Hajj Exemplifies Egalitarianism.

2012-10-23 10:55

Muslims are once again in the Hajj season, the largest annual physical statement of voluntary submission and active obedience to Almighty God.

The Almighty mentions in the Quran: “And proclaim the Pilgrimage Among men: they will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every camel”.

Hajj, the sanctified journey to Makkah, is one of the pillars of Islam; the others being Shahadah (testimony of faith), Salah (five-times daily Prayer), Saum (fasting in the month of Ramadan) and Zakah (giving charity).

The feelings, desires and minds of every believing Muslim will be on Arabia in the coming days as pilgrims from all parts of the globe start making their way to the blessed lands in Makkah and Medina.

To every believing Muslim, Hajj is an experience and journey like no other expedition or trip. It entails sacrifices, dedication, perseverance, simplicity, humility, caring, sharing, togetherness and prayers and spiritual exercises.

In reality, Hajj is the re-enactment of a significant event in the life of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH), his wife Hajar and their son Ishmael (AS), whose sacrifices has no equal in the history of the human race.

Hajj centres around five days of spiritual rituals carried out in Makkah, Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa. (Areas around Makkah). The sacred journey takes place each year between the 8th and the 12th or 13 of Dhu al-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The dates change annually because the lunar calendar is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar that we all use.

The Hajj rituals inculcate a sense of belonging to one community, as Muslims from different countries, races, cultures, traditions and nationalities sleep, eat, pray, and walk around the Ka’ba in perfect harmony, and recite the Labbayk (call of the pilgrims): “Here I am O God, here I am at your service, and you have no partner. Here I am. All praise, grace, and dominion belong to You. You have no partner”, together in large numbers. It is a collective act which must be done at its appropriate time, place and in a specific sequence.

Although Muslims are required to perform Hajj once in their life time, if health and finances permit, there is much desire to repeatedly perform it. Muslims can perform Hajj as many times as they wish but only one is obligatory, and the additional or extra Hajj performed will be considered optional or supererogatory.

Hence in these times of Hajj quotas and high levels of poverty and unemployment, I believe that instead of performing an additional Hajj using unethical means, sending another Muslim who has not been on Hajj or seeing to the needs of the poor and destitute carries an even greater reward and is more pleasing to Almighty God.

Most often we live at a very shallow level of our existence, forgetting our true essence and identity as human beings. Unfortunately, we become totally preoccupied with the material world, forgetting the spiritual essence of our lives. The Hajj pilgrimage clears the mist and fog and shows the pilgrim the road to Almighty God and eternal bliss.

A profound message of Hajj is that a Muslim is commanded by Almighty God to live in peace and harmony with his neighbours, even if they are of a different race group, gender, class, creed or faith.

In his farewell or last sermon in Hajj, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) preached and reinforced to his companions about the rights of women, respect, harms of usury (interest), equality, life after death, revenge killing, safe-guarding of property and life, and the importance of correctly practicing the message of the Quran and His noble traditions.

In the present time of materialism, consumerism, greed, injustices and inequalities, Hajj is one great lesson or model in bringing about inclusivity and equality of all people and stability, peace, unity and tolerance in human beings.

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