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 Hajj: the journey of self-discovery

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PostSubject: Hajj: the journey of self-discovery   Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:57 pm

Hajj: the journey of self-discovery


A-úthu billáhi minash shaytánir rajeem. Bismilláhir rahmánir raheem.

Al hamdu lillahi rabbil ‘alameen. Was salaatu was salaamu ‘alaa ashrafil mursaleen. Sayidinaa wa nabi’na wamoulanaa Muhammadin wa’ala aalihee wa sahbihee wasallim.

My Dear Brothers and Sisters

Today’s khutbah is about Hajj. In a few days time, over 2 million Muslims from the far corners of the earth will converge on the holy city of Makka, to perform the 5th and final pillar of their faith.

The Holy Qur’án says: [ch22:v27:]

“And proclaim the pilgrimage among men, they will come to you on foot and [mounted] on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways…”

In Sura Al-Imrán, 3:97- we read:

“…. Pilgrimage is a duty men owe to Alláh; those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of his creatures.”

All Muslims, who have the means to do so, physically and financially, must do the pilgrimage at least once in a lifetime. It is a duty, but not merely a duty. It is an integral part of being Muslim.

For a few precious days we participate in one of the greatest annual events in human history. We complete the rituals whose origins go way back beyond the time of Prophet Muhammad, sws, to the time of Prophet Ibráhím alyhis salaam, and even further back to the time of Ádam, alayhis salaam. During those momentous days, pilgrims remove their normal clothing, removing all outer signs of nationality, wealth and social status, and everyone wears the same simple sheets of white cloth, ihrám. From the starting point or méqát, they chant those deeply stirring words, labbaik, Allahumma labbaik, labbaik, Here I am, O Alláh, Here I am! They are answering the call of Alláh, which began with the first time they recited their kalima shahádat. Hajj is the response to Alláh’s call, His invitation, to visit His house, at least once before we die.

We then perform tawaaf, walking round the Kaaba, which was purified of idols by Prophet Muhammad, [sws] as soon as he returned to Makka from exile in Madina. Praying at maqám Ibrahím, the Place of Prophet Abraham, alayhis salaam, and performing Sa-ai : we remember how his wife Hajar ran in search of water for her son, Ismail. This is how the well of Zamzam was found. To this day, for thousands of years, Zamzam has quenched the thirst of millions who visit the House of Alláh. Later, we make our way to the great plain of ‘Arafát and spend the day of wuqoof in deep and passionate prayer, asking Alláh to forgive us our sins, just as he forgave Adam, alayhis salaam, in that very place, on Jabal Rahma, the Mount ofMercy: We seek atonement for our past sins, and await Alláh’s mercy. At Mina and Musdalifah, we throw stones at the Jamra’at. This is an outer expression of our inner resolve, to reject Shaitaan and all that he stands for. The whole experience of Hajj is rich in symbolism and history. We are not mere spectators, but active participants in this prolonged act of worship. When we do our daily prayers, it takes a few minutes of concentrated effort. When we perform Hajj, it takes at least 7 days, and even 10 days to complete.

innalláha wa malaaikata yusallúna alan nabi. Yá ay yuhal latheena ámanu sallú alayhi wasalli mú tas leema. Allahumma salli alá Muhammad, wa ala áli Muhammad, kama salayta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali Ibrahim. Allahumma barik ala Muhammad, kama barakta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali ibrahim. Fil ála meen, innaka hameedun majeed.

Second Khutbah:

Sub’ hanallahi wal hamdu lillah, wala hawla wala quwwata illah billah yu althi yual theem

Dear Brothers and Sisters

What is the significance of Hajj? What does it really mean to us?

Hajj is both an outward and inward journey. It is an outward journey, from our homes and families and familiar things, to the centre of Islam; It is also an inward journey, to find our own centre. The outward journey to reach the Kaaba in Makka, helps us to meet our Muslim brothers and sisters, from around the world. It must also be our inward journey, to reach the Kaaba of our own heart and soul. Here we need to reflect, to take stock of ourselves. Where have we come from, and where are we going? We ask this question at every level, but most importantly, at the spiritual level. Where have we come from, and where are we going?

