By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
22 September 2015
It was indeed distressing news that scores
of Hajis (Muslim pilgrims) died and dozens were injured when a crane collapsed
inside the Grand Mosque in Makkah amid strong winds and heavy rains. As many as
111 died and 238 people have been injured, according to the latest media
reports. The accident occurred as the kingdom prepared to welcome around 3
million people to the Ka’ba, the holiest Islamic city, for the annual
pilgrimage that began on 21st September. Of late, the Custodian of the Two Holy
Mosques, King Salman has ordered massive payouts for the families of those
killed and injured in the tragedy.
Casualties apart, this incident came as a
strong reminder of introspection for the Saudi government as well the
mainstream Muslims of the world who cherish to perform the Hajj annually. Indeed, it was a natural tragedy. You might
face baffling problems at some packed places in every massive religious
gathering, but still you would not be miffed up with the great hardships in
them. However, it is not wise to overlook the acute problems that pop up in
every Hajj gathering. Every year, the situation becomes more and more grim, and
it is now reaching the point where finding solutions to these problems will be
an absolute necessity. Merely ordering massive payouts for the families of
victims would not suffice. It would be an opportune time to discuss and try to
rectify all the Hajj-related problems that should be taken into serious
First and foremost, there are many rulings
pertaining to the observance of the Hajj that need to be revised in the context
of the Islamic jurisprudential principle of lessening the difficulties (Raf’ul
Haraj) and making things easy (Daf’ul Haraj). The Prophet (pbuh) is
reported to have said, “Make things easy; do not make them difficult. Convey
glad tidings and do not scare people off.” (Sahih al-Bukhari: 69 and Sahih
Muslim: 1734) He also said, when asked about various circumstances in the Hajj:
“Do so. There is no harm.” (Sahih al-Bukhari: 83 and Sahih Muslim: 1306)
Today, when an overwhelming number of
pilgrims converge upon Mecca reaching tens of millions, rethinking the Hajj
rulings becomes an imperative according to the basic jurisprudential postulates
called Zarurat and Haajat (necessity). Any Islamic scholar will
hardly dispute the fact that legal rulings change with changing times and
circumstances (al-Zaruratu Tubihul Mahzuraat), as long as they are not
antithetical to the clear injunctions in the Qur’ân and Sunnah.
There have been many major incidents during
the Hajj over the years, causing the loss of thousands of lives. In order to
prevent stampedes and accommodate more pilgrims each year during the Hajj, one
has to be vigilant and extraordinarily careful at the biggest crowd that
emerges at Tawaaf, the circumambulation around the Ka’abah. Here, the
pilgrims should take utmost care and should not hasten to touch or kiss the
Ka’abah in order to prevent the mishaps. We must remember that causing harm to
others in any way is greater than the virtue of the Hajj pilgrimage. You could
easily choose a suitable time for Tawaaf, when it is less crowded. The same
holds true to Arafat, where all the pilgrims assemble at one time in one
place. All of them move on at the same time. This is a place where most
pilgrims face a tough time while standing and moving on.
This difficulty also crops up at Sa’ee of al-Safa
and al-Marwah (running between the two holy hills in Makkah). Sa’ee
could be performed on the upper floor to avoid the massive crowd on the lower
floor. However, it is only allowed when the congestion of crowd is so much in
the lower level that it causes severe difficulty. Moreover, it is not
compulsory to reach the bare part of the hills and put the feet on them. It is
enough to climb part of Safa and Marwah.
