Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Shawwal / Dhu'l-Qa'dah 1423 H
January 2003
Volume 16-01 No : 193
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Here I am, O Allah, Here I am!
Journey of a Lifetime!
Hajj Through History
The Palanquin Bearers
Five Star Tents for Some, Open Sky and Stars for Others
Hajj Diary
Hajj Rites
Madinah-The Paradise of Faith
We came back with a sense of inner peace and realised what submission to Allah really means"

Here I am, O Allah, Here I am!

Hajj                Hajj                Hajj

A man who decides to perform Hajj should act with promptness, for he may fall sick, or his mount may get lost, or a need may arise that becomes an obstacle- Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh)


HajjAs Guests of Allah, millions of Muslims from across the world gather to fulfill one of the most important obligations to Allah! The Hajj represents not just surrender on the part of Muslims to the Creator-Allah, but also represents the best form of brotherhood not witnessed anywhere else in the world today!


Journey of a Lifetime!

To go on Hajj is to meet God. When the pilgrim performs the Hajj, he is filled with awe of his Creator: he feels that he is leaving his own world, and entering God's

By Saniyasnain Khan

Journey for HajjAbout 5000 years ago, Prophet Abraham was ordered by God to lay the foundations of the Kabah-the House of God in Makkah and to call people to make a pilgrimage to this House: "Exhort all people to make the Pilgrimage. They shall come to you on foot and on the backs of swift camels; they shall come from every deep ravine..." (Qur'an, 22:27)

Today, still responding to that original call of Abraham and following in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad(Pbuh), over two million people from every corner of the globe gather at Makkah to perform their Hajj.

Along with the profession of faith, daily prayers, a month-long annual fast and charity to the poor, Hajj is one of the five tenets of Islam. Hajj is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation for every Muslim, male or female, provided he or she is healthy enough to travel and has the means to undertake the pilgrimage.

The Hajj period lasts from the 8th to the 13th of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah, and, as the pilgrims arrive in Makkah, they are lodged in hotels and houses.

One very important obligation during Hajj is the wearing of unstitched clothing comprised of two sheets called Ihraam (women wear normal clothes with a scarf to cover the head). All hajis, rich and poor, black and white, are dressed in this way, so that all men of all countries look alike in identical, simple garments, and no pilgrim may then feel tempted to take pride of place over another.

The Sacred Mosque of Makkah, due to continuous expansion, can accommodate over two million pilgrims at one time. Here the pilgrims encircle the holy Kabah seven times, which symbolically represents how man's life must revolve around God. Near the Kabah, are two small hills called Safa and Marwah-"Signs of God" as they are described by the Qur'an. The hills, which were previously outside the precincts of the Sacred Mosque, have now been enclosed within its boundaries. The pilgrims walk briskly back and forth seven times between these hills, a distance of about 394 metres. This rite is performed in memory of Abraham's wife, Hagar, who ran helplessly between the two hills seven times in search of water for her baby, Ishmael, who was suffering from thirst. God was pleased and a miracle took place-a spring gushed forth from which the baby could drink water. The well, known as Zamzam, still quenches pilgrims' thirst.

On the first day of Hajj, the pilgrims set out for Mina, a small town about 3 miles from Makkah. Here the pilgrims stay three nights and three days. The town, which normally has no more than a few hundred inhabitants, bursts into life on the days of Hajj, when over two million people pour in to settle in tents to perform the rites of stoning the pillars that represent the Devil. It is the place where, in obedience to God's commandment, Abraham took his son Ishmael to sacrifice him. At that very moment, Satan appeared here to tempt Abraham to disobey God's command. But he threw pebbles at Satan to drive him away. So did young Ishmael and his mother. God was pleased with Abraham's response and sent an angel with a ram to be sacrificed instead of Ishmael. In commemoration of this act, Muslims sacrifice an animal on the Eid-ul-Azha. Today three pillars stand on the very spot where the incident took place. As one of the rites of Hajj, the pilgrims also throw small pebbles at these stone pillars, which symbolise the Devil within ourselves. This is meant to kill the soul's desires and the ego.

From Mina, the pilgrims go on to Arafat, where the climax of the pilgrimage-"the Standing of Arafat" takes place. For this reason the Prophet said, "Arafat is Hajj." The center of attention is the 200 feet high Mount of Mercy from which Prophet Muhammad preached his last sermon in 632 AD. Seated on a camel, he addressed a crowd of 100,000 laying emphasis on the importance Islam attaches to human equality, regardless of social distinctions, the equal sharing of rights and duties by husband and wife, and the prohibition of usury, etc. Again, speaking with equal emphasis, the Prophet said: "No Arab is superior to a non-Arab and no non-Arab is superior to an Arab. No black man is superior to a red man and no red man is superior to a black, except through taqwa (fear of God). Indeed the noblest among you is the one who is deeply conscious of God."

Here the pilgrims stand "before God," praying and listening to sermons. Everyone invokes God in his own way: standing or sitting, motionless, going on foot, or mounted. After a short stay here the pilgrims return to Mina via Muzdalifa. After staying again in Mina for two nights, they return to Makkah, for the last encircling of the Kabah, which ends the Hajj. Madinah where Prophet Muhammad's mosque and grave are situated, also attracts pilgrims in great numbers. Though it is not part of Hajj, the pilgrims, out of their great reverence for the Prophet, stay there for a few days also, praying in the Prophet's Mosque and visiting historical sites.

