By Dr Syed Javed Hussain
October 12, 2013
Its prospect is tremendous. The occasion is unique in annals of human history. This passion play of believers in total submission to God shouting in unison ' Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik ' can render huge political, economic, social and cultural yields to Ummah gathering in Mecca from all across the globe. The occasion of Hajj with the largest concentration of believers of any faith on earth provides tremendous opportunity to Muslims.
Muslims however, are yet to fully exploit its political, social, ideological, economic and intellectual potentialities. So far, they are content with assimilating its religious, spiritual and divine realities.
Hajj in modern times, with huge improvement in means of communication and transportation, provides a tremendous store of untapped, unexploited and raw force, which, if intelligently channelled, can yield tremendous benefits to Ummah.
Swelling multitude of people, fired by their devotion and dedication to a philosophy of life, entranced by the sanctity and purity of time and place, go through a collective experience of an upheaval that is spiritually transcendental in nature and contents. The experience gives the nation a voice, raises its spirit and cherishes its hopes. Only if energies of such phenomena are tapped it can inspire and motivate to action. Ummah, currently bearing with trying circumstances, simply requires this to happen.
Islam being an all-inclusive religion takes in all economic, social, cultural, ethnic, spiritual, and political as well as foreign policy aspects of human civilisation. Hence, it furnishes a unique concept of prayers which is non-existent in any other religion of the present world.
The most pronounced aspect of Islamic prayers is Tauhid (Unity) which finds expression in the “collectivism” which every Islamic prayer so jealously emphasizes. Islamic prayers are not just a jumble of disconnected rituals; instead, every movement, every action, every bending and every prostration establishes one fact: the Grandeur and Unity of Tauhid. If any prayer fails to do so it becomes a spiritless ritual that does not bring any benefits to its performer.
Hajj is the sublime apex of all Islamic emotions. Every Islamic prayer has been gathered /collected into Hajj. Prayers, fasting, sacrifice and alms giving, all find significant expression in Hajj. Hajj certainly entails tremendous cultural, social, economic, and religious dimensions to Ummah and its benefits are so remarkable that their significance cannot be overemphasised.
Anyone who starts this journey towards Mecca first, divorces his identity and everything which is regional, local, territorial, and myopic. He at once becomes a member of a larger entity which is one in dress, culture, behaviour, relation to God, in rituals, in language, in its call to God and above all in twenty-four hours routine.
He is not an individual anymore and himself has become an expression of Tauhid – a message of unity and solidarity as against disunity and individuality, which is an expression of “shirk”. Anyone who is not able to do so and remains an individual, certainly, has not touched the spirit of Hajj. It is doubtful that he has fully performed Hajj and fulfilled his responsibility as a Muslim.
Hajj provides a gigantic platform to Ummah to make known to the world its true character and nature. It provides huge opportunity to Ummah to express its identity of views on social, political, cultural, ethnic, and economic and foreign affairs and thus relate the message of Tauhid to the contemporary challenges besetting the Islamic World.
In the Holy Qur’an God Almighty says, “You are absolved to trade for livelihood betaking yourselves to Providence for His bounty. And when you throng back from Mount Arafat then thankfully praise God at the Sacred Mount-Mazdalifah-and thankfully extol His glorious attributes for steering you to the path of rectitude although initially your were lost in the maze of error.” 2:198. “God has made the Ka’ba, the sacrosanct House, the Mecca of mankind and the aspiration of one’s life to visit for material and spiritual reformation.’ 5:97.
Even pagans in pre-Islamic times recognised the sanctity of the month of Hajj, and a general amnesty was declared for all that protected their trade and their caravans. Islam further sanctified the peace and stability of Mecca and disciplined the life of Meccans during and after the month of Hajj, rather for whole year. It made all kinds of violence, bloodshed and aggression unlawful in the vicinity of Mecca. An absolute freedom from coercion, intimidation and fear was granted so that people perused their intellectual, spiritual, economic and social leanings in an atmosphere of peace and serenity.
One cannot discount the fact that the Government of Saudi Arab is rendering invaluable services to Ummah by arranging for such a large number of Muslims across the globe to perform Hajj peacefully. At the same time, however, there is yet another greater responsibility laid on it to exploit fully the spirit of Hajj for aggrandising the stature, strength and dignity of Ummah through Hajj.
Muslims come and display a great show of Muslim brotherhood, unity of the Ummah, and discipline. Only these energies are to be channelled and given voice. Especially, in the present times when Ummah is facing challenges of unknown magnitude, we need to look at Hajj not only as a body of rituals but as an institution sustaining both power and virility as well as spirituality to Muslim Ummah.
Dr Syed Javed Hussain is an academician who has been writing on national and international issues since 1984. Currently he is teaching at a university in North Africa.