The Journey of Hajj is for Muslims, a journey of a lifetime. Most of the Muslims undergo this journey only once in their lifetime. With the economic prosperity that many Muslims have witnessed, some Muslims undergo this journey more than once in their lifetime. The month of Dhul Hijjah and the Ibadah associated with this month are essentially the Sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim (A.S), be it Hajj or the sacrifice. The life of Ibrahim is amazing. An idol breaker son, born to an idol maker father. The spiritual presence of Prophet Ibrahim is always felt in the whole Muslim world, with his recurring remembrance, both in the Quran and a Muslim’s daily prayers. Islam attaches great importance to the annual pilgrimage of Hajj, which is intimately connected to the story of Ibrahim, his son Ismail and his wife, Hagar.
Prophet Ibrahim and Ismail’s story is about love and sacrifice. Unwavering love for Allah and the spirit of Sacrifice in His way. Hagar and Ismail were abandoned by Prophet Ibrahim at the place where Mecca stands today. It was to this valley that Ibrahim brought Hagar and their son Ismail. This valley between rocky hills, naked, hot and barren under the fierce desert sun. A place which was swept by flaming desert winds.
It was the proper setting for Ibrahim and his family to undergo the trial that Allah had set out for them. Prophet Ibrahim was convinced that Allah’s mercy is limitless. With this belief, Ibrahim left his weeping wife and the child in this uninhabited valley, leaving with them a water skin and a skin filled with dates.
A solitary tree stood in this valley. Hagar sat under its shadow with Ismail on her lap. Around them there was nothing. Just scorching heat, rocky slopes and an endless silence, with no other living being around. The hot day was followed by a cooler night and this went on. But on the third day, the dates in the skin were over and it was all despair. But when the child cried for water, Hagar could not do anything except crying out to her Lord. How could the distraught mother bear the sight of her dying child, crying for water? What could she do in a forlorn desert with no signs of any life around?
She started to run, to and fro with uplifted hands through this barren valley, over the same stretch, between two hills. It is in remembrance of her despair that the pilgrims who go for Hajj, run between these two hills, Saf’aa and Marwa.
The Lord was listening and then came the answer to her prayers. A stream of water gushed forth and the water began to flow over the sand. Hagar shouted with joy and immediately pressed the child’s face in the water so that he might drink. She drank with him and called out between her gasps, ‘Zummi, Zummi’. Afraid that the water might run out, Hagar heaped a little wall of sand around the spring. The water ceased to flow and became a well, which came to be known as the well of Zamzam and the pilgrims, from centuries, have been filling water from this well and even carrying it back home with them.
Prophet Ibrahim returned to the valley after some time and found his son and wife alive. From then on, he visited them often. Ismail grew up there and married. Years later, Ibrahim and Ismail built the prototype of the sanctuary in Mecca known as the Kaaba. As they were cutting stones, Ibrahim exclaimed, ‘’Labbaik, Allahumma Labbaik’’—‘O my Lord, here I am at Your service, The pilgrims on their journey of Hajj, raise this chant.
Hajj is a journey which calls for immense patience, sacrifice, perseverance, persistence and humility among many other things. It is a journey which can drain you emotionally. The first sight of Kaaba leaves you speechless. The mind goes blank and tears start rolling down your cheeks. Is it true that I am in front of the Majestic Kaaba? How lucky does one feel at that moment? For a moment, you seem to be floating in the air. It just leaves you speechless and there is only language that you can speak—the language of tears. Don’t restrain yourself. Weep, sob, cry, repent, pray, plead, ask forgiveness from your Lord, for this is the chance to be born again.
Islam believes in only one division in mankind and that is based on Taqwa. The one who is more dearer in the sight of Allah SWT is the one who is better in Taqwa. Allah SWT says: “Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is knowing and acquainted,” [Hujrath 49:13].
No superiority of the Arab over the Ajam, White over the Black, Rich over the Poor. In the two piece Ahram, the Prince and the pauper stand shoulder to shoulder. The great egalitarianism of Islam is on full display there. That is the main highlight of the Hajj.
This script is authored by Tariq Jameel