To go on Hajj is to meet God. When the pilgrim performs the Hajj, he is filled with awe of his Creator: he feels that he is leaving his own world, and entering God's. Now he is touching the Lord, revolving around Him, running towards Him, journeying on His behalf, making a sacrifice in His name, throwing pebbles at His enemies, praying to the Almighty and seeing his prayer answered.


Hajj Through History

While the facilities and terrain may have changed in modern times, the rites of pilgrimage and the bonds of brotherhood among the pilgrims have remained the same.

HajjIn just a few days, millions of Muslims will arrive in Makkah, Saudi Arabia for the annual Muslim pilgrimage, or Hajj. The largest gathering of humanity in any one time or place is the culminating spiritual experience for a Muslim, as well as a logistical challenge for the government of Saudi Arabia.

The Hajj has been performed by Muslims every year for the past 14 centuries. In earlier times, the Hajj was literally the journey of a lifetime, a dream for which a person spent an entire lifetime saving up the funds. The trip itself was an arduous and difficult one, often taking months or even years on horseback or on foot, through mountain terrain and desert. Gangs of bandits often attacked the routes to Makkah to extort money from the pilgrims.

"And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men. They will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways..." (Qur'an 22:27)

According to the Saudi Press Agency, in 1950 the number of pilgrims during Hajj was less than 100,000. That number doubled by 1955, and in 1972 it reached 645,000.

In 1983, the number of pilgrims coming from abroad exceeded one million for the first time. Due to the rapidly increasing numbers, in 1988 the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) passed a resolution to specify a pilgrims' quota for each country according to its population.

Today, pilgrims come from all corners of the earth. Their organised groups are met by air-conditioned buses, travel with experienced guides, and stay in the many 5-star hotels around Makkah. Even the rites of the pilgrimage are more comfortable, with courtyards sheltered from the sun, air-conditioned walkways, escalators to the roof of the mosque, and cool marble floors on which to pray.

The worshippers fill all three levels, including the roof of the Mosque, and still spill onto the terraces, plazas, and streets in the surrounding area.

One might wonder if all the modernity has changed the Hajj experience, and made it less spiritual. Of course, those who travel today do not have the benefit of knowing what things were like before. Perhaps one type of hardship (travelling by foot in the desert heat) has been replaced by another (keeping safe and patient in the mass of people). But unanimously, those who have gone for Hajj come back speechless, unable to find the words to describe their experience. "You just have to be there to understand" is the common response to questions. While the facilities and terrain may have changed in modern times, the rites of pilgrimage and the bonds of brotherhood among the pilgrims have remained the same throughout history. Where else on earth can you find millions of people, different in language, race, color, gender, culture - but united in faith and purpose, acting with complete goodwill, discipline, generosity and brotherhood. That is the unique Hajj experience.


The Palanquin Bearers

Four bearers struggle to pick a path through the dense crowd to carry an ailing pilgrim seated on an open palanquin into the heart of the Grand Mosque in Makkah. It appears like a scene from a bygone age brought to life constantly here to allow the faithful, however frail, to take part in one of the essential rituals of the Hajj. Sturdy men from African Muslim States transported a pilgrim in procession seven times around the Kaabah.“I am a construction worker, but I do this job during the Hajj season to earn a bit more money,” says 40 year-old Saleh Muhammad from Nigeria. The Tawaf costs between SR250 and SR300 for the four bearers. Saleh, who looks worn out after a long day, is waiting for work in the courtyard of the Mosque among dozens of other seasonal labourers recruited specially for the pilgrimage. “ There are too many of us which means we carry one or two pilgrims each a day,” he laments. Out of breath and sweating, four porters arrive and help down a very fat pilgrim. Nearby, four elderly Iranian women, tiny and bent, in white robes, are settling themselves into rigid seats fixed to the litters. The bearers don a thick head cover on which they rest an arm of the litter. “ You can’t carry it on your shoulder because it hurts too much,” Saleh explains.

Muhammad Abdullah has been a bearer for 20 years. “ You can tell from my head,” he laughs. “ I am losing my hair because of the weight.” “ If I did not need the money, I would not do such hard work,” the 43 year-old Sudanese admits. The sick can also perform the Sayi at Safa and Marwah seated in wheel chairs pushed by a “driver” at a cost of SR100. The Sayi involves walking seven times back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah within the precincts of the Grand Mosque. The drivers are usually Saudis who push their pilgrims along a fenced-off path in the Safa -Marwah corridor. “ I give a ride to two or three pilgrims a day,” says Issa, 18 who takes over from his father in the evenings. “ It’s exhausting,” says Ali Al-Harthy, 25 who has been a driver for a decade. He sports on his shirt, an official blue identity badge issued by the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs.


