It is a sign of the infinite mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala towards His slaves that He has legislated for them several acts of obedience, opened the gates of mercy before them, encouraged them to attain His reward and invited them to draw closer to Him. When they do so, in turn, He will love them, and if He loves a slave, He will become his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his feet with which he walks.
Performing Hajj to the Sacred House of Allah is the foremost of the acts of worship that are a means of having one’s misdeeds forgiven, ranks elevated and a cause of people being made to enter Paradise. Thus, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala encourages His slaves to observe this act of worship and urges them to perform Hajj. He says,
وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا
“…And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever is able to find thereto a way…” [Aal Imran 3: 97]
On the other hand, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala warns against abandoning this act of worship while one is able to perform it, indicating that this action reflects denial of the favor of Allah. Although Allah has enabled His slave to come to His House and has subjected various means for him, the slave turned away, rejected the call and showed laziness and weak will. Thus, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says at the end of the aforementioned ayah:
وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِينَ
“…But whoever disbelieves – then indeed, Allaah is free from need of the worlds.” [Aal Imran 3: 97]
Likewise, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam warned against neglecting this religious obligation and commanded people to make haste in this respect. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever intends to perform Hajj should hasten to it; for one could get sick, his mount could be lost or he could face poverty and need.” [Hasan Hadeeth] [Ahmad and Ibn Maajah]
‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “Circumambulate the House (of Allah) often before you are prevented from doing that.” Indeed, Abu Al-Hasan, ‘Ali said the truth. Performing the obligation of Hajj today has become financially and physically difficult and many Muslims who are willing to perform it are no longer able to do so due to financial incapability or the difficulty in going to the Sacred House of Allah.
Purification before Beautification
It is well-known to scholars that purification precedes beautification. Thus, whoever intends to perform Hajj to the Sacred House of Allah should prepare himself first for the light he wants to receive. The best way to achieve this is by sincere repentance to Allah and giving back people’s dues.
Some think that Hajj expiates sins even if one did not repent of them before going to Hajj. This is a mistake and reflects lack of understanding, for Hajj actually is expiation and reward for the slave who repents and returns to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. It was narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ood radhiAllahu ‘anhu that he said, “Some people said to the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ‘O Messenger of Allah! Will we be questioned for our deeds during the pre-Islamic era?’ The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: ‘Whoever is a good Muslim of you will not be questioned, but whoever is a bad Muslim of you will be questioned for his misdeeds before and after Islam.’” [Muslim]
Some Etiquette of Hajj:
When one intends to perform Hajj, he should observe certain etiquette, including:
► Dedicating the intention solely for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Allah accepts only the (good) deeds which are solely dedicated to Him.
► Ensuring sufficient resources to cover the expenses of one’s dependents and advising them to be pious.
► Learning the rulings of Hajj and ‘Umrah.
► Giving back people’s dues or asking for their pardon.
► Using lawfully gained expenses for Hajj. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is Good and He accepts only what is good.
► Choosing righteous companions and good friends for the journey. Choosing a good companion takes precedence over anything else.
► Observing the etiquette of travel while going and coming.
► Training the self in patience, enduring the hardships of travel, suppressing anger, acquiring good morals and abandoning dispute and argument.
► Keenness to do many acts of obedience as well as righteous deeds which bring one closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. The opportunity of Hajj may not come again.
The Rationales and Secrets of Hajj
1. Teaching the Muslim to fear Allah and honor His Symbols: Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says: “And whoever honors the Symbols of Allah – indeed, it is from the piety of hearts.” [Al-Hajj 22: 32]
2. Teaching one to be a slave of Allah, surrender to Him and follow His Shari‘ah (legislation): Many of the rites of Hajj could be questioned by the Muslim and he may wonder about the rationale behind them, such as removing clothes and adornments, Tawaaf, Sa‘y [walking between As-Safa and Al-Marwah mountains], standing at ‘Arafah for a specific time, throwing the pebbles, spending the night in Mina, and so on. However, he performs these rites with complete submission and faith, even while he is unaware of the rationale behind them.
3. Boosting the Brotherhood of Islam: Pilgrims from different parts of the world meet in one place, wearing the same dress, seeking one goal and cooperate with each other to the utmost. All these aspects boost the ties of brotherhood among Muslims.
4. Remembering the Hereafter and its Terrors: During Hajj, there is overcrowding, pushing, loud sounds, fear, weeping, supplication, removing adornments and clothes, hardship, tiredness, waiting for the Mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala – all of which is a reminder of the Hereafter.
5. Remembering Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala: Remembering Allah is the greatest goal of all acts of obedience, and its opposite is heedlessness. Many pilgrims are heedless while performing the Hajj rituals and they only perform superficial acts. Some pilgrims could even feel annoyance at some rituals and thus they return after Hajj, neither increasing their faith in Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala nor drawing closer to Him. (We seek Allah’s protection from negligence, ameen.)
These are only a few of the rationales and inner dimensions of Hajj, but they are sufficient for those who are mindful of their Lord and have sentient hearts, alive with the light of true faith.
Slightly modified. Originally published at islamweb.net