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Islamic Society (22 Sep 2015 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Let us Make the Hajj Pilgrimage Easy and Reclaim its Spiritual Beauty!

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 consideration.

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.

(Source: arabi.assafir.com/article.asp?aid=874&refsite=assafir&reftype=home&refzone=slider)

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.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-society/ghulam-rasool-dehlvi,-new-age-islam/let-us-make-the-hajj-pilgrimage-easy-and-reclaim-its-spiritual-beauty!/d/104677


  • "Wahhabis established their control over Hijaz by force. They forced Sufi, cosmopolitan Muslims of Hijaz to become Wahhabis."

    There is no denying the fact candidly exposed above.

    By GRD - 9/24/2015 11:25:06 AM

  • Excellent Article!
    By Ghulam Ghaus غلام غوث - 9/23/2015 6:04:24 AM

  • 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: 60819
    Fatwa ID: 776-741/Sn=11/1436-U
    ذی 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 اعلم
    دارالافتاء، دارالعلوم دیوبند

    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/23/2015 2:42:35 AM

  • Does 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.  

     As far as making the Hajj easy is concerned, the article does not contain any suggestion. The 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?

    The 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 .

     When 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 sacrificed?

     Animal 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 Umra.

    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 agree  that the 5 days of Hajj are 8-12 Dhul Hijjah they will answer my other questions!

    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/23/2015 1:11:53 AM

  • 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 

    By Shadaab - 9/22/2015 11:00:29 PM

  • Demanding "that the mainstream Sufi-minded Indian Muslims be allowed to perform Haj (pilgrimage) according to the spiritual Islamic narrative" is futile. Wahhabis established their control over Hijaz by force. They forced Sufi, cosmopolitan Muslims of Hijaz to become Wahhabis. The only thing that will work is a boycott. Do Muslims have enough courage of conviction to boycott any activity that will add to the Saudi wealth that is bound to be used for purposes inimical cal to Islam? 
    By Sultan Shahin - 9/22/2015 6:13:15 PM

  • Today, I participated in an Indian TV's discussion on the objectives, benefits and current state of affairs of the Hajj pilgrimage. It was heartenning to see the anchor triggering the debate on the same lines. 
    Time we Muslims reflect and find workable solutions to the increasing problems in practicing our religious rites.

    By GRD - 9/22/2015 10:54:29 AM

  • Can you please explain, based on Quran alone, what is the purpose of Hajj? Thanks.

    By Mubashir - 9/22/2015 10:52:50 AM

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