Haj: Once in a lifetime spiritual journey


HAJ is the fifth pillar of Islam and Allah has made it obligatory only for those who can afford it. This means that only those who have financial means and physical ability are required to perform this ritual.

It is not clear exactly when Haj was made an obligatory ritual. A few years before performing his Farewell Haj, the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions left Madinah for Makkah in a state of Ihram to perform Umrah and they brought sacrificial animals along with them. However, the Quraish denied them entry into Makkah and this resulted in the signing of the historic Treaty of Hudaybiyyah with the Quraish in the sixth year after Hijrah.

As per the treaty, the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions returned to Madinah without performing Umrah as it allowed them to return to Makkah next year to perform Haj and Umrah. Immediately after signing the treaty, the Prophet (PBUH) ordered his companions to slaughter their sacrificial animals and exit from the state of Ihram. Some of the companions, however, expressed their reservations about the slaughter before reaching their actual destination. But the Prophet (PBUH) slaughtered his sacrificial animal and the companions followed suit.

The Prophet (PBUH) performed Haj once in his lifetime. That Haj was performed after the Conquest of Makkah and it is known as Farewell Haj because the Prophet (PBUH) used this Haj to bid farewell to the believers and taught them the core message of Islam and intimating them about completion of his role as the Messenger of God.

The Prophet (PBUH) had set out for Haj from Madinah, accompanied by about 100,000 believers, including women and children. Chanting Talbiyah, he entered Makkah and performed tawaf and sai. On Dhul Hijjah 8, the Prophet (PBUH) headed to Mina and spent the night there. After morning prayers on Dhul Hijjah 9, the Prophet (PBUH) and the believers ascended to Arafat where they performed Dhuhr and Asr prayers together in a shortened form. At Arafat, Prophet (PBUH) delivered his historic Arafat Sermon and spent hours there in supplications until sunset. After the sunset, he went down to Muzdalifah and offered Maghreb and Isha prayers together. Next morning on Dhul Hijjah 10, he returned to Mina and completed the rituals of Haj, including throwing stones at Jamarat, sacrificing animals, shaving head and performing Tawaful Ifadah and Sai’. The Prophet (PBUH) stayed back in Makkah for 10 days after the pilgrimage and then returned to Madinah, accompanied by his companions.

In the Farewell Sermon, the Prophet (PBUH) praised and glorified God and then said: “O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.

O people, your blood and your property are sacrosanct until you meet your Lord, just as this day and this month of yours are sacred. Surely you will meet your Lord and He will question you about your deeds. I have (already) made this known.

Let he who has a pledge return it to the one who entrusted him with it; all usury is abolished, but your capital belongs to you. Wrong not and you shall not be wronged. God has decreed that there will be no usury, and the usury of Abbas Bin Abdal Muṭṭalib is abolished, all of it. All bloodshed in the pre-Islamic days is to be left unavenged. The first such claim I revoke is that of Ibn Rabiah Bin Al-Ḥarith Bin Abdal Muṭṭalib, who was nursed among the Banu Layth and was slain by the Banu Hudhayl. His is the first bloodshed in the pre-Islamic days with which I shall set an example.

O people, indeed Satan despairs of ever being worshipped in this land of yours. He will be pleased, however, if he is obeyed in a thing other than that, in matters you minimize. So beware of him in your religion. O people, intercalating a month is an increase in unbelief whereby the unbelievers go astray; one year they make it profane, and hallow it another, (in order) to agree with the number that God has hallowed, and so profane what God has hallowed, and hallow what God has made profane. Time has completed its cycle (and is) as it was on the day that God created the heavens and the earth. The number of the months with God is twelve: (they were) in the Book of God on the day He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhul Qada, Dhul Hijjah and Muharam, in addition to Rajab (which is called the month of) Muḍar, which is between Jumada Al-Thani and Shaban.

“Now then, O people, you have a right over your wives and they have a right over you. You have (the right) that they should not cause any one of whom you dislike to tread on your beds; and that they should not commit any open indecency. If they do, then God permits you to shut them in separate rooms and to beat them, but not severely. If they abstain from (evil), they have the right to their food and clothing in accordance with custom. Treat women well, for they are (like) prisoners with you.

You have taken them only as a trust from God, and you have made the enjoyment of their persons lawful by the word of God, so understand and listen to my words, O people. I have conveyed the Message, and have left you with something which, if you hold fast to it, you will never go astray: that is, the Book of God and the Sunnah of His Prophet.

Listen to my words, O people, for I have conveyed the Message and understand (it). Know for certain that every Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, and that all Muslims are brethren. It is not lawful for a person (to take) from his brother except that which he has given him willingly, so do not wrong yourselves. O God, have I not conveyed the message?” It was reported (to me) that the people said, “O God, yes,” and the Messenger of God said, “O God, bear witness.”

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over a white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.

Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O Allah, that I have conveyed your message to your people.

— Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi is a former Saudi diplomat who specializes in Southeast Asian affairs. He can be reached at algham@hotmail.com