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This is a special series of Blogs which describes my time and experiences during Hajj this year.
Aziziya – Makkah Mukarramah
From the start of Zilhajj till the day to go to Mina, we had gone into some kind of suspended state mentally and spiritually. Waiting for Hajj was gaining strength, so were the worries and premonitions. I was praying to Allah continuously to give me at least as much life that I could perform Hajj.
Hajj is the most supreme Ibadat. With the current level of facilities, the physical labor and exertion has minimized greatly; however, the supremeness remains.
Our organizers invited a religious scholar to deliver a sermon on various aspects of Hajj. The gentleman was from Pakistan but had been studying at Umm ul Qura’a university Makkah for several years.
The scholar started his sermon with verses 196 to 203 from Surah Al Baqarah. These are all related to Hajj. He asked the audience which Surah had these verses? Very few people had the idea. He expressed surprise that we had come to perform Hajj and did not look at the Quranic instructions/ injunctions about Hajj. Anyway, he focused on the spirit and spiritual aspects of Hajj for about an hour. Finally, the audience was bored.
It is a sad commentary that Hajj training programs do not go beyond description of rituals and Manasiks. Our people are also more interested in asking what they have to do, rather than why they have to do. Performance of all Manasiks of Hajj is extremely important, but it is an unfortunate fact that most people consider Hajj to be just doing prescribed Manasiks. It is a common belief that if all Manasiks are done properly, the Hajj is accepted.
The acceptance of Hajj is the sole prerogative of Allah.
There are some differences on performance of some Manasiks. A religious scholar in the nearby Masjid Omar ibn AlKhattab was also delivering short sermons on Hajj Manasiks, after prayer. It was repetition aimed at ensuring everyone remembered correctly. One day while he was speaking, a person sitting next to me who probably came from KPK, turned towards me and said “every maulvi says something different. It is better that one should only do what someone has learnt from the maulvi of his area back home”. He was not entirely wrong. It appeared so, but they were all saying the same things in different ways. If the audience had learnt a different thing back home, they found it difficult to change.
There is a sizeable number among pilgrims who are semi-literate or even illiterate. They only have access to spoken word, and they easily get overwhelmed when there are many spoken words.
Fortunately, there are no significant differences about Manasiks among the sects. Wherever such difference exists, the spirit usually is that either way is acceptable. One such example is offering of prayers during stay at Mina. Reduction (Qasr) is acceptable and not doing Qasr is also acceptable.
Pakistanis and others like us in other countries carry a rather rigid attitude about sectarian variations. We prefer to not only stick to our sect, but also consider others incorrect. Due to this feeling, it is common practice to try to forcefully implement own thinking on others.
Excitement, anxiety, worries, prayers, regular visits to Haram Shareef, marked these high-strung days. Somehow, the spirit of Hajj was generally missing.
But what is the spirit and purpose of Hajj?
The true purpose of Hajj is to bring egalitarian elements in life.
And the spirit of Hajj is to pass through the process of such training which will initiate, stimulate and later perpetuate the desired changes.
One aspect of Hajj is universalism. Hajj brings people from all over the Muslim world and it is the only congregation of its kind. It gives a rare opportunity to meet and understand such a huge variety of people.
Hajj certainly has plenty of physical exertion and stress. Accepting the exertion and stress with patience, always paying gratitude to Allah, and giving space to others is also the way Hajj may bring changes in us.
Hajj process is spread over long time, if we consider from the time we apply and win till we come back. During this rather long period, we can review our entire life in detail. We can honestly review by ourselves what did we do right and what did we do wrong. Asking Allah’s forgiveness for wrongs and sins again and again, apologizing sincerely for the sins and wrongs committed, committing to change and sticking to our commitment is the spirit of Hajj.
Allah says in surah Al Baqarah, verse 197. “Hajj is [during] well known months, so whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of Ihram], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations (rafath) and no disobedience (fusooq) and no disputing (jidaal) during Hajj. And whatever good you do – Allah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah. And fear Me, O you of understanding.” If only these three commandments are observed wholeheartedly during entire Hajj period, the life would change.
Ihram is worn for few days, but restrictions of Ihram are clear and stringent. If these are followed in spirit, the life would change.
The purpose of staying away from job, business, home, relations and family is to get that much-needed time which is required to establish and renew the relation of submission with Allah. If this is done earnestly, life would change.
New Technology is not bad; it is the wrong use of technology which causes serious disruption in achieving the benefits of Hajj. We remain entangled in family issues or business matters and lose the most precious time to connect to Allah. We say we trust Allah, but we prefer to do everything by ourselves.
Yes, the prefix of Haji is attached with the name, but life and dealings remain the same. I observed some very disturbing, woeful things happening during Hajj.
Allah Protect us and Allah have Mercy on us. Aameen.