At this time when the hujjaj (pilgrims) are making their final preparations to perform the fifth and final pillar of Islam, the hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), it might be useful to reflect on how we as non-pilgrims should observe the sacredness of this time of hajj.
Even though we will not be standing on the sacred plains of `Arafat on the day of wuquf, the highlight of the hajj, as non-pilgrims we can still share in the great blessings of this sacred time by observing certain practices that allow us to participate in the hajj indirectly.
In this khutbah, I would like to recommend five (5) significant ways in which non-pilgrims can observe the sacredness of this time of hajj and establish a spiritual bond with the hujjaj.
When we bid farewell to our relatives and friends who were blessed with the opportunity to perform the hajj we promised them that we will make du’a (prayer) that their hajj will be graced with Divine acceptance and forgiveness. Thus the first way in which we can observe the sacredness of the hajj is to fulfil our promises by making du’a for the hujjaj after every salah.
When we bid farewell to our relatives and friends we also promised to take care of their loved ones that they had left behind. Hence, fulfilling this promise is the second way in which non-pilgrims can show reverence for this sacred period of hajj. It is my considered view that it is a social obligation (fard kifaya) on us as a community of non-pilgrims to inquire about the welfare of the children, parents and other relatives whom the pilgrims have left behind and offer our assistance to them wherever we can. By fulfilling this fard kifaya we not only provide peace of mind to the hujjaj but as non-pilgrims we can also share in the great blessings of the hajj.
The third significant way in which non-pilgrims uphold the sacredness of this time and can participate indirectly in the hajj is to fast in solidarity with the pilgrims on the day of ‘Arafah, i.e. the 9th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the most important day of the hajj. Fasting on the day of `Arafah is a highly recommended sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). According to the companion Abu Qatadah (may Allah be pleased with him), the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
Fasting on the day of ‘Arafah is expiation for two years of sins.
(This hadith is recorded in the collection of Imam Muslim)
In order to underscore the precise meaning and significance of fasting for the non-pilgrim
on the day of `Arafah one of the female companions by the name of Umm al-Fadl (may Allah be pleased with her) reports the following hadith:
People were in doubt over whether the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
was fasting on the day of ‘Arafah, and so I sent him some milk, while
he was delivering his farewell sermon at Arafat, and he (the Prophet)
took it and drank it.
(This hadith is recorded in the collections of Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim)
On the basis of the above hadith we can conclude that fasting on the day of `Arafah is not intended for pilgrims who are gathered on the sacred plains of `Arafat. Rather, fasting on the day of `Arafah is a way for non-pilgrims to participate indirectly in the hajj. Fasting on the day of wuquf spiritually links the non-pilgrim with the hujjaj who are gathered at `Arafat.
Furthermore, celebrating `Id al-Adha the day after wuquf allows the non-pilgrims to sustain their spiritual solidarity with the hujjaj. Celebrating `Id al-Adha the day after wuquf is therefore the fourth way in which non-pilgrims participate vicariously and share in the great blessings of the hajj. By celebrating ‘Id-al-Adha in solidarity and in unison with the hujjaj who have freshly returned from standing on the sacred plains of ‘Arafat (wuquf al-‘arafat), we are giving this great day of happiness and joy its true meaning and significance.
The animal sacrifices (udhiya or qurban) on the day of `Id al-Adha and the subsequent three days of tashriq, is referred to in the Glorious Qur’an as one of the final rites of the hajj. In Surah al-Hajj, chapter 22, verses 28 & 29, Allah, the Sublime, explicitly identifies the udhiya (animal sacrifice) as the culminating rite of the hajj.
The pilgrim’s should mention Allah’s name over the
animals We have provided to them for sacrificing on the
appointed days (of hajj). And eat of the sacrificial meat
and share some of it with the poor and the needy. Then
after the pilgrims have sacrificed their animals, they can
bring to an end their state of consecration (ihram), fulfil
any vows that they may have made and circumambulate
the ancient house.
Commentators of the Qur’an understand the rare Qur’anic term tafath employed in the above verse to mean the “restrictions of ihram”. From the above verse it is therefore clear that animal sacrifice is a culminating rite of the hajj. After having sacrificed an animal the pilgrim may exit from his/her ihram (state of consecration).
For the non-pilgrim, therefore, sacrificing an animal keeps alive the spiritual connection between the non-pilgrim and the hujjaj and in thus a fifth way for non-pilgrims to participate indirectly in the hajj. The animal sacrifice by non-pilgrims on `Id al-Adha and the subsequent days of tashriq is intended to make Muslim hearts beat in unison with the hearts of the hujjaj gathered at the sacred places in Makkah.
These then are five ways in which non-pilgrims can observe the sacredness of this season of hajj, and share some of the great blessings of the hajj by participating indirectly and vicariously in the hajj.
In conclusion, one of the great contemporary Indian scholars of Islam, Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (may Allah bless his soul) used to call the season of Hajj as:
“Rabi’ al-Hubb wa al-Hanan” (the season of love and affection).
Let us embrace and celebrate this season of hajj, as a season of love, peace, unity and piety for all Muslims and indeed all of humanity. hujjaj: