Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala when He created time, He made some times better than others and some months and days better than other months and days. And He did this out of His infinite compassion and mercy towards us so we would feel encouraged to increase ourselves in doing good deeds and that we would become more eager to worship Him.
Among the special seasons of worship are the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, which Allah has preferred over all the days of the year and in which Muslims from all over the world gather in Makkah to perform the rituals of pilgrimage. And we see people pouring in from all around the world reciting the same chant:
Labbaykallahumma labbayk. Labbayka laa shareekalaka labbayk
Ibrahim (AS)’s Sacrifice
We all know that the hajj originates in the tradition of Ibrahim and his son Isma’il. It is Allah who instructed Ibrahim to perform those rights of hajj.
We reenact the rites associated with the life of Ibrahim, with the life of Ismael, and their struggle to establish themselves in that barren desert. And subsequently, the traveling between the two hills searching for water, the rites we circumambulate the sacred house, we run between the hills reenacting the search for water, we go out to the mount of mercy and reenact the journey of Ibrahim to those precincts so the entire journey of hajj is a reenactment of the struggle of our prophetic ancestors.
Ibrahim in the scriptures is the embodiment of sacrifice. He is the one chosen by Allah to be remembered throughout history as the one who was willing to sacrifice his very own son.
When was he asked to sacrifice; right at the age when the father looks forward to begin to share with and to teach the son; to share his experience with the son; to teach him his life’s works. At that point Ibrahim (AS) sees in his dream that he’s sacrificing his son.
The Quranic narration of the story is very beautiful for several reasons. One of these is that it imparts several lessons to us as families that are very valuable.
Falamma balagha ma’hus sa’ya qaala yaa bunayya inni araa fil manami anni azbahuka fanzur mazaa taraa.
And when he was old enough to go about and work with him, Ibrahim said to him: My son, I see in my dream that I am slaughtering you. So consider and tell me what you think.
First of all Ibrahim consulted his child. And consultation is something that we should endeavor to introduce into our families. We shouldn’t just impose orders on our children; rather we should consult them, due to the fact that we want our children to carry the spirit of consultation in their adulthood which is a very important part of Islam.
Wa amruhum shura baynahum
Who conduct their affairs by mutual consultation.
Now the son having heard the news didn’t respond to his father by saying “Dad, I’m too young to die, or why me?”
Qaala yaa abatif’al maa to’mar. satajidonee insha Allahu minas sabireen
He said: Do as you are bidden. You will find me, if Allah so wills, amongst those who are steadfast.
What a beautiful response. And this is a very valuable lesson for the young people. In these days and time for whatever reason, many times the young people do not think
§ about the burdens their parents are dealing with
§ about some of the challenges their parents are facing
§ and they do not look for ways to make things easier on their parents
so in the spirit of Hajj and in the spirit of Isma’il, who is willing to give his life and willing to persevere the difficulties involved in that decision, we should reflect upon this very important lesson for the young people just as Ibrahim’s consultation to his son was a very good lesson for the adults.
And this patience led to the lifting of the trial that his father had been exposed to.
When the two of them had submitted
Qad saddaqtar ru’iya. Inna kazalika najzil muhsineen
You fulfilled the vision. Thus do we save those who are true and sincere in their worship.
So we’re going to be tried in this life to see how we respond to these trials. And we need to respond with patience, perseverance and wisdom. And by doing so the trial is lifted. That’s the nature of this life. And our response to these trials determines how we are going to live in the real life, which is the life to come in the hereafter. This life is nothing but a test as Allah says:
Tabarakkal lazi biyadihil mulku wahowa a’la kulli shay in Qadeer. Allazee khalaqal mawta wal hayata liyablu’akum ayyukum ahsanu ’amala
Blessed is the one who has in his hands the dominion and he over all things has power. The One Who has created death and life to test you and try you to see which of you is best in deed.
Which of you are going to continue to continue to articulate the lofty principles of Islam? Or would we sell out to the corrupt and corruptible influences of this world. Would we turn and look for a way out in the ways of men who are like those described:
Uo’laaika kal an’aam bal hum adal
Those who are like cattle, those who don’t use the faculties that Allah has blessed us with to try and understand the wisdom and the underlying realities that govern this existence.