One of the baffling problems mainstream
Muslims face during Haj is that they are coerced to perform the rituals of Hajj
strictly according to the state religion-- the Wahhabi version of Islam. This
is very unfortunate and appalling. Even in India, Haj House and Haj Committees
strictly follow the Saudi/Wahhabi modalities of the Hajj training program. Even
the Haj-related literature and all other related things are very much under the
influence of a certain sect. Thus, the mainstream Hajis, particularly those
from India who belong to the Sufi tradition are subjected to the Wahhabi
coercion during the days of Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Recently, a set of Sufi-oriented Muslim
organisations in India, particularly All India Ulema wa Mashaikh Board (AIUMB)
and Sufi Voice of India (SUVOI) demanded that the mainstream Sufi-minded Indian
Muslims be allowed to perform Haj (pilgrimage) according to the spiritual
Islamic narrative they profess and practice. They are particularly concerned
about their religious right to perform certain mystically-inclined practices
such as Ziyarat (visitation of holy sites), Salat-O-Salam
(recitation of Darud upon the Prophet Pbuh), and Fatiha (a certain
recitation of Qur’anic Surahs). Since the advent of Islam, mainstream Muslims
the world over have been engaged in all these forms of Ibadat (Islamic
prayer) in some way or the other during the Hajj. However, it was only 250
years ago when the radical cleric Ibn Abdul Wahhab Najdi came out with an
extremist and pristine puritanical theology to destruct the age-old Muslim
faith, culture and heritage.
The destruction of historical monuments and
Islamic heritage sites in the two holy places, Makkah and Madina, stemmed from
the same cleric’s doctrine which declared visiting shrines a form of idolatry.
Inspired by this doctrine, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Shaikh Abdul-Aziz
al-Shaikh, issued a fatwa allowing the demolition of Medinite monuments and
Mecca’s oldest neighbourhoods under the pretext of expanding the two Holy
Mosques. He writes in his fatwa:
ما هدم من أثرٍ في الحرمين الشريفين لا
مانع منه بل إنّه من الضروري. و ما تنفذّه المملكة من مشاريع توسعة هو عملٌ شريف
تشكر عليه الدولة وهو من الضروريات، لولا التوسعة لما وسع الحجّ لملايين البشر،
وهي (أي أعمال التوسعة) أمرٌ مشروع.
The above fatwa clearly states: “We have no
objection on the demolition of monuments adjacent to the two Holy Mosques,
rather it is crucial.” It goes on to the extent of praising the expansion
projects as a “decent work the Saudi Kingdom should be thanked for”. Because of
such jurisprudential pronouncements, historical monuments and Islamic heritage
sites have been demolished multiple times in the past. However, common masses
in Saudi Arabia have different opinions about the demolition of monuments in
Mecca and Madina. Their reactions range from stiff opposition to staunch
support for the expansion projects.
In any case, the Haj House in Delhi and Haj
Committees in other states should ensure that Indian Muslims are freely allowed
to practice all the rituals of Haj (pilgrimage) and Ziyarat (visitation) in
their own traditional way. Why should they be coerced by the restrictions of
the state religion of Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism?
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is a classical Islamic scholar and
English-Arabic-Urdu writer. He has graduated from a leading Islamic seminary of
India, acquired Diploma in Qur'anic sciences and Certificate in Uloom ul Hadith
from Al-Azhar Institute of Islamic Studies. After graduation in Arabic (Hons.),
he has done his M. A. in Comparative Religions & Civilisations and a double
M.A. in Islamic Studies from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
