There are two aspects to every act of ‘ibadah in Islam: its physical (ritualistic) form, and its higher spiritual, communal, social, and moral purpose. The salah, for instance, is performed in a certain way but its true import lies in the fact that it is our direct link (sila) with Allah (swt).
There are two aspects to every act of ‘ibadah in Islam: its physical (ritualistic) form, and its higher spiritual, communal, social, and moral purpose. The salah, for instance, is performed in a certain way but its true import lies in the fact that it is our direct link (sila) with Allah (swt). Hajj is an even more demanding part of our din.
Every Muslim desirous and able to fulfill this obligation must leave his kith and kin and journey to Makkah. Modern transportation has made travel easy but the performance of Hajj is a demanding undertaking. It is both a journey in obedience as well as a conscious act of political defiance against taghut (concentration and abuse of power by illegitimate authority). It is a constant struggle against the material temptations of this world in order to achieve nearness to Allah (swt) by totally surrendering to His Will.
When Muslims stand at Arafat, dressed in two pieces of unstitched cloth, they turn their backs on this world. This purpose is only achieved by realizing that only Allah (swt) is the sole Power and Authority and only His Laws must be implemented on earth. Such awareness, however, is sadly lacking among most Muslims today.
This is both the consequence of history as well as part of a deliberate policy to reduce Islam to a set of rituals. When Muslims were dominant in the world, the rulers actively promoted the idea that there was no need to proclaim dissociation from the mushriks and the kafirs as commanded by Allah (swt) in the noble Qur’an (9:1–18). The Muslims were already in power, they argued. Thus, the conditions under which such dissociation was proclaimed did not exist. While this is a flawed interpretation of the divine message because Muslims must always guard against taghut, the fact is Muslims are no longer dominant. Their societies are controlled and manipulated, directly and indirectly, by taghut. The Qur’anic command of bara’a (dissociation) proclaimed in the above ayaat is particularly applicable to Muslims today. Yet the Saudi rulers that control the Haramayn (Makkah and Madinah) expressly forbid such proclamations.
Let us consider just one ayah from a set of many, “And an open declaration from Allah and His messenger to all mankind on the day of Hajj that Allah dissociates Himself from the mushriks as does His messenger…” (9:03). Most ‘alims in the Muslim world, regrettably, also no longer refer to this Qur’anic command.
The ritualization of din is part of a process in which Muslims are led to believe these are all they are required to do. Hajj, a powerful way to connect with Allah (swt) through word and deed, is far more than the performance of a few rituals. It is also not by chance that most of the pilgrims do not even know why Allah (swt) wants them to go through such a physically demanding exercise. Is there any purpose beyond visiting the House of Allah (swt), and going to Mina and Arafat for a specified number of days? No doubt these are important but are they the only acts Muslims are required to perform?
What is the purpose of Hajj and is it being realized? If not, what factors are preventing it, based on the teachings of the Qur’an and the life-struggle of Prophets Ibrahim and Muhammad (as)? Prophet Ibrahim (a) was declared a rebel by the taghut in his native land. For rejecting the false dieties/authorities and rebelling against their jahili system, he was thrown into the fire but miraculously saved by Allah (swt). Are we prepared to rebel against the taghut of our time (the imperialists and Zionists), or should we be content with simply indulging in empty rituals without understanding the nature of the struggle of Ibrahim (a)?