The Spiritual Reality of Hajj
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam alongside Oneness (Tauheed), daily prayers (Salat), fasting (Sawm) and Zakat. Hajj literally means ‘to visit or ‘to intend to do something’. According to sharia, it is a particular form of worship which the pilgrims perform in the holy city of Makkah. This includes places such as Mina, plain of Arafat, Muzdalifah and holy Kaaba from 6th to 13th of Dhul al-Hijjah. Hajj became obligatory in 9th Hijri. It is incumbent at least once in a life time upon every Muslim adult who is physically, financially and circumstantially capable of undertaking the sacred journey to holy Kaaba. The denier of Hajj is expunged from Islam. One who delays in performing Hajj or renounces it without a legitimate excuse is a sinner, reprobate and impious, it is commanded not to accept his testimony. Allah says in the Quran:
And the pilgrimage to this house (holy Kaaba) is prescribed for the people for the sake of Allah whoever may afford its journey; and whoever denies (it), then indeed Allah is Self-Sufficient, Independent of all the worlds. (3: 97)
And proclaim the Hajj amongst the people. They will come to you on foot and (mounted) on all lean camels. (22: 27)
The months of Hajj are well known (Shawwal, Zilqad and the first ten days of Dhul al-Hijjah). So, he who undertakes to perform Hajj during these (months) and makes it obligatory (for himself), then he must abstain from obscenity, from any (other) sin, and from disputing during the days of Hajj. And whatever good you do, Allah knows it well. And collect the provisions required for the journey (of hereafter). Surely, the best of provisions is piety (the fear of Allah). So, fear Me, O men of understanding! (2: 197)
According to the aforementioned verse (2: 197), the best of provisions (towards the Divine path) is piety. The literal meaning of piety is forbearance, abstinence or protection from something. In terms of Faqr, piety means inward closeness to Allah while distancing from everything else (spiritually). The more the inward of a person attains closeness to Allah, the more pious he is in the sight of Allah. Thus, piety is embedded in the inward of a person. Once, someone asked Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) about piety, he pointed his finger towards his chest and said: “piety is here”.
Sultan-ul-Arifeen Sultan Bahoo writes in his book Sultan-ul-Waham, “The purgation of innerself from everything other than Allah is piety.”
In general terminology, we can say that piety is the inward state of a person for Allah while performing any act (i.e. having the passion to please Allah and the fear of displeasing Him). Outward acts could be pretentious in front of the creation but the inward intention cannot not be pretentious in the court of Allah, as is stated in Hadiths:
- Allah sees the intentions (purity of inward) not the deeds.
- Allah neither sees your faces nor your acts, rather He sees your intentions and the state of your inward.
- The action of a hypocrite is better than his intention. Whereas the intention of a Momin (believer) is better than his action.
Hadiths about Hajj
The importance of Hajj can be judged from the following Hadiths:
- Whoever dies without performing Hajj whilst being capable of doing so, then Allah does not care if he dies as a Jew or as a Christian.
- Whoever performs Hajj and does not pollute his body with immoral acts. And therein utters no obscene speech, shall become as pure of sins as he was at the time of birth.
- Many sinners cannot expiate for their sins unless they stand in the plain of Arafat.
- Satan is not disgraced on any day more than the day of Arafat. This is because on that day Allah opens the doors of blessings for His men and forgives their sins.
- The greatest sin of a person who is standing in the plain of Arafat is to think that he has not been forgiven for his sins.
Types of Hajj
There are three types of Hajj:
- Hajj-e-Ifrad: Type of Hajj in which Hajj and Umrah are not combined and the pilgrim pronounces his intention exclusively to perform only Hajj.
- Hajj-e-Qiran: Type of Hajj in which the pilgrim pronounces his intention to perform both Hajj and Umrah together with same Ihram.
- Hajj-e-Tamattu: Type of Hajj in which Umrah and Hajj are performed together in a way that the pilgrim first pronounces his intention exclusively for Umrah and after performing the rites of Umrah comes out of the state of Ihram, he then again wears Ihram on the 8th of Dhul al-Hijjah to perform Hajj.
Hajj holds the spirit of all other acts of worship. It includes invocations and supplications like Salat, hunger and abstinence from carnal desires like Fasting, sacrifice of the wealth like Zakat and physical struggle like Jihad. The rituals and devotions of Hajj are related more with esoteric self than with the exoteric self which we shall discuss ahead.
