The Fifth Pillar of Islam

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by Hazrat Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi Saheb R.A

Absolute Obedience

What the Hajj signifies is nothing more and nothing less than blind faith and total submission. It stands for unqualified obedience and earnest yielding to a demand. Sometimes the pilgrim is seen in Makkah and sometimes in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa. Sometimes he makes a halt and sometimes he travels. At one time he pitches his tent and at another he knocks it down. He is the slave of every nod and gesture and does simply what he is called upon to do. He has no choice of his own. He has hardly halted at Mina that he is required to move on to Arafat but without breaking the journey at Muzdallifa. On reaching Arafat he engages himself in prayer throughout the day and when the sun has set he finds himself tired and wanting to spend the night there but is commanded to proceed to Muzdalifa. He has been regular in prayer all his life but there he is told to forgo the Salaat of Maghrib for he is the bondman of Allah, not of Salaat or habit. The Salat he offers at Muzdalifa jointly with that of Isha. His stay at Muzdalifa is very pleasant and he wishes to prolong it but it is not allowed to him and he is bidden to leave for Mina.

The same was the practice of Hazrat Ibrahim and of all the Divine Apostles and men of faith and virtue, now travelling, now staying, now meeting, now parting, neither servile to desire nor yielding to caprice.

Time and Place

No other place could be more appropriate for it than Mecca where the fore-runner of the votaries of faith and the most dearly loved bondman of God of his time had presented the most glowing tribute of devotion and sacrifice the world has ever known. All the Prophets of the Lord, Monotheists and adorers of Divinity who came after him followed in his footsteps, emulated his example in every detail, and re-enacted the same story of fealty and love. They, in the same manner, circumambulated around the House of Ka’aba, performed the Sa’ee between Safa and Marwa, encamped at Arafat, spent the night at Muzdalifa, shrew the pebbles at Jemarat and offered the sacrifice of animals at Mina.

Thus, in time and space, in the chapters of the episode that is repeated over and over again, in the rites and formalities in which the example of Hazrat Ibrahim is followed, in the life-giving drafts of love from which the pilgrims draw new vitality, in the warmth of feeling and enthusiasm which envelope them entirely, in the company of diverse groups of Muslims which is available to them all the time, in the religious and spiritual congregation the like of which is not to be seen anywhere, and in the soulful melodies of prayer, supplication and repentance that fill the atmosphere constantly, that vital element, that indescribable quality is still present which infuses a new life, imparts a new keenness, instils a new hope and revives the languishing flame of love and evokes the Mercy of the Lord.

Many enlightened scholars of Islam have referred to the miraculous quality of this congregation of attracting the blessings of Allah and arousing the hearts, however insensitive they may have grown, and, enkindling in them the feelings of devotion and earnestness.  As Imaam Ghazali, for instance, writes: “When the thoughts, hopes and aspirations are concentrated on a particular point, when the hearts are seized with eagerness, the hands are stretching towards Allah and the eyes are lifting towards the heavens, when everyone is jointly and with full attention and solicitude begging the Mercy of the Lord then, at that time, do not imagine that the Supreme Being will disappoint them, allow their exertions to go waste and keep them denied of His Favours.”

Hadhrat Shah Waliullah, similarly, has said, “The fundamental principle of the Hajj is that a large body of pious and virtuous servants got together at a particular time and recollected the state of those on whom was a special favour of Allah, such as the Prophets, the Truthful, the Duteous and the Martyrs, and at a place which abounded with the signs of the Almighty, the Gracious One, and where the meritorious and whole-souled representatives of the Ummah assembled, moved by reverence for the Lardmarks of Allah, crying and beseeching, invoking, His Aid and seeking His Forgiveness, because when the hearts beat in unison and people come together in this spirit there is no thriftiness in the bestowal of Mercy and Benevolence. The Prophet has said that the Satan never feels more dejected, crestfallen and humiliated than on the day of Arafa.”

Hazrat Shah Waliullah goes on to say: “It is also a part of purification of the self that a man should break his journey and stay at the places where the spiritually evolved and praiseworthy ‘Friends of Allah’ have been staying with reverence of the heart and uttermost devotion, filling, the air with His Name. It will prove to be a source of nearness to the Angels and the Celestial World for men of virtue because when they will stay there they will also get dyed in the same hue.”‘

Renewal of Contact

One of the chief purposes of the Hajj is the renewal of bond or contact with Hadhrat Ibrahim, the founder Millat-i-Hanifi. It affords a splendid opportunity to safeguard his legacy, to compare one’s own way of living with the way he had shown and to take stock of the condition of Muslims with a view to improving it. The Hajj is a kind of annual concourse through which the Muslims can look into themselves, discover their faults and chalk out plans for their regeneration and for ridding themselves of the influences they may have accepted from peoples and communities among which they live.

In the words of Hazrat Shah Waliullah, “One of the objects of the Hajj is the preservation of the legacy of Hazrat Ibrahim and Hadhrat Ismail both of whom can be said to be the leaders of the Millat-i-Hanifi and its founders in Arabia. The sacred prophet, also, was raised up so that through him Millat-i-Hanifi gained ascendancy in the world and was victorious.

“It has been declared by God that: The faith of your father Ibrahim is yours.’ (xxii:78). It is, therefore, essential for us to protect the things we have received from the leader of this community as an inheritance, viz., personal characterists and rituals of the Hajj. As the Prophet once said, ‘Stay at places set apart for the Hajj for you are the inheritors of your father’s legacy.”

Revivification of the Episode of Ibrahim

The most fascinating feature of the Hajj is the spirit of enchantment, devotion and self-effacement which pervades the entire pilgrimage, from the beginning to the end. In it the governance of the mind is entrusted to the heart and the glorious example of the earnest men of God and His genuine adorers. Amd their forerunner, Hadhrat Ibrahim (Alayhis salaam), the friend of Allah, is followed in every act and observance. Sometimes, the pilgrim walks zealously round the house of Ka’bah, sometimes, he kisses the black stone and sometimes he portrays the intensity of mother’s love at Safa and Marwa by running where Hadhrat Hajira, the mother of Hadhrat Ismail, had run and walking with poise and dignity where she had walked in that way. Thereafter, he is bidden to leave for Mina on the eight day of Zil-Hijjah, and, then, to stay in the valley of Arafat and devote himself earnestly to prayer and supplication. The night is spent at Muzdalifa and, in the morning he returns to Mina. All this is done solely and for no other reason than to emulate the example of Hazat Ibranim and the sacred Prophet.

The most striking part, however, of this unique display of love, imitation and emulation is the rite of Rami Jemar which is simply the simulation of an act performed by Hazrat Ibrahim. There is a force in following the example of the devout servants of the Lord which is catching. The inner radiance of these glorious specimens of faith, their matchless spirit of love and dedication is transmitted to those who strive to follow in their footsteps like an electric current. It is the best and most effective way to attract the Mercy of the Lord. No spectacle is more enthralling for those who have experienced this feeling than the getting together of ardent adorers and faithful bondmen on that blessed land for re-enacting the magnificent episode and recreating the sublime events that had taken place thousands of years ago but have been eternalised by God and endowed with His gracious acceptance. It has been decreed by Him that His loyal and truthful servants, from all over the world, will re-enact the whole series of events in the same way and in the spirit of defeating and disgracing the Devil, fortifying and strengthening the faith and emulating the soul-stirring example of Hazrat Ibrahim.