Five Star Tents for Some,
Open Sky and Stars for Others

Five Star TentMillions of Muslims who begin their “journey of faith” spend the night in Mina under tents which bring all the comforts of modern life to the ancient pilgrimage tradition. Almost every facility is on offer, including a private small tent for a couple, open buffets, refrigerators, computers, Internet and more. It all depends on how much you pay. Pilgrims in the past lay claim to some hardship, sleeping in basic tents or in the open air, cooking their own meals and carrying water. However after several disasters, the last of which was in 1997 when 318 pilgrims died in a huge fire sparked by a gas stove, the authorities built the new tent city. “ It’s the most practical way to accommodate the pilgrims in humane conditions and also prevent disasters,” says engineer Ahmad who personally supervised the construction of some 10,000 tents in Mina. The government of Saudi Arabia hires the tents every year to private contractors called the Tawafa organisations, who in turn rent to foreign contractors, organising Hajj trips. The tents are designed in such a way that each tent can accommodate four to 16 people. But due to pressure of numbers, some tents now hold upto 50 people. Services are divided into six grades from VIP down. A standard tent must have electricity, air-coolers and nearby toilets. VIP tents are hired out to couples who wish to remain together at a cost well in excess of SR40,000. Additional facilities include television, mobile phones, beds, all of five-star quality. Almost all Tawafa organisations build a number of luxury class tents in the land allocated to them in Mina and Arafat. The food for pilgrims using the tents is being supplied by five-star hotels, according to an official at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The luxury tents will be pulled down at the end of the Haj season because the Tawafa organisations are not allotted tents on a permanent basis. In the lower grades, however a 20 meter (66 feet) by 10 meter (33 feet) tent accommodates upto 50 pilgrims, all sleeping on mattresses on the ground. They still have access to showers, three meals of packed food daily, a constant supply of hot drinks and ice creams. This costs SR 2,000 per person for non-Saudis and around SR1,500 for people living in the Kingdom. Pilgrims who cannot afford such expense, sleep and cook on the streets under the open sky and stars. Officials in the Kingdom are planning several 20-storey buildings in Mina to meet the rising demand of the pilgrims in the next few years.


Hajj Diary

MeccaOn Arrival

1. Ihram at Meeqat.

2. (i) Two Rakats Nafil and Niyah (Declaration of Intention) and Talbiyah must be performed for Hajj and Umrah combined (Qiran) or

ii) Two Rakats Nafil and Niyah and Talbiyah must be performed for Umrah only (Tamattu) or

iii) Two Rakat Nafil and Niyah and Talbiyah must be performed for Hajj only (Ifraad).

3. Tawaf Qudoom in Makkah (Arrival Tawaf).

4. Two Rakats Nafil /Drink Zamzam.

5. Sai’e

i) For Qiran maintain Ihram until Hajj.

ii) For Tamathu one can come out of Ihram.

8th Dhul Hijjah

6.Ihram from Makkah

i) For those residing in Makkah, Ihram is from place of residence.

7. Two Rakats Nafil and Niyah for Hajj and Talbiyah.

8. Arrival in Mina before Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha prayers and Fajr Prayer of 9 Dhul Hijjah.

9th Dhul Hijjah

9. After Fajr prayer, arrival at Arafat.

10. Zuhr, Asr shortened and combined in Nimra Mosque or wherever the tents have been put up in the camps.

11. Standing at Arafat, after sunset, departure to Muzdalifah without performing Maghrib prayer at Arafat.

12. Arrival at Muzdalifah, delayed Maghrib and Isha prayers with one Azan and two Iqamats combined. (Isha shortened)

13. Collect pebbles for Rami of Jamra.. Pebbles may also be collected in Mina.

10th Dhul Hijjah

14. Arrival at Mina after Fajr prayer in Muzdalifah.

15. Lapidation (Rami) at Jamra Aqaba (Big Satan) before sun is past meridian.

16. Sacrifice animal. One lamb or sheep per person. Camel and cow can be shared by 7 persons .

17.Haircut or shaving of head.

18. Come out of Ihram.

19. Tawaf Ifadah / Ziarah

11th Dhul Hijjah

20. Lapidation (Rami) at all the Three Jamarat after the sun is past meridian (seven pebbles at each jamra)

21. Stay in Mina

12th Dhul Hijjah

22. Lapidation to be repeated as on 11 Dhul Hijjjah

23. Leave Mina before sunset perform Tawaf Ifadah if not performed yet.

13th Dhul Hijjah

24. If sunsets in Mina, stay there and do lapidation as on the previous two days after the sun is past meridian, leave Mina for home.

25. Tawaf Wida (Farewell Tawaf) when leaving Makkah for Madinah or home country.


Pilgrims are also recommended to repeat the traditional phrase declaring that they are responding to Allah’s call for them to offer the pilgrimage and complete it. They repeat these phrases as they go into Ihram.

Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik.
Labbaik Laa Shareeka Laka Labbaik
Innal Hamda Wannimata laka
walmulk Laa Shareeka Lak
“I respond to Your call my Lord
I respond to You, there is no diety save You.
All praise, grace and dominion belong to You.
You have no partners.”

Men should utter this aloud while women should say it silently.

Repeat this Talbiyyah frequently, and engage in the praise of Allah, in supplication for forgiveness, and in the enjoining of what is good and the forbidding of what is evil.

