Haj, the manifestation of absolute devotion

07 Jun 2023 01:31pm
Muslims worldwide will gather at Makkah this Zulhijjah to perform Haj. Photo: Sinar Islam Plus
Muslims worldwide will gather at Makkah this Zulhijjah to perform Haj. Photo: Sinar Islam Plus

Zulhijjah is the last month in the Islamic calendar that will prompt every Muslim to perform the last pillar of Islam which is performing the Haj in Makkah al-Mukarramah.

Muslims who have perform this act of worship is described as having completed their Muslim faith because they have fulfilled all the five principles of Islam.

The Prophet SAW said 'Islam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, performing the prayers, paying the Zakah, making the pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadan,' as narrated by Bukhari & Muslim.

Haj is defined and characterised as the highest tawhid value in which Allah had promised heaven as a reward to those who performed it.This act of worship embodies obedience, faith and absolute faith as exemplied by Prophet Ibrahim AS at the command of Allah SWT.

This historical manifestation is a way for Muslims to learn that human beings need only to depend on Allah.

The challenging situation in Makkah in terms of climate, geography, the crowds of millions of people and so on had shaped pilgrims to completely depend on the Almighty and to experience a strong spiritual, mental and physical state that pilgrims can practice in their daily life.

Allah had invited thousands of Malaysian to be His guests to the Holy Land this year. Adding to the excitement is Muslims who will perform the act of worship for the first time as they were blessed with the opportunity to set foot in the Holy Land of Makkah.

However, will this act of worship improve the quality of Islam for Muslims in their journey to become closer to the Mighty Creator or not? This is what Muslims need to reflect on so that their Haj would not be meaningless but full of taqarrubillah (getting closer to Allah).

Imam al-Ghazali adviced Muslims to come to Baitullah with a strong determination and pure intentions in performing Haj only for the sake of Allah. Photo: Sinar Islam Plus
Imam al-Ghazali adviced Muslims to come to Baitullah with a strong determination and pure intentions in performing Haj only for the sake of Allah. Photo: Sinar Islam Plus

An adventure that completes the meaning of life.

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Whether people realised it or not, life are filled with sacrifices. Human always sacrifice their time, energy, property and so on in fulfilling their needs.

The reality of these sacrifices are depicted in the Haj journey. The haj needs to conducted without giving any excuse to Allah for the journey in performing Haj would be difficult. In fact, pilgrims can learn some lessons and reflect on themselves, during this adventure, on their preparedness for the journey in the afterlife.

Imam al-Ghazali revealed some of the secrets behind the Haj ritual in his book 'Kitab Asrar al-Haj' (Secrets in Haj) where he said, as quoted 'every situation during Haj is a visualisation of the situation in the hereafter'.

Imam al-Ghazali adviced each Muslim to come to Baitullah with strong determination and pure intentions.

Muslims needed to avoid having intentions of wanting to be praised by people or to gain social popularity because they need to realise that they came to Baitullah to obtain something great despite the hardship. Therefore, Muslims needed to have strong determination in their hearts to perform the act of worship solely for the sake of Allah.

Imam al-Ghazali also encouraged Muslim ato practice at-tajarrud (cleanse and release oneself from all bonds other than the bonds to Allah). He explained that if pilgrims do not practice at-tajarrud then the kalimah talbiyah (the recitation pilgrims utter when they intend for Haj) will only become empty words and Muslims will be questioned for their purpose of visiting (to the Holy Land) later.

This was because tyranny and disobedience were two aspects opposite to the meaning of kalimah talbiyah that are uttered by pilgrims.

"Labbaikallahumma labbaik, labbaika la syarika laka labbaik, innal hamda wan ni'mata laka wal mulk la syarika lak" (I came to fulfill your call oh Allah. I came to fulfill your call oh Allah. I came to fulfill your call oh Allah. There is no God but You. I came to fulfill your call oh Allah. Indeed all praise, favors and all power belongs to You. There is no God but You).

Syafaat for pious Muslims.

At times when Muslims received the call for Haj, they would feel anxious whether their good deeds are enough to perform Haj, but there is no need to worry because there is still hope for pilgrims to receive help from others.

Imam al-Ghazali explained that if pilgrims lacked the good deeds when they cross over to the afterlife, and nothing could help them then except for syafaat (blessing) of certain people whom Allah granted and the good deeds practiced in this world.

"Keep in mind, the ihram cloth worn during Haj is similar to the shroud Muslims would wear when they die. Both cloths have no stitches and is pure white.

The ihram wrapped around the pilgrims' body is similar to the wrapping and binding of the shroud later. Thus, al-Ghazali advised pilgrims to remember death when they are in the Ihram state.

Imam al-Ghazali also compared pilgrims entering Makkah to Muslims walking in direction of salvation from all His torments.

An Arabic quatrain has mentioned that 'al-kurm 'amim (charity is perfection), wa al-rabb rahîm (God is the Most Merciful), wa sharaf al-bayt 'azim (the glory of Baitullah is great), wa haqq al-zair mar 'iyy (the rights of pilgrims are always protected), wa dimam al-mustajir al-la'iz ghayr mudi' (and the blood of those who asked for protection is never wasted)'.

There are various benefits contained in Haj worship, whether it is mentioned in the Quran or sought by Muslims themselves. These benefits should be refined and cultivated in oneself to become a quality Muslim.

In conclusion, the Haj worship teaches pilgrims to be prepared for the challenges in implementing the rules of Allah in this world. Haj reminds Muslim to carry out their duties to uphold Islam because Muslims are servants of Allah.

***The article was written by Dr Haji Hidris Sahri (Doctor of Philosophy in Islamic Civilisation, Academy of Islamic Civilisation, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences,Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). He is also the Pertubuhan al-Khairiah Mersing chairman and is active in managing Umrah travel, acting as Mutawwif together with MATAM in collaboration with Tiram Travel.

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