The Fifth Pillar of Islam

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by Hazrat Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi Saheb R.A

Town of the Beloved

Renewal of the Call of Hazrat Ibrahim

The Haj along with its rituals and the events to which these are related, the robe of indifference to material phenomena and liberation from conciet and vainglory which the pilgrim puts on and the rites of Waqoof, Ifaza, Rajm, Sa’ee and Tawaf he performs are, in fact, a means to the promotion and activisation in his life of the values and concepts of Monotheism, negation of material causes, reliance on God, Divine propitation and making sacrifices in His way. All these events, formalities and observances typify an open rejection of customary behaviour and a revival of the spirit of faith, love and surrender. The Haj holds a guarantee to the preservation of these lofty ideals, sublime sentiments and priceless moral and spiritual values and of the unmatched Islamic conception of human equality and brotherhood which transcends all national, political and geographical barriers. It is a call for following the example of Hazrat Ibrahim, for producing the spirit of his faith and devotion in ourselves and for holding aloft his teachings everywhere and at all times.

“The faith of your father Ibrahim is yours. He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this Scripture, that the Messenger may be a witness against you, and that you may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship, pay the poor-due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting Friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper!” (-xxii : 78)

A New Chapter

The call of Hazrat Ibrahim marks the beginning of a new chapter in the story of our race. It draws a line of separation between one current of history and another. The whole of mankind gets divided into two camps that remain parmanently in a state of war with each-other. With it the old era ends and the new begins. Hazrat Ibrahim was favoured by God with an eternal call and an everlasting Ummat and Apostleship : spiritual guidance and religious leadership were, forever, decreed for his descendants. For his followers it was ordained for all times that they will shoulder the responsibility of carrying out the struggle against the forces of evil and perform the task of the preaching and propagation of faith. The duty of guiding humanity to its ultimate destination and protecting the light of faith against the onslaughts of darkness and sensuality was now going to be theirs.

Hope of Humanity

The Haj pilgrimage, the annual congregation of the followers of Hazrat Ibrahim at Mecca, and the rites and ceremonies connected with it possess in full measure the capacity to forge a living contact among his spiritual heirs and successors and impart a new life to the aims and ideals indicated above.

“Allah hath appointed the Ka`aba, the Sacred House, a standard for mankind, and the Sacred Month and the offerings and the animals with straps around their necks. This is so that ye may know that Allah knoweth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, and Allah is Knower of all things.” (-v : 97)

Eternal Home of Religions Guidance and Endeavour

During the Islamic era and the ministry of Prophet Mohammad the House of Allah in Mecca, where the rites of the Haj are performed, became a permanent home of religious guidance and true spirituality. Here the cold cellar of the heart is warmed up again, and the World of Islam rallies to it, year after year, to pay the tribute of love and submission and give a marvellous demonstration of its attachment to this pillar of faith. The greatest of rulers, plutocrats, scholars and divines walk around it in an exalted state of feeling but not unbounded by reason and awareness. They furnish a practical proof of the fact that they are united in spite of the things that apparently divide them, bound to each-other in spite of mutual strifes and dissensions and strong in spite of widespread proverty and backwardness. Though the Muslims are scattered all over the world and engrossed in their own problems and difficulties and divided into various races and nationalities they become one at a particular point where all their divergences, strifes and contentions disappear and they are moulded into a compact whole. Their life, in the pilgrimage, consists wholly of faith and belief, worship and oblation and Tawaf and Sa’ee, and their only halts are at Mina and Arafat and at such other places where the rites of the Haj are performed. They are constantly on the move, advancing towards their goal, meeting new people traversing new paths and discovering new dimensions. The journey within journey continues till they depart from the world and go to meet their Maker.

Town of the beloved

It is natural for a Muslim, specially if he has come from a distant land, to want to go to Madina, after he has completed the Haj, which had been the home of the sacred Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) after Migration and where his last resting place lies. Simply and sincerely, he is seized with the longing to betake himself to it and see the hallowed mosque from which emanated the rays of light that illumined the world and flowed out the springs of knowledge and spirituality which transformed it into a blooming garden. It was here that Islam took shelter in the days of tyranny and oppression and the initial chapters of its history were written. The soil of this wonderful city is soaked with the blood and tears of the holy Companions. It is but to be expected of the pilgrim that he desired keenly to offer prayers in the Mosque of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), one Rak`at of which is equal to a thousand Rak`ats offered elsewhere, and to stay at places where the pious precursors, the martyrs and the truthful used to stay. He is hopeful of receiving from there some part of the celestial wealth of faith, earnestness and love and of the courage to lay down his life in the cause of Islam. He is also inspired by the wish to send blessings on the holy Prophet through whom he was fortunate enough to obtain deliverance from Ignorance, to pass from the bondage of fellow-men to the bondage of God and to taste the sweetness of faith and realise the worth and dignity of man.