Hajj of Sharia
The Hajj of sharia is fulfillment of all the rituals of Hajj following the rules of sharia so that one gains the reward of Hajj. If there remains an error in the fulfillment of these rituals, the Hajj becomes imperfect and defective. In Quran, Allah has commanded us to make it a perfect Hajj:
وَأَتِمُّواْ الْحَجَّ وَالْعُمْرَةَ لِلّهِ
And accomplish (the ceremonies of) Hajj (Pilgrimage) and Umrah (Visitation) for Allah. (2: 196)
The integrals of Hajj are: Entering into the holy sanctuary of Makkah, acquiring the state of Ihram, performing Tawaf-e-Qudoom, then spending a day in Mina, heading to the plain of Arafat and performing wuquf, then staying for a night at Muzdalifah beneath the open sky, heading back to Mina at sunrise and performing rami which is followed by slaughtering an animal, then proceeding to Bait-ul-Haram and performing Tawaf around Kaaba, and offering mandatory two cycles of prayer at the station of Abraham. After that, all those acts become lawful which were forbidden during the state of Ihram.
Hajj of Spirituality
The purpose of performing Hajj is not that the pilgrim returns home after seeing holy Kaaba and visiting holy sites. Instead, its real aim is to gain “Divine presence, observation and unveiling”.
What is Hajj? Hajj is a journey that one exclusively performs for the sake of Allah. It is spending one’s time and wealth and reaching at those sacred places where the signs of Allah are present. These are the sacred places where the true men of Allah gave up everything for Allah. They submitted themselves before His will to please Him and did not care about any gain or loss. So, Allah made these places His signs. Now, He is seeing the affection of pilgrims for Him by making them perform the same acts of His beloved men over and over again, all the rituals of Hajj are a practical representation of this reality.
The true pilgrim is on the move for seeking the pleasure of his Lord. He is friend with the friends of Allah and enemy with the enemies of Allah. While performing Hajj, he acquires the state in which he will stand in front of Allah on Judgement Day. Indeed, he becomes the most God-fearing and the one who remembers his Lord excessively.
Hajj Leads to Divine Presence
Hajj, apparently is a temporary act of worship but in fact it encompasses the whole life of a true believer. It is the affirmation of the Lordship of one’s Lord and one’s slavehood to Him. Hajj is the denotation of a believer’s life as well as his death. Hajj symbolises Divine vision and represents the ultimate closeness one can achieve to his Lord while living in this world. Other acts of worship are ways of remembering Allah, Hajj is a way of reaching Him.
When the pilgrim stands before the holy Kaaba, he feels as if he is standing before his Lord. Tawaf is an indicant of the reality that he is revolving around his Lord like a moth. When he clings to Multazim and invokes blessings, he feels nearest to his Lord Whom he has embraced eagerly and wishes to pour his inward out before his Beloved. The occurrence of such emotions of inward is possible only if his inward contains piety.
Ghaus-ul-Azam Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani narrates about the Hajj of Sharia and the Hajj of spirituality in these words:
Hajj of Sharia
The Hajj of Sharia is to perform Hajj by fulfilling all the rituals and rites of Hajj in the required way so that the pilgrim gains the reward of Hajj. However, if there remains some defect in the fulfillment of these rituals, the reward of Hajj remains deficient and the Hajj becomes imperfect. Allah has commanded to perform perfect Hajj (without any defect).
وَأَتِمُّواْ الْحَجَّ وَالْعُمْرَةَ لِلّهِ
And accomplish (the ceremonies of) Hajj (Pilgrimage) and ‘Umra (Visitation) for Allah. (2: 196)
The rituals of Hajj include: Wearing the Ihram and entering the sanctuary of Makkah, performing Tawaf-e-Qudoom, staying at Mina, then performing wuquf at the plain of Arafat, spending the night at Muzdalifah, slaughtering an animal at Mina, then entering Masjid al-Haram, circumambulating the Kaaba seven times, drinking water from the sacred well of Zamzam and offering mandatory two cycles of prayer at the station of Abraham.
After the accomplishment of these rituals, all those acts which were unlawful during the state of Ihram become lawful. The reward of this Hajj for a pilgrim is the redemption from hell and protection from the wrath of Allah, as Allah says in Quran:
وَمَن دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِنًا
Whoever enters it attains safety and protection. (3: 97)
After that, the last ritual of Hajj is to perform Tawaf-e-Sadar and then the pilgrims return to their homeland. May Allah grant us all the strength to perform the Hajj of Sharia.
