Brothers in Islam! Muslims who should perform Hajj, because they have the means to do so, are not few in number. They are found in thousands in every city and hundreds of thousands in every country.
Many of them set out every year to perform the Pilgrimage. Imagine how, in every part of the world where Muslims live, the life of Islam becomes alive as the season of Hajj approaches, and how this sense of lively purpose extends over many months of the year.
From the month of Ramadan till Dhu ‘l-Qa’dah, many people from different parts of the world start off for Hajj, while afterward, from the last part of Dhu ‘l-Hijjah till the month of Rabii’u ‘l-Thani, the homeward journey continues.
For these six to seven months an incessant religious movement prevails among Muslims throughout the world.
Those who go to perform Hajj and return home are no doubt enraptured with devotion to God. But even those who do not go receive some share of the experience by virtue of the emotional farewells and homecoming welcomes they accord to the pilgrims, and listening to their accounts of Hajj.
Growth in God-consciousness
As soon as the intending pilgrim makes up his mind to perform Hajj, fear of God, piety, repentance, seeking forgiveness from God, and desire to do good begin to blossom within him.
As he starts saying goodbye to his relatives, friends, and associates and settles all of his pending affairs, everyone can notice that he is no longer the same man as before: his heart is now pure and clean because of the newly-kindled spark of love of God.
It is easy to imagine the effect of the changed condition of the pilgrim on the people around him. And if every year all over the world hundreds of thousands of pilgrims prepare for Hajj in this manner, the aura cast by their enthusiasm and renewal must improve the moral state of vast numbers of people.
As the pilgrims’ caravans pass through various places the hearts of more and more people are warmed by seeing them, meeting them and by hearing from them the cry of labbayk (I am present before Thee).
There must be many whose thoughts will be redirected towards Allah and His House, and the eagerness for Hajj will reawaken their slumbering souls.
And when the pilgrims, enthused with the spirit of Hajj, return from the center of their Din to their cities and towns and villages in all parts of the world, they are met and welcomed by all those who have stayed at home. Their words and deeds telling the story of the Pilgrimage must rekindle the devotional feelings of those listening to them.
A Season of Reawakening
As such it will not be wrong if we say that just as the month of Ramadan is a season of God-consciousness and piety throughout the Islamic world, so also is the Hajj one of reawakening and rebirth of hearts and societies.
The Wise One who has given us the Shari’ah has thus ensured that whatever adverse turn world conditions may take and however bad times may become, they will never succeed in erasing the universal Islamic movement so long as the Ka’ba is there.
For, it has been placed in the body of the Islamic world just like a heart in a man’s body. As long as the heart beats, a man cannot die.
In exactly the same way this ‘heart of the world’ draws blood from its far-off veins and circulates the blood back into each and every artery. As long as this throbbing of the heart continues and as long as this process of drawing the blood and circulating it lasts, it will be impossible to end the life of this body of the Muslim Ummah, however run-down diseases may have made it.
Inspiring Spectacle of Unity
Close your eyes and visualize what it must be like to see people from countless communities and countries converging on one ‘Centre’ through a thousand and one routes from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
Their faces are different, their colors are different, their languages are different, but on reaching a frontier near the ‘Centre’ all exchange the varied clothes they are wearing for a simple uniform of the same design.
This single, common uniform of Ihram distinguishes them as the army of one single King. It becomes the insignia of obedience and service to one being; all are strung in one cord of loyalty and are marching toward one ‘Capital’ to file past their ‘King’.
When these uniformed soldiers move beyond the frontier, the same cry issues forth loudly from their mouths:
Labbayk, Allahumma labbayk, Laa sharika laka labbayk (Here am I before Thee, O God, doubly at Thy service, There is no partner unto Thee, here am I)
Their languages are different but the words they utter are the same; they have the same meaning.
As the center approaches, the circle containing the pilgrims’ contracts. Caravans from different countries continue joining each other. All perform their Prayers together in one and the same manner. All are dressed in similar uniforms, all are led by one Imam (leader), all are moving simultaneously, all are now using the same language, all are rising, sitting, bowing down (rukuu’) and prostrating themselves (sujuud) at one signal of Allaahu Akbar, and all are reciting and listening to one Arabic Qur’an.
In this way, the differences of nationality, country, and race are obliterated and a universal community of God-worshippers is constituted.
