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The spiritual, intellectual and political dimensions of Hajj (Pilgrimage)

Date: 13/11/2013 A.D 9/1/1435 H

[Excerpts from an interview conducted by Technical committee for Islamic media with H.E. The Religious Authority Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah just before leaving to Mecca to perform the obligation of Hajj.]

If we reflect on the duty of Hajj, we notice that God ,praise be to Him, has enriched it with all meanings He wants man to hoard through worship. Hajj comprises fasting  in one way and prayers in another. Also Hajj includes one type of Zakat  as a means of openness to God and to all signs that symbolize the movement of man’s struggle against all injustice and deviation. This suggests that God wants man, through Hajj, to experience a spiritual and dynamic journey represented by the practical side of man’s life, which makes him after returning from Hajj, render general concepts acquired to practical steps and employ them as a methodology in all aspects of life.

Hence, what are the spiritual, intellectual and practical dimensions that we might find upon scrutinizing Hajj?

What does Ihram Suggest:

1-We notice that when a pilgrim sets off to Hajj, he starts with Ihram, which means abstaining from a lot of things he  been used to having as eating, dressing, embellishing and protecting your body, and abstaining from the ordinary means of managing your relation with others like your style in inciting action.

You abstain from specific things different from those you give up during fasting, but they intersect at man’s rebellion against subservience to customs, attempting to attain freedom, apart from any pressure by needs and control by traditions.

In Hajj, man takes off his clothes to be replaced by two pieces of non-sewed clothes, which represent the shroud (Kafan), and equality among all people, where class distinction is not observed in Ihram.

 During Hajj, man feels that he can be contented with simple clothes with which he can practice worship for clothes play a role in covering the body and giving man a decent outlook , and not in enhancing his social status, or gaining      privilege.

Then we observe that man, to accomplish his Ihram, he has to move from the superficial side of his character to the making of a statement. What does he do?

At that moment, he listens through his “heart’s ear” to the call of Allah to Ibrahim, “And proclaim among men the pilgrimage: they will come to you on foot and on every learn camel, coming from every remote path. [Surah Hajj; Aya 27] A call from Allah inviting them to visit Him and their future. “Ibrahim, tell them Allah wants you to abandon your families, your houses, your customs and your situations and to come to Him to only obey His orders and to keep back from whatever  He forbids.”

“Ibrahim, say this to the people of your time and to all those in their father’s backbones and their mother’s wombs, while you are figuring out all the history of all these crowds responding to Allah’s call in Hajj and all who Allah wants o live Islam in their morals, facees hands and tongues, and in the whole life.”

Here, your heart opens to Allah just as your month opens to His call, and then you say, “My lord ,I do answer your call: My Lord, you’ve invited me to Hajj and to Islam and to life through your obedience. Your satisfaction is my goal. But I will not get enough of one answer. My Lord I answer your through my soul, my mind, all my body organs. I answer you in all life’s prospects. I am within your reach I answer you, so my whole life will be a response to your will.

Why do we answer Him? Do we answer others? Why do we answer Allah?

O’ Lord, no associate have you. To your call we just listen, only your orders we obey and we keep back from what you forbid. You, and only You, deserve worship and obedience. To You only creatures belong, and we seek only You to acquire Your satisfaction. We will never obey anyone unless he is conveying Your orders, and we will submit to no one unless You command us to do. Our leaders must derive their authority from You because when we follow them, we go along Your path, You has no associates. Therefore, these words carry the psychological suggestion experienced by man before God. Through these words man promises that he will not answer anybody’s call if it is not approved by  God. When God Commands, all others must remain silent, and when He calls, all must listen. Every thing that refers to Him represents our will that is smashed under His will. Every word before His is the lowest, and His word is the highest: And then what??

“Thanks, blessings and possessions are Yours.??

Whom do we thank? Do we thank the strong? Do we thank scholars? Do we thank heroes? Do we thank all people? Why should we thank them?

We thank then on the basis of Your blessings, which deserve thanks. You have given the scholars their knowledge; You have given the generous their money; You have given the strong their strength; and You’re led all Your creatures the right way… Every praise in the universe is Yours because You are the source. Praise be but to You; nobody else should be thanked because others’ thanks are derived from  Yours. And the blessings, which blessings? Who blesses? None but Allah blesses. “And whatever favor is bestowed on you it is from Allah ”Surah Nahl; Aya53” You have founded life with all its details and needs. All blessings are from You: the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. Your Being gives everything with all your open and absolute divine endowment, which flows mercy over everything. “Praise, blessings, and possessions are Yours?? You are the owner of possessions. You give whomever you want, You give property to owners and  You give whomever you want.

None is thanked but You .You are the best names and the supreme parables; since You are everything, nothing is with You, nothing is above You, nothing exists unless it derives existence from You.  That’s why we will answer no one but You; we will worship no one but   You; we will submit to no one butY; we will give no value to anyone but You.

And so, man goes through life feeling that he answers his God. Then he thinks about how his entire life can be turned to be an answer and obedience to God. What future do I except through this fact?

The aware Moslem moves with this fact in mind  and tries to figure how to make his future at the service of God. He moves as the sun strikes him, with no shadow above his head. He shuns everything used by man for embellishment and every pleasant smell that gives him comfort. He freezes his sexual instinct even the slightest gesture; He gives up familiar embellishment habits. For  he doesn’t want to distort the spiritual atmosphere a, because he wants his self to live with God’s morality and spirituality. This is emphasized in Koran as “There shall no intercourse nor fornication nor quarrelling amongst one another. ”Surah Baqarah, Aya197.