Hajj of Spirituality
Hajj of Spirituality or Hajj-e-Tariqat means performing the Hajj of Mysticism i.e. travelling spiritually towards Allah. The provision and transport i.e. medium for this journey is to first search the man of spiritual persuasion i.e. a perfect spiritual guide (Murshid Kamil) and gain his beneficence. Then invoke the eternal invocation of “No one is to be worshiped but Allah” with tongue by understanding its meaning and reality. When the inward acquires eternal life (by invoking the invocation with tongue) then one should engross in the invocation of Allah inwardly to such an extent that the inward of a seeker gains purity by the eternal invocation of the attributive names of Allah.
This invocation reveals the refulgence of the Divine attributes of Compassion and Beauty due to which the secret Kaaba manifests in the inward i.e. the inward is sanctified to become a home of Allah like Kaaba, as Allah the Exalted commanded Prophet Abraham and Prophet Ismael:
أَن طَهِّرَا بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ
(And We urged Ibrahim and Isma‘il): ‘Purify (and cleanse) My House for those who circumambulate it. (2: 125)
The Inward needs to be cleansed of everything other than Allah
The physical Kaaba is cleansed for the circumambulation of the creation and as the inner Kaaba is for the observation of the Creator so to get His vision i.e., to perform the Hajj of Mysticism it is necessary to first purify the inward from everything other than Allah. After purifying this inner Kaaba, the seeker of Allah should wear the Ihram of Noor (light) of Divine Soul and enter the Kaaba of inward. Then, he should perform Tawaf-e-Qudoom with the eternal invocation of second name ‘Allah’. Then proceed to the station of imploration i.e. the Arafat of inward and perform wuquf here while doing the invocation of third name ‘Hoo’ and fourth name ‘Haq’.
After that, the seeker should esoterically reach the Muzdalifah of inward where he should invoke the fifth name ‘Hayee’ and the sixth name ‘Qayyum’ together. Then he should enter the point of Divine secret which is the esoteric station of Mina and lies between the two sanctuaries of esoteric Makkah and Madina. Here, he should perform wuquf i.e., stay for a while and accomplish the ritual of sacrificing nafs-e-mutmainna with indefinite invocation of seventh name ‘Qahhar’ as this name is the source of annihilation and it opens the veils of disbelief, as the Holy Prophet said:
اَلْکُفْرُ وَالْاِیْمَانُ مَقَامَانِ مِنْ وَّرَآئِ الْعَرْشِ وَھُمَا حِجَابَانِ بَیْنِ الْعَبْدِ وَرَبِّہٖ عَزَّ شَانُہٗ اَحَدُ ھُمَا اَسْوَدُوَالْاٰخَرُ اَبْیَضُ
Disbelief and belief are the two stations beyond the Throne of Allah and both are a veil between man and his Lord, one of them is black and the other is white.
Invocation Elevates the Soul
After this is the ritual of Halq, which means purifying the Divine Soul from human traits by the invocation of the eighth name and enter the sanctuary of Divine secret (which is in the core of inward) with the invocation of the ninth name and spiritually meet the sacred souls who are in seclusion with Allah. With the invocation of the tenth name, the seeker should gain nearness of Allah and seclude himself in His love and behold the beauty of Allah, The Self Sufficient and The Majestic, without any form. Then seven circumambulations are performed with the eternal invocation of the eleventh name together with six auxiliary attributive names. After performing circumambulation, one should drink pure wine (of love of Allah) in the bowl of invocation of twelfth name with the Hands of Allah, as Allah says in Quran:
وَسَقَاهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ شَرَابًا طَهُورًا
And their Lord will make them drink a holy beverage. (76: 21)
Then the Divine countenance is unveiled before the seeker and he is blessed with the direct vision of Allah without resembling Him to any physical form, which is reflected in the following Qudsi Hadith:
مَاعَیْنٌ رَاَتْ وَلاَاُذُنٌ سَمِعَتْ وَلاَخَطَرَ عَلیٰ قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ
What no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no human inward has ever imagined.
This Hadith points towards the state when the seeker converses with Allah without words and sounds. ‘No human inward has ever imagined’ refers to the state of fascination one gets through the vision and conversation with the Divine Essence. All those acts which were unlawful during this journey of inner Hajj become lawful after its completion and the bad deeds turn into good deeds by the repeated recitation of names of Allah. Allah says:
مَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَأُوْلَئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ
But whoever repents and believes and does good deeds, so these are the people whose evil deeds Allah will change into good ones. And Allah is Most Forgiving, Ever-Merciful. (25: 70)
The seeker then liberates from the disposition of inner baser self and finds safety from fear and grief, as Allah has said in the Quran:
أَلاَ إِنَّ أَوْلِيَاءَ اللّهِ لاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
Beware! Verily, the friends of Allah will not have any fear, nor will they grieve. (10: 62)
May Allah bless us with the favour and strength to perform this Hajj (Hajj of Tariqat) with His grace and benevolence.
