The different forms of worship (ibadah) that we perform vary in length – for instance, fasting starts at Fajr and ends at sunset – whereas Hajj is the longest amongst all our ibadah and is unrelated to sunrise and sunset. We worship Allah Almighty during Hajj by wearing ihram and reciting the Talbiyah amongst other things.
State of Ihram – Entering into Worship
To understand the state of ihram during Hajj – consider why we start prayer with takbirat-ul-ihram. This is because we are required to be fully focused on what we are saying, doing and reciting in our prayer in order to fully grasp the meanings of the verses that we are reciting. In each prayer we struggle for full focus (khushu) and sincerity (ikhlas) and have to block out thoughts of things that we have to do in our everyday lives:
‘And stand up in your prayer with submissiveness and khushu.’
In the beginning of Surah al Muminun, Allah Almighty praises those that are fully focused on prayer. Why? The reason being that they are communicating fully with Allah Almighty.
Leave your gadgets and other distractions to fully focus on your prayer and your communication with Allah Almighty. This will also improve your communication with people around you in your everyday life.
When you are fully connected with Allah Almighty without doubt it will reflect in your character, family and work. Wherever you go, you will have this tranquillity in your heart from your connection with Allah Almighty that can’t be missed by people. They will see a permanent change and will notice the difference in you now that you are connected to Allah Almighty in this way. For instance, you may come across as more serene. In all our worship we should focus and connect with Allah Almighty.
Significance of Going to Arafah and Then Stoning whilst Still in Ihram
Similar to salah, which continues until you turn to do the salaam, keep thinking about Allah Almighty, as we have to keep focusing on our connection with Allah Almighty while we are in ihram. The Almighty wants you to experience something new in Hajj. You are in a state of worship in ihram and communicating with those around you, so refrain from obscenity, wickedness and arguing because you are performing a continuous act of worship. You would not commit obscenities, wickedness or argue in salah. Our main focus in the journey is how to improve our connection with Allah Almighty and forget the dunya around us. When you look at the ihram that you are wearing you realise that you have been forced to forget nice clothes and have been trained to fully focus on Allah Almighty while walking, sleeping, or even when communicating with others. Hajj also trains you to control your anger and not criticise anything because your aim should not be shifted from seeking the the pleasure of Allah Almighty.
Think to yourself: ‘In my journey I should not be focused on anything except Allah Almighty’ and forget anything that happens around you and focus fully on doing salah, recitation of the Qur’an and remembrance (dhikr). This trains your heart, mind and character to be better with Allah Almighty first and then with people.
Day of Arafah
Hadith states that:
‘There is no better day than Arafah’.
There is no day across the year that Allah Almighty did not make that day an occasion for releasing people from hell. However, during the day of Arafah, Allah Almighty releases more people than throughout the whole year.
He descends from the heavens i.e. He will send down the angels as His agents and they will be amongst us (similar to the battle of Badr). No day is more like the day of Badr than the day of Arafah. It is the day of forgiveness. He will say to the angels:
‘Look at them they have come from different places, with different hopes and wishes, but all dishevelled and I have forgiven all of them.’
Angels will say but so and so person did such and such and Allah Almighty will say:
‘I’ll forgive them. They came all the way to seek My Forgiveness, so be my witness that I have forgiven them.’
Another narration states that Allah Almighty says:
‘You are my guests and your right is to be given a gift and My Gift is forgiveness.’
The Prophet (peace be on him) advised us to behave in the right way by saying:
‘Whoever controlled their tongue, hearing and sight he will be forgiven.’
Therefore, the Prophet (peace be on him) put three conditions on being able to receive forgiveness:
1. control our tongues
2. control our hearing
3. control our sight
So if we behave in the right way we will be forgiven. So show Allah Almighty your need and desperation for forgiveness as well as your wishes. Another narration states that Allah Almighty says:
‘Whatever they have asked for I’ll give them and whatever they have spent I will give them more.’
The Prophet (peace be on him) used a special supplication on Yawm Al Arafah: ‘Laa ilaaha illallaahu wahdahu laa shareeka lahu lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu wa Huwa ‘alaa kulli shay’in Qadeer’. Every single second on this day is for us to utilise and benefit from it. Seek forgiveness by performing istighfar.
The Essence of the Journey
Focus ourselves on how to change and connect with Allah Almighty. This is a journey to Allah Almighty not to a time or space. Forget about the dunya in Hajj. Hajj changes your habits and everything in Hajj makes you focus on and be concerned with improving your connection with Allah Almighty only, because you may not live to finish this Hajj or do another. Make the best of the time that you have here. Do more to be focused only on Allah Almighty and on improving your communication with Him. Make your heart fully focused on the remembrance of Allah Almighty. Make your tongue busy in the remembrance of Allah Almighty. Whatever is in your heart will be shown on your tongue. Show that your tongue is busy with remembrance of Allah Almighty and show your need. You will be given whatever you ask for.
Arafah is the best day, so be the best people on the best day and have the best heart and the best deeds on that day. He looks to our hearts and sees them busy with dunya in which we are immersed. Empty your heart from all dunya and fill your heart with love of Allah Almighty. Go to your hard disk and delete everything and install a new program that is the love of Allah Almighty. Your heart has to be filled with Allah Almighty with no space for any other on the hard disk. Tonight delete all the old files and fill your heart with Allah’s love. If can’t do this by tomorrow then try. Pretend or fake it and you will eventually get it Insha’Allah. Be sincere and Allah Almighty will open your heart. A sensitive heart is reflected by tears in your eyes. If you have no tears it shows that there is something wrong in the heart. The tears are the purification of your heart.
White clothes are a reflection of purity of intention, communication and connection with Allah Almighty and purity of the heart, tongue and ibadah in seeking Allah’s pleasure. You are saying: ‘I don’t want to go back with same heart, spirit and inspiration.’ You don’t want to return with the same but renewed.
This is our chance – we have been selected. Grasp this opportunity and don’t ruin it with pettiness. Be focused and sincere. Sincerity will change your life and it create miracles. Be sincere. It is a preparation. Prepare yourself. Allah Almighty Alhamdulillah enabled us to come and we came. May Allah Almighty help us to change our hearts and be the best in character when we go back. Use this opportunity to change yourselves. Try. If you don’t feel change, go back to Him. Be very sincere and it WILL change your life. Tonight prepare for the big day – the day of Arafah. One scholar said he saw a dream before the day of Arafah, in which he was going to a wedding, this shows that it is a day full of mercy and blessings.
Perform your worship with full sincerity (ikhlas). Ask Allah Almighty to change your character to be amongst those with the best hearts.