So, man derives from Ihram and abstention a great will that enables him to assert his will in the various fields of life. God wants us to abstain even from the lawful embellishment, instinct, habits and other circumstances as a prelude to the Great Ihram in life. God has asked us to restrain our instincts from the details of matrimonial life to train ourselves to keep back from what God has forbidden in the rest of life’s journey outside the bounds of matrimonial relations. God has ordered us here not to use Halal (lawful) embellishment to rain not to we Haram (unlawful) embellishment in other situations.

God has ordered that we lead an ascetic life, so we don’t shadow our heads in protection against the hot sun to learn how to be patient when we are subject to situations repairing readiness, and not to fall before responsibilities.

And so in all practical domains of life, we don’t surrender to the desire of dress and others when others want to exert pressure on us. And the journey goes on and pilgrims with Ihram set off. To where? to Mecca.

We’ve answered God, so we want to assert it. To where? To the source of  the Mission. To Mecca, the starting point of Ibrahim in building the House(Kaaba), and the starting point of Muhammad(P) in receiving Revelation and in initiating the Islam Mission. So, when you enter Mecca, you go back through history. You imagine the Messenger of God (p.) receiving Gabriel saying “Read in the name of your lord who created:” and you imagine the prophet(p.) reciting Koran and translating it into actions within the bounds of responsibility “Surely we will make to light upon you a weight, word “.

It is a heavy burden. “O you are covered with clothes! Arise and warn.” And then the Prophet started warning, and people who responded to him started the journey of torture and persecution, but they stood firm against torture, displacement and siege, and no one has ever been reported to have given up his beliefs in that critical time. You view the start of the Mission in Mecca to overlook man’s position when he wants to spread Islam in a community fighting Islam. Even though he has few supporters but too many opponents, he should not lose hope nor should he fall under the siege of pressure in this moment. He has to trust God and trust his capabilities attempting to study the situation, to use available tools to make a change, and to depend on the long term policy. Then the Messenger of God (p.) set off from Mecca to Medina, where he led many wars, consequently, he returned to conquer Mecca and to break its idols. So when you visit Mecca coming from your home where pressures represented by tyrants, unbelievers, oppressors and deviants surround you, you feel afraid and weak, but when you recollect how Muhammad(p.), the orphan, could spread the Message by himself, how he shook the world by his Message, by being loyal and by fixing and moving his Message  in the right way, and by realizing that the present siege of the Mission would release it through wide fates, then you will be filled with power by the dynamism of Islam.

Then you enter God’s House, to which you have been invited, you answer the invitation and you come to the House. Where service and worship  to God is asserted. God wants this House to be the International Mosque, where people of all colors, races and ethnicities feel united.

Each group may have its own mosque in its country or region but this Mosque is the meeting house of the Moslems of the world. That’s why Muslims feel that this Mosque representing God’s House, unites them. They unite by God and by believing in the oneness of His House, and then they unite by Tawaf (circumambulation) around His House.

The practical meaning of Tawaf (circumambulation) What does Tawaf around Kaaba mean? Tawaf in its practical meaning creates for man a specific circle, around which he circumambulates in some fields.

It means that our Tawaf will be around God’s House, which symbolizes God’s worship in the true sense of the word. His worship can be attained through the word that conforms to God’s revelation, and through the flexible intellect that distinguishes the circle of Godly Truths . This should also be observed in man’s movement through the different aspects of life whether individual, social,political or military.

For man to worship God is to include all his life in the circle of Islam. So, when e circumambulate around Kaaba, it is as if we are saying “O God of the House, this holy House is Yours; and these servants are your creatures; and this House  is yours. We come towards You from a far country to declare that we will never circumambulate any house that doesn’t derive its lawfulness from You and doesn’t derive its spirituality, methods, goals, and means from Your House; and Your house is Your revelation, and Your revelation is Islam, through which You want us to act.”

Therefore, while circumambulating around the Kaaba, Moslems have to overlook all houses, around which people circumambulate, such as tyrant’s houses, oppressors houses, unbelievers’ houses, deviants houses, entertainment and gambling houses, wine houses and the house of those who disobey God and those who deviate from the right path of God. So, as a Moslem, he has to recollect all these facts because his tawaf around God’s house make him acquire the responsibility of not circumambulating any house other than God’s unless that house holds the same concepts hoarded by the House of God(praise be Him

Then man proceeds to run between Safa and Marwa so that his running embodies man’s journey through life from this place to that one. Why? Simply because God has ordered him to run so that his endeavor is accompanied with the search of God’s favor in all his acts and deeds.

After that, man stands on mount Arafat where he ponders, and where he seeks spiritual and intellectual privacy with his Lord so that he recollects all his past days and views his future in his conscience. Then he proceeds to Mina where he spends the night reviewing the consequences of his deeds and pondering on what he intends to do in the future. Then comes pelting Satan, which represents all the devils of earth; So our pelting the smaller, the middle and the greater satans symbolizes our encountering all satanic cases which we pelt and hit to rid life of all satans. Thus, we learn that Hajj(pilgrimage) surely accomplishes a lot of conditions that build man’s humanity, and help man acquire a new spirit through the dynamism of his Islam within the reach of Allah (praise be to Him).

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