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By Yusuf Abdullahi
In the name of Allah who states “The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka: full of blessing and of guidance for all the worlds. In it are Signs Manifest: the station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; 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" Q3:96-97

Peace and blessings of Allah be upon His chosen servant, our master Muhammad and his purified progeny.
As noted earlier, Zulhaj is a sacred month to which the pious companions and rightly guided predecessors heeded. Its first ten days are regarded as the known days. In a well known hadeeth, the prophet is reported to have said “there are no days most loved before Allah in worship than the first ten days of Zulhajj”. So believers are highly encouraged to strive for the pleasure of Allah through prayers, fasting, meditation, Qur’anic recitation, asking Allah’s blessing on the noble prophet and humanitarian services. Prominent narrations by Kaf’amy, Majlisy and others equated fasting the nine days of Zulhajj to that of the age. There are specific prayers recommended from its beginning to Arafat day obtainable from Mafaateehul Jinaan, Dhiyaa’us saaliheen and Iqbaalul aamaal among others.
The martyrdom of Imam Muhammad, son of Imam Ali al-Baqir occurred on the 7th day in the 114th year after Hijra at Medina. As such the Imam is remembered and visited from far and near. The eighth day (day of Tarwiyyah) is also recommended for fasting. The ninth day is very prominent, preceded by its very significant night, recommended to keep awake in prayers and remembrance in search of Allah’s forgiveness and mercy. Prayers are accepted and the reward for that worship is beyond common comprehension. The Arafat day is highly recommended for fasting to those Muslims not on pilgrimage rite. The Arafat day is greatly revered being the day Allah, The Most high calls on His servants. The Pilgrimage which the intending Muslims are getting prepared comes up next week.
As a pillar in Islam, pilgrimage is a compulsory duty once in a life time for every physically and financially able Muslim. “Behold! We pointed the site, to Abraham, 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). And proclaim the pilgrimage, among men; They will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every camel, Lean (on account of journeys) Through deep and distant Mountain highways. Q26: 29
The site of Makah was granted to Prophet Abraham and son Isma’il peace be upon them as a place of worship to Allah alone. The two prophets built the holy Kaaba asking Allah’s blessings and forgiveness for selves and offspring. Hajj is evidently the greatest gathering attended by millions of people of different backgrounds on earth. It is the envy of its enemy which ought to be ideally used by the Ummah for advancement and protection of its spiritual and material interest. Mecca was initially a barren land in the desert when prophet Ibrahim, the father of monotheism migrated with his wife Hajar and first son Isma’il peace be upon them. However, due to his prayers it attracted millions of people with socio-economic stability. “Remember Abraham said: O my lord! Make this city one of peace and security: and preserve me and my sons from worshipping idols” Q2:35.
The rigorous activities of pilgrimage start from the eighth to tenth added to two or three subsequent days. The pilgrims are dressed in simple unsown white cloth during the rite circulating the Kaaba, hastening between the hills of Safa and Marwa, making sacrifice and stoning the pillars. Although there some minor differences between the pilgrims depending on the type of pilgrimage one engages in.
On the Arafat day, all pilgrims stand on the mount Arafat, an obligatory of the pilgrimage. Millions of people from every land and walks of life, race and color gather on its wide plain to praise The Most High and seek His forgiveness and mercy. ‘Behold! Safa and Marwa are among the symbols of Allah. So if those who visit the house in the season or at other times should compass them round, it is no sin in them. And if any one obeyeth his own impulse to Good, be sure that Allah is He who recogniseth and knowth” Qur’an: 35-37. The gathering reminds one the forth coming general assembly of the Last day when all shall stand equal before Allah. Refer to supplication books like Mafaateehul Jinaan and Dhiyaa’us Saaliheen for special prayers narrated from the infallible Imams on the day. The well known prophetic sermon in his farewell pilgrimage at Mount Arafat emphasized the inviolability of blood and properties, stressing the need to observe one’s duty to Allah, avoidance of corruption and mischief on earth, kind treatment of women and piety as the only criterion for superiority before Allah. The messenger finally repeated the tradition of the two weighty things – the book of Allah and his Prophet’s holy progeny. It is imperative to emphasize the following lessons:
Muslims are highly encouraged to observe the best behaviors in worship to attain Allah’s pleasure. They must avoid all forms of anger or dispute and remain patient and humble throughout the cause of worship. Above all, they should exercise absolute self-control in atmosphere of brotherhood, friendliness and forgiveness. Added to that, they should forget all social statuses enjoyed in their respective lands and be stripped of wealth and pride looking for forgiveness of sins and soul purification. It is narrated that whoever embarks on hajj in accordance with the demonstration of the noble messenger he or she returns sinless as the day he or she was born. Unity is the most neglected lesson of pilgrimage. With numeric strength and bountiful resources, the Ummah ought to excel all over the world but has became the laughing stock of its enemies as a result of divisions and enmity. Allah states “And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves” Q3:103. “Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving clear sign; for them is a clear chastisement” Q3:105
In a hadith, the Prophet (S) has said “no community differed after (the demise of) their prophet except that the people of their falsehood gained mastery over the people of their truth”. Virtually, the enemies of Islam use division destroy the Ummah with the help of misguided Muslims. That is why those committed to its true cause are devotedly concerned on unity. History is a living witness on the commendable role played by late Imam Khomeini and Sheikh Mahmud Shaltut (may Allah have mercy on them) in this direction. Ruhullah always maintained, those sowing discord along the Sunnah/shi’a divide are neither Ahlus-sunnah nor Shiites. And of his living legacies against their conspiracy are the Unity week and the international Quds day in solidarity with the Palestinians. On the other side, Sheikh Shaltut, the great Egyptian Muslim authority is still remembered for his historic verdict in favor of approximation and rapprochement. If the UN, EU, NATO, AU, ECOWAS, NYSC and lots others were established on the basis of unity, why should the Muslims divide? No doubt, all persecution, humiliations and disgrace befalling the Ummah are but resultant effects of its division.
The pilgrimage advocated by Prophet Ibrahim has clear meaning and purpose beyond the common presumption. During the politico-religious congress, it is imperative for the oppressed to raise their voices in protest against the oppressors and dissociate selves from the infidel who are perpetually bent on brutality of believers and entire humanity. “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; but if ye turn away, know ye that ye cannot frustrate Allah, and proclaim a grievous chastisement to those who reject faith" Q9:3
In a similar protest, late Imam Khomeini said “O you Muslims who are busy praying by the house of Allah! Pray for the success of those who are standing up to America and other superpowers”. Allah the Most High states “You are the best community raised for the good of mankind. You enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong, and you believe in God” Q3:110. During the great ritual, INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES OUGHT TO BE ORGANISED WITH A PRACTICAL APPROACH towards the socio-political solutions of the problems bedeviling the Ummah at all costs. I pray for a time when the rite will be performed on clear Islamic ideals, the only way to do away with the incessant predicaments.
While wishing our intending pilgrims well, I pray for Allah’s continuous guidance, protection and good health to Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky (H), wife and other oppressed. The recent development in the DSS, highlights the fact that no matter how long, there is always end to oppression “And think not that Allah is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. He only gives them respite till the day on which the eyes will fixedly stare" Q14:43
Wassalamu alaikum!