The Religion Of Islam vol.2

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  • The Religion Of Islam vol.2

  • Chapter IV - Pilgrimage

    Pilgrimage As A Fundamental Institution

    Pilgrimage to Mecca is performed in the month of Zul Hijja, the twelfth month of the Islamic year. It is the fifth pillar of the Muslim practical religion and an incumbent religious duty, to be performed once during life-time. It is founded upon express injunctions in the Koran. It is a divine institution and has the following interpreted authority in the Koran for its due observance:-

    “And proclaim to the people a pilgrimage. They will come to you on foot and on every fleet camel coming from remote defile.”


    “The rites of pilgrimage are performed in the well-known months, so whoever determines the performance of the pilgrimage therein, let him not transgress by intercoursing with women, or by making unlawful dispute or any wrangling, and whatever good you may do, God certainly knows it. And make provision (for you journey); but the best provision is the fear of God. O men of understanding, be careful to your duty towards God.”


    “It shall be no sin with you in seeking bounty([1]) from your Lord, so when you hasten on from Arafat then remember God, Who has guided you, though, before, you were certainly going astray.”


    “When you have performed your sacred rites, then laud([2]) God as you do your own fathers, or with a yet more intense lauding. But there are some people who say, Lord, give us (our portion) in this world: but such shall have no portion in the here after.”

    “And some other people say, Our Lord, grant us good in this world and good in the next and save us from the chastisement of the fire.”


    “These shall have the lot of what they have earned: God is swift in reckoning.”


    “The first house (mosque) founded of mankind is that of Mecca. Be it blessed! It is guidance to human beings.”


    “And the pilgrimage to that mosque to that mosque is a devotional service, due to God, upon every one (Muslim) who is able to undertake the journey thither.”


    Certain Rites of the Institution

    Preparatory: pilgrimage is a fundamental ordinance of practical devotion in Islam; and it represents the last stage in the spiritual progress in this life.

    Of the principal requirements of the pilgrimage is what is called ihrâm, which represents the severance of all worldly connections. All these costly and fashionable dresses, in which the inner self is so oftenmistaken for the outward appearance, are cast off, and the pilgrim has only two seamless wrappers to cover himself, and thus shows that in his love for his master, he is ready to cast off all lower connections. The other important requirement is making circuits round the kába. called tawâf, and running between two appointed small hills known as Al-Safa and Al-Marwa, called sáay. and these are all external manifestations ofthat fire of divine love which has been kindled within the heart, so that like the true lover the pilgrim makes circuits round the house of his beloved.


    To call these movements of a true lover  “puerile rites and ceremonies.” as Christian writers do, is not only to show contempt for the Christ-like appearance of the pilgrim. but to deny that love to God is anythingbut mere talk.


    Of the rites to be observed in connection with the institution of pilgrimage is the kissing of a monumental “Black Stone”. When making certain appointed circuits round the kába. A few words are necessary to beadded in order to clear away serious misunderstanding relating both to the kába and the Black Stone, which are the subject of wrong conclusions drawn by foreign writers.


    These writers presume that the honour thus given to the kába is a remnant of the pre-Islamic Arab polytheism or idolatry. Even the idolatrous Arabs never worshipped the kába, though they had placed in it so many idols which they worshipped. It should also be borne in mind that the Black Stone which the Muslim pilgrims have to kiss while they are making their circuits round the kába was not one of the Arab idols, nor can the kissing of it when performing the pilgrimage be looked upon as a remnant of idolatry. That stone stands only as a monument: “The stone which the builder refused is become the head-stone of thecorner.”(Ps.,118:22). Ishmael was looked upon as rejected, and the covenant was considered to have been with the children of Isaac or the Israelites, yet it was rejected stone, for which the Black Stone at kába, theplace where Ishmael was cast, stands for a monument, that was to become the “head-stone of the corner.” The Black Stone is unknown so it is “The Stone that was cut out of the mountain without hands.”(Daniel,2:45). Jesus Christ made this very clear in the parable of the husbandman, when he plainly told the Israelites that the vineyard (i.e. the Kingdom of God) would be taken from them and given to “other husbandmen”, i.e. to non-Israelite people, immediately giving indication of that people in the words.


