When I was giving a Hajj seminar a few weeks ago for a group of participants from our community, I noticed that every individual was concerned about his or her Hajj check list more than anything else. They were literally paranoid and afraid that they might miss something or that they might carry with them an unnecessary load which might be troubling.
The Hajj list usually includes things like: Hajj manual, Ihram, safety belts, slippers or flip flops, enough clothes, water bottles, umbrella, sun screen, cash money and Oh yah, your ticket and passport. And did I mention the Hajj visa?
Unfortunately, people become so busy in the last few days before they travel to Makkah preparing for their journey that they forget about the real Hajj check list. Besides learning the practical rituals of Hajj and the smart tips to ensure our safety and the safety of others while there -which are usually the main focus of any regular Hajj seminar- Have we ever thought of creating a Hajj list that ensures this -probably once in a life time experience- is done correctly with no flaws? After all, a faultless Hajj receives no reward other than Al-Jannah.
If you plan to go to Hajj then you need to prepare a special check list besides the regular one.
These are what I believe are the most essential items on your Hajj check list.
In the practice of the many diverse Muslim cultures, performing Hajj is considered an honor and a great sacrifice. Hence, an event of such significance in ones life should not just pass trivial without any special recognition. One way of recognizing an individual who goes to hajj is by granting him or her a special honorary title; the prefix ‘Hajj’ or ‘Hajji’ for the man and ‘Hajjah’ for the woman prior to pronouncing their name. Such trivial thing for some is sacred for others. In some cultures you don’t even dare call the person by his or her name anymore without the preceding hajj title. So he becomes Hajj Ahmad or Hajj Abu Muhammad and she becomes Hajjah Fatima or Umm Muhammad. Whoops! Did I just forget to say ‘Hajjah’ Umm Muhammad?
In some other cultures, special attire is worn to recognize the Hajji from the non Hajji people. For men it is usually a special turban. Usually it comes with some flashing, shiny colors.
These are just few of the many ways people are recognized for their sacrifice and visit of the Holy Sites in Makkah. And I’m sure every single Muslim locality around the globe has its own ceremonies and Hajj festivities.
There are more reasons for people who undertake the journey to Makkah than these traditional ones. Some reasons are good and some are not. Some are reasonable and some are absurd.
One of the most absurd reasons people go to hajj for is to go and fight with devil. Yes, you read it right: ‘Basically I’m gonna go there and stone him to death.’ as one once proclaimed before me. My response? Well, a sheer smile. I’m sure the feelings were genuine when these words were uttered but we should really have a better understanding of Hajj.
It is not Haram to enjoy the privileges of hajj, and there is no harm done for being recognized for good-doing. But when it comes to performing Hajj, the intention must be checked thoroughly and scrutinized carefully.
Why should one go for Hajj?
In the few ayat in the Qur’an about Hajj, divided between few number of Surahs in the Qur’an mainly Al-Baqarah, Ibrahim alayhis salaam and Al-Hajj we shall explore why we should really go to Hajj.
The first reason to bear in mind is the ultimate submission to the call of Allah.
“ولله على الناس حج البيت من استطاع إليه سبيلا ومن كفر فإن الله غني عن العالمين”
“Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah, those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures.” Al-Imran 3:97
“وأتموا الحج والعمرة لله”
“And complete the Hajj or Umra in the service of Allah” Al-Baqarah 2:196
You go for Hajj because Allah commands you to do so, and your intention is to submit to the will of Allah. You travel there with full humbleness and humility to Allah, moments of humility in a position of dignity.
When it comes to the obedience of Allah there should be no question asked.
“وقالوا سمعنا وأطعنا غفرانك ربنا وإليك المصير.”
“And they say: “We hear, and we obey, (we seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys.” Al-Baqara 2:285
It is Allah who is above questioning and everyone else is not.
It feels so great making Tawaf around the Ka’ba when you’re submerged in waves of human beings, hundreds of thousands from all walks of life, and you’re just one of many. It feels so great knowing that Allah sees you there, deals with you individually and answers your calls. Subdue your ego, and He’ll be there for you and for you alone.
The second reason, answering the call of our forefather Ibrahim alayhis salaam.
When Ibrahim alayhis salaam first left his family in the dead barren valley of Makkah he knew it was a sacred site, the site of the first house of worship ever built on earth. He asked Allah to bring people to it and direct their hearts to its residents.
“ربنا إني أسكنت من ذريتي بواد غير ذي زرع عند بيتك المحرم ربنا ليقيموا الصلاة فاجعل أفئدة من الناس تهوي إليهم وارزقهم من الثمرات لعلهم يشكرون.”
“O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Thy Sacred House; in order, O our Lord, that they may establish regular Prayer: so fill the hearts of some among men with love towards them, and feed them with Fruits: so that they may give thanks.” Ibrahim 14:37
And Allah answered his call.
Furthermore Ibrahim alayhis salaam was instructed to reconstruct the Sacred House and call upon people to fulfill the duty they owe to Allah, the duty of visiting this sacred site.