When these caravans pass on, loudly raising with one voice, the call of labbayk, when at every ascent and descent the same words resound, when at the time of meeting of caravans these same voices are raised from both sides, and when at the time of every Prayer and at dawn these exclamations reverberate, a unique atmosphere is created whose exhilarating effect makes a man forget his self and become absorbed in the ecstasy of labbayk.
After reaching the Ka’ba comes the act of circumambulation, then the doing of Sa’i by altogether between safaa’ and Marwah, then the encampment of all at Mina’, then the departure of all towards ‘Arafat and the listening to their leader’s address, then a night’s sojourn by all at Muzdalifah, then the return of all together towards Mina’, then the throwing of stones in unison by all at jamaraat, then the animal sacrifice performed by all, then the return of all together to the Ka’ba for further circumambulation, and then the offering of Salah by all together around the center – all this carries within itself an effect which has absolutely no parallel.
Greatest Movement for Peace
This assembling at one center of people drawn from all nationalities of the world, and that, too, with a remarkable unity of heart and purpose, identity of thought and harmony of feeling, pure sentiments, and noble objectives and deeds, is the greatest gift of Islam to the children of Adam.
The nations of the world have long been meeting each other, but in what circumstances? On battlefields, cutting each other’s throats; or at peace conferences, carving up countries and nations for themselves; or in the League of Nations, indulging in deception and plotting against each other or conspiring against each other.
The meeting of common men of all nations, with sincerity and love, with mental and spiritual affinity, with unity in thoughts, deeds, and aims – and not only once but always at the same center every year – is a blessing available to mankind nowhere else but in Islam.
Has anyone else devised a better system than this for establishing peace in the world, for removing hostility among nations and for creating in the place of quarrels and bickering an atmosphere of love, friendship, and brotherhood? Nor do the blessings of Hajj in establishing peace stop here.
During the four months fixed for Hajj and ‘Umrah (the lesser Pilgrimage performed outside the days of Hajj), every effort must be made to maintain peace on all roads leading to the Ka’ba.
This is the greatest movement of a permanent nature for the establishment of peace in the world. And if the reins of world politics were in the hands of Islam, it would be the Muslims’ main concern to ensure that no disturbances took place in the world that would disrupt Hajj and ‘Umrah.
Centre of Peace and Equality
Islam has given to the world an inviolable territory, a city of peace till Doomsday. Within the prescribed boundaries around the Ka’ba, called the Haram, the hunting and shooting of animals is strictly prohibited, the cutting of grass is not allowed, thorns may not be pruned, nor fallen articles picked up. And, of course, no human being may be harmed.
Islam has given to the world a city where it is forbidden to bring arms, where it is tantamount to ‘heresy’ to hoard cereals and other articles of common need and sell them at a higher price, and where those doing wrong to others or oppressing them are thus threatened by Allah:
We shall cause them to taste a painful punishment (al-Hajj 22: 25).
Islam has given a center to the world which is defined as:
A place where the resident and the visitor are equal (al-Hajj 22: 25).
This means that the rights of all human beings are equal here. Whoever acknowledges the sovereignty of God and accepts the leadership of Muhammad, blessings and peace be on him, enters the brotherhood of Islam, no matter if he is American or African, Chinese or Indian. If one has become a Muslim, his rights are identical to those of the Makkans themselves.
The position of the whole area of the Haram is similar to that of a mosque in that if anyone moves into any part of a mosque that portion belongs to him. Nobody can remove him or ask for rent from him. But, at the same time, he has no right to call it his property, even if he lives there for his whole life. Nor can he sell it or rent it to anybody. When this person leaves his place in the mosque, another person has the same right to occupy it as he had had.
This is exactly the position of the whole of the Haram at Makka. The Prophet, blessings, and peace be on him, said: Whosoever first comes to this city and settles at a place, that place is his.
‘Umar issued an order to the people of his time not to fix doors on the compound around their houses so that whoever wanted to could come and stay in the compound.
Some jurists have gone so far as to say that nobody has the right to own houses in Makkah or to leave them to their heirs when they die.
Brothers! This is the Hajj about which it was said: ‘Undertake it and see how many blessings it has in store for you.’ No words are adequate to express all of its advantages; you can only get a glimpse of them from the brief sketch that I have tried to give here.
Don’t forget to share. Remember, sharing is charity!