Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Points to Ponder on the Origins of the Hajj

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The story of how Hajj first originated is one that is worthy of our concern and attention, a story worthy of remembrance and contemplation whenever people walk between the mounts of As-Safa and Al-Marwah while doing Sa’y, and whenever they drink from the water of Zamzam. Hajj should not be regarded as a mere religious ritual where each generation imitates the one before it without knowledge, insight, or guidance.

If you reflect upon the rituals of Hajj over the ages, you will witness astonishing wonders and your faith will grow stronger. You will be able to see with clarity the connection between all divine laws and the relationship of all the prophets and messengers, despite the differences in the time periods and countries in which they lived. You will also sense how the concept that all worship is for Allah The Almighty has very deep roots, roots as old as the history of humankind.
 
It all started with Prophet Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, who sorely felt the constraints of living with idol-worshiping people in Iraq. He moved to Palestine along with his wifeSarahand his nephewLoote, may Allah exalt his mention. Allah The Almighty Said: {But Lut had faith in him: he said: I will leave home for the sake of my Lord: for He is Exalted in Might, and Wise.}[Quran, 29: 26]
 
Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, stayed for some time in Palestine then moved to Egypt. There he and his wife, Sarah, met trials and tribulations on account of the unjust ruler of Egypt. However, Allah The Almighty protected Sarah from the harm and abuse of this tyrant; so that, instead of being harmed, she was given Haajar, an Egyptian slave, as a present. This was the beginning of another story, one more relevant to the origin of Hajj and the building of the Ancient House (the Ka’bah).
 
Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, again returned to Palestine. His wife Sarah, who was barren at that time, advised him to marry Haajar, hoping she would give birth to a child. Haajar gave birth to Ismaa’eel, may Allah exalt his mention, and Sarah later gave birth to Is-haaq, may Allah exalt his mention. Following the birth, Sarah felt jealous of Haajar and could not even bear to have her in her presence. She told Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, about her jealousy, which was the reason of his migration with Haajar and Ismaa’eel, may Allah exalt his mention, to Makkah.
 
Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, settled Haajar and Ismaa’eel, may Allah exalt his mention, there in an uncultivated land where there were no plants, water or other people. He then returned to Palestine. When he was setting off for home, Haajar followed him and said, “Ibraaheem! Are you going to depart and leave us in this valley where no people live and with nothing for subsistence?” She repeated the question, but he did not turn to her. She asked him, “Did Allah order you to do so?” He replied, “Yes.” She said, “Then, He will not let us perish.”
 
Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, continued on his way, and when he reached the Thaniyah [a mountain trail] where he was hidden from her, he faced the House and raised his hands with supplication to Allah The Almighty, saying: {O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Thy Sacred House; in order, O our Lord, that they may establish regular Prayer: so fill the hearts of some among men with love towards them, and feed them with Fruits: so that they may give thanks.}[Quran, 14: 37]
 
Allah The Almighty answered Ibraaheem’s supplication afterHaajar and her baby, Ismaa’eel, may Allah exalt his mention, had experienced very hard times. The water they had was used up, and the baby was on the verge of perishing. Loneliness and lack of food and water almost killed the woman and her child if it hadn't been for the grace of Allah The Almighty and His mercy. No slave who prays to Allah The Almighty with a sincere heart is sent away disappointed; no one whom Allah The Almighty smiles upon is lost. From these difficult moments, the story of Allah's House began, along with the story of why the Muslims walk back and forth between As-Safa and Al- Marwah every time they perform Hajj or ‘Umrah or make Tawaaf around the Holy House. From here, as well, the story of the blessed well of Zamzam began, that cool, refreshing water that is a cure for illnesses by the will of Allah The Almighty.

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