Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. It is an obligation on every muslim who fulfils the conditions for Hajj – financial and physical ability. The reward for performing Hajj is enormous – sins forgiven. As Hajj is so important in Islam, in this post I want to reflect on the outer and inner dimensions of Hajj as well as some of ways in which a the Hajji – pilgrim – can make the most of Hajj -pilgrimage.
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.”: Sunan Ibn Mājah 224
Knowledge of the relationship the worshipper has with His Lord and Creator
This relationship is his belief – the why behind his actions, and the actions themselves – the how of the do’s (obligations), and the do not’s (prohibitions). Knowledge must come before the action.When a person wants to perform Hajj, he must first make sure he is doing it for Allah and secondly learn the do’s and don’ts of performing hajj.
As for the prohibitions that must be avoided, is according to the individuals situation – for example its not an obligation for the blind person to learn what is haram to look at. If however, the person lives in a country where drinking alcohol, gambling and fornication is common and widespread, then it is an obligation to learn that these things are forbidden so as to avoid them. Prohibitions must be avoided at all times, but even more so during Hajj. In addition, there are a number of permissible things that when a person is in Ihram, that become haram.
As for Aqidah, or belief, if a person is in a country where bid’ah, innovation is commonplace then he must learn the sunnah in detail, just like a businessman who resides and does trade in a country where Riba is commonplace must learn Riba so he can be cautious and keep him away from it.
Fard al-kefiyyah Knowledge
As for the knowledge that is a collective obligation (Fard al-kefiyyah), it is every knowledge that is needed for the persons Dunya to be good like studying medicine to become a doctor, or finance to become an accountant or entrepreneur. If muslims did not learn these sciences and enter these professions, the entire community would be sinful. However, if some learnt and practised these sciences, the blame is lifted from everybody.
There are some sciences that are blameworthy and sinful to study and practice, like tarot card reading, fraud etc. As for the sciences of the Shariah, then all of them are praiseworthy and beneficial to learn. The two topics that are integral to know for every muslim are knowledge of Allah – belief – and knowledge of how to worship Allah – fiqh or islamic jurisprudence.
Seeking knowledge that is an individual obligation (Fard al-ayn) is relative to the persons situation;
- When a child reaches puberty, he must know the meaning of the Shahadah.
- When it’s time for Salah / prayer, it is obligatory to learn Taharah and Salah.
- If he has wealth, he must learn about Zakat.
- When Ramadan arrives, he must learn about Sawm.
- When its Hajj and he has the means to perform it, he must learn about Hajj.
When somebody intends to go Hajj, before he leaves he should prepare for Hajj by doing the following:
Tawbah means repentance, or in other words having the firm intention to stop sinning and ask forgiveness for sins past. When you go Hajj you are going to the house of Allah, the Ka’ba, the first house built for worship.
It is not allowed to spend money to perform hajj and delay repaying a due debt. It could be a reason for a decreased reward. Due debts should be paid and hajj performed with the remaining wealth.
Cover his family expenses
The person who is performing Hajj must also ensure he has left enough provision for his family – those whose maintenance is a financial obligation on him.
When he is planning to go on Hajj, he should pick good companions to go with who will:
- remind him of Allah when he forgets,
- help him when times are difficult and
- lift him up when he is down.
A Wise Amir
People are bound to differ, so it is important to have a leader, an Amir for the journey, who has the final say and who is looking out for the best interests of his companions.
When he departs saying farewell to his family, he should make du’a leaving them in the protection of Allah, supplicating with the well known du’a for leaving the house, getting on and off his transport, and learn the du’a that is said throughout the Hajj rites, when taking the Ihraam, Tawaf, Sa’ee, standing in Arafah, which is found in the well known book Fortress of the muslim.