Essentials of pilgrimage

There are four essentials of pilgrimage which must be done for it to be valid. Omitting anyone of these will invalidate one’s pilgrimage. These are:

1. Ihram

2. Attendance at Arafat at the specified time

3. The Tawaf of ifaadah and

4. Sa’ie between Safah and Marwah

5. A fifth essential is added by Al-Shafie school of thought, which is to shave one’s head (for men only) or to shorten one’s hair.

Restrictions of Ihram

In the state of Ihram the following acts are forbidden.

1) To cut or shave the hairs of head or body, till the sacrifice of animals is completed.

2) To cut the nails.

3) To wear stitched clothes (for men only).

4) To wear turban or cap or anything which covers the heads (for men only).

5) To wear shoes or socks above the ankle.

6) To apply perfume.

7) To cover the face

8) To perform Nikah or to arrange for Nikah.

9) To hunt animals.

10) To fight or quarrel.

11) To have sex,

Women in Hajj

Performing Hajj without Mahram forbidden

According to Nusrat Ibn Abbas, the Holy Prophet (Pbuh) has said that no woman should make a journey without a Mahram.

On hearing this, one person said “O Prophet (Pbuh), my name has been included in Jihad and my wife has left for the Hajj pilgrimage.” The Prophet (Pbuh) replied: “Go and perform the Hajj with your wife”. (Mishkat)

Mahram means a person with whom a marriage is not possible, example father, son, nephew, son-in-law, paternal uncle and maternal uncle. Paternal cousins and maternal cousins cannot be Mahram because marriage can be consummated with them. Mahram is such a person with whom one may not experience feelings which are natural only to a married state. Some women consider anyone as brother or son for the sake of making a journey. This is not allowed by Shariat. In the performance of the holy rites of Hajj to break Shariat law and perform the Hajj is clearly a sin and considered as haram. This is because from beginning to the end it is a violation of the Shariat. Without a Mahram, the journey is forbidden whether the journey is by air or by any other means.

Some points to remember

(i) If a woman is eligible to perform Hajj with the necessary means to do so but cannot find a Mahram, she is not allowed to perform it.

(ii) If a woman having the means to perform Hajj and also has a Mahram is in the state of Idat (Obligatory period observed after husband’s death) then the performance of Hajj for her is incorrect.

(iii) Performing Hajj for a woman in the period of Iddat (after separation in marriage) is considered a sin.

iv) If a wife wishes to perform Hajj with a Mahram (such as son) then the husband cannot prevent her from performing Hajj.

Ihram for Women

(i) It is obligatory for women to cover the head.

(ii) Stitched cloth is allowed.

(iii) Any colour dress is allowed.

As for a woman pilgrim, she is forbidden to use perfumed clothes, a veil that covers the face, and gloves.

Ibn ‘Umar reported : “Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) forbade women pilgrims from wearing gloves, veils and clothes dyed with saffron or worse. Besides these, they may wear anything else, any colour, silk clothes, ornaments, trousers, or a shirt or shoes.”

Bukhari reported that ‘Aishah (RA) wore a dress that was dyed with ‘usfur’ while she was in a state of Ihram, and she said: “A woman must neither wear a veil to cover her face, nor wear clothes that are dyed with saffron or other fragrant dyeing material.” Jabir said: “I do not consider ‘usfur a scent.”

‘Aishah held that there is no harm in women pilgrims wearing ornaments, black or rose-coloured clothes and shoes.

Bukhari and Ahmad have reported that the Prophet (Pbuh) said: “A pilgrim woman must neither cover her face nor wear gloves.” This proves that a woman in the state of Ihram should not cover her face and hands. The scholars, however, say that there is no harm if she covered her face with something other than a veil. She may also use an umbrella or similar item as a screen between men and herself. But if she is afraid of tempting others she must cover her face.

‘Aishah said: “Men on camels used to pass by us while we were with the Prophet (Pbuh) and in the state of Ihram. We would cover our face with our gowns when they passed by us, and then uncover them again.”

On Menstrual Days

It is reported by Hazrat Aishah that once on a Hajj Pilgrimage when she experience the inconvenience of monthly period, the Holy Prophet (Pbuh) noticing her inconvenience said: “There is no need to cry. This is something that Allah has made as a natural occurrence for daughters of Adam (Pbuh), meaning all women.”

Most scholars are of the opinion that purification is not necessary for performing Sa’i between Safa and Marwah, in the light of what the Prophet (Pbuh) said to ‘Aishah once when she menstruated. He told her. “You may perform all rites (of Hajj) as other pilgrims do, except performing tawaf around the Ka’bah which you may do after you are clean and no longer menstruating.” ‘Aishah and Ummi Salamah said: “A woman who performs the tawaf, offers two rak’ah prayer (by the Station of Ibrahim), and then finds that her period has started, may perform Sa’i between Safa and Marwah.” It is preferable, however, to be in a state of complete purity while performing various rites of Hajj or ‘Umrah, because cleanliness is commendable in Islam.

* It is permissible for woman to enter the state of Ihram in case she has experienced menstrual period or child birth by performing the ghusl (obligatory bath) and making the niyat (intention) of Hajj or Umrah. She will have to recite “Labbaik, Allahumma Lubaik, La Shareeka Lak, Innal Hamda, Wannaymata Lak, Walmulk, La Shareeka Lak. This is enough for her to enter the state of Ihram.

* She may not offer the two rak’ats nafil salat of Ihram until she is fully clean and performed the obligatory ghusl. (bath).

* After Ihram she may perform the duties of Arafat, Muzdalifa and Mina.

* She may not perform tawaf in this state after reaching Makkah.

* She may pray and recite Istaghfar and all other duas.

* If a woman fears that she may begin to menstruate she may perform the Tawaf Al-Ifadah early on the day of Nahr - 10th of Dhul-Hajjah as a precaution against the menses.

* If a woman (Pilgrim) is afraid of her monthly period, she may perform the Tawaf of Ka’bah before throwing the pebbles at Jamarah Al Aqabah and even before her sacrificial animal is slaughtered.

* Women may touch and kiss the Black Stone when there is an opportunity and no men are around. It is reported that ‘Aishah said to a woman, “Do not crowd with others at the Black Stone, but if you find a chance, touch and kiss it, otherwise if there is crowding, then say a takbir (Allah is the Greatest) when you are opposite to it, and make your tawaf and do not cause any harm to anyone.”

*Staying at Arafah means physical and mental presence in any part of Arafah, whether one is awake, asleep, riding, sitting, lying down, walking, and regardless of whether one is in a state of purity or not, e.g., a menstruating woman

*There is consensus on throwing pebbles before midnight on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah (the Night of Sacrifice). It is permissible, however, for women, children, the weak, those who have a valid excuse, to throw pebbles at Jamarah Al-Aqabah in the night.

* Persons who for valid reasons, illness, etc., cannot themselves throw the pebbles may ask someone else to throw pebbles on their behalf. Jabir said, “We performed Hajj with the Prophet (Pbuh) and we had some women and children with us. We (adults) uttered talbiyah and threw pebbles on behalf of the children.” This was reported by Ibn Majah.

* Abu Daw’ud and others reported from Ibn’ Abbas that the Prophet (Pbuh) said, “Women (Pilgrims) do not have to shave (their heads); they may only shorten their hair.”

Ibn ‘Umar said, “when a woman (Pilgrim) wants to cut off her hair, she may hold her hair at the front and cut it off about the length of the tip of a finger.”


Hajj Rites

Pilgrims leave Mina for the plain of 'Arafat for the wuquf, "the standing," the central rite of the Hajj. As they congregate there, the gathering reminds them of the Day of Judgement

By Ni'mah Isma'il Nawwab

HajjOn the first day of the Hajj, pilgrims sweep out of Makkah towards Mina, a small uninhabited village east of the city. Pilgrims generally spend their time meditating and praying, as the Prophet (PBUH) did on his pilgrimage.

During the second day, the 9th of Zul-Hijjah, pilgrims leave Mina for the plain of ‘Arafat for the wuquf, “the standing,” the central rite of the Hajj. As they congregate there, the pilgrims’ stance and gathering reminds them of the Day of Judgement. Some of them gather at the Mount of Mercy, where the Prophet (PBUH) delivered his unforgettable Farewell Sermon, enunciating far-reaching religious, economic, social and political reforms. The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have asked God to pardon the sins of pilgrims who “stood” at ‘Arafat, and was granted his wish. Thus, the hopeful pilgrims prepare to leave this plain joyfully, feeling reborn without sin and intending to turn over a new leaf.

Just after sunset, the mass of pilgrims proceeds to Muzdalifah, an open plain about halfway between ‘Arafat and Mina. There they first pray and then collect a fixed number of chickpea-sized pebbles to use on the following days.

Before daybreak on the third day, pilgrims move en masse from Muzdalifah to Mina. There they cast at white pillars the pebbles they have previously collected.This practice is associated with Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH). As pilgrims throw seven pebbles at each of these pillars, they remember the story of Satan’s attempt to persuade Ibrahim (PBUH) to disregard God’s command to sacrifice his son.

HajjFollowing the casting of the pebbles, most pilgrims sacrifice a goat, sheep or some other animal. They give the meat to the poor, keeping a small portion for themselves. As the pilgrims have, at this stage, finished a major part of the Hajj, they are now allowed to shed their ihram and put on everyday clothes. On this day Muslims around the world share the happiness the pilgrims feel and join them by performing identical, individual sacrifices in a worldwide celebration of ‘Id al-Adha, “the Festival of Sacrifice.”

Men either shave their heads or clip their hair, and women cut off a symbolic lock, to mark their partial de-consecration. This is done as a symbol of humility. All proscriptions, save the one of conjugal relations, are now lifted.

Still sojourning in Mina, pilgrims visit Makkah to perform another essential rite of the Hajj: the tawaf, the seven-fold circling of the Ka’bah, with a prayer recited during each circuit. Their circumambulation of the Ka’bah, the symbol of God’s oneness, implies that all human activity must have God at its center. It also symbolizes the unity of God and man.

After completing the tawaf, pilgrims pray, preferably at the Station of Ibrahim, the site where Ibrahim (PBUH) stood while he built the Ka’bah. Then they drink of the water of Zamzam.

HajjAnother, and sometimes final, rite is the sayi, or “the running.” This is a re-enactment of a memorable episode in the life of Hagar (PBUH), who was taken into what the Qur’an calls the “uncultivable valley” of Makkah, with her infant son Ishmael, to settle there.

