We have reached the last jumu`ah service of the lunar month of Shawwal. During the coming week, insha-Allah, we will enter the lunar month of Dhu al-Qa`idah. The lunar month of Dhu al-Qa`idah is the second of the three months of hajj.
Allah, the Sublime, proclaims in the Glorious Qur’an in Surah-al-Baqarah, chapter 2, verse 197:
الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَعْلُومَاتٌ
The Pilgrimage (hajj)
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 the well-known months referred to in this Qur’anic verse as the consecutive lunar months of Shawwal the 10th hijri month, Dhu al-Qa’idah the 11th month and Dhu al-Hijjah the 12th and final hijri month of the lunar year.
This means that the hajj or pilgrimage takes place at the end of the hijri lunar year. Since the lunar month we will shortly enter namely, Dhul al-Qaidah, marks the second and middle of the musim al-hajj i.e. the season of hajj, it is a time during which we bid farewell to our relatives and friends who are responding to the call of their Lord to undertake the sacred journey of hajj.
During the next few weeks those who have been blessed to undertake and perform the hajj this year will begin their journeys and others will be preparing themselves in earnest for their sacred journey. At this time our thoughts and du`as (prayers) are with our hujjaj.
I advise them to prepare themselves well for this sacred journey. But most of all I advise them to take heed of the words of Allah, the Most High, when He proclaims in Surah al-Baqarah, chapter 2 verse 197:
وَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَى
(Pilgrims) prepare yourselves well for the hajj but the best of provisions (that should accompany you on the pilgrimage) is piety and righteousness (Taqwa) (i.e. excellence in your behaviour and conduct).
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.
Prophet 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 reassured him with a promise that the response to this call to hajj will be an overwhelming one. This Divine promise of an awesome response to the call to hajj is recorded in the Glorious Qur’an in Surah al-Hajj, chapter 22, verse 27, where Allah, the Most High, proclaims:
وَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَى
Make an Adhan and Call people to perform the pilgrimage (Hajj). They will respond to this call on foot and with every conceivable kind of transport. They will respond to the call by coming 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!”
During the next few weeks we will witness people from our small corner and every other corner of the earth responding to this original adhan call to hajj made by Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) and revived by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). We make du’a that Allah, the Most High, grant all our pilgrims good health and the strength to fulfil all the rites (manasik) of the hajj, insha-Allah.
There are few things that bring Muslims in Cape Town 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 wellbeing and to wish them a safe journey and a successful hajj: a great cultural tradition indeed. This cultural tradition can be exhausting but it is also an awesome and overwhelming experience. I advise those of us who intend to visit and greet hujjaj at their homes to not do so late at night, to not stay too long, and not reduce the visit to a feast.
The key idea behind the hajj greeting tradition is that the departing pilgrim ask their relatives and friends to pardon him or her for any transgressions. 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 forgiveness – the idea that the pilgrim cannot reconcile himself with God without first reconciling with his loved ones, friends and even enemies.
This sublime teaching of forgiveness is usefully illustrated in the Glorious Qurʿān. For example, in Surah al-Nur, chapter 24, verse 22, Allah, the Sublime, describes this magnanimous disposition of the believers as follows:
أَلَا تُحِبُّونَ أَنْ يَغْفِرَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ
وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
Let them (the believers) pardon and forgive others. Do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? Allah is most Forgiving and all Compassionate.
Forgiving others and trying one’s best not to transgress the rights of others by seeking their forgiveness for willingly or unwittingly doing so, is one of the most valued ethico-moral characteristics of an upright Muslim.
Let us embrace and celebrate this season of hajj, as a season of love and forgiveness for all Muslims and indeed all of humanity.
Finally, I urge those who have not yet performed their pilgrimage to do so promptly, for our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has exhorted us in a hadith.
“Hasten to perform your hajj/pilgrimage,
for you do not know what lies ahead of you.”
In conclusion, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has also informed us in an authentic hadith narrated by the Abu Hurayra (ra):
– قال : سمعت رَسُول اللَّهِ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيهِ وَسَلَّمَ – يقول:
(( من حج فلم يرفث ولم يفسق رجع كيوم ولدته أمه )) مُتَّفّقٌ عَلَيهِ.
Whoever performs the hajj to the best of their abilities and seeking thereby the pleasure and Grace of Allah, will return home purified from all sins like the day his mother gave birth to him or her.
We make du’a and pray that Allah, the Hearer of all supplications, pardons all our prospective hujjaj and grant them accepted hajj mabrur, insha-Allah.
اَللّٰهُمَّ اجْعَلْنَا حَجًّا مَّبْرُوْرًا
O Allah! Grant our pilgrims an accepted hajj
And let their strivings and endeavours be rewarded
And forgive them their sins and trespassers
وَعَمَلًا صَالِحًا مَّقْبُوْلًا
And accept their good deeds
وَتِجَارَةً لَّنْ تَبُوْرَ
And let not their assets perish
يَا نُوْرَ النُّوْرَ
O Light upon Light
يَا عَالِمَ مَا فِى الصُّدُوْرِ
O Knower of all that is in our hearts
اَخْرِجْنَا يَا اَللّٰهُ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ اِلَى النُّوْرِ
Lead us forth from Darkness unto Light