Prof. Dr. M. A. Soofi The meaning of Haj in the Arabic language is to make a resolve to visit the holy place, Khana Kaaba, once in life. Since people from all quarters resolve to pay a visit to Kaaba, it has been designed as Haj. Definition: It is one of the fundamental obligations of Islam. A Muslim (believer of Allah) is required to undertake pilgrimage to the House of God - the Kaaba - at Makkah, at least once in a lifetime provided he can afford the expenses of the journey. Surah Al-Imran: One Ayat in this Surah gives a clear picture of the Khana Kaaba, as it says: The first house appointed for men is the one at Makkah, blessed and a guidance for the nations. Another Ayat says: In it are clear signs, (it is) the standing place of Ibrahim, and whoever enters it shall be secure, and pilgrimage to the House is incumbent upon men for the sake of Allah, (upon) every one who is able to undertake the journey to it; and whoever disbelieves, then surely Allah is self-sufficient, above any need of the worlds. These Ayats speaks that Makkah has been declared to be the first house raised on earth for worship of the Divine Being. It is, on the other hand, announced to be mubarak, which means 'blessing, and signifies the continuance forever of the blessing that it possesses or from which extensive good flows. Makkah is the spiritual centre that was appointed for men and ultimately for the whole of humanity. The clear signs in Makkah as enumerated here are three, and these, in fact, are three prophecies with regard to the future of Makkah. i The first sign is that it is the place of Abraham, which has already been declared to be the Muslim centre. Hence, the first prophecy is that the Doctrine of Unity of the Divine Being will be proclaimed to the whole world from this centre. i The second sign is that Makkah will always be secure, i.e. it shall not fall into the hands of an enemy, who should destroy it. There is a saying of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to the effect that the Antichrist and the plague will not enter Makkah and Madinah. Thus, its security is assured both physically and spiritually. i The third prophecy is that a pilgrimage to the Sacred House shall continue to be made forever, and no power in the world shall ever be able to put a stop to it. Undoubtedly, Haj is a worship and one of the fundamental pillars of Islam; but it is also an institution for improvement and training of human beings. When a person performs Haj, he becomes as pure of the sins as he was on the day his mother bore him. However, it is necessary that he should obey the commandments of Allah to get His blessings. One, who strictly acts upon the principles of Haj, is actually passing through a training period. Whoever learns the lesson succeeds. Most importantly, whatever a person learns in this journey, he should make it a part of his life in future. May Allah enable everyone to perform Haj. Amen It means that one should have sufficient money or property to meet the expanses of the journey and should leave enough for ones dependents for the period of ones absence from home. Historical Background: Haj was made compulsory for those Muslims, who could afford to travel. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) performed Haj on 10th Hijra and in his first and last pilgrimage gave his farewell address - the everlasting and universal charter for the human rights. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) addressed a mammoth gathering comprising more than a 100,000 of his companions on the 9th Zul Haj, 10 AH, from the top of Jabal-al-Arafat in the valley of Arafat. It is one of the five essentials for those Muslims, who can afford it at least once in their lifetime and that before leaving for the pilgrimage they should have sufficient for their families. More so, the journey should be peaceful so that risk of life should be avoided. Haj and Umrah: The Haj or the pilgrimage and Umrah, the latter of which is generally translated as the minor pilgrimage, but which may more correctly be rendered as the visit, differ slightly. The Umrah may be performed at any time, but the Haj can only be performed at a particular time. Of the ceremonies connected with it (Haj), the staying on the plains of Arafat is dispensed with in the case of the Umrah. Thus, the principal requirements of Umrah are ihram, making circuits round the Kaabah and running between the Safa and the Marwah. Surah Al-Haj (26-27): And when We pointed to Abraham the place of the House, saying: Associate naught with Me, and purify My House for those who make circuits and stand to pray and bow and prostrate themselves. And proclaim to men the pilgrimage; they will come to thee on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path. Pre-Requisite for the Performance of Haj: i Must be a Muslim. i He must be free. i He must be physically fit. i Must be an adult. i Must have the funds to defray the expenses of the family. i A woman can perform Haj, if she is accompanied by a mehram (husband, son, brother or father). Reward of Haj: The reward of performing Haj is heaven. One who has performed Haj merely for Allahs happiness and he has saved himself from vicious action. He returns as innocent of sins as he is new born. Significance of Haj for Economy: The Haj is not a mere physical ritual. It is an emotional experience. According to the Holy Quran, the pilgrimage to that which has been declared sacred by God promotes the righteousness of heart. This is related more to emotion than to reason. It is the symbol of sacrifice and motivates man to sacrifice immediate gains for the achievement of higher purpose. The emotions fostered on the occasion of the pilgrimage fertilise the roots of action, and thus lead to a complete metamorphosis of values. Social Value of Haj: Due to Haj, Muslims from all parts of the global converge on Makkah. It is the manifestation of unity and brotherhood among the Muslims. When pilgrims - conduct their Haj in a similar and simple dress - respond to Allah Almightys call and say that My Lord Here, I am, all their vanity, pride, distinction of caste or colour, and wealth and position are eliminated, as they stand in the presence of the