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The History and Islaamic Purification of 'Haj

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’Haj (pilgrimage) being a significant entity of the foundation of Islaam, it is important to understand its history in order to reflect on its value today.

Pilgrimage was established during the time of Prophet Abraham (P.B.U.H.). Allaah says in the ’Qura~n: “And remember when We showed Abraham the site of the [Sacred] House [saying]: Associate not anything [in worshipping] with Me and purify My House for those who circumambulate it [i.e. perform ’tawaaf] and those who stand up for prayer and those who bow down and make prostration [in prayer].” [Chapter of Al’haj: 26].
Just as Islaam revived many important rituals and concepts, pilgrimage’s role was re-established to its correct context during the time of prophet Mu’hammad (P.B.U.H.).

Prior to the purification of ’haj by Islaam, its purpose and practice was led astray.

Unlike any other religion, Islaam is the only religion that managed to maintain its purity; hence it preserved its everlasting religious virtues.
The pre-Islaamic history of pilgrimage is one of the many examples that illustrate how Islaam preserved itself from the time of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) until today.
This is one of the miraculous characteristics of this beautiful religion of truthfulness.

The Ka‘abah is of eminence to Islaam and ’haj due to it being the first building dedicated to the sole worship of Allaah.

It was ordained by Allaah for prophet Abraham (P.B.U.H.) and his son, Ishmael (P.B.U.H.) to build it.

Allaah says in the ’Qura~n: “Lo! The first house (of worship) founded for mankind was that at Bakkah; a blessing and guidance for all people”. [Chapter of A~l ‘Imraan :96]. Prophet Abraham (P.B.U.H.) was the first of mankind to initiate and practice ’haj.
To maintain organization for the circumambulation of the Ka‘abah, Prophet Abraham (P.B.U.H.) placed a stone on the eastern side of it marking the starting point.

It is interesting to note that Prophet Mu’hammad (P.B.U.H.) explained originally this stone was an illuminated white colour brought down from paradise but became a dull black colour metaphorically representing the sins of mankind.  Hence, it is now referred to as the Black Stone.

On an annual basis, prophet Abraham (P.B.U.H.) would perform ’haj in Makkah. This practice was continued by his son Ishmael (P.B.U.H.) and followers until this day.

During Prophet Abraham’s time, the people progressively developed and embraced Bid‘ah, which in turn influenced pilgrimage to slowly drift away from its true essence.

Instead of ’haj being intended for the sake of Allaah, it became a display of tribal leaders flaunting their assets and possessions to gain power and prestige.

They had competitions over which tribes were more generous. Their munificence is presented by slaughtering scores of cattle, specifically camels, which was a representation of wealth and power.
At the time, poetry was practised by those who were exalted and contests and shows were presented at the Ka‘abah.

The tribal leaders competed with each other to receive acknowledgements by the renowned poetic leaders. Their methodology of worship to Allaah became a disgrace.

The pilgrimage ritual of ’Tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka‘abah) was lowered to a lustful event that lost all sense of religious spiritual value.
There became a point when men and women circumambulated the Ka‘abah without any clothing, in response to a ruling that cloths worn during this ritual must be purchased with money that was not tarnished by earnings from usury, prostitution, theft, murder, gambling, etc.

Any cloths worn by pilgrims had, in the eyes of the upholders of the law, to be free from any doubtful money, irrespective of how little that might have been.

This meant that there were scores of men and women who could not afford ‘pure’ outfits and had to carry out the circumambulation ritual fully naked.

In prayer they incorporated clapping, horn blowing, and whistling. Even people were begging for food throughout their journey to ’haj claiming they are practising piety and leaving their trust in Allaah.

The acclamation of monotheism was distorted to saying “No one is your partner except one who is permitted by you. You are his master and the master of what he possesses.” The tribes began the assimilation of idol worshipping as part of the religion.

This marked the end of their monotheistic beliefs and officially categorized them as non-believers. By beginning with small Bid‘ahs, the initial followers of Abraham set themselves up to becoming the enemies of Allaah.

Finally, two and a half thousand years later, Prophet Abraham’s prayer asking Allaah: “Our Lord! Send amongst them a Messenger of their own, who shall recite unto them your A~yaat (verses) and instruct them in the book and the Wisdom and sanctify them. Verily you are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise].” [Chapter of Alba’qarah: 129] was answered.

To the salvation of the misguided people, Allaah sent Prophet Mu’hammad (P.B.U.H.).

The Prophet (P.B.U.H.) said: “Take your rites of ’haj from me alone”.  It took him approximately 21 years to reiterate the proper religious practices and establish the authenticity of ’haj.

Allaah says in the ’Qura~n : “There is to be no lewdness nor wrangles during ’haj” [Chapter of Alba’qarah: 197]. This verse was declared in reference to the dishonourable acts of the pre-Islaamic era.

The intent in the action of each deed was restored to its solitary purpose of seeking utmost pleasure of Allaah.

Showing off during Pilgrimage deviates from the purpose of performing ’haj, which nullifies the deed altogether.
Allaah says: “So mention the name of Allaah over these animals when they are drawn up in lines. Then, when they are drawn on their sides [after the slaughter], eat thereof and feed the beggar who does not ask, and the beggar who asks” [Chapter of Al’haj :36].

Prophet Mu’hammad (P.B.U.H.) assured idols were smashed and deviant practices were eliminated. Once again, monotheism became the theme of ’haj. This marked the revival of ’haj and the true and pure spirituality of the people.
Dania Al-deen -
Dania Zafar Futhl Al-deen is an honours undergraduate college student in international business and finance with a minorin government world affairs in the USA.Read More >>


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