This is the essence of our religion and this level of submission that Ibrahim (AS) displayed is something that we must strive to possess. This day of Eid, my dear brothers and sisters serves as a reminder for us; to submit to the commands of Allah. No matter wherever we are and whatever condition we are in, when the command of Allah reaches us, the response of our hearts must be that of complete submission.
Trials of Excess
And although Ibrahim (AS) was tested by Allah commanding him to give up something that he held extremely dear to himself, trials may well be afflicted upon us with an increase of that to which our hearts are attached to. And this would be to test whether our hearts will become blinded by an abundance of what we love and whether this would in turn cause us to neglect the commands of Allah.
Pardon From Sins – Greatest thing to Ask for
Everything we do in this world or everything we pursue in this world, no matter what it brings to us in terms of worldly compensation and remunerations, if it brings us wealth, if it brings us gold, beach homes, or yachts, cars, whatever compensation, if we leave this world carrying the burden of our sins, then nothing in this world was worth it. And if on the other hand, we leave this world and we have no worldly possessions, we don’t have any cars or homes, and we don’t have large bank accounts, we have none of that but if we leave this world with our sins forgiven, that’s the greatest thing we can ask for.
Ibn Al-Mubarak’s Pilgrimage
Abdullah ibn Al-Mubarak was a great scholar and jurist of his times. Among his many virtues was that Ibn Mubarak was fond of performing Hajj regularly and often paid the expenses of the members accompanying him for Hajj. During one such trip he saw that at a stopover, the people of another caravan threw a dead chicken in the trash. And moments later a little girl emerged from a nearby house and rushed home with that dead bird. Ibn Al-Mubarak was curious so he followed the little girl and found that she lived with her widowed mother. They had no source of income and had been starving for many days. He was greatly affected by hearing this and having kept some money for the return journey, he gave all the money he had for the Hajj trip to the poor family. For Ibn Al-Mubarak, the hajj being voluntary was a personal passion though it did mean a lot and he had already undertaken a big part of the journey to Makkah. But when he saw the need of the destitute family, he immediately knew what to do. His commitment was not to the rituals of Hajj itself, rather to the pleasure of Allah. And it is related that he saw someone in his dream saying that “Your pilgrimage has been accepted, and so have your rites and your sins have been forgiven.”
Impact on Malcolm X
The Hajj has a tremendous impact on the lives of people and brings about very deep transformations in them. So we see Malcolm X who lived in a time when the society was deeply entrenched in the thralls of racism. And though the civil rights act was recently passed it was not yet enforced. He saw his father being brutally murdered, he then saw his mother driven insane by the stress brought about by the pressures of the racist system. He saw his own aspirations of becoming a lawyer denied by a school teacher who told him he would be better off taking up a profession like that of a janitor. Then he saw the street life and the prison life of America and the racism and negativity involved in them. Then he gave himself up very sincerely to a movement that to a large extent was a response to the racism in the society. The Nation of Islam which was a movement predicated on a reverse racist agenda, that of black supremacy and white inferiority. This program and movement had a very deep and profound effect on the life of Malcolm. Now after living through all that experience he went to Makkah. And when we got there he saw all of these races from every corner of the earth coming together in total brotherhood, no hostilities, no violence, complete brotherhood. This was an overwhelming experience considering his background.
And one may argue that this was an idealized picture of the Muslim world. That its not like that in real, and it only occurs there in Makkah during the Hajj season. But we must understand that it is the ideal of human being that raise us to a higher level. We aspire towards an ideal and by aspiring towards ideals we are able to create a better reality so even if it doesn’t attain to the ideal, at least it approximates it. But when we can no longer aspire, what hope do we have as humanity, as human beings.
Its a preparation for death if you will, in the sense that when we die, we leave our home, we leave our possessions, we leave our family members, we leave our wealth, we leave all of our worldly attachments. And hajj is the reenactment of that journey to the hereafter.
Then we wrap ourselves in two white unsown garments and these are very similar to the burial shrouds that we would be wrapped in and then with no worldly distractions, we are divorced from our family, divorced from familiar surroundings, we give ourselves to Allah and this is what happens at our death. And this is a very powerful experience for us because one of the things that often times limits our progress is that the soul is in familiar environments. And those familiar environments tie our souls to this world and that in turn limits our spiritual progress and growth.