The sayi commemorates Hagar’s frantic search for water to quench Ishmael’s thirst. She ran back and forth seven times between two rocky hillocks, al-Safa and al-Marwah, until she found the sacred water known as Zamzam. This water, which sprang forth miraculously under Ishmael’s tiny feet, is now enclosed in a marble chamber within the premises of the Ka’bah.

These rites performed, the pilgrims are completely deconsecrated: They may resume all normal activities. According to the social customs of some countries, pilgrims can henceforth proudly claim the title of al-Hajj or Hajji.Hajj

They now return to Mina, where they stay up to the 12th or 13th day of Zul-Hijjah. There they throw their remaining pebbles at each of the pillars in the manner either practiced or approved by the Prophet (PBUH). They then take leave of the friends they have made during the Hajj. Before leaving Makkah, however, pilgrims usually make a final tawaf round the Ka’bah to bid farewell to the Holy City.

Mina.-Over two million Muslims gather annually for the Hajj, many staying in tented accommodations at certain stages of the pilgrimage.

HajjPilgrims gather on the plain of ‘Arafat at the Mount of Mercy, where the Prophet (PBUH) delivered his Farewell Sermon.

A pillar marks the Mount of Mercy the rocky hill rising from the plain of Arafat.

Waqfa - pilgrims dressed in ‘ihram’, a garment made of two seamless white sheets or towels symbolising purity and equality, perform the ritual of waqfa (standing before Allah) at the Mount of Mercy.Hajj

Hajjis spend one night camped at Muzdalifah between Arafat and Mina.

Bus en route from Muzdalifa at break of dawn

Tawaf - pilgrims walk seven times around the Ka’bah in a anti-clockwise direction.

HajjTowards the end of the Hajj the sacrifice of an animal such a sheep, goat or camel takes place. This festival of sacrifice (Eid ul-Adha) commerates Prophet Ibrahim’s (PBUH) willingness to sacrifice his son for God. Here camels are herded for the modern day sacrifice.

A dish of baby camel meat, roasted whole, served during the feasts at the end of Hajj


Madinah-The Paradise of Faith

After performing the Hajj, I flew towards Madinah on the wings of eagerness. I realised I was making a visit to the Paradise of Faith!

By Shaykh Sayid Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (RA).

MadinahI do not know when I first heard of Makkah and Madinah. Like all Muslim children, I was brought up in an environment in which Hijaz (Arabia) and Makkah and Madinah were household words. I, distinctly, remember people saying Makkah, Madinah together as if these were the same. When they took the name of one of them, they, generally, mentioned that of the other as well. I, thus, came to imagine that Makkah and Madinah were not two different places, but one, and learnt to appreciate the difference only as I grew up. It, then, became clear that these were two different towns separated from each other by over 300 kilometres.

In my childhood, I had heard people talking about Arabia and the two towns with the same fervour and enthusiasm as they did about Paradise and its joys and comforts, and it was from that time that I was seized with the desire to attain Paradise and visit Arabia.

Soon I realised that it was not possible for anyone to see Paradise during his lifetime, but he could, of course, go to Arabia. Parties of Hajis (pilgrims) were visiting it regularly. So, why could I, also, not make a visit to that ‘Paradise of Faith?’

Days rolled by and I grew in age. My old eagerness was revived when I read books on the life of the Holy Prophet (Pbuh) and studied the history of Islam, and the urge to perform the Haj and make the pilgrimage to Makkah and Madinah became so strong that I was never without it.

Then, it so happened that I reached the place where neither the grass grew nor rivers flowed.’ Only naked mountains stood on all sides of it like sentinels. Yet, as Hafeez Jullundri has said:

Neither grass grows here nor flowers bloom,

Yet even heavens bend themselves low to meet it.

As I saw the apparently unattractive stretch of land, I felt how devoid of scenery that town was. At the same time, however, I thought what a great favour it had bestowed upon mankind. Without it, the wide world would have been nothing more than a golden cage, and man, a prisoner. This was the town that took man out of the narrow confines of the earth and made him acquainted with limitless possibilities of development, and restored to mankind its glory and freedom. It relieved humanity of the heavy load under which it was groaning and broke the fetters unjust rulers and ignorant lawgivers had put around its feet.

As I reflected over what the world would have been without this town ‘ I thought of comparing it with the bigger towns of the world and seeing what would have been the loss of human race and civilisation had the latter not come into existence. One by one, all those towns came to my mind, and I felt that they were flourishing merely for the sake of a handful of men and had made no notable contribution to human progress and happiness. On the contrary, they had been guilty of various sins against man, at various stages of history. For selfish gain, one town had razed the other to the ground, and one country had ravaged the other countries.

Civilisation, would have been none the poorer without those cities. But without Makkah, humanity would have, certainly, remained unblest with truths, beliefs, ideals and sciences that were its pride today. It was owing to it that the world regained the imperishable wealth of Faith and rediscovered the true knowledge that lay buried under a thick crust of conjecture and speculation. It got back the dignity and nobility that had been trampled underfoot by cruel oppressors. In fact, humanity was reborn at Makkah, and history turned a new leaf.

