In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Dispenser of Grace
Friday 29th August 2014/3rd Dhu al-Qa`ida 1435
Imam Dr. A. Rashied Omar
We have entered the eleventh month of the Muslim lunar calendar. The lunar month of Dhu al-Qa`ida is significant since it marks the second month of the season of hajj known as ash-hurul-hajj (the months of hajj). Allah, the Sublime, declares in the Glorious Qur’an in Surah-al-Baqarah, chapter 2, verse 197:
“The Haj (Pilgrimage) shall take place during the well-known months.”
In a prophetic tradition (hadith) recorded in the authentic collection of Imam al-Bukhari the companion, `Abdullah ibn `Umar informs us that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) declared that the well- known months referred to in this Qur’anic verse are the consecutive lunar months of Shawwal, Dhu al- Qa’idahand Dhu al-Hijjah.
The month of Dhu al-Qaìda is a time during which we bid farewell to those of our relatives and friends who are responding to the call of their Lord to undertake the sacred journey to visit the house of Allah.
According to the famous classical commentator of the Qur’an, Isma`il Ibn Kathir (d. 1373) when the Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) was first asked to make the adhan to call people to come to visit the sacred ka`bah and perform the hajj, he saw no living being in sight in the deserted valley of Makkah. Ibrahim (pbuh) was thus concerned as to who would hear his adhan and so he said: “O Lord, how can I convey this call to people when my voice will not reach them?” Allah, the Sublime, then reassures him in the Glorious Qur’an in Surat-ul-Hajj, chapter 22, verse 27, with a promise that the response to this call to hajj will be an overwhelming one:
“And proclaim unto people the duty of pilgrimage (Hajj)
And they will respond to this call
On foot and with every conceivable kind of transport,
They will come from every nook and cranny of the earth.”
According to another classical commentary of the Qur’an, Tafsir al- Jalalayn, when Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) ascended the mountain of Abu Qubays and he called the people unto the hajj, he turned his face to the south and north, east and west; and all those for whom the hajj was destined in the loins of their fathers and in the wombs of their mothers, answered:
“Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk –
At your service, O Allah, at Your service!”
Today, many centuries later, people from our small corner and every other corner of the earth, are responding to this original call to hajj of Ibrahim (pbuh), and answering the call with the words, ‘Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk (Here I am, Oh Allah, in response to your call).
At this time during which our hujjaj are earnestly making their final preparations for undertaking the sacred journey of hajj I would like to urge each one of us to make every effort to greet the hujjaj personally to bid them farewell, and make dua that Allah grants them an accepted hajj, insha-Allah.
There are few things that bring Muslims together in love and solidarity the way bidding farewell to pilgrims does. We congregate and gather together at the homes of the departing pilgrims to offer them a du’a (prayer) for their well-being and to wish them a safe journey and a successful hajj: a great cultural tradition indeed. This tradition can be exhausting but it is also an awesome and overwhelming experience.
The idea behind the greeting tradition is that the departing pilgrim asks their relatives and friends to pardon him or her for acts of transgressions against them. The magnanimous gesture of the pilgrim to ask for forgiveness is reciprocated by his or her relatives and friends. This greeting ritual encapsulates the Islamic concept of reciprocity – the idea that the pilgrim cannot reconcile her/himself with God without first reconciling with his/her loved ones, friends and even enemies. We need to remind ourselves therefore that at the heart of this great cultural tradition of hajj greeting lies the idea that the pilgrim cannot attain closeness to God without first nurturing love and compassion for others.
Our thoughts and prayers are with our hujjaj at this time. I advise them to prepare themselves well for this great and life-transforming journey. I urge them not only to study the various manasik of the hajj but more importantly to reflect on its symbolic significance. I advise them to take heed of the words of Allah, the Most High, that the best provisions they can take along are that of piety and righteous conduct.
In conclusion, it is alsoan appropriate time for those who have not yet performed their hajj to reflect on their personal readiness to fulfil the fifth and final pillar of Islam. If we fulfil all of the prerequisites for hajj (shurut al-wujub al-hajj) it is incumbent upon us to make a firm intention to perform the pilgrimage in the near future, insha-Allah.
For the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s everlasting peace and blessings be upon him) has exhorted us in a hadith reported by Abdullah ibn `Abbas and collected in the Musnad of Ahmad:
“Hasten to perform the hajj, for no-one knows what may happen to you in the future”
We make du’a and pray that Allah, the Hearer of all supplications, grants all hujjaj a safe journey to al- Masjid al- Haram in Makkah and all the other sacred places, grants them good health and the strength to fulfil all of the rites of the hajj, and grants them an accepted hajj mabrur, insha-Allah.
We also pray and make duàthat Allah, the Acceptor of all supplications, inspires those who have not yet performed the hajj to make their sincere intentions to do so, and we ask Allah to open the way for them to answer His invitation tothe call of their Lord to undertake the sacred journey to visit the house of Allah,insha-Allah.