Great Master in a state of absolute equality. One should not take any step, which can disturb the security and comfort of the pilgrims. The Haj is the fifth pillar of Islam and God Almighty has shown ways of performing it. Therefore, Haj must be performed with submissiveness and sobriety. The Ihram: It signifies the sacred precincts for the purposes of Haj. These limits extend for a certain distances around Makkah. On each of the roads leading to Makkah from the various directions there are recognised stations at which those going on Haj stop, remove their ordinary clothes, and wear the Ihram and say Talbia thrice. Muhammad (PBUH) has too declared such Talbia thrice after wearing the Ihram. One should recite Talbia frequently in day or evening or any time, but after kissing or touching the Black Stone (Aswad) placed at the corner of Kaaba Stop [Talmia]. Similarly, on the 10th day of Zul Haj, the throwing of pebbles on the bigger Jammrat, however, women can recite without loud voice. The Ihram consists of two big pieces of white cloth towels. The lower wrap is known as Izar and the upper wrap is known as Rida. Mens hair are naked, while women are liable to cover their heads. One can keep clean and can eat with Ihram. Women and children have also to wear the Ihram. Inward significance of Ihram: The expression of intention to enter into a state of godliness they can keep their customary dress, but the garments should reach their ankles and their heads should be covered. The Tawaf: Walking once from the Black Stone to Black Stone around the Kaaba is called Tawaf. It is the circumambulation of the Holy Kaaba. The starting point is the sacred stone and seven circuits are to be completed on foot. Those who are old or sick may be carried. During each circuit, the pilgrim is required to utter pious expressions of remembrance of God. At the end of the 7th circuit, two rakaats of prayers are offered at Muqaam-i-Ibrahim. The following ceremonies in the process of Haj are essential: - i Shaving the hair from head. i Sacralization, i.e. wearing of the Ihram. i Standing at Arafat. i Circumambulating the Kaaba. i Running between Safa and Marwa. i Passing the night at Muzdalifa. i Passing the night at Mina. i Casting stones at Jimars. i Sacrifice of animals; and i Farewell circumambulation of the Kaaba. Passing the Two Nights at Mina and Returning on the 8th of Zul Haj: Mina is a village in a narrow valley outside Makkah. It is the sacred site where Ibrahim(AS) offered sacrifice to God. Here are three places (Jimars) where stones are cast. The ceremony symbolises the driving away of the Satans. The prayer read on the occasion is in the name of God, which is God is the greatest. So, this casting of stones is against Satan and his confederates. The Wuquf: It is the presence of the pilgrim in the Ihram in the plains of Arafat. It is 12 miles from Makkah. According to facts, after being driven away from paradise Adam and Eve were separated, but they met for the first time on earth at Arafat. Ceremony about the Passing of Night at Muzalfa: Muzalfa is a place roughly halfway between Arafat and Mina, and is an ancient sacred site. The pilgrims depart from Arafat for Muzalfa after sunset and there they offer the Maghrib and Isha prayers. In the wilderness at Muzalfa, the pilgrims pick 49 pebbles each to be carried to Mina. Tashriq: It is the ceremony of sacrificing of animals in the name of Allah. The ceremony lasts for three days. After making the sacrifices, the pilgrims return to Makkah before sunset of the 13th day of Zul Haj. Tawaf-al-Wida: It is the farewell circumambulation made just prior to the pilgrims departure from Makkah. Two rakaats of prayers are offered at the place known as Muqaam-e-Ibrahim. The pilgrim next goes to the well of Zam Zam and drinks of its water. Thereafter, he goes out through Babul Wida (farewell gate) and from Makkah. Then in the case of men, the heads are shaved. In the case of women, it is enough if only three hairs are cut. The Intention in Heart for Haj: One has to make a promise of intention for performing of Haj and ask Allah Almighty; it should become easier and be accepted. According to Hadis, One who performed tawaf, there is no better person than him on earth. Tawaf-e-Qadoom: Once ye enter Haram must ye perform a tawaf. This is called Tawaf-e-Qadoom on your entry. Tawaf-e-Ziarat: It is a fundamental requirement of Haj performance. It is also called obligatory. It can be performed from morning of 10th Zul Haj to 12th Zul Haj, but it is better on 10th. If someone misses it, no Haj without Tawaf-e-Haj. Farewell Tawaf: One who is leaving for his country, he is to perform the tawaf called 'Farewell. Tawaf-e-Umrah: It is compulsory. First is Tawaf Kaaba and then Saee, running between the two hills of Safa and Marwa. Entry to Tauf: Once ye enter, you perform tawaf like two nafal when you enter into the mosque. Tawaf-e-Nafal: Whenever you want to perform tawaf as many times, you can do it as nafal. Women should be fully covered, except her face which may be visible. One is to be completely neat and clean and should start from the Black Stone. It should be on foot and recite or beg from God, offer two rakaat at Muqaam-e-Ibrahim. Saee. Latterly, it is expressed that running between two hills outside Makkah (Safa and Marva) is carried. One has to complete it seven times as Sunnah of Hazrat Hajra, mother of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) Ismail. Compulsory Instructions for Running: i Wrapping of two white clothes for Haj or Umrah. i One has to perform Haj himself, if unable, assistance of labourer or trolley is allowed, to be used. i It is starts from Safa with prayers and ends with seven circles at Marwa. i Niyat (intention) is also essential. i Beginning from God, while facing towards the Kaaba. i Reciting of set prayers of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). i After Saee, two rakaat nafal are to be offered. i Men have to run at two points. i One cant do saee before Tawaf-e-Kaaba. It is to follow after tawaf. i Women have to do the same; however, if she is not clean physically, she does not enter Kaaba or Saee. i The handicapped can use a trolley. The writer is an academic.