Reflections on my Haj experience

Published on: 23/08/2019 | Comments: 3 comments 

.. by Wg Cdr (r) Fardad Ali Shah

Alhamdullilah, have just been through the grand collective ritual of Islam, it’s fifth pillar, the Haj. The experience was overwhelming by all accounts. There would hardly be an occasion in a person’s life where one can see so much of people from all around the world concentrating on a single event with so much reverence and devotion.

The spirit of Haj is the strongest centripetal binding force between different sects and sections of Islam. If it was not for Haj which brings all believers together, Muslims would have shredded apart long ago into different divisions each on their own.

Just before the beginning of Haj, there was a message running viral on the social media with proclamations from different Muftis around the world calling for boycott of Haj in the present circumstances, giving various reasons as justification. After going through the ritual and thinking about this with a cool mind, the appeal for boycott seems a ploy by the enemies of Islam who want the most potent unifying force of Muslims to be weakened. If there are geo-political problems that cause apprehensions in the minds of people, such problems need to be solved instead of discouraging Haj in itself. We do not ever cut the head to cure the headache.

Personal Observations:

Much as the presence and devotion of the participants was overwhelmingly impressive, the connection of the spirit of the ritual to every day true life was sadly found missing every where.

At Arafat, the main venue of Haj sermon, the grand imam and the imams in different camps were heard to be only praying for mercy from Allah Almighty for their sins, but praying to Allah for giving them the strength to not commit sins in future was found missing. The misconception that Allah Almighty would forgive all past sins of a person who performed Haj stood out glaringly.? The sermon givers did not qualify the kind of sins that Allah would forgive, for Allah Almighty has clearly mentioned in the Holy Quran that HE would not forgive sins against humanity (Haqooq ul Ibad). The misconception that after performing Haj one comes out free of all sins like a baby born from a mothers womb, is the underlying reason for Muslims not giving importance to Huqooq ul Ibaad. No where in various sermons during Haj was the sublime sunnat of the Holy Prophet PBUH i.e of being Sadiq and Ameen (truthful and trustworthy) touched upon,

Whereas Sunnats of the Holy prophet like his dress, his beard size, his using miswak, his offering nafal prayers etc were being mentioned again and again with reverence, no where was the saying of the prophet that ‘Cleanliness is equal part of faith’ ever mentioned, that is why all Hajis were seen with miswak in hand, mostly with beards, ankles bared and offering nawafils, but also was seen the Haj venues draped in trash and litter whether it was at Mina Arafat or Muzdalfa.

There was no mention in the lengthy Haj Khutba and Duas about discipline, cleanliness, compassion, etc. The beautiful Haj connotation of mercy and compassion is so strong that in the state of Ihram, pilgrims cannot harm any living creature, not even kill a mosquito, but this aspect of showing compassion to Allah’s creatures was not touched upon in the long sermons. Duas were mostly restricted to seeking forgiveness from sins. No where in sermons was the bitter fact attended to, that everyone who can, fleeces the Hajis in Mecca and Madina during Haj days. A taxi which normally charges 20 riyals during normal days asks for upto 500 riyals in Haj days exploiting the compulsion and helplessness of the Hajis.

The Haj organiser in his briefing had warned that Hajis should be careful when buying coupons for sacrificial animals because many companies take the money and send you fake intimation without actually sacrificing the animal for you.

At Arafat when the time for begging from God came, I first prayed for the Muslim Umma to be gifted with the quality of being Sadiq and Ameen (truthful and trustworthy), before I prayed for myself. My faith in Allah was rekindled when immediately clouds appeared and a down pour quenched the parched land. I felt as if Allah Almighty had liked the prayer I made to him to to make Muslims Sadiq and Ameen.

Some observations regarding administration of Haj:

The mechanics of conducting Haj have come a long way from travelling on foot and camels to planes and trains, from raising the size of Satan’s pillars from small to huge sizes, from expanding the original Mina field to vast expanse under same name. All these changes have been brought about after authorization from leading clerics (fatwas). Much more needs to be done through Ijtihad and Ijmah in amending some procedures, tailoring them to modern time requirements.