Darul Ifta has answered but in the Urdu section. I reproduce it:حج کے مہینے ۔ سورة بقرہ آیت 197میں ہے کہ حج کے مہینے معلوم ہیں(معین ہیں) ۔ اور حج کے مہینے تفسیر ابن کثیر میں یہ ہیں شوال، ذی قعدہ اور ذی الحجہ کے شروع کے دس ایام۔ کیا ان میں سے کسی مہینہ میں حج ادا کیا جاسکتاہے؟کیا ہم شوال میں حج کرسکتے ہیں؟جب کہ نبی کریم صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم نے چھ ہجری کو حج کرنے کی کوشش کی تھی، لیکن صلح حدیبیہ کی وجہ سے آپ کو واپس ہونا پڑا تھا اور وہ ذی قعدہ کا مہینہ تھا۔ سورة فتح ، آیت 25میں قربانی کے جانوروں کوقربان گاہ تک بھیجنے کے بارے میں ہے اور وہ حج کا وقت تھا ، کیوں کہ عمرہ کے لیے جانور ذبح نہیں کیا جاتاہے تو کیا ہم حج کے کسی مہینہ حج کرسکتے ہیں؟Aug 29,2015 Answer: 60819Fatwa ID: 776-741/Sn=11/1436-Uذی الحجہ کے ۹، ۱۰، ۱۱، ۱۲، ۱۳، تاریخوں یعنی کل پانچ دنوں میں حج کے بنیادی افعال اد ا کیے جاتے ہیں۔ شوال سے حج کے مہینے شروع ہونے کا حاصل یہ ہے کہ اس سے پہلے حج کا احرام باندھنا جائز نہیں ہے، بعض ائمہ کے نزدیک تو قبل شوال کے احرام سے حج کی ادائیگی ہی نہیں ہوسکتی، امام اعظم ابوحنیفہ رحمہ اللہ کے نزدیک اس ”احرام“ سے حج تو ادا ہوجائے گا؛ مگر مکروہ ہوگا (معارف القرآن، ۱/۴۸۲، تفسیر آیت: ۱۹۷، سورہٴ بقرہ) خلاصہ یہ ہے کہ حج کے بنیادی افعال جیسے وقوف عرفہ، وقوفِ مزدلفہ، رمی جمرات تو ان کے معینہ تاریخوں ہی میں ادا کیے جائیں گے، ان سے پہلے نہیں؛ ہاں حج ے مہینے شروع ہوتے ہی حج کا احرام باندھنا جائز ہے۔واللہ تعالیٰ اعلمدارالافتاء، دارالعلوم دیوبند
Hajj add to the wealth of the Saudi government? The fee that the government of
Saudi Arabia collects appears to be only 50 riyals for every pilgrim for visiting Mecca and another 50 riyals for visiting Madina. This
surely does not cover the cost of maintaining the place. The tour operators,
hotels, airlines and businesses make a killing and have fattened themselves but
the Saudi government is a net spender and subsidizes Hajj for all. The
government may be an indirect gainer by collecting taxes (zakat) from
businesses operating in that country. However, the government is known to
be lax in collecting taxes.
far as making the Hajj easy is concerned, the article does not contain any
question that is bothering me is that the Quran talks about (2:197)
"For Hajj are the months well known...." So
why has Hajj got to be only from the 8th to 12th Dhul Hijjah?
Quran also only speaks about "Arafat" the place but not of any
fixed "day of Arafat" which is understood to be 9th of Dhul
Hijjah only because of the tradition of performing Hajj between 8-12 of Dhul
Hijjah in which the 9th is spent in Arafat .
the Prophet attempted the pilgrimage in the 6th year of Hijrah, it was in the
month of Dhul Qadah and it was with sacrificial animals. He could actually
perform pilgrimage only in the following year and again it was in the month
of Dhul Qadah. People now call it Umra but then why were animals
sacrifice for Hajj is a requirement and those who cannot do so for any reason
have to fast for 3 days during Hajj and for 7 days on their return. This
sacrifice is not linked to Eid-uz-Zuha since this is a practice that precedes
the institution of Eid-uz- Zuha. Animal sacrifice is also not required for
Now if Hajj can be performed anytime during the well known 4 months of Hajj, there can be more than 100 days of Arafat or more than 100 Hajj a year which will greatly ease the flow of people making it easy for all to perform Hajj without risk or discomfort. The cost of Hajj will also come down through better utilization of the infrastructure. If Umra for a similar period costs $1000, there is no reason why a Hajj should cost $7000. For Umra, the facilities at Mina and Arafat are not used and taking that into account, Hajj should not cost more than $2000 if these facilities are used for 100 days in place of just one day in a year.
I wrote to Al-Mawrid (Javed Ghamidi's website) and Darul Ifta to get clarity. I did not expect anything worthwhile from them and was proved right. Darul Ifta acknowledged the question and promised to write back within 15 days but did not. Al Mawrid laid down a condition that once I agree that the 5 days of Hajj are 8-12 Dhul Hijjah they will answer my other questions!
Unless one fulfills all the duties of one's life given to him by the Almighty, God, one is not supposed to perform Haj. Therefore the sole purpose of Haj is the spiritual training of the soul to live a life as simple as possible, and:
"You shall commemorate God for a number of days" 2:203"When you disperse from Arafat you shall commemorate God" 2:198"Then once you have completed your rituals, you shall commemorate God " 2:200
Can you please explain, based on Quran alone, what is the purpose of Hajj? Thanks.