    “Did you never read in the scripture: The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.”(Matt.,21:42) and again emphasized his objects in the words:” The Kingdom of God shallbe taken from and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”(Matt., 21:43), thus showing that Jesus was referring to a rejected nation. Hence if the “Black Stone.” Is kissed it is not kissed as an idol or as aheathen God but as a monument of the rejection of a nation which was to become the “corner Stone” in the Divine kingdom


    Sunni Way of Performing The Pilgrimage

    As already stated, the enjoined pilgrimage to Mecca and the Sacred House of God, i.e. the Holy ancient Mosque, is performed in the month of Zul Hijja, the 11th lunar month of the A.H. calendar, and the pilgrimmust reach Mecca before the 7th day of that month. As regards the formalities to be observed during the pilgrimage, every Muslim can easily learn them from the instructors, who are usually locally appointed by theauthorities to instruct the laity pilgrims as to what to do, although the literate may get all information required on the rites to be observed by consulting the books of laws before leaving for their journey.


    The following is a complete summary of the principal rites in connection with the institution of the pilgrimage as observed by the Sunni or Orthodox Muslims:


    Upon the pilgrim’s arrival at the last stage near Mecca, he bathes himself, and performs two rak`âts and then divests himself of his clothes to assume the pilgrim’s robe, which is called ihrâm. This garment consistsof two seamless wrappers, one being wrapped round the waist and the other thrown loosely over the shoulder, the head being always left uncovered ([3]). Sandals may be also worn, but not boots or shoes. After having assumed the pilgrim’s garb, he must not anoint his head, shave any part of his body, pare his nails, nor wear any other than the ihrâm. The pilgrim, having now entered upon the hajj (pilgrimage institution),faces Mecca and makes the niyya (intention) by saying: “O God, I purpose to perform the hajj ; make this devotional service easy to me and accept it from me.” He then proceeds on his journey to the sacred city andon his way, as well as different periods during the pilgrimage he recites, alone or with the company of his fellow pilgrims, in a loud voice, the pilgrim’s supplication called the talbiya (a word signifying waiting orkeeping stand for orders). In Arabic it runs thus:-----


    Labbayka, allahumma labbayka.

                                        Labbayka ;  sharika lak, labbayka.

                                        Innal-hamda wan-ni`-mata lak.

                                        Wal-mulko lak

                                        Lâ sharika lak.”


    Which may be rendered in English as follow: -

    “I stand up for Thy Service, O God.

                            I stand up.

    “I stand up. There is no partner with Thee.

     I stand up.

                            Verily Thine is the praise, the blessing

                            and the Kingdom.

                            There is no partner with Thee.”

    Immediately on his arrival at Mecca the hâjj performs legal ablution in the Masjidul-Harâm (the sacred Mosque of Mecca) and then kisses the Black Stone. He then encompasses the kába seven times; three timesat a quick stop or run, and four times at a slow pace. These acts are called tawâf or the circuit, and are performed by commencing on the right and leaving the kába on the left. Each time as the pilgrim passes roundthe kába, he touches the Ruknul-Yaman or the Yemen corner, and kisses the Black Stone. He then proceeds to the Maaâmu-Ibrâhîm, or the seat of Abraham, where he recites the verse 125 of the second Chapter ofthe Koran: “Wattakhizû min maqâ Ibrânhim Mu-ssallâ, i.e.” Take ye the station or seat of Abraham for a place of  prayer,” and performs prayers of two rak`âts.


    He then goes to the gate of the Sacred Mosque leading to Mount Al-safa, and from it he ascends the hill, reciting in a loud voice the verse 158 of the second Chapter of the Koran: “In-nas-Safâ wal Marwâ min Sh’â-‘ir-il-Lâh”, i.e.” Verily Al-Safa and Al-Marawa are counted as rites of the Divine Service of God.” Having arrived at the summit of the hill turning towards the Ka`ba, he recites the following ;


    “Lâ il-lal-Lâh,  ilâha-il-al-Lâh wahdah; lâ sharika lah ; sadaqa wa`dah wa nasara abdah; wa hazamal-ahzâba wahdah, la ilaha illal-Lah”i.e.


    “There is no deity save God (Allah). There is no deity but Allah alone. He has no partner. He has executed His promise, and has given victory to his servant (Muhammad), and He has alone defeated the hosts ofinfidels. There is no deity save God.”


    These words are recited thrice. He then runs from the top of Mount Al-safa to the summit of Mount AL-Marwa seven times, repeating the aforesaid supplication or prayer.

    This is the sixth day, the evening of which is spent at Mecca, where he again encompasses the kába once.


    On the seventh day he listens to the khutba, or oration, in the Sacred Mosque, on the excellence of the pilgrimage and the necessary duties required of all true Muslims. On the following day, which is called theday of tarwiya ([4]) (satisfying thirst), he proceeds with his fellow-pilgrims to a place called Mina, where he spends the night, performing the usual service of the Muslim rites.