— The first and most important administrative amendment that needs to be done without any more delay is to segregate male from female during tawaf of the holy Kaaba. At present, tawaf around the Kaaba is done in a jam packed mataf where na muhrim men and women are literally brushing shoulders and pushing each other which is not permitted in Islam. In early days the population was low and this may not have been a problem but today it sure is.
— Through Ijma, some Haj procedures have already been reoriented. Except for the Waqoof at Arafat which is actual Haj Farz, other rituals which are Sunnat or Wajib have been reorganised after Ijmah with Ulema.? Earlier, Rummi (stoning of devil) was only allowed only in the afternoon, now due to huge crowds it is not manageable so? 24 hours Rummi has been allowed. Similarly other procedures which are repetitious can also be looked into, like stoning of devil could be kept on one day instead of spreading it over three days.
–? The Saudi government should deploy courteous and efficient employees who should be trained to serve pilgrims instead of bossing over them.
— The sign boards all over Mecca and Madina are in Arabic. Hajis from world over visit these places. Such boards should also be written in at least two other major languages other than Arabic.

It was very saddening to hear when an employee of the hotel we were staying in, said that purity and sanctity we see is only restricted to the perimeters of the two Harams at Mecca and Madina. Outside of these walls every kind of corrupt practices go on., he said disgustedly. One shudders to think that the immediate vicinity of these two sacred places has not been able to make Muslims good people. There must be something missing. Most probably it is that religious clerics and Ulema do not stress upon the importance of character building in their sermons.

If Allah Almighty listens to my humble prayers and endows Muslims with the prime sunnat of the Holy Prophet? i.e of being Sadiq (truthful) and Ameen (trustworthy) , Muslims will be respected again and the world at large would be a better place. .. Wg Cdr (r) Fardad Ali Shah, 18 Aug 2019


Comment 7 .. A truly thought provoking reflection and observation of the behavior and expectation of Umma towards forgiveness of their sins by performing Haj. This insightful write up by Fardad Ali Shah sb draws the attention of Muslims towards the true spirit of Sunnat, the basis of which is truthfulness and trustworthiness which is unfortunately missing among majority of the Muslims. Muslims find spiritual satisfaction by imitating the physical appearance of the holy prophet but they hardly pay any serious attention to follow his deeds such as truthfulness, trustworthiness, honesty, compassion for humanity. Our religious leaders and preachers do not promote these attributes in their preaching and sermons while these are essential for a peaceful and conducive society and need to be inculcated among Muslims for adoption.
This also provides an intellectual platform for debate to reform and promote healthy trends in society and I would encourage other worthy readers to express their views on the subject. .. Sultan Mehmood, Islamabad 22 Aug 2019

Comment 6 .. Congratulations Sir, well written article with good suggestion for administration. .. Usman Uddin, Chitral 22 Aug 2019

Comment 5 .. I studied the article carefully. Totally agree with every point in it to be practical and realistic. I suggest all the readers to act upon all the suggestions highlighted in the article. Thank you for presenting such valuable information. .. Wajahat Ali, Chitral 22 Aug 2019