“وأذن في الناس بالحج يأتوك رجالا وعلى كل ضامر يأتين من كل فج عميق”
“And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men; they will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways;” Al-Hajj 22:27
In Tafsir Al-Tabari and Ibn Katheer, Ibrahim alayhis salaam wondered how he could deliver this message to the world; and the answer came to him: “You make the call, and We’ll shall make the delivery.” Thereupon he mounted one of the mountains surrounding the Ka’ba and made his call loudly for people to visit the House of Allah and Allah made it reach beyond Prophet Ibrahim’s human voice. It flew to remote distances and destinations.
Since that particular time people started flocking towards one destination from every corner of the world in such a magnificent scene. All going to Makkah.
So when you move out of the luxury of your home wherever you’re coming from or walk out of your hotel in Aziziyyah around Makkah, or even your tent in Mina, remember that you are the answer to this perpetual call. It is the respect we pay to our beloved forefather Ibrahim alayhis salaam and a show of dutifulness to him.
The third reason for going for Hajj, is to purify your heart from anybody but Allah, in genuine sincerity and Tawheed.
“وأذان من الله ورسوله إلى الناس يوم الحج الأكبر أن الله برئ من المشركين ورسوله”
“And an announcement from Allah and His Messenger, to the people (assembled) on the day of the Great Pilgrimage – that Allah and His Messenger dissolve (treaty) obligations with the Pagans. If then, ye repent, it were best for you;” At-Tawbah 9:3
The Hajj is an opportunity to renew your covenant with Allah, that you worship none but Him. Why did you undertake the journey to Makkah anyway if you didn’t believe in Him?
You go there to purify your acts of worship. There are no shrines in Makkah except for what Allah has already placed. Therefore keep your acts of worship pure to Him alone.
“وإذ بوأنا لإبراهيم مكان البيت ألا تشرك بي شيئا وطهر بيتي للطائفين والقائمين والركع السجود.”
“Behold! We gave the site, to Ibrahim, of the (Sacred) House, (saying): “Associate not anything (in worship) with Me; and sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer).” Al-Hajj 22:26
It is a very sad scene to see people traveling all along from their homeland to Makkah enduring the hardships of travel and the perils of this journey carrying with them their amulets and charms.
What is more troubling is the notion people arrive with, that is to carry with them on the way back home some religious icons purchased from Makkah for the sake of protection or blessings. They don’t even realize that most of the merchandises they buy there were made in China. China?!! Its not even from the People of the Book.
By the way, it is still Halal to buy stuff from there, even if it was made in China.
Allah detests the act of deviation in the home of purity and sincerity.
“ومن يرد فيه بإلحاد بظلم نذقه من عذاب أليم” الحج 25
“And any whose purpose therein is deviation or associating partners, them will We cause to taste of a most grievous Penalty.” Al-Hajj 22:25
One of the common misconceptions about Hajj which is found almost equally amongst some Muslims and many non Muslims is that we worship the Ka’ba. The Messenger of Allah made it clear that the sanctity of the Muslim blood is greater than the sanctity of the Ka’ba itself, and yet you see people fight each other over the Ka’ba let alone the Black Stone ‘Al-hajar Al-Aswad’.
Yes indeed, it gives you such a great emotional and spiritual rush when you approach the Ka’ba. I have seen people collapse as they lay their sight on the Ka’ba first time in life, I have seen people break in tears the moment they enter the main court surrounding the Ka’ba. I have seen many emotional moments that break your ego and crushes your arrogance as you enter the Grand Masjid – ‘Al-Masjid Al-Haraam’ – and if you don’t feel the same when you’re there then your heart is already in a coma and you need to be put in an intensive spiritual care unit until you wake up from your heedlessness.
The tears we shed, the cries we proclaim, the agonies we demonstrate and all the load we throw there are done for Allah the Lord of that Sacred House.
“فليعبدوا رب هذا البيت”
“Let them worship the Lord of this House” Quraysh 106:3
Some people out of false ecstasy and fake reverence refuse to give the Ka’ba their back on their way out. They keep walking backwards facing the Ka’ba causing traffic jam and subject other worshipers to hardships. May Allah reward them for their passions and intentions but the Messenger of Allah never instructed us to do so. It is the Lord of this House that we worship not the House itself.
Ok now how about going there with multiple intentions? Such as making business while I’m there? You probably have seen the peddlers, street vendors, and even chai sellers moving around between the tents of the Hujjaj.
There is nothing wrong with that. It is absolutely Halal.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala says:
“ليس عليكم جناح أن تبتغوا فضلا من ربكم…”
“It is no crime in you if ye seek of the bounty of your Lord (during pilgrimage).” Al-Baqarah 2:198
So never mind, you can still carry your business cards or résumé with you, and yes you can still make profit there.
Of course making a single intention is better, but no one has the right to make Haram what Allah has already made Halal for you.
The first item on your Hajj check list is done. Intention: Check.
Coming in Part Two
a. The best provision
b. The rites of Allah
a. Dhikr and remembrance
b. Istighfaar (Seeking forgiveness)
d. Tawaf, Salat, I’tikaaf