stay on the eighth day of Dhu’ l’Hajjah, the twelfth month, and then from the tenth to the twelfth.

[*1] A place 15-17 kilometers further to the east of Makka, where the pilgrims stay on the ninth day of Dhu’ l-Hajjah.

[*2] A place where the pilgrims spend the night on their way back to Mina’ from ‘Arafat.

Rami Jimar: Stoning the Pillars

At daybreak, the pilgrims march back toward Mina’ and throw stones at the pillars which mark the place where army of Abraha, the Christian king of Yemen, known as the Ashabu ‘l-fil (the people of elephants), had reached in their effort to demolish the Ka’ba. While throwing each stone, the soldiers in the cause of Allah say:

Allahu akbar, raghman li ‘sh-shaytani wa hizbihi Allahumma tasdiqan bi kitabika wa ittiba’an li sunnti nabiyyik

God is the Greatest, I throw these stones against Satan and his party, testifying to the truth of Thy Book, O God, and following the way of Thy Prophet.

By throwing these stones the pilgrim reaffirms his pledge: “O God! Like this, I will fight whosoever rises to destroy Your Din and subdue Your word, and thus I shall strive to make Your word supreme.”

After throwing stones, animals are sacrificed. This sacrifice demonstrates the intention and resolve of the pilgrim to give his life in the way of God, whenever required.

After sacrifice, the pilgrims return to the Ka’ba just as a soldier, having performed his duty, returns triumphantly to his headquarters. After performing another round of tawaf and offering two rak’ahs of Prayer, Ihram, the dress of consecration, is removed.  Whatever was especially prohibited (Haram) during the period of consecration now again becomes permissible (Halal) and the pilgrims’ lives resume their normal pattern.

They now come back to Mina’ and continue to camp there for another two or three days. The following day they again throw stones at the three pillars. These are called jamarat and serve to remind them of the defeat and destruction of that elephant army which we have just referred to.  It was in the year of the birth of the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, that it invaded Makka at the time of Hajj to demolish the House of Allah, but which, by the command of Allah, was destroyed by stones dropped by birds. [*]

[*] It is often said that this act of flinging stones is done in commemoration of the incident, which happened to Ibrahim when he was about to sacrifice Isma’il: Satan tried to tempt him, and he flung stones at him. It is also said that when a lamb was given to Ibrahim to sacrifice in place of Isma’il, the lamb ran away and Ibrahim threw stones at it. But in no authentic Hadith have these incidents been narrated from the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, as the background of rami jimar.

After finally throwing stones at these pillars on the third day, the pilgrims return to Makka and perform seven circumambulations of the center of their Din. This is called tawaf wada’ (tawaf for taking leave) and completing it means the completion of Hajj.

The Impact of Hajj

It is now easy to see that for two or three months, [*] from the time of deciding and preparing for Hajj to the time of returning home, a tremendous impact is made on the hearts and minds of pilgrims. This process entails sacrifice of time, sacrifice of money, sacrifice of comfort, and sacrifice of many physical desires and pleasures – and all this simply for the sake of Allah, with no worldly or selfish motive.

[*] This was the average duration of time required to perform Hajj in 1938, when this address was delivered. In this jet age it may take as few as seven days.

Together with a life of sustained piety and virtuousness, the constant remembrance of God and the longing and love for Him in the pilgrim leave a mark on his heart which lasts for years.  The pilgrim witnesses at every step the imprints left by those who sacrificed everything of theirs in submission and obedience to Allah.  They fought against the whole world, suffered hardships and tortures, were condemned to banishment, but ultimately did make the word of God supreme and did subdue the false powers which wanted man to submit to entities other than God.

The lesson in courage and determination, the impetus to strive in the way of God, which a devotee of God can draw from these clear signs and inspiring examples, can hardly be available from any other source.  The attachment developed with the focal point of his Din by walking round (tawaf) the Ka’ba, and the training received to live a Mujahid’s life through the rites (manasik) of Hajj (such as running from place to place and repeated departures and halts) are great blessings indeed.

Combined with the Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, and looked at as a whole, you will see that Hajj constitutes a preparation for the great task, which Islam wants Muslims to do.  This is why it has been made compulsory for all who have the money and the physical fitness for the journey to the Ka’ba.  This ensures that, in every age, there are Muslims who have passed through this training.

Hajj, a Collective Worship

The great blessings of spiritual and moral regeneration, which Hajj imparts to each person, are before you.  But you cannot fully appreciate the blessings of Hajj unless you keep in view the fact that Muslims do not perform it individually: hundreds of thousands perform it communally during the time fixed for it. At one stroke Islam achieves not one or two but a thousand purposes.

The advantages of performing the Prayer singly are by no means small, but by making it conditional with congregation and by laying down the rule if Imamah (leadership in the Hajj) and by gathering huge congregations for the Friday and ‘Id Prayers, its benefits have been increased many times. The observance of the Fasting individually is no doubt a major source of moral and spiritual training, but by prescribing that all Muslims must fast in the month of Ramadan those benefits have been greatly increased. The Almsgiving, too, has many advantages even if dispensed individually, but with the establishment of a centralized Baytulmal (exchequer of the Islamic state) for its collection and disbursement it usefulness is increased beyond measure.

The same is true of Hajj. If everyone were to perform it singly, the effect on individual lives would still be great. But making it a collective act enhances its effectiveness to a point, which gives it a new, dimension altogether.

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