Comment 4 .. Heartiest congratulations on performing the pilgrimage. Segregation of male and female pilgrims in the rite of Circumambulation requires deeper study while the other aspect of limiting pelting stones at Satan to one day instead of three days appears to be allowable in light of this holy saying of the holy Prophet (peace be upon him):????? ????:??? ???:???? ???? 1263 ?????? 0 ???? ???? 0
???? ????????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ??? ?? ??? ?? ??? ???? (??? ???? ???? ???? ????) ?? ?? ?????? ???? ??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ?? (???? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??? ??? ?? ????? ?? ?? ?? ?? ????? ??? ???? ????? ??) ?? ?? ?????? ?? ??? ???? ?? ????? ?? ????? ??? ??? ???? ??? ?? ???? ???? ????? ?? ??? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ???? ???? ??? ?????? ?? ??? ?? ??? ???? ?? ????? ?? ????????? ??????? ??????? ????? ????? ???? ????? ???? ???? ?? ???? ??? ???? ??? ???? ??? ???? ?? ??? ??? ???? ?? ???? ?? ?? ?? ??? ???? ??? ??? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??? ??? ??? ?? ?? ???? ???? ???? ??? ?? ??? ????? ??? ?? ?? ??? ???? ???? ????? ??? ???? ????? ?? ??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ??? ???? ??? (?????? ???????? ?????? ??? ????? ?????) ????? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??? ?? ???? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??? ???? ??? ??? ?? ?? ??? ??? ????? ??? ???? ?? ????? ??? ??????? ?? ?? ????? ?? ??? ???? ???? ?? ???? ???? ?? ?? ????? ?? ??? ???? ??? ?? ?????? ?? ??? ?? ?? ????? ?? ???? ??? ????? ?? ??? ?? ??? ?? ???? ??? ????? ?? ??? ?? ?? ?? ??? ?? ?? ??? ?????? ???? ?? ?? ????? ?? ????? ??? ?? ???? ??? ?? ??? ??? ?? ??? ??? ???? ????? ?? ????? ?? ?? ?? ?? ???? ???? ?? ?? ???? ?? ????? ???? ???? ? ??? ?? ??? ????? ???? ??? ????? ??? ?? ?? ?? ????? ????? ?????? ???? ?? ?? ??? ???? ??? ?? ??? ???? ??? ???? ?? ???? ?? ?? ?? ??? ???? ??? ??????? ????? ?? ??? ?? ??? ????? ?????? ?? ??????? ??? ?? ??? ??? ??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ???? ???? ???? ??? ??????? ??? ??? ???? ???? ??? ??????? ????? ?? ??????? ????? ?? ?? ??? ?? ???? ?????? ??? ??? ??? ?? ??? ????? ??? ?? ???? ?? ?? ?? ??? ???? ??? ??????? ????? ?? ??? ????? ?? ??? ???? ?? ??? ????? ??? ????? ??????? ??? ?? ??? ??? ????? ??? ?? ?? ?? ??? ???? ???? ????? ???? ???? ?? ?????? ?? ?? ????? ?????? ????? ???? ????? ???? ????? ?? ??? ??? ????? ???? ??? ????? ?? ?? ??? ?????? ??? ?? ???? ???? ??? ???? ?? ????? ?? ???? ???? ??? ??? ????? ???? ????? ??? ?????? ?? ??? ???? ??? ?? ????? ??? ????? ????? ????? ??? ?? ??? ?? ??? ??? ???? ???? ???? ??? Regarding segregation of male and female pilgrims to avoid pogrom ,let us see it separately.These are personal views and carry no weight unless they are endorsed by authentic religious authorities . ..? Ghulam Anbia , Chitral 21 Aug 2019

Comment 3 ..? For the present,the separation of ladies for Tawaf also looks in order from this hadis:??? ???? ???????:??? ???:???? ???? 645 ?????? 0 ???? ???? 0(????) ?? ???? ?? ?????? ?? ????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ?? ???? ?? ???? ?? ??? : ?? ?? ?? ???? ??? ???? ?? ?? ?? ???? ???? (??? ???? ???? ???? ????) ?? ?????? ?? ???? ??? ??? ??? ?? ??? : ??? ???? ?? ???? ?? ??? ??? ? ???? ??? : ???? ??? ?? ??? ??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ?? ??? ?? ???? ??? ??? ?? ??? : ?? ????? ?? ???? ???? ??? ??? ?????? ????? ???? ??? ?? ?? ??? ??? ???? ???? ????? ???? ????? (??) ????? ?? ??? ?? ?? ???? ?????? ?? ??? ?? ??? ????? ??? ???? ?? ??? : ?? ?? ???????? ! ???? ?? ?????? ???? ?? ????? ?? ??? : ?? ?? ??? ?? ?? ?? ?? ????? ??? ?? ?? ??? ?? ??? ????? ?? ?? ????? ??? ????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ???? ?? ?? ??? ???? ??? ???? ????? ?? ???? ??????? ???? ?? ?? ?????? ???? ??????? ??? ????? ?? ???? ??? ???? ??? ??? ??? ???? ????? (??) ?? ??? ???? ??? ?? ???? ??? ????? ?????? ??? ?? ??? ??? ?? ?? ???? ??? ??? ? ????? ?? ??? : ?? ???? ??? ??? ???? ??? ?? ?? ???? ??? ????? ??? ?? ?? ?????? ?? ?? ????? ??? ??? ???? ??? ??? ??? ?? ?? ?? ????? ???? ?????? ..? Ghulam Anbia , Chitral 21 Aug 2019

Comment 2 .. ?An exceptionally well-written article with many interesting suggestions.
Inspired after reading through the reminisced Hajj experience. I particularly like the fact that it gives an objective look at the issues/areas of improvement, pointing out the advantages and disadvantages. Very insightful! .. Sana Feroze, Melbourne?20 Aug 2019

Comment 1–?If even during Haj the importance of honesty, cleanliness and discipline is not mentioned, then how can you expect Muslims to adopt these qualities. The priorities of our sermons need to be revisited indeed. .. Mustapha, Chitral 19 Aug 2019