Hajj Reflections 2

Makkah Al Mukarramah: Your Time to Change

Allah Almighty described the Ka’ba: ‘It is the first house ever built on earth to worship Allah Almighty.’*
Bakkah is the old name for Makkah. The root word for Bakkah means to break something and Makkah was called Bakkah because it breaks the necks of oppressors. For instance, Abraha wanted
to destroy the Ka’ba (Surah Al Fil) and instead Allah Almighty broke him. Madinah, by contrast, is sweet and relaxing. Makkah is known as ‘jalal’ i.e. majestic and Madinah is known as ‘jamaal’ ie beautiful. You can see the difference when you go to Makkah that there is majesty and people are busy with rituals, whereas when you go to Madinah which is not as majestic or full of rituals, but instead you simply go there to pray without any additional rituals apart from praying in the Rawdah.
The station of Ibrahim (peace be on him) has been moved from original place, before it was closer to the Ka’ba but it came in the way of tawaf and so was moved.
In a verse, Allah Almighty describes the Haram in the following way: ‘And whoever enters into this house will have security and tranquillity descend on him’.** You don’t feel this calmness and tranquillity in your heart anywhere else. You forget your family, time, etc. it is a different world. Blessings descend (showered with mercy) on those during tawaf, salah or even just gazing at the Ka’ba.
There are Prohibited/Sacred Months (Al-Ashahr ul Hurum) and the Hajj pilgrimage takes place in one of the three months which are classified as the months of Hajj:
1. Dhul Qa’dah
2. Dhul Hijjah
3. Muharram
These three consecutive months are known as the prohibited months. There are four prohibited months in total, the fourth one is Rajab (on its own). Why are these known as the prohibited months? They are called prohibited because it is prohibited to start a war or fight in these months. It is also prohibited to kill animals or cut down or prune trees in the Haram area. The prohibitions are very vast and comprehensive. Why are there prohibitions? Because these are the months of Hajj. In the past it took two months to do Hajj (including travelling to Makkah), so to ensure that people went to and returned safely from the Haram, Allah Almighty made these months safe (prohibited).
Why Rajab? Rajab is also classed as a prohibited month because it is the month of Umrah. So you can see the inside and outside security, tranquility Allah Almighty mentions His order for safety and security in the last two verses of Surah Quraish: ‘So He bestowed upon them security and safety from fear,’ (106:4) so He is counting the favours which He bestowed upon them. These are blessings, so in gratitude He wants us to worship Him with full concentration.

Sincerity – the Key to Acceptance

Hajj is mentioned three times in the Qur’an. Once in Surah Baqarah and twice in Surah al-Imran. The verses contain very beautiful and very sweet descriptions. They mention the story of Ibrahim (peace be on him) building the Ka’ba. Ibrahim and Ismail (peace be on him) started making dua which shows that their main concern was acceptance and that this was connected with Hajj, the history of Hajj and the House of Allah Almighty. Therefore they made the dua: ‘When Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the House, (Abraham prayed): Our Lord! Accept from us (this duty). Lo! You, only You, are the Hearer, the Knower’ (Al-Baqarah 2:127). This is because whatever we do, we must always consider whether it is acceptable to Allah Almighty or not.
In the saying (hadith) of the Prophet (peace be on him) said: ‘Actions are but by intentions.’ (Bukhari) It is the intention behind the action that makes any deed acceptable or not. So the password for acceptance is sincerity or ikhlas. Ask yourself why are you doing this deed today? The purity of the intention is what makes a deed acceptable or not. Is it for Allah Almighty’s sake? If it is, this will make it acceptable.

Taqwa – the Best provision

Allah Almighty told the Prophet (peace be on him) to purify his clothes as this is the outward purity in addition to the inward purity, which is the more important of the two. Allah also says in the verse: ‘And prepare for your journey’ [Sura Baqarah 2:197]. Preparation is a common aspect in other acts of worship too. He mentions preparation but drew our attention to the most important
aspect – which is not luggage or other provisions for travelling – but the best provision is Taqwa, i.e. God-consciousness. So make preparation with taqwa – fear (of displeasing) Allah Almighty and
behave with piety thus be more close to Him in all things we are doing. Feel answerable to Him for the things that you are doing – the first and most important thing is taqwa.
In relation to the time whilst we perform Hajj – Allah Almighty asked us to keep away from evil actions and abstain from arguments, sexual talk or intercourse. If we avoid these we will have Hajj Mabroor (an accepted Hajj). However, having taqwa is not an attitude exclusive to Hajj (you shouldn’t leave taqwa behind when you leave Makkah). The outcome of Hajj has to be an increase in taqwa. You find this in salah (prayer) and siyam (fasting) as well.
How do we increase our taqwa? Allah Almighty mentions the avoidance of three things during Hajj to increase our taqwa, i.e. control of:
1) Rafath (sexual talk and intercourse)
2) Fusuq (literally means to swerve from the right path like swerving on
the motorway i.e. avoid committing sins or mistakes intentionally). Fusuq is the opposite of the right path
3) Jadala (quarrelling).
Avoiding these three things will increase your taqwa.

