A Systematic Study of the Holy Qur’an — Fundamental Duties
Faith and prayer are primarily meant to ensure physical, mental, social and spiritual peace of individuals. Fasting and Zakah are aimed, in addition, at social and national peace. With Hajj, the system of peace assumes global dimensions. The annual pilgrimage at Mecca, the birth city of Muhammad (Peace be upon him!) and the seat of Ka’ba, the first place of the worship of God on the Earth, is a reminder to the world that Islam’s mission of peace has global aims. And it is a reminder to Muslims that they must earnestly endeavour in that direction. It disseminates the message of universal brotherhood and equality irrespective of race, colour and creed not only among Muslims but also among the rest of mankind. Pilgrimages are popular in many religious communities, but again the pilgrimage of Islam has a very special significance.
- It is associated with the first place of worship on the Earth, which serves as a symbol of monotheism, giving this a special historical and evolutionary significance. The symbolisation is of paramount importance. This being the greatest symbol of theunity of God it also becomes the greatest symbol of the unity of mankind. It is reminded that since the beginning of the human history man has been told to worship only one God. If certain sections of the human race have chosen to dilute monotheism, in one way or the other, or have stooped to frank polytheism, it is their own error of judgement. The gathering at Mecca is also a symbol of the finality of Muhammad (Peace be upon him!) as the Prophet of God and Qur’an as the guiding force. If the world desires to have perfect peace in this world and Hereafter, they must bow to the commands of God, dispatched to them through the embassy of Muhammad (Peace be upon him!). The unity of mankind cannot be a practical reality unless the whole of mankind submits to one system. Only a system of God can be the rallying point for them. The historical significance of the place linking it to Adam, the forefather of all human beings and Abraham, the Patriarch of all Semitic religions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam is indisputable. This refreshes in the minds of Muslims their relationship to the wholemankind and their very special relationship to Jews and Christians. Thus Muslims extend an olive branch to the whole mankind especially to Jews and Christians conveying to them that they have common historical, spiritual and biological roots.
- It is a comprehensive, highly systematic and perfectly co-ordinated exercise having spiritual, collective, socio-economic and global dimensions. Pilgrims understand that this is a lifetime opportunity to seek God’s forgiveness for their sins, enhance their proximity to their Guardian and mend their ways. They sacrifice their time, their money, their emotional attachment to their nears and dears and their physical comforts for the pleasure of God. Their total involvement in spiritually elevating rituals for several weeks goes a long way to make them better human beings; a person who has performed Hajj has an increased credibility in the eyes of the people.
- People from all over the world gather at Mecca not only to pay obeisance to the Lord but also to listen to the sermon of Imam, who has an unparalleled opportunity to bring home Islam’s message of universal brotherhood, equality, justice, peace, to call for unity against the forces of evils, destabilisation, oppression and exploitation and to emphasise the role of God’s system in the world affairs. All pilgrims adorn the same cloth, join prayers together without any discrimination and invoke God collectively. This provides a unique spectacle of equality and brotherhood and determination to fight against evils.
- Visits to various places of historical importance at Mecca and Medina rekindle revolutionary fervour in hearts, minds and souls of pilgrims. They recollect the huge sufferings of Prophet Muhammad (Blessings and Peace be upon him!) and his followers in the face of the severest kind of persecution and hostility, their unflinching faith in God, their unshakeable determination and their ultimate triumph. When they return home, normally they are much transformed persons; most of them if not all demonstrate visible changes in their attitude towards themselves and the people around themselves. They are less likely to reach the same level of vices they had touched before they had embarked upon the pilgrimage. Many of them lead a truly pious life throughout the rest of their life.
Pilgrimage in Quran
A time came when We gave the charge of the site of the (Sacrosanct) House to Abraham (with the following instructions): “Do not adulterate My worship with the worship of any other entity; and make My House pure for the people engaged in Tawaf (Circumambulation), Qiyam (Standing for blessings in prayers) and Ruku (bending on hip) cum Sajdah (prostrating with the forehead on the earth). And (once done), declare it open to the mankind for Pilgrimage. (people) will come to you on foot and on various kinds of camels through available routes from distant places in the hope that they see the evidence of its benefits for them and on the prescribed days chant the Name of God on the cattle provided for the purpose, eating part of it themselves and giving the rest to the needy poor. Subsequently, let them finish with the rituals, fulfil their vows and continue with the circumambulation of the Ancient House.”(22: 27–29)
Hajj and Umra
Further, complete the Main Pilgrimage (Hajj) or Complimentary Pilgrimage (Umra) for God. (2: 196)
(Note: Umra is the smaller pilgrimage one that is performed at a time other than that prescribed for Hajj.)
The months of Hajj (Main Pilgrimage) are well known. One should therefore complete this Duty within that period. (2: 197)
(Note: in the month of Dhil-Hajj.)
Hajj (Pilgrimage) to the House (of God in Mecca) is must for all persons who can afford to travel the distance. (3: 97)
… There is to be no obscenity, wickedness, or fighting (of any kind) during the Pilgrimage. (2: 197)
You will not commit any crime if (during pilgrimage) you look for earning the favour of your Lord. (2: 198)
Further, complete the Main Pilgrimage (Hajj) or Complimentary Pilgrimage (Umra) for God. But if you face hindrances, send what you can easily find for sacrifice; and do not shave your heads till the offering reaches the place of sacrifice. And if any of you happens to be ill or has an ailment in his scalp, the compensation is to either fast, or help the poor, or offer sacrifice; and when you are back to healthiness if any one wishes to continue the Umra turning it into the Hajj, he must make an easily affordable offering; in case he cannot afford it at all, he should fast for three days during the period of Pilgrimage and seven days after his return; that makes ten days in total. This is for the people whose families are not located near the Sacrosanct Mosque. And feel the awe of God, and know that God will be really hard in Coming Punishment. (2: 196)
Safa and Marwa
Now, when you pace down from Arafat, glorify God (openly and secretly) in the vicinity of the “Masher-al-Haram” (Sacred Monument) and glorify Him the way He has directed you; and you people used to be in dark in the past. (2: 198)
Following that, walk speedily at the place where the gathering of the people hurries through, and pray to God for amnesty. God is Forgiving-Merciful indeed. (2: 199)
Safa and Marwa are of course among the Emblems of God. So, if the persons visiting the House in the Season (of Chief Pilgrimage) or at other times take a round of them, it is nothing wrong for them. (2: 158/)
Certainly, the first House (of worship) constructed for the mankind was the one at Bakkah, an auspicious place and a source of guidance for the multi-world. There are clear evidences of the (towering) stature of Abraham in it; whoever enters it achieves peace. (3: 96–97)
(Note “Maqama Ibrahim” is normally translated as the Station of Abraham, a specific place in the area. But as the subsequent portions of the verse indicate, maqaam here may relate to the stature and status of Abraham.)
(Note: First five are also known as Pillars of Islam)