The Story of Haj...THEN & NOW...
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THE STORY OF HAJ...

 

THEN  &  NOW...

 

If Ramadaan taught us patience and perseverance then Haj teaches sacrifice and servitude. If Ramadaan taught us the Fear of Allah, then Haj teaches us SUBMISSION to the will and commands of Allah Ta’ala.


The season of haj is upon us again. Millions of people from around the globe have already departed or are still to depart to undertake this journey of a lifetime. A journey that is transformational and life-changing. At the end of the Haj if one emerges and returns back home with an unchanged and untouched life, then surely something is amiss, for our Beloved and august Prophet (S.A.W.) has told us that a person who performs Haj and then returns home is like a new born baby i.e. sinless and pure.


In this article we enlighten you with a story from a different angle on haj, In here we take a look at its first command and then how with the passing of time the Ka’aba was desecrated and the sanctity of Haj lost and finally reinstated by Nabi Muhammad (S.A.W.) with the aid of verses that were revealed explaining and prohibiting the previous rituals and replacing these with rituals that Allah had expected, with hopes that every future Haaji digests this information and uses it as an aid to a haj that is spiritually uplifting and rejuvenating recalling with every ritual that he performs the sacrifices made by the prophets Ibrahim, Ismaeel and Muhammad (S.A.W.) in order to let us perform a haj that is in keeping with the commands and orders of Allah Ta’ala. In simple terms we take a look at Haj in the period of Jaahiliyah and Haj after the advent of Nabi (S.A.W.)


Hajj literally means 'to set out for a place'. Islamically however it refers to the annual pilgrimage that Muslims make to Makkah with the intention of performing certain religious rites in accordance with the method prescribed by the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W).
Hajj and its rites were first ordained by Allah in the time of Nabi lbrahim [A.S.] and he was the one who was entrusted by Allah to build the Ka’aba - the House of Allah - along with his son Ismaeel [A.S.] at Makkah. Allah described the Ka’aba and its building as follows:
"And remember when We showed Ibrahim the site of the [Sacred] House [saying]: Associate not anything [in worship with Me and purify My House for those who circumambulate it [i.e. perform tawaaf] and those who stand up for prayer and those who bow down and make prostration [in prayer etc.]."
[Suratul Hajj, verse 26]


After building the Ka’aba, Nabi Ibrahim [A.S.] would come to Makkah to perform Hajj every year, and after his death, this practice was continued by his son. However, gradually with the passage of time, both the form and the goal of the Hajj rites were changed. As idolatry spread throughout Arabia, the Ka’aba lost its purity and idols were placed inside it. Its walls became covered with poems and paintings, including one of Jesus and his mother Maryam and eventually over 360 idols came to be placed around the Ka’aba.
During the Hajj period itself, the atmosphere around the sacred precincts of the Ka’aba was more like a circus instead of being worship. Men and women would go round the Ka’aba naked, arguing that they should present themselves before Allah in the same condition they were born. Their prayer became devoid of all sincere remembrance of Allah and was instead reduced to a series of hand clapping, whistling and the blowing of horns. Even the Talbiyaa was distorted by them with the following additions: 'No one is Your partner except one who is permitted by you. You are his Master and the Master of what he possesses'.


Sacrifices were also made in the name of Allah. However, the blood of the sacrificed animals was poured onto the walls of the Ka’aba and the flesh was hung from pillars around the Ka’aba, in the belief that Allah demanded the flesh and blood of these animals.
Singing, drinking, adultery and other acts of immorality was rife amongst the pilgrims and the poetry competitions, which were held, were a major part and attraction of the whole Hajj event. In these competitions, poets would praise the bravery and splendour of their own tribesmen and tell exaggerated tales of the cowardice and miserliness of other tribes. Competitions in generosity were also staged where the chief of each tribe would set up huge cauldrons and feed the pilgrims, only so that they could become well-known for their extreme generosity.


