Pilgrims and quest for Hajj mabrur

Brethren, in the next few days, May 15, 2024 precisely, airlifting of intending pilgrims from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia will be inaugurated.
Chairman/CEO of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Malam Jalal Ahmad Arabi (middle-front row) and other members of the Board and management at the inauguration of the National Media Team for Hajj 2024 in Abuja… yesterday.
Chairman/CEO of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Malam Jalal Ahmad Arabi (middle-front row) and other members of the Board and management at the inauguration of the National Media Team for Hajj 2024 in Abuja… yesterday.

Brethren, in the next few days, May 15, 2024 precisely, airlifting of intending pilgrims from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia will be inaugurated. A total of 65,500 Muslims has registered for the 2024 Hajj. This figure was revealed last week by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) at the first national stakeholders’ summit on the 2024 Hajj at the Musa Yar’Adua International Centre, Abuja.

The airlift operations by the approved airlines will be carried out from 10 departure centres across the country. The accredited carriers as announced by NAHCON are FlyNas, Air Peace and Max Air. Flynas will kick-start the outbound flight with Kebbi pilgrims on May 15. Other states Flynas will ferry to Saudi Arabia subsequently are Lagos, Osun, Ogun, Borno, Niger, Sokoto, Kebbi, Yobe and Zamfara.

Our sermon, therefore, from now on will focus on this unique spiritual exercise and how to maximise its values.
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Dear intending pilgrim, now that it is certain you will go on Hajj this year, then begin by acknowledging the opportunity as a privilege from the Almighty. Experience and knowledge have shown that it is not every good thing that we desire in life that we achieve; not everybody born of the union between a man and a woman shall have the opportunity to ride an airplane; not every Muslim shall have the opportunity, no matter the urge and desire, to visit the Kaaba.

Also, keep in mind constantly 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 (circumambulation), sa’y (running) between Safa and Marwa, and the standing in Arafah to tourist exercises. It is common lately, probably due to ignorance or overzealousness, to see some pilgrims with various types of cameras during the performance of Hajj rites. They will be busy taking pictures of themselves while doing tawaf! This is akin to engaging in the profanisation of the sacred and the materialization of the sacred. Why should a pilgrim with the consciousness of the signification of Hajj be busy taking pictures of themselves as they are 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.
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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.
Thus, the best way to prepare for Hajj is to keep in mind that the exercise should be for the sake of the Almighty. He says: take provisions with you for the journey, but the best of provisions is God-consciousness…” (Q2:197).

Abu Hurayrah says God-consciousness means ‘To be in the place where the Almighty loves you to be, and absent from the place where He hates you to be.’ This is the reason we have been taught to supplicate thus: “Allaahumma innie as-alukal hudaa, wat-tuqaa, wal-‘afaaf, wal-ghinaa” meaning: O! Lord, I ask you for guidance, piety (at-Taqwaa), chastity and self-sufficiency.” (Muslim and Riyaad us-Saaliheen, 6/71)

Every pilgrim should avoid the temptation to engage in frivolities and show of shame while on hajj. This is one of the diseases the Hajj exercise is meant to cure. Other diseases include backbiting, nationalism, tribalism, arrogance, having hatred towards the believers, picking on the mistakes and errors of Muslims and envy among others.

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 manifests in such inconsequential 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.
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Again, keep in mind this may be the last time you would have the chance to visit the Ka’aba and remember to pray for your country, Nigeria as well as her leadership.

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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