    On the next day, it being the ninth of the month, all pilgrims proceed to Mount Arafat where they spend the whole day, performing the midday and afternoon stated prayers, and hearing the sermon and spendingthe time in reciting the Koran or making humble-supplications to God, asking His favour of forgiveness of their sins and soliciting His guidance to a virtuous life, etc. Before sunset the pilgrim leaves Arafat for a stage called Al-Muzdalifa, a place between Mina and Arafat, where he should arrive for the sunset and night prayers.


    The next day, it being the tenth of the month and known all through the Muslim world as Yawmul-nahrior the day of sacrifice and celebrated as the “Eid-el-abhâ”, or the great feast known in the West as Kurban Bairam. Early in the morning, having said their prayers at Al-Muzdalifa, the pilgrims proceed in a body to three monumental pillars at Mina. The pilgrim casts seven small stones or pebbles at each of these pillars, this ceremony being called ram-yol-jumâr, or throwing of the pebbles. Holding the pebbles (which he can easily pick up from the sand at the locality), between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand, the pilgrim throws it at a distance of some fifteen feet, and says: “In the name of God, the Almighty, I do this, and in hatred of the devil and his shame.” The remaining pebbles are thrown in the same way at each of the other pillars.


    The pilgrim then returns to Mina and performs the sacrifice of the Bairam – “Eid-elAd-ha.  The victim may be a sheep, a goat, a cow, or even a camel, according to the means of the pilgrim.


    When slaughtering the pilgrim says in a loud voice: “Allâhu akbar,” God is Greater, O God, accept this sacrifice from me.”

    This ceremony concludes the pilgrimage; and there hâjj or pilgrim then gets himself shaved, his nails pared, and the ihrâm, or pilgrim’s garment is taken off and replaced by the usual dress. Although the pilgrimage rites are over by this time, he should have rest at Macca for the following three days, which are known as ayyâmul-tashriq, or the days of drying up of the blood of the sacrifice –three well– earned days of rest after the peripatetic performance of the last four days.


    Before leaving Mecca for good, the pilgrim should once more perform the circuits round the Ka’ba and throw stones at the Satanic pillars at Mina seven times. He must also drink of the water of the famous well near the Ka’ba, known as Zamzam well.


    The throwing of these stones or pebbles against the aforesaid monumental pillars represents a deeply rooted hearty intention on the part of the pilgrim, that he will never again follow the foot-steps of wicked, naughty or bad company or to listen to evil suggestions, usually known as the path of the devil or Satan. This practice can by no means be mistaken for an idolatry presentation. It is rather a meritorious act of self-suggestion.

    Most Muslims then go to Al-Medina to visit the shrine of their Prophet. city.


    From the time the pilgrim has assumed the ihrâm until he takes it off, he must abstain from worldly affairs and devote himself entirely to the duties of devotion. He is not allowed to hunt or kill game. He is prohibited to unite in sexual intercourse, make vainglory dispute, commit any unlawful act, or to use bad language or insulting words.


    The appointed pilgrimage known as hajj, as already stated, can only be performed on the appointed days of the month of Zul Hijjah. But a visitation can be meritoriously made to the Sacred Mosque at Mecca at any time of the year; and in this case it is not called pilgrimage, but it takes the name of “umra”, meaning visitation to the Holy Mosque.


    If the pilgrim happens to arrive at Mecca as late as the ninth day of the month, he can still perform his dutiful pilgrimage legally if he can join the pilgrims when at Mount Arafat on that day.


    The Pilgrimage cannot be performed by Proxy according to the Sunni or Orthodox School of Law. But if a Muslim on his death-bed bequeaths a sum of money to be paid to a certain person in order to perform the pilgrimage by proxy, this is considered as satisfying the claims of the Muslim Law.


    It is regarded a highly meritorious act to pay the expenses of a poor Muslim who cannot afford to perform the pilgrimage.

    If a Muslim has the means of performing the pilgrimage, and omits to do so, he is considered to have committed a great sin.


    According to the sayings of the Prophet, the merits of a pilgrimage to the Sacred Mosque (the house of Allah at Mecca) are very great:


    He who make a pilgrimage for God’s sake, and does not talk loosely, not act wickedly, shall return from it as pure from sin as the day on which he was born.” Verily pilgrimage and ‘umra (visitation to the Holy Mosque) put away poverty and sin like the fire of a forge which removes dross’. ”When you see a pilgrim, salute and embrace him, and request him to ask pardon of God for you, for his sins have been forgiven and his supplications may be accepted.”


