Hajj: how the pillars of Islam create unity and strength

Hajj: how the pillars of Islam create unity and strength

In Surat Ali Imran, Allah Almighty talks about the obligation of Hajj:

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَیۡتࣲ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِی بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكࣰا وَهُدࣰى لِّلۡعَـٰلَمِینَ

The first house set up for the people is surely the one in Makkah, blessed and a guidance for all the worlds. [Ali Imran, 3:96]

فِیهِ ءَایَـٰتُۢ بَیِّنَـٰتࣱ مَّقَامُ إِبۡرَ ٰ⁠هِیمَۖ وَمَن دَخَلَهُۥ كَانَ ءَامِنࣰاۗ وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ حِجُّ ٱلۡبَیۡتِ مَنِ ٱسۡتَطَاعَ إِلَیۡهِ سَبِیلࣰاۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَنِیٌّ عَنِ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِینَ

In it there are clear signs: The Station of Ibrāhīm! Whoever enters it is secure. As a right of Allah, it is obligatory on the people to perform Hajj of the House – on everyone who has the ability to manage (his) way to it. If one disbelieves, then Allah is independent of all the worlds. [Āli-ʿImrān, 3:97]

ٱلۡحَجُّ أَشۡهُرࣱ مَّعۡلُومَـٰتࣱۚ فَمَن فَرَضَ فِیهِنَّ ٱلۡحَجَّ فَلَا رَفَثَ وَلَا فُسُوقَ وَلَا جِدَالَ فِی ٱلۡحَجِّۗ وَمَا تَفۡعَلُوا۟ مِنۡ خَیۡرࣲ یَعۡلَمۡهُ ٱللَّهُۗ وَتَزَوَّدُوا۟ فَإِنَّ خَیۡرَ ٱلزَّادِ ٱلتَّقۡوَىٰۖ وَٱتَّقُونِ یَـٰۤأُو۟لِی ٱلۡأَلۡبَـٰبِ

The Hajj is (to be performed in) the months that are well-known. So whoever undertakes Hajj in them, there should be no obscenity, no sin, no quarrel in the Hajj. Whatever good you do, Allah will know it. Take provisions along, for the merit of (having) provision is to abstain (from begging), and fear Me, O men of understanding! [‏Al Baqarah, 2:197]

When did Hajj become a pillar of Islam?

Everyone is familiar with the five pillars of Islam, even the youngest child can name them, so we tend to think that the pillars were there from the start. However that is not the case. The pillar of Hajj was introduced in Madinah. Salah become a pillar 18 months before Hijrah, Zakat became a pillar two years after Hijra and Hajj was introduced in year 9 after Hijrah. That year was well known as Am al Wufud, the Year of Delegations, when newcomers to Islam came flooding to the mosque of the Prophet (peace be upon him), especially from Yemen. They who would spend time with him and learn about Islam and many would convert.

The pillars are mechanisms of unification

The five pillars of Islam were not introduced overnight. Rather, they were staggered and introduced gradually allowing the Companions to attach their hearts and minds to the reality of Allah and the concept of the akhirah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not perform Hajj until the tenth year after migration, which was close to the end of his life, as he passed away the next year (11AH), almost two months after performing Hajj.

Each and every pillar has a special dimension and feel. Salah is performed on a daily basis all round the clock. During the salah, we pray for the whole ummah to be guided. The jama’ah (congregational prayer) brings us together – the small congregation on a daily basis and the weekly congregation Jumuah on a weekly basis, as well as at Eid and Hajj.  

Zakat is an annual payment on your wealth, to ensure wealth is not hoarded by a few, but circulates and reaches those in need. Fasting is once a year for those who can and through it the Ummah come together in a shared physical and spiritual experience as well social bonding, as Muslims break their fasts together and gather to pray tarawih each night in the mosque.

Hajj is an obligation for those who can once in their lifetime, and is the gathering of the Ummah, the global Muslim community in one space. From all corners of the world, from all races and economic backgrounds, Muslims who may never have seen each other, undertake the same acts of devotion in the same attire. Thus each Islamic ritual has a personal dimension but also a community aspect.

Through these mechanisms, Allah has created acts of worship that bring the community together – either physically, or spiritually, or through social welfare. These pillars keep the Ummah interconnected, embodying compassion and solidarity. It is no wonder they are called ‘pillars’.

Unity is an obligation

Allah made it obligatory for the Ummah to be united when He said

وَٱعۡتَصِمُوا۟ بِحَبۡلِ ٱللَّهِ جَمِیعࣰا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا۟ۚ وَٱذۡكُرُوا۟ نِعۡمَتَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَیۡكُمۡ إِذۡ كُنتُمۡ أَعۡدَاۤءࣰ فَأَلَّفَ بَیۡنَ قُلُوبِكُمۡ فَأَصۡبَحۡتُم بِنِعۡمَتِهِۦۤ إِخۡوَ ٰ⁠نࣰا وَكُنتُمۡ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفۡرَةࣲ مِّنَ ٱلنَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنۡهَاۗ كَذَ ٰ⁠لِكَ یُبَیِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمۡ ءَایَـٰتِهِۦ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَهۡتَدُونَ

Hold fast, all of you, to the cord of Allah, and be not divided. Remember the blessing of Allah upon you: When you were enemies to each other, and He brought your hearts together, so that, you became brothers through His blessing. You were at the brink of a pit of Fire, then He saved you from it. This is how Allah makes His signs clear to you, so that you may take the right path. [Ali Imran, 3:103]

Unity is local and international

The unity of the Ummah is vital and that is why Allah put the systems in place to keep them connected. What we see in the obligation of Hajj is on an international scale, not just community level. It is a global gathering which demonstrates how strong we are.