The answer comes from deep within the innermost chambers of the heart, from within the deepest depths of the soul: In the words of the Holy Qur’an:

“Inna lilláhi wa inna ilayhir rájioon”

From Alláh do we come, and to Him is our return.

Our destiny is to return to Alláh, about that we have no choice. But how will we return? Will we return in a manner that pleases Alláh, or displeases him? Here we do have a choice, a most important choice. And the wonderful news is that we still have time to make that choice, and to act on it.

Hajj is a journey of full of meaning and purpose. By wrapping ourselves in 2 sheets of plain white cloth, the Ihrám, we symbolically prepare ourselves for death; it is the only time we will wrap ourselves, in our own Burial Shroud. When we die, someone else will do this for us. We remind ourselves of the fleeting nature of our life on earth; yet it is also an opportunity to put matters right, to make a fresh start; a chance for rebirth, and renewal. We can take a new look at ourselves, consider the direction of our lives, and if needed, we can still rearrange our priorities.

Hajj brings together some of the fundamental teachings of Islam. The concept of Tawhíd, the unity and oneness of Alláh, is visibly expressed here, in a most powerful way. We see the oneness of Alláh, through the oneness of those who worship Him. We see the essential unity that underpins the great diversity of Muslims. On Hajj, we are not merely passive witnesses, we are not like couch potatoes watching TV. We are an active part of the great Ummah of Islam.

We see and experience the true brotherhood of all believers. Before Hajj, we were used to praying and observing our Islamic duties in smaller groups. For example, prayer, saláh, is a duty we all must observe, on time, 5 times a day. When we are alone, we pray alone, but as soon as there is at least one other person, we are encouraged to pray together. If we are near a mosque, we are encouraged to go there, and join a larger group. Once a week, we attend Jum’a prayers, and twice a year, we join even larger groups for the ‘Eid prayers. Finally, we are obliged, at least once in our lives, to make the pilgrimage to Makka. Islam urges us to seek active association in ever widening circles. So, clearly, Islam is not a religion of the loner or the recluse. It fosters the idea of community, from gatherings of just 2 people at home, to over 2 million on Hajj.

Hajj is therefore an extremely important act of collective worship. Those who do not perform Hajj when they are capable of doing so, are considered to be no better than Jews or Christians. In an authentic Hadíth, Prophet Muhammad said, “Whosoever fails to complete his Hajj before his death, he dies as a Jew or a Christian.”

Despite our many different languages, races, cultures and social backgrounds, we Muslims are all one. While in ihram, we cannot see any distinction between rich and poor, high born or low born. The professor and student, the prince and the farmer, the businessman and window-cleaner, all wear the same 2 sheets of plain white cloth. In ihrám, there is no distinction between anyone. We see ourselves exactly as Alláh sees us. Stripped of all our outer pretensions, it is the inner person, the essential human being, which really matters.

Hajj is a reminder of death. We are clothed in the same simple white cloth that will cover us on our final journey to the grave. Hajj is therefore an opportunity for new beginnings, for taking stock of our lives. It’s a wake up call. When the angel of death comes to return us to our maker, we will have no opportunity to delay, or to complete any unfinished business. Hajj is therefore an excellent time to start setting things right.

Throughout the rites of Tawáf, and Saai, the journey to Mina, Musdalifa and ‘Arafát, we seek Alláh’s mercy and forgiveness for our sins, and we rededicate ourselves to His service. If those prayers are sincere, if we honestly and truthfully turn away from our bad and shameful behaviour, and if we strive with great effort to seek Alláh’s pleasure, then the Hajj becomes a significant milestone in our lives. On Hajj we are able to reflect on our past deeds, from a distance, and consider our future direction. Hajj is not only the completion of an important Islamic duty. A true Hajji returns home with a solemn determination to steer his life in the direction that pleases Alláh. He no longer is a slave of his own vain desires, but a true Ambassador of Islam.

Some of our brothers and their wives will be making their Hajj this year: They will all be leaving in the next few days. We pray for their safety and good health, May Allah take good care of them on their journey to Makka, Madina and all the Holy Places, and when they have completed their Hajj, may Allah return them safely home to us, insha-Allah.

May Allah Most Gracious, also accept this prayer, that each and every one of us here, should find the means and the opportunity, to perform our sacred duty, and complete our own Hajj, at Allah’s invitation, in the near future.
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