But what am I saying? What do I mean when I ask: What would the world have been like had there been no Makkah? It had remained asleep, until the 6th Century, with its dry mountains and huge sand-dunes, even with the House of Ka’aba and the Well of Zam-Zam, while humanity was caught in the clutches of death. Surrounded by its mountains and sand-dunes, it went on leading a secluded life as if it had nothing to do with the larger human-family, and was not a part of, but apart from the world that lay around it.

I should, therefore, not be enquiring what would have been the state of the world without Makkah, but without its illustrious son who turned the scales of history and showed a new path to mankind.

As I reflected on it, a few scenes emerged on the landscape of my mind. It appeared as if the leader of the Quraish was circumambulating around the House of Ka’aba, alone and by himself, and people were jeering at him and passing sarcastic remarks, but he was carrying out the circumambulation with supreme indifference to all hostility and opposition.

On finishing the circumambulation, he wants to go into the House of Ka’aba, but the key-bearer, Osman bin Talha checks him with a firm hand. The leader of the Quraish bears it, too, with exemplary fortitude, and says: “Oh Osman! What will it be like on the day when the key will be in my hand and I will give it to whom I please?” “Will all the Quraish be dead on that day?” asks Osman in anger. “No”, he replies. “On that day, they will attain real respect and honour.”

I, then, see the same leader circumambulating around the House of Ka’aba, on the occasion of the Victory of Makkah, and his Companions who had sacrificed their all for his sake gathering around him like moths. He sends for the keeper of the key, and says to him: “Osman! This is your key. Take it. Today is the day of showing kindness and keeping the promise.”

As history tells, the celebrated son of Makkah did not only become the owner of the key with which he could open the door of the House of Ka’aba, but, with him, also, was the key with which he could open the locks of humanity no seer or philosopher had been able to do till then. It was the Quran that had been revealed to and the Apostleship that had been bestowed on him.

After performing the Haj, I flew towards Madinah on the wings of eagerness. The hardships of the way seemed to be a blessing to me, and before my eyes was drawn the soul-stirring image of the earlier traveller whose camel had passed through the same route.

The first thing I did on reaching Madinah was to offer two Rak’ats of Namaz and express my sincerest gratitude to the Almighty for granting me the good fortune to be there. After it, I be took myself into the ‘presence’ of the Holy Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). How boundless was his favour upon me, really! I could never give thanks to him as was his due. I offered Durood and Salaam, and affirmed that he had conveyed the Message of the Lord to the world, proved true to the trust He had placed with him, showed the Straight Path to the Ummat, and strove till the last breath of his life in the way of God.

I, then, made the salutation to both the trusted friends of his whose selfless devotion was without a parallel in history. No one had discharged the duties of companionship or fulfilled the obligations of succession as they did.

From the Prophet’s Mosque, I went to Jannat ul-Baq’ee. What a priceless treasure of truth and purity, of love and dedication is buried in this small plot of land! Asleep here are those who had sacrificed the life of this world for the life of futurity. These are the men who willingly abandoned their hearths and homes in the way of Faith, and preferred to spend their lives at the feet of the sacred Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) than with friends and relatives Among the Believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah. (XXXIII:23).

Thereafter, I visited Uhud where the most spectacular example of devotion was staged. It was here that the world saw living models of faith and steadfastness; it was here that it learnt the true significance of courage and constancy. On reaching there, it seemed that I heard Hazrat Anas bin Nazr (RA) say: “I feel the sweet smell of Paradise coming from the side of Uhud.” Or that on hearing the news of the martyrdom of the Holy Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), Sa’ad bin Mu’ad (RA) was saying: “What is the joy of fighting and Jihad when the Apostle of God is no more?” And Anas (RA) interjecting: “What is the joy of living after him?”

It was here, again, that Abu Dujana (RA) had made his back serve as a shield for the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) arrows pierced his flesh, but he flinched not. Hazrat Talha (RA), in the same way, had taken the arrows aimed at the Holy Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) on his hands until the arms were paralysed. Hazrat Hamza (RA) was killed on this very battlefield and his body was cut to pieces, and Hazrat Mas’ab bin Omair (RA) was martyred in such a state that even a shroud could not be provided for him, and he was buried in a blanket which was so short that if the head was covered, the feet became bare, and if the feet were covered, the head became bare.

Would that Uhud gave something of its treasure to mankind! Would that the world got a small particle of the faith and steadfastness of those glorious times!

Friends say: “You took us to Cairo and acquainted us with its important personalities; you have told us about Damascus and its people, and introduced us with its scholars; you have taken us round the Middle East. Now, tell me something about Hijaz and its distinguished sons.” But what am I to do? To me Hijaz stands only for one man about whom I can go on talking forever. It is because of him that Hijaz is Hijaz, and the World of Islam is the World of Islam.

Our honour, indeed, is by Mustafa’s name!


We came back with a sense of inner peace and realised what submission to Allah really means"

A Washington couple share the physical challenges and the spiritual rewards of the pilgrimage to Makkah

By Caryle Murphy

Hajj“ Last fall, Mujahid Beyah and Ann Saunders concluded that to make one of their dreams come true they had to, well, just do it.

That decision led the Muslim couple from Northwest Washington to one of their most memorable and spiritually edifying experiences making a pilgrimage, or Hajj, to Makkah.