Dhul Hijjah, the Prophet (peace be on him) said, was the best time to do good deeds – recharging the Ummah and making them re-focus on their duty to be the best Ummah through their behaviour and their actions.

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ‏”‏ مَا الْعَمَلُ فِي أَيَّامٍ أَفْضَلَ مِنْ هَذِهِ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالُوا وَلاَ الْجِهَادُ قَالَ ‏”‏ وَلاَ الْجِهَادُ إِلاَّ رَجُلٌ خَرَجَ يُخَاطِرُ بِنَفْسِهِ وَمَالِهِ فَلَمْ يَرْجِعْ بِشَيْءٍ ‏”‏‏.

“There are no days on which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” The people asked, “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said, “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause (of Allah), and came back with nothing” (Bukhari)

This brings the Ummah together, fostering and nurturing goodness, recharging the Ummah and motivating it to exemplify goodness and embody its role as the Ummah of goodness which Allah appointed it when He made it the last and best Ummah, when He said:

كُنتُمۡ خَیۡرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخۡرِجَتۡ لِلنَّاسِ تَأۡمُرُونَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَتَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنكَرِ وَتُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِۗ وَلَوۡ ءَامَنَ أَهۡلُ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ لَكَانَ خَیۡرࣰا لَّهُمۚ مِّنۡهُمُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ وَأَكۡثَرُهُمُ ٱلۡفَـٰسِقُونَ

You are the best ‘Ummah ever raised for mankind. You bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair, and you believe in Allah. If the people of the Book had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them, there are believers, while most of them are sinners. [Ali Imran, 3:110]

The Ummah of Goodness has to come together

Despite the command to be united, sadly the reality is that our Ummah is disunited. We have different sects and groups and this is why the weaknesses in our Ummah are many, so weak that we are vulnerable and exposed to being attacked.

Thawban (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

عَنْ ثَوْبَانَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه

وسلم ‏”‏يُوشِكُ الأُمَمُ أَنْ تَدَاعَى عَلَيْكُمْ كَمَا تَدَاعَى الأَكَلَةُ إِلَى قَصْعَتِهَا‏”‏‏.‏ فَقَالَ قَائِلٌ وَمِنْ قِلَّةٍ نَحْنُ يَوْمَئِذٍ قَالَ‏”‏ بَلْ أَنْتُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ كَثِيرٌ وَلَكِنَّكُمْ غُثَاءٌ كَغُثَاءِ السَّيْلِ وَلَيَنْزِعَنَّ اللَّهُ مِنْ صُدُورِ عَدُوِّكُمُ الْمَهَابَةَ مِنْكُمْ وَلَيَقْذِفَنَّ اللَّهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمُ الْوَهَنَ ‏”‏فَقَالَ قَائِلٌ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَمَا الْوَهَنُ قَالَ ‏”‏حُبُّ الدُّنْيَا وَكَرَاهِيَةُ الْمَوْتِ‏”‏‏.‏أبو داود.

The people will soon summon one another to attack you as people when eating invite others to share their dish. Someone asked: Will that be because of our small numbers at that time? He replied: No, you will be numerous at that time: but you will be scum and rubbish like that carried down by a torrent, and Allah will take fear of you from the breasts of your enemy and last enervation into your hearts. Someone asked: What is wahn (enervation). The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ): He replied: Love of the world and dislike of death. [Abu Dawoud]

The weak Ummah

We see from the hadith that what makes the Ummah weak is love of the world – greed, materialism and hatred of death. Clinging to our own whims and desires makes our Ummah divided. Hajj comes to remind the Ummah about the importance of unity and coming back together and showing us despite our differences how strong we can be when we are together. During Hajj the barriers between people are destroyed – we are not separated by language or nationality or class.

Regardless of their diverse backgrounds, all Muslims are together doing tawaf and praying. Each Muslim is there with a single factor – their belief in Allah, calling upon Him. Tawheed is what unites us. As Allah stated:

And remember the favour of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favour, brothers. (Ali Imran, 3:110)

The more we reflect on the Hajj and the importance of Hajj, the more we should reflect on our Ummah and the importance of bringing our Ummah together, because our strength lies in our unity – both internal and external strength. You cannot have external strength, unless you have internal strength. Internal strength comes from obedience to Allah.

Time to reunite

Look at our Ummah today. Despite being nearly 2 billion we cannot stop the massacres today. What a weak Ummah we are! If we were strong, this would never have happened.

The best deeds are the deeds done in Dhul HIjjah, and one of the best deeds is to stop the massacres, save lives, and feed the hungry and those who are starving to death. We should keep doing our best to defend innocent people and stop the bloodshed. We can’t just be spectators. We have to do our best, using all the legitimate means we have, keep asking for a ceasefire and freedom and striving for freedom and dignity for all people, and demanding a stop to the killing.

Imagine how the Prophet (peace be upon him) would respond to this, if he were alive today. He would not be a spectator. He would do whatever was possible to stop these massacres and he was our role model so we should do our best to stop these massacres.

Based on the Khutbah of Shaykh Haytham Tamim 7th June 2028

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.