Hajj spells peace, equality and unity


By: Umer Riyaz

Hajj or the Pilgrimage is the last among those acts of worship, which Islam enjoins upon us like the prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The word Hajj means to make a resolve to visit a holy place, visiting the Ka’ba in Makkah is therefore called Hajj.

This journey involves repenting for all their past wrongdoings, moving closer to Allah, resolving to acquire a higher level of piety for the remaining of their life and teaches innumerable invaluable lessons in sincerity (Ikhlas), humility, submission to Allah, and forbearance.

Hajj is the only obligatory duty in Islam that involves communal worship in which all the rituals and rites have to be performed along with lakhs of other Muslims in the same time, space and days. Because of this, the journey of hajj imparts pilgrims an unforgettable annual lesson in peace and unity that is scarcely available anywhere else throughout the rest of the year.

The State of Ihram: No divisions, no differences. One purpose, one place, one nation and an Aura of Calm Self-Restraint.

When a pilgrim enters the state of ihram for hajj, they do not just put on a specific set of garments that are the same as the other pilgrims: rather, they enter a state of forced self-restraint, politeness, calmness, and forbearance in dealing with all their brethren in Islam for the next few days. This state of ihram abolishes their mutual differences related to social class, prestige, and economic status. Ihram unifies all pilgrims as slaves in front of Allah who are toiling on the same noble journey.

Differences in social class, wealth, race, and color vanish within these feelings and rites. A pure and solemn atmosphere of brotherhood, serenity, affection, and love prevails. In a world engulfed in dispute and division and where discrepancy is the prevailing system, they (pilgrims) enjoy an atmosphere of equality and use more or less the same facilities as the others.

Unity is vividly observed in the great pillar of Hajj, which is repeated every year and for which millions of Muslims gather from all over the world. They represent the Muslim ummah with all its different races, countries, colors, and languages. They make one stand in the same monument.

They proclaim the oneness of the Lord of the worlds, submit themselves to His law, and show their unity under His banner. They announce to the whole world that they are one nation although they come from different countries and homes. They perform the rites and stand in the open areas of Makkah, where bodies become close to each other, faces meet, hands shake, greetings exchange, tongues communicate, and hearts reconcile. They meet for the same purpose and intention.

A follower of the Hanafi Fiqh prays next to one who follows the Shafi Fiqh and both remain mutually respectful about it. There are no arguments or confrontations. As they converge together upon the plain of Arafat, all pilgrims pray four units of salah behind one imam, read one Book, the Qur’an, and direct themselves to one Qibla, the Ka ‘bah, at the Holy Mosque. They perform the same rites of standing, sitting, bowing down, and prostration and seek forgiveness henceforth till sundown from Allah.

What unity is deeper than that one of the pilgrims when they stand at the mountain of ‘Arafat with bare heads and simple white clothes? There is no difference between the rich and the poor, the ruler and the subject, men and women, Arabs and non-Arabs. All of them are the same, like the teeth of the hair comb. They direct themselves towards Allah, humble and submissive.”They hope for His Mercy and fear His Wrath” (Al-Isra 17:57).

It is a kind of unity that penetrates the hearts, and not only external appearances. This is unity in aim and direction, in sayings and deeds, an internal and external unity, through which they could feel the essence of the verse:”The believers are but a single brotherhood.” (Al-Hujurat 49:10).

The Security Center of Peace and Equality and Ensuring Peace:

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. it is forbidden to bring weaponry or ammunition in sight within the magnanimous annual populace of millions of pilgrims, and yet, despite the current political and ethnic differences that exist in the ummah, and cause chronic strife, not a single pilgrim who comes for hajj gets hurt, injured or killed during the journey – except by unintentional accident!, 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 PUBH, 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.

Allah the Almighty declares Mecca as a “sacred town” and it is the same place for which Prophet Abrahams beseeched Allah:”My Lord make this city [a city] of peace.” (Ibrahim 14:36).

In Mecca are situated the Holy Ka ‘bah and the Sacred Mosque, which embodies God’s promise: “And whoso enters it, enters peace.” (Al-e-Imran 3:98).God further says: “And has given them security against fear.” (Quraish 106:5).

Similarly, God says of the Sacred Mosque: “Have they not seen that We have made the sanctuary secure [for them]..” (Al-Ankabut 29:68). This is an assurance that this holy city guarantees peace to its visitors.

It is prohibited to kill any animal while wearing Ihram, the fact that “all kinds of arguing, wrangling, fighting, and even hunting halal game is impermissible in the state of ihram” (Al- Baqarah 2:197), it causes the descent of an aura of complete peace upon the massive population of pilgrims who are performing hajj. This ensures that peace and security will prevail, aggressiveness willbe controlled, and spiritually gripped the hearts and minds of the pilgrims. The four months were made sacred so that no fighting took place during this period, peace reigned on all the roads leading to theKa’ba and no pilgrims gets molested.

When the pilgrims reached the Ka’ba, there is no fun fairs, no carnivals. Instead, there is Prayers, sacrifices and circumambulation (tawaf) of the Ka’ba. The only cry that one could hear is that which rise from the heart of the pilgrim:

Here I am, O Allah, here I am. Here I am, you have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise and blessings are Yours, and all sovereignty, you have no partner.

Such sincere Hajj was described by Prophet PUBH: “Whosoever performs Hajj solely for the sake of God and, in the course of it, abstains from sensuality and disobedience, he returns from there as immaculate as child just born” (Bukhari).

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. This is the greatest movement of a permanent nature for the establishment of peace in the world.

(The author is a Research Scholar, Department of Arabic BGSB University, Rajouri)