By Rabiya Fahma Dawood
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
Hajj is an intense self-transforming experience. Its status in Islam is such that a sincere performance of it erases all the previous sins of the pilgrim. However, despite the immense rewards in store for Hajj pilgrims, the Hajj season does not restrict its benefits to just them. Understanding the essence of this pillar of Islam will offer every Muslim – pilgrim or not – the guidelines he or she needs to lead a successful life.
So whether you are going for Hajj this year, or you reminisce of earlier pilgrimages, or maybe just plan to stay back and follow the Hajj through live TV at home, pay heed to these six life lessons that Hajj teaches us.
Lesson 1: Preparation for the final meet
The very first thing a pilgrim needs to do for his or her pilgrimage is don the ihram – a two-piece white unstitched garment (for men). Right at the get-go, pilgrims are reminded of death; because the only other time they would be dressed in such a way is the final time they would be dressed in this world at all.
We are commanded to wear what is nothing less than our funeral clothes for Hajj so that we are trained to return to our Lord willingly before we have no choice to. In this pursuit, we are made to consciously prepare ourselves not only for the current, but also for the final meeting with our Lord.
The talbiyah that is recited constantly by the pilgrim right from the moment he or she wears the ihram until he or she reaches Makkah further accentuates this reminder.
Hajj serves as a physical and mental preparation for the Last Day. The Day of Arafah paints a graphic picture of the Last Day for a pilgrim – a day when hordes of people will gather in one place, weeping and beseeching their Lord. The only difference between then and now is the opportunity that we still have to mend our ways.
Lesson 2: This life is a constant struggle
Besides all the physical, mental, and even emotional toils that a pilgrim goes through in his or her entire pilgrimage, one ritual at Hajj stands out in teaching us that this life is nothing but a spiritual battle between us and Satan – stoning the jamaraat.
The story of Prophet Ibrahim (may Allah be pleased with him) on his path to sacrifice his own son upon Allah’s command and his struggle against the devil’s whispers to complete his mission teaches us the constant struggle we need to exert against Satan in our everyday lives.
“[Satan] said: Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path. Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to You].” (Quran, 7:16-17)
Lesson 3: We own nothing
The stay at Mina under tents denotes how little we truly own in this life. Even a millionaire ought to be dressed in a simple two-piece garment and share bed space with a multitude of other pilgrims.
We came into this world with nothing, and we will leave with nothing – save our deeds. Our true valuables in this world and for the next are our deeds alone and not any material possession. This realization should push us to strive harder to perform as many good deeds as we can in the little time that we have in this world.
Lesson 4: Taqwa is our prized possession
With no worldly possession that truly belongs to us, the one thing that we can choose to possess, however, is taqwa (God-consciousness). That is surely the only provision we would need in order to survive in this world. This is why Allah commands us to carry along with us taqwa (God-consciousness) on our Hajj trip:
“…And make provision for yourselves; the best provision is fear of Allah (taqwa)…” (Quran, 2:197)
This will aid us in our tiring travel to and from Makkah, much like our journey in this world back to Allah.
Lesson 5: Success lies in trusting Allah
The sa‘iy (running between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah) reminds us of the story of one of the greatest women in Islam – Hajar, wife of Ibrahim (may Allah be pleased with them both). When left with no food or water, and no means of contact with anyone, along with her little baby in the middle of the desert, she placed complete trust in Allah.
Tawakkul (as opposed to tawaakul) is placing trust on Allah, yet only after taking the necessary steps to solve the problem. Believing that Allah’s help will come without any effort from one’s side is unwise and simply indolent.
The Prophet (sa) said: “Tie your camel and then place your trust in Allah.” (at-Tirmidhi; graded reliable by al-Albani)
And so setting her baby down, Hajar ran from one mountain to the other and back, and over and over in search of help. She did not stay put, nor did she sulk in despair. She did as much as she could and relied on Allah to grant the best result – which He did through the miracle of the Zamzam water.
Lesson 6: Salvation lies in obedience to Allah
The whole act of performing Hajj and each of its rites has the underlying principle of obeying Allah and His commands to the tee.
It is interesting to note that the actions of this power-couple, Hajar and her husband Prophet Ibrahim, as mentioned above have been etched into the Hajj process, with their actions being emulated by millions of Muslims for generations ever since, solely because of the one thing common between both deeds – their obedience to Allah.
May Allah accept the prayers and deeds of all our fellow brothers and sisters going for Hajj this year, and help us understand and implement the essence of this sacred worship in our daily lives. Ameen.
Rabiya Dawood is a freelance writer, editor, counsellor, and teacher. She has taught at Islamic weekend schools based in the UAE, is counsellor at ArRajaa The Hope Counselling Service as well as Solace Islamic Assistance, and staff editor and writer at Islamic magazines such as Muslimaat Magazine and previously at IOU Insights. She also serves as freelance editor for independent writers.
© IIPH 2016