Esoteric Ascension of Soul
Then Tawaf-e-Sadar (farewell Tawaf) is performed with the iteration of all the Divine names. Then the seeker returns to his real home which is the world of Divinity and best constitution (from where his existence originated in the best and purest form but was then polluted with human traits and sensual desires while descending towards the physical world. After completion of all rituals of inner Hajj, he becomes as pure as he was in eternity, hence returns to the world of best constitution). This (station) is related with the world of belief and these interpretations are within the frame of words and perception. The stations which are beyond this point are impossible for any human being to interpret, neither an ordinary man can bring them into his perception nor the courage can bear the theophanies of these stations, as the Holy Prophet said:
اَنَّ مِنْ الْعُلُوْمِ کَھَیْئَۃِ الْمَکْنُوْنِ لاَیَعْلَمُھَا اِلاَّ الْعُلَمَآ ئُ بِاللّٰہِ
Among all the knowledge, there is a knowledge which has been kept hidden. No one knows it except the scholars of Allah (Saints).
Knowledge of the Hidden
Thus, when they (Saints) talk about this (hidden and inward knowledge), the honourable ones do not deny because whatever an al-Arif (Mystic) says is always a reality (and intrinsic) while whatever a worldly scholar says is superficial (and extrinsic). Therefore, the knowledge of Mystic is the secret of Allah, and no one knows it except Allah. Allah says in the Quran:
وَلاَ يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلاَّ بِمَا شَاءَ
And they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. (2: 255)
They are the Prophets and Friends of Allah whom He grants the access to His knowledge. Allah says:
فَإِنَّهُ يَعْلَمُ السِّرَّ وَأَخْفَى۔ اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَى
Then indeed, He knows the secret and what is yet more hidden. Only Allah! There is not any deity worthy of worship except Him. To Him belong the most beautiful names. (20: 7-8)Indeed only Allah knows all. (Sirr-ul-Asrar)
Imam Ghazali relates in his book Hajjatul-Islam:
Man has been created in such a way that he cannot elevate to the ultimate level of blissfulness unless he submits all his authorities to Allah. Indulgence in the urge of ill commanding self is a cause of perdition because as long as one remains on his own authorities, none of his actions are according to sharia, instead they are in accordance and conformation to his ill commanding self. None of his affairs remain submissive, even though blissfulness of a true slave of Allah lies in obedience and servitude. This is the reason the nations of earlier Prophets were prescribed to adopt the lives of monasticism (abandoning the world and becoming isolated) and travelling.
Islam has no Monasticism
So their followers travelled to far flung mountains to keep themselves away from people and remained engrossed in asceticism. However, when the followers of Prophet Mohammad asked him why our religion does not prescribe monasticism and travelling. The Holy Prophet replied, “We are prescribed with Jihad and Hajj, instead.” Therefore, Allah has commanded his nation to perform Hajj instead of adopting monasticism because its aim is also to strive (in the path of Allah). Moreover, Allah Almighty has dignified the holy Kaaba by associating it with His Own Self and has made its surroundings venerable just like the courts of worldly emperors. He made it unlawful to hunt and truncate trees in its surroundings.
To highlight its sanctity and glory, He made the plain of Arafat right in front of His sacred house just like the plains around the royal courts, so that people would rush from all over the globe to perform its pilgrimage, even though they are aware of the reality that Allah is free from occupying any place or house. However, it is man’s nature that when he is obsessed with the love of his beloved, he starts adoring everything associated with his beloved. For the same reason, the lovers of Allah adore the holy Kaaba associated with Him and in this yearn and eagerness they come reverently to perform the Hajj of holy Kaaba leaving behind their families, wealth and homeland bearing the dangers of wilderness.
Hajj teaches us complete submission to Divine commands
They are commanded to perform such rituals in this worship which are beyond the faculty of reasoning. For example, the intellect cannot comprehend the significance of throwing stones at walls considering them Satan or running around the mount of Safa and Marwa. This is because whatever the intellect can comprehend is related with the baser self of a person. The baser self is aware of what intellect does and why it does, but the real servitude is that man becomes totally submissive to the commands of his Lord, even if those commandments are beyond the scope of his mind. Throwing stones and performing Sa’i are the evidences of unquestionable obedience to such commands of Allah which can be obeyed only with total submission to Allah.
