Unto this year’s pilgrims to Makkah
In the name of the Almighty, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Pilgrimage thereto is a duty, humanity owe the Almighty for those who can afford the journey… (Q3: 97)
It needs no emphasis that hajj rites that would be accepted by the Almighty from His servants are the ones which are prosecuted with lawful means. In other words, a governor who diverts public fund into providing Hajj seats to some Muslims with the intention to maintain their political patronage would suffer double jeopardy. He would be held to account for bad governance of the state under his watch; he would equally be held to account for transacting in spiritual corruption.
To embark on the journey to Makkah and Madinah for the hajj equally means the Hajji and the Hajjah are prepared for any eventuality. Thus Islam demands that before you set out on the journey that you write your will not because you feel you are going to transit to the great beyond during the journey but simply because as Muslims, we are expected to live with the constant consciousness of death; that death is inevitable, that it will come at any point in time. Since not every pilgrim who goes on Hajj enjoys the privilege of returning home to his or her family, then it would be in line with Islamic law for you to write your will in line with Quran chapter 2: 180-182.
Brethren, going to Hajj means we are prepared to be tested by the Almighty. In other words, though Hajj means the embarkation on the best spiritual journey for the Muslims, it is equally, and quite ironically, the greatest platform upon which our claims as Muslims, our posturing as servants of the Almighty can come to the fore. Thus, while packing your luggage, do not forget to include, patience and perseverance; as you are stepping on the airplane, do not forget your coat of piety and sacrifice. Brethren, was it not in paradise that Prophet Adam and Hawa (Upon them be peace) were tested? If you are given to quarrel, if you are the type who always wants people to say sorry to him when he is stepped upon, if you are highly irascible and very temperamental, then you have to re-read your resolve to embark on the journey to Makkah and Madinah. Hajj is the only journey on earth which provides humans with the greatest opportunity to be successful here and in the hereafter. Ironically, it equally has the greatest potential for a carefree pilgrim to lose eternal redemption. Such a pilgrim would be he who engages in illicit conduct while on hajj; such would be the worshipper who vitiates his rites of hajj through acts of brigandage and rebellion. Remember those political jobbers who are usually given tickets to go on hajj only for them to get there and begin to cause mayhem and strife. Brethren, ask those pilgrims who organized what they called “sabaka night” in Minnah where the evidence for such activity can be found in Islamic texts.
In other words, dear intending pilgrim, constantly keep in mind that the Hajj exercise is first and foremost a spiritual assignment; that it is not for tourism. Avoid the temptation, therefore, to turn your tawaf, sa’y between Safa and Marwa, and the standing in Arafah to tourist exercises. During the last Umrah I saw pilgrims with various types of cameras. They were busy taking pictures of themselves while doing tawaf; they were engaged in the profanisation of the sacred and the materialization of the sacred. I shook my head when I beheld brethren in faith who were busy taking pictures of themselves as they were running between Safa and Marwa. Though these actions would not by themselves invalidate the rites of hajj, they however function in taking away its inner dimensions. Through such conducts the rites of hajj lose their meaning. The pilgrim who does this shifts his attention away from the Almighty to the Self, the iniquitous entity the purification of which the Hajj sets out achieve. The female pilgrim who is busy taking pictures of herself while doing Sa’y cannot remember Hajar anymore. She would not remember her creator too. She would lose the opportunity of rediscovering herself at that important moment when self-rediscovery is the nodus of spiritual engagement.
In other words, when you are going to Hajj you must go in a pure state, leaving behind any quarrels or arguments you have had with your Muslim brothers. Another disease of the heart is ar-Riyaa (showing off). Many people like to show off that they have been to Hajj and that they are ‘Hajjis’. Your pilgrimage should be done for the sake of the Almighty and not to show off or gain respect from your families and community. The desire to show off fuels some of the acts I mentioned above; acts such as the implantation of golden tooth in one’s mouth. Brethren, try and keep in mind the importance of these rites so that you may have the full measure of the treasures of going to hajj. Again, keep in mind this may be the last time you would have the chance to visit the Kaa’ba and remember to pray for your country, Nigeria.
The Prophet was asked, “Which is the best deed?” He said, “To believe in the Almighty and His Apostle.” He was then asked, “Which is the next (in goodness)?” He said, “To participate in Jihad in the Almighty’s Cause.” He was then asked, “Which is the next?” He said, “To perform Hajj-Mabrur. “
Just before you step out, pause a moment at the door, recite Ayat Al-Kursi, Surah Al-Ikhlas, Surah Al-Falaq and Surah Al-Nas and offer the following Prophetic invocation and take the left feet out of your abode. The invocation goes thus: “O The Almighty, we ask You for virtue and piety in this journey of ours, and we ask You for deeds which please You. O The Almighty, facilitate our journey and let us cover its distance quickly. O The Almighty, You are The Companion on the journey and The Successor over the family, O The Almighty, I take refuge with You from the difficulties of travel, from having a change of hearts and being in a bad predicament, and I take refuge in You from an ill fated outcome with wealth and family.
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