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The Opening of Zil-Hajjah Month

03 September, 2016 12:45
The Opening of Zil-Hajjah Month

“The Hajj is a journey full of symbolism, for it represents the soul’s journey towards God. Each stage and each aspect of the pilgrimage is replete with profound meanings about life, worship and realities of faith, especially the love and awe of God.” [1]

The Islamic Research and Information Center (IRIC) would like to venerate the opening of the holy month of Zil-Hajjah (Dhul-Hijjah) when the unique event of Hajj is greatly commemorated throughout the world by millions of Muslims (as a symbol to practice being God’s servant).

Hajj, Journey of Devotion

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam alongside Shahadah (Muslims sincerely confession of faith or twin formula of faith which means to testify that there is no God except Allah and that Prophet Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah), Salat or performing daily worship for five times, Zakat or paying obligatory alms tax to benefit the poor and the needy, and Sawm which means fasting during the month of Ramadan.

“The hajj is commanded in the Quran - "And pilgrimage to the House is a duty unto God for mankind, for him who can find the way thither" (3:97).” [2]

It occurs from the 8th to 12th (or in some cases 13th)of the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is an obligatory series of rituals for those able Muslims who could afford both physically and financially and is performed based on the same rituals of the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) "farewell pilgrimage" in 632 AD.

“The state of being physically and financially capable of performing the Hajj is called istita'ah, and a Muslim who fulfills this condition is called a mustati. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah).” [3]

History of the Hajj and its Rituals

Back to the history of today holy city of Mecca four thousand years ago when it was just a dry and uninhabited valley with no agricultural resources, may hardly could anybody have thought it would one day turn to almost the world’s greatest pilgrimage destination, the most glorified and visited city by the adherents of the second major religion in the world and the center to host millions of Muslims every year to perform their “once in life time” rites and rituals called Hajj.

According to Muslims’ belief the holy House of Ka’bah was instructed by Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) upon Commandment of Allah years after he brought his family to today Saudi Arabia.

“He was instructed to bring his wife, Hajira (Hagar) and their child Is'mail to Arabia from Palestine to protect them from the jealousy of Ibrahim's first wife Sarah. Allah told the Prophet Ibrahim to leave them on their own, and he did so, with some supplies of food and water. However the supplies quickly ran out and within a few days Hajira and Is'mail were suffering from hunger and dehydration. In her desperation Hajira ran up and down two hills called Safa and Marwa trying to see if she could spot any help in the distance. Finally she collapsed beside Is'mail and prayed to Allah for deliverance. Is'mail struck his foot on the ground and this caused a spring of water to gush forth from the earth. Hajira and Is'mail were saved. Now they had a secure water supply they were able to trade water with passing nomads for food and supplies.

After a while the Prophet Ibrahim returned from Palestine to check on his family and was amazed to see them running a profitable well. The Prophet Ibrahim was told by Allah to build a shrine dedicated to him. Ibrahim and Is'mail constructed a small stone structure - the Kaaba or Cube - which was to be the gathering place for all who wished to strengthen their faith in Allah. As the years passed Is'mail was blessed with Prophethood and he gave the nomads of the desert the message of surrender to Allah. After many centuries, Mecca became a thriving city thanks to its reliable water source, the well of Zam Zam. Gradually, the people began to adopt polytheistic ideas, and worship spirits and many different gods. The shrine of the Prophet Ibrahim was used to store idols. After many years, Allah told the Prophet Muhammad that he should restore the Ka’bah to the worship of Allah only. In the year 628 the Prophet Muhammad set out on a journey with 1400 of his followers. This was the first pilgrimage in Islam, and would re-establish the religious traditions of the Prophet Ibrahim.” [4]

The state of Ihram

“The state of Ihram, which takes its name from the same root as haram, indicates a state of sacredness when many otherwise-halal matters are temporarily prohibited. It is a preparation for visiting the Sacred Mosque in Mecca. Imam Ghazzali stated that the Ka’bah is so holy and beloved to God that a vast area of land around it is made sacred, such that we cannot hunt prey or even cut down a tree in the haram area. Even criminals find refuge there, for “Whoever enters it is safe. Furthermore, even visiting the Ka’bah requires that we assume the sacred state of Ihram with restrictions on dress, perfume and marital relations imposed during this time. All of this serves as a reminder that in the neighborhood and precincts of the House of God, we must be in a heightened state of spiritual awareness.

The prohibition on covering the head for males and on veiling the face for females during Ihram is to instill a sense of humility before God; these practices at other times remind us of the importance of being dignified before God, for humanity shoulders a responsibility that even the heavens and the earth with its towering mountains declined (Qur’an, Surah al-Ahzab (33:72)).

The actual dress worn in Ihram by men, two unstitched sheets of cloth, is the same as the Muslim shroud – the clothing of the deceased who has continued his journey beyond this world and into higher realities of the Hereafter. In Ihram therefore, our clothing immediately reminds us of the fragility of our life in this world.” [5]

References:

  1. http://www.emel.com
  2. http://www.religionfacts.com/hajj
  3. Nigosian, S. A. (2004). Islam: Its History, Teaching, and Practices. Indiana: Indiana University Press. p. 111. And Hooker, M. B. (2008). Indonesian Syariah: Defining a National School of Islamic Law. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 228.
  4. Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca,
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/practices/hajj
  5. http://www.emel.com
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The Opening of Zil-Hajjah Month
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