Had it been in the control of intellect, it would have tangled us into arguments. Therefore, Hajj is a training for the slave of Allah to be submissive in front of his Lord to such an extent that that there remains nothing in his existence but the desire for the Divine Self, and his wisdom and nature never come in his way to observe his Lord’s commands.” (Hajjatul-Islam)
Sultan Bahoo explains types of pilgrims
Sultan-ul-Arifeen Sultan Bahoo narrates about the pilgrims:
Pilgrims are of two types. Those who are the beneficent people of spirituality and the others who are the people of earthly body. When a beneficent Saint pilgrim enters the sanctuary of Kaaba with complete belief, Kaaba blesses him with the theophany of Divine closeness and when he enters the holy Kaaba and circumambulates around it, he is blessed with the Divine vision. The pilgrim who enters the inner Kaaba and repents thousand times from the desires of the world, does not come out of Kaaba until he is blessed with the Divine vision. However, a pilgrim who is a man of desires, always remains worried for livelihood. When a Saint pilgrim enters the plain of Arafat and raises his hands for prayer by invoking
لَبَّيْكَ ٱللَّٰهُمَّ لَبَّيْكَ، وَحْدَكَ لَا شَرِيكَ لَكَ لَبَّيْكَ
Here I am O Lord! Here I am. You are One and there is no partner with You, Here I am O Lord!
Then all the veils between him and Allah are removed. When such a pilgrim enters the sanctuary of Madina and comes to the sacred tomb of Prophet Mohammad, verily the Holy Prophet comes out of his sacred tomb and patronizes the pilgrim, laurels and ennobles him with high ranks and status of Faqr. He sends him off by blessing him with spiritual knowledge and persuasion. Such a pilgrim becomes submissive and independent from the world. He relinquishes the carrion world and never looks back towards it. Inwardly, he is engrossed in Allah and outwardly he remains vigilant.
Allah is enough and everything else is lust. (Noor-ul-Huda Kalan)
Point to PonderIn this era, more than fifty to sixty lac Muslims are blessed to perform Hajj every year. Yet the Muslim nation is becoming weaker day by day and hypocrisy is prevailing around. We are being subdued by the non-Muslims. The inwards of Muslims lack piety and are indulged in the love and concern of the world. The fear of death is shaking their faith every moment. The cause of this decline is the absence of piety in the inward.
رگوں میں وہ لہو باقی نہیں ہے
وہ دل، وہ آرزو باقی نہیں ہے
نماز و روزہ و قربانی و حج
یہ سب باقی ہیں تو باقی نہیں ہےThat blood of pristine vigour is no more, that yearning of inward is no more. Prayers, fasting, sacrifice and Hajj are there but you are not there (i.e., you perform these worships just superficially and your soul is oblivious)
Are today’s Muslims fulfilling the requirements of Hajj?The Holy Prophet said, “There will come a time on people when the rich will perform Hajj for the sake of amusement, the religious scholars will perform Hajj for show off and fame, while the poor will perform Hajj for the purpose of begging.” In the light of above Hadith, Muslims of present era should particularly account themselves and ponder if their Hajj has really become a confirmation of Holy Prophet’s Hadith. Rich ones should ponder whether their Hajj contains the spirit of piety or the spirit of amusement? Ordinary people should think whether they go to perform Hajj for the sake of Divine vision or for mercantile benefits? Religious scholars should ponder whether they go to the holy Kaaba for getting a lesson of servitude or to raise their occupational status and standing. Similarly, the poor should consider whether their Hajj is a source of begging or their purpose is to gain religious and afterlife beneficence. May Allah grant us the strength to attain the real essence of Hajj. Ameen
This article is an excerpt from Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman’s book ‘The Spiritual Reality of Hajj’.
What is Hajj in Islam?
Hajj is a journey that one exclusively performs for the sake of Allah. It is spending one’s time and wealth and reaching at those sacred places where there are present the signs of Allah. These are the sacred places where the true men of Allah gave up everything for Allah and submitted themselves before His will to please Him and did not care about any gain or loss of the world. So, Allah made these places His signs and now He is seeing the affection of pilgrims for Him by making them perform the same acts of His beloved men over and over again, all the rituals of Hajj are a practical representation of this reality.
The purpose of performing Hajj is not that the pilgrim returns home after seeing holy Kaaba and visiting holy sites. Instead, its real aim is to gain “Divine presence, observation and unveiling.