Thus the people had totally abandoned the teachings of their forefather and leader Nabi Ibrahim [A.S.]. The House that he had made pure for the worship of Allah alone, had been totally desecrated by the pagans and the rites which he had established were completely distorted by them. This sad state of affairs continued for nearly two and a half thousand years. But then after this long period, the time came for the supplication of Nabi Ibrahim [A.S.] to be answered:
"Our Lord! Send amongst them a Messenger of their own, who shall recite unto them your aayaat (verses) and instruct them in the book and the Wisdom and sanctify them. Verily you are the 'Azeezul-Hakeem [the All-Mighty, the All-Wise]."
[Suratul-Baqarah, verse129]


It was by the birth of a man by the name of Muhammad bin 'Abdullaah that the Duaa of Nabi Ibrahim [A.S] was answered. Ibrahim (As) had made this supplication centuries earlier in the very same place where Nabi (S.A.W.) was born. For twenty-three years, Nabi Muhammad (S.A.W.) spread the message of Tawheed [true monotheism] - the same message that Nabi Ibrahim [A.S.] and all the other Prophets came with - and established the law of Allah upon the land. He expended every effort into making the word of Allah supreme and his victory over falsehood culminated in the smashing of the idols inside the Ka’aba which once again became the universal centre for the worshippers of the one True God.


Not only did the Prophet (Saw) rid the Ka’aba of all its impurities, but he also reinstated all the rites of Hajj which were established by Allah's Permission, in the time of Nabi Ibrahim [A.S.]. Specific injunctions in the Qur’aan were revealed in order to eliminate all the false rites which had become rampant in the pre-Islamic period. All indecent and shameful acts were strictly prohibited in Allah's statement:
"There is to be no lewdness nor wrangles during Hajj."[Suratul-Baqarah, verse 197]
Competitions among poets in the exaltations of their forefathers and their tribesmen's achievements were all stopped. Instead, Allah told them:
"And when you have completed your rites [of Hajj] then remember Allah as you remember your forefathers; nay with a more vigorous remembrance."
[Suratul-Baqarah, verse 200]


Competitions in generosity were also prohibited. Of course, the feeding of the poor pilgrims was still encouraged as this was done during the time of Nabi Ibrahim [A.S.] but Allah commanded that the slaughtering of the animals which was done for this purpose should be done seeking the pleasure of Allah rather than fame and the praise of the people. He said:
"So mention the name of Allah over these animals when they are drawn up in lines. Then, when they are drawn on their sides [after the slaughter], eat thereof and feed the beggar who does not ask, and the beggar who asks."
[Suratul-Hajj, verse 36]


As for the deplorable practice of spattering blood of the sacrificed animals on the walls of the Ka’aba and hanging their flesh on alters, then Allah clearly informed them that:
"It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is Taqwaa (piety) from you that reaches Him."
[Suratul-Hajj, verse 37]


The Prophet (S.A.W.) also put a stop to the practice of circling the Ka’aba in a state of nudity and the argument that the pagans put forward to justify this ritual was sharply rebutted in Allah's question:
"Say: Who has forbidden the adornment [i.e. clothes] given by Allah which He has produced for His Slaves?"
[Suratul-A'raaf, verse 32]


Another custom which was prohibited through the Qur’aan was that of setting off for Hajj without taking any provisions for the journey. In the pre-Islamic period, some people who claim to be mutawakkiloon (those having complete trust in Allah) would travel to perform Hajj begging for food through the whole journey. They considered this form of behaviour a sign of piety and an indication of how much faith they had in Allah. However Allah told mankind that to have sufficient provisions for the journey was one of the preconditions for making Hajj. He said:
"And take a provision [with you] for the journey, but the best provision is at-Taqwaa (piety)."
[Suratul Baqarah, verse 197]


In this way, all the pre-Islamic practices, which were based on ignorance, were abolished and Hajj was once more made a model of piety, fear of Allah, purity, simplicity and austerity. Now, when the pilgrims reach the Ka’aba, they no longer find the carnivals and the frolic and frivolity that had once occupied the minds of the pilgrims there before. Now, there is the remembrance of Allah at every step and every action and every sacrifice was devoted to Him alone. It was this kind of Hajj that was worthy of the reward of paradise, as the Prophet (S.A.W.) said: "The reward for an accepted Hajj is nothing less than paradise."
May Allah grant us all the ability to visit His House and perform the Hajj in the manner of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). Aameen.


 

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