Their journey to the Saudi Arabian desert birthplace of Prophet Muhammad, united the African- American couple with 1.7 million Muslims from around the world in one of the most emotional rituals of their faith. Both were left with increased inner peace and, as Saunders put it, “a sense of gratitude to God for Islam.”

What’s it like to prepare for and perform this physically grueling, once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage? Saunders and Beyah agreed to share their thoughts and emotions in two interviews, one before their departure and one after the Hajj.

Beyah, 60, a supply technician who converted to Islam 30 years ago, said he’d had “a gnawing urge” to make the Hajj ever since he had to cancel plans to do so in 1984.

“There was also the realisation that we’re not getting any younger,” said Saunders, 47, principal of Clara Muhammad School in Southeast Washington and a Muslim for 15 years.

Another factor in their decision was having enough money to make the trip. The journey, organized by an Atlanta-based firm, cost $6,000, including $520 for their Saudi visas.

To prepare for the 20-day trip, they bought good sandals, foam mattresses for their nights in desert tents, two-quart canteens and duffle bags. They asked a friend to care for their 11-year-old son, Tyler Adib Beyah, and another to watch their house.

And they made final wills just in case. A stampede in a pedestrian tunnel during the Hajj in 1990 killed 1,426 people. A fire in 1997 left more than 300 dead and injured an additional 800. “Preparing for the Hajj is very sobering,” Saunders said. “But anything that happens to me, God knows about and it is what is meant for me. So we don’t feel fear.”

The couple also met several times with one of the imams, at Masjid Muhammad, their Northwest Washington mosque. They learned some do’s and don’ts of Saudi culture, as well as special Arabic chants and prayers intoned during the Hajj, including one that says, “Here I am, Lord.”

All these preparations, Beyah said, were in line with a well-known saying of the Prophet Muhammad: “Believe in Allah, but tie your camel.”

“We’re making sure we’ve done everything to tie our camel,” Saunders said before the couple’s departure. She has travelled more than her husband, visiting France, England and Africa. Beyah had only been to the Caribbean before his Hajj.

The couple also pondered the challenges they would face: adjusting to the food, bearing the heat which can soar to 110 degrees and not being crushed by the crowds. In some years, the Hajj has drawn 2 million people, making it one of the largest regularly scheduled international events. By contrast, the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta drew 1.3 million on its peak day.

Saunders said they also considered what it would be like to spend several days and nights “out in the desert. We’ve never done that before!”

Uppermost in their minds, however, was their mental and spiritual preparation, said Beyah, who expected the Hajj to be a time of spiritual renewal.

“If you do it right,” he said, “all your sins are forgiven. It’s a very vigorous undertaking, but spiritually rewarding. Our intention is to go there to please Allah.”

Saunders said she was most looking forward to being among people who had come “from all over the world . . . with the same belief in God and for the sole purpose of worshipping God.”

We’re going to do something we’ve . . . looked forward to for a long time. It’s very exciting,” she said.

In a second interview, shortly after their return, the couple said the Hajj had been as physically demanding and spiritually rewarding as expected. After arriving in Makkah, their group of 45 pilgrims checked into a hotel. When the Hajj began, they donned simple clothing—two seamless pieces of white cloth for the men, a loose-fitting dress for the women.

At 1 a.m., the group boarded a bus for Mina, where the Saudi government has built a huge tent city. Many other pilgrims walked the five miles to the site, where the women in their group shared one tent and the men another. At Mina, the pilgrims prayed. At dawn, they rode across the desert to Mount Arafat. There, they spent the day almost entirely in prayer. “It was one of those days when it was 110 oppressive heat,” Saunders said.

After dusk, the pilgrims travelled to the open plain of Muzdalifah, where they spent the night sleeping and praying before returning to Mina the next morning.

“You really lose sense of time,” Saunders said, “because you’re doing things at all different times of day.”

Once, after performing a ritual stoning of the devil, Beyah got separated from his wife in the crush of people. As their group returned on foot to their tents at Mina, he “ran into a tremendous amount of traffic, including buses and people walking,” Beyah said. “I think I passed 2 million people trying to get back.” It took him about four hours to find his tent.

Back in Makkah, the couple participated in a high point of the Hajj, the tawaf around the Kaaba,.

“You’re really spiritually excited,” Beyah said of the experience. “The entire rhythm there is worshipping Allah.”

Moving in this big circle, Saunders found, “your sense of individualism is out of the window. It’s gone. You’re with this oneness. It’s all very metaphorical of what Islam is supposed to be about, which is submission. Because as you submit to doing it the way it’s supposed to be done, you’re with the flow.”

Since arriving home, Beyah said, he is “much calmer. There is a certain confidence in what I’m about. There’s a greater commitment to make all of the prayers and to learn Arabic. I’m much less distracted.”

Saunders said she returned with a greater “sense of inner peace” and direction. “We came back excited, and we recognize what we’ve been given [in Islam] and what great things we can do with it.”

She also came back with a bad case of laryngitis, a souvenir of the pilgrimage season, when Makkah is hazy with bus fumes.

So, would they do it again?

“If God invites me, I would do Hajj again,” Saunders said. “But Hajj is something you only do for God.”

Courtesy: Washington Post


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