    Summary Of The Fundamental

    Enjoinments Relating

    To Pilgrimage


    he principal rites to be observed in connection with the institution of the pilgrimage are:-

    1.   Ihrâmthat is entering the sacred land in a state of ihrâm in which the ordinary clothes are put off and all pilgrims wear one kind of apparel, consisting to two seamless sheets, leaving the head uncovered, except in case of women pilgrims who cover their heads.
    2.    Tawâf,, or making circuits round the Ka’ba seven times.
    3.   Sa’y, or running seven times between two small hills neighbouring the Ka’ba, known as Al-Safa and Al-Marwa.
    4.   Staying in the plain of Mount Arafat on the 9th day of the month of pilgrimage (Zul Hijja), where the noon and afternoon prayers shall be said.


    It will be seen that the state of ihrâm makes all men and women stand upon one plane of equality, all wearing the same very simple dress and living in the same conditions. All distinctions of rank and colour, of wealth and nationality, disappear; and the prince is now indistinguishable from the peasant. The whole of humanity assumes one aspect, one attitude, before the Master. Thus the greatest and noblest sight of human equality is witnessed in that wonderful desert plain called “Arafat” which makes man obtain a better knowledge of his Creator, the word “Arafat” being derived from arafa, meaning he came to acquire knowledge (of something). The whole of the world is unable to present so noble a picture of real brotherhood and equality.


    The condition of pilgrim and the different movements connected with the pilgrimage, the making of circuits and running to and fro, in fact represent the stage in which the worshipper is imbued with the spirit of true love of the Divine Being. That love of God which is so much talked of in other religious becomes here a reality. The fire of divine love being kindled in the heart, the worshipper now, like a true lover, neglects all cares of the body, and finds his highest satisfaction in sacrificing his very heart and soul for the beloved One’s sake; and like the true lover he makes circuits round the house of his beloved and hastens on from place to place. He shows, in fact, that he has given up his own will and sacrificed all his interests for His sake.


    The lower connections have been cut off, and all the comforts of this world have lost their attraction for the Lord. The pilgrim, indeed, represents the last stage of spiritual advancement, and by his outward condition and his movements the pilgrim only announces to the whole world how all the lower connections must be cut off to reach the great goal of human perfection and nearness to God, which can only be attained by holding true communion with the Unseen Divine Being.


    Stanley Lane Pool’s Comments


    ommenting on the institution of the pilgrimage, Stanley Lane Pool – a prominent Orientalist –makes the following remarkable comment, which may throw still more light on the subject: -


    “This same pilgrimage is often urged as a sign of Mohammad’s tending to superstition and even idolatry. It is asked how the destroyer of idols could have reconciled his conscience to the circuits of the “Kaaba” and the veneration of the “Black Stone”. But the fact is that Mohammad perceived that the worship in the “Kaaba” would prove of real value to the religion. He swept away the more idolatrous and immoral part of the ceremonies, and retained the pilgrimage to Mecca and the old veneration of the temple for reasons of which the wisdom is impossible to dispute. He well knew the consolidating effect of forming a centre to which his followers should gather; and hence he reasserted the sanctity of the Black Stone. He ordained that everywhere throughout the world the Muslim should pray looking towards the “Kaaba” and he enjoined him to make the pilgrimage thither. Mecca is to the Muslim what Jerusalem is to the Jew. It bears with it all the influence of centuries of associations. It carries the Muslim back to the cradle of his faith, the childhood of his Prophet; it reminds him of the struggle between the old faith of idolatry and the new one (Islam), of the overthrow of the idols, and the establishment of the worship of the one true God. And most of all, it bids the Muslim remember that all his brother-Muslims are worshipping towards the same sacred spot, that he is one of a great company of believers, united by one faith, filled with the same hopes, reverencing the same thing, worshipping the same God.”([5])


    [1])) Bounty here stand for trading. What is meant is that there is no harm is seeking an increase of wealth by trading in Mecca in the pilgrimage season. before the advent of Islam, fairs were held for trading purposes in the pilgrimage season. The Muslims thought it a sin to take part in this, and they are told that trade was not forbidden to them even in these days.

    (2) In the days of ignorance, i.e. before the advent of Islam, the Arabs used to boast among themselves of the greatness of their fathers or forefathers after they had performed their pilgrimage. They were now bidden to laud God who would make them much greater than their forefathers. 

     ([3])But women must always keep their heads covered.

    (1) The 8th  day of the pilgrimage is so called because the pilgrims happen to give drinking water to their camels.

    ([5]) Vide introduction to Lane’s Selections, page 94.

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