Transformation

Allah Almighty wants to train us to work in a new way so that we change our bad habits. It’s not just about ticking the box to say that you did tawaf and sa’ee etc. This is not what Hajj is about. Hajj is about changing you from the inside. For this reason the Prophet (peace be on him) said that the reward for accepted Hajj is nothing but Jannah. Hajj mabroor (accepted) clears your records.
It is about changing the inside which makes you better. It encompasses everything. If you have a bad habit which you know is bad then this is the time to change it. Hajj is the right company, time and environment to change. So everything is supporting you to change yourself unless deep down inside you don’t want to change. You are the one who decides whether you truly want to
change. If you are sincere ask Allah Almighty to help you come back to the right path.
The fusuq or wrong paths can take different forms. For instance, arguing all the time. This is the time now to stop this arguing and nagging and change your habits. Or not controlling tongue results in you swearing. Or you may not control your eyes by lowering your gaze. Try and control these things now as this is the right time and place to do this.
Take the opportunity of the right time and place because where else can you get a time and place where prayers are accepted. Use your time here to change yourself for the better and to come back on track.

Tests in Hajj to make you go higher

Allah Almighty tests you while you are here to see if you really deserve to be here. Who is putting you in these tests? And who is controlling everything? It is to see – are you really worthy of coming here? Did you fail from the start?
We will be tested in our journey. It is a test from Allah Almighty. Don’t ruin your Hajj for trivial things – move on – this is not the time for arguments. Allah Almighty wants us to change ourselves. The nature of any test is hardship which makes it a bitter thing that you cannot swallow.
What if He tests you in something that you love?
The nature of any test is that it is tough and hard. The purpose of the test is to improve the quality of our character, and to become a better person and improve our life. It is like Continuing Professional Development or CPD in your professional lives. CPD helps you to develop and improve yourself. If we keep up with our CPD for our careers in this world, imagine what we should be
doing as CPD for the ever-lasting akhirah. Allah Almighty is testing us and wants to improve us. The heavier the test, the higher the level of the person.
Allah Almighty tested the noble Prophets (peace be on him) and how are we compared to them? See how much higher they were to us, yet still tested. You can only imagine the types of tests that the Prophets (peace be on him) went through (even though supported by Allah Almighty and the angels).
Throughout all tests in life you are supported by the Number 1 support – Allah Almighty – and also by His angels. However, look at us, little things any little
thing goes wrong and we blow up in anger over it. It is all a test, so we need to improve the quality of our characters from every different angle these tests come from in order to cope with them. Prepare yourself for these tests. Do not fail them or else you will ruin your Hajj. May Allah Almighty make our patience strong and improve our character.
Avoid these three things – Rafath and Fusuq and Insha Allah your Hajj will be acceptable.
A man asked the Prophet (peace be on him): ‘Make dua that I will be your companion in Jannah.’ He replied: ‘Help me by making lots of sujud and I will make dua for you.’ This shows that you need to do your bit. You are strengthened by doing good deeds.

Training and shortcuts to change

The main thing in Hajj is to change your character. Your character controls everything. If you change your character you change your life. Hajj is about changing your character for the better. To fix the problem – fix the character and then Insha Allah all problems will be fixed. Make the right intention and persist with your training, as you would in preparation for a marathon. For example, one would start with two or three miles then increase it because one can’t run 50miles on the first day.
In addition, in Islam we have short cuts that give a boost in this training. Hajj is a shortcut to changing yourself. If you stick to the rules and commands of Hajj it will change you. The best way to teach and convey knowledge is through practical training. For instance if you see patience and sincerity in a person walking in front of you, you can almost feel and touch these qualities it is much more effective and different to reading about these qualities in a book. Therefore, if you can stick to one of the inheritors of the Prophet (peace be on him) it will be easier to change yourself.
Some Shayukh are very special in their patience, ikhlas (sincerity), character and devotion and at the same time are very down to Earth. You can learn just by sitting with them and watching what they do. In this way you can see practical examples of characteristics such as patience and sincerity and instead of just reading about it, you can feel it and touch it.

Closeness to Allah

The following are ways in which you can increase your closeness to Allah Almighty starting with the most important:
1) Salah
2) Qur’an
3) Dhikr
Note that of these three, salah is fard and is a one to one connection and conversation with Allah Almighty.
* ‘The first house established for mankind is the one at Bekka; blessed, and guidance for all people.’ (3:96)
** ‘In it are evident signs: the Station of Abraham. Whoever enters it attains security. Pilgrimage to the House is a duty to God for all who can make the journey. But as for those who refuse – God is Independent of the worlds.’ (3:97)
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