Faizel Patel - 19-12-2018
Friend (F): So where are you going for holiday this festive season?
Me (M): No where special, just going to be at home and relax, it’s been a crazy news year and next year with elections will be even more crazy, and you?
F: I’m going for Umrah with my family.
M: Really? Wow, that’s awesome? Didn’t you go for Umrah in October, during Ramadan and just after Hajj?
F: Jee I did, but since it’s the festive season, I thought why go to Durban or Cape Town when I can go to Makkah and Medina right?
This is a typical conversation I had with a friend about a month ago and being a journalist I thought let me ask the proverbial question which I feel has become taboo in many communities and gatherings with the person asking the question being severely criticized.
Has Makkah and Medina or going for Hajj and Umrah become a holiday? In my opinion, yes and there are many that would agree with me and many that would also not agree, but it’s a debate that’s interesting and engages your thoughts on the issue.
With no disrespect to those that can afford Umrah on a yearly basis or even several times a year, barring the affordability of the repeat Umrah visa fee, there are many other questions, one of the most important being, if you’ve been for Umrah in the past six months, why go again, other than the fact that you can afford it?
Why are you going again?
I know the desire to be in the blessed lands is overwhelming, we all want to be there with some craving the desire for years, but possibly can’t afford it.
I look at it this way. If you go to these auspicious cities too often, it becomes a norm and destroys the true value, sacredness and preciousness of the place in oneself. You’ve been there so often that it can sway you to treating these blessed cities as just another destination.
Marhoom Hazrat Moulana Yunus Patel wrote a while back: “Unfortunately, our intention for Umrah and Hajj is no longer for the Pleasure of Allah; it is rather for material gain or some other worldly reason.” Is this true?
It may seem that Ml Patel was right. I have seen a plethora of people going for Umrah and while the stories or intensions of some people maybe honorable, others leave a lot to be desired.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had mentioned: “Near the time of Qiyaamah (the day of judgment or resurrection) the rich ones from amongst my Ummah will perform Hajj for the sake of travel and holiday; the middle class will perform Hajj for commercial purposes, thereby transporting goods from here to there while bringing commercial goods from there to here. The Ulama will perform Hajj for the sake of show and fame; the poor will perform Hajj for the purpose of begging.”
Ml Patel writes that the reality of this Hadith is quite manifest. Some are allured with shopping, with the purchase of gold and silver…giving preference to walking around bazaars and shopping centres despite having been granted the blessed opportunity of walking around the Baitullah (Kab’ah), some wile away precious time in other idle pursuits and even sin…
There are so many people who flaunt the number of Umrah trips they have made to the Hijaaz, thus nullifying the reward of their Ibaadah due to the sin of riyaa (show).
Ml Patel says many, who are themselves, wealthy enough to give Zakaat, are found clad in the garb of the poor and needy… begging and sometimes even stealing.
“People, in general, have forgotten the purpose of Hajj and Umrah. As a result of our defective and insincere intentions, the spirit, significance and beauty of Hajj just passes by without leaving any impression on our lives.”
Ml Patel however says there are true and sincere people to be found. Those who go as lovers of Allah, seeking the pleasure of their beloved Allah Ta’ala, the object and goal of their lives.
So, has Umrah become a farce for people, as a show of wealth, to embark on a spiritual journey only to arrive and defy the sanctity of these blessed cities by engaging in activities other than for the purpose of Ibaadah?
Without casting aspersions, I think it has. In my humble opinion, if that’s the intention of those that undertake this journey, than rather don’t go. For the pleasure of Allah, rather give the opportunity to that family or individual who have never been to the blessed lands, who have been saving for years and still can’t go because the economic climate puts it beyond their reach.
In a workers day lecture at Nur-ul-Islam masjid in Lenasia in May, Radio Islam’ s Ml Sulaimaan Ravat made a very pertinent point about Muslims and those that have contracted the chronic habit of performing Umrah every year, some five or six times in a year.
Ml Ravat says while some Muslims go every year for Umrah and take their entire families with them, they do not consider their employees desire of performing the pilgrimage.
“Every year I take my children, grandchildren, we go for Umrah, we burn holes in the tawaf and mataf, but there is a man working for 30 years in my company, in my shop, in my business, and he hasn’t yet been able to save enough to perform his faradh hajj. Where is the compassion? Where is the dignity?”
While many people embark on holidays during the festive season traversing vast lands locally and abroad, we have to face facts. For some, going to Makkah and Medina has become like going to the corner shop and getting a loaf of bread.
In essence, while I’m not advocating that people shouldn’t go for Umrah more than once, I do hope that they embark on this journey with the correct intention, for the intended purpose and not just for show.
I also hope that while you have been for Umrah more times then the beads on a tasbeeh, use the opportunity and the wealth you have been blessed with to send another family whose pangs for Umrah has far superseded the number of footprints you have left behind in the holy lands.
Think of the joy, the happiness, the elation not to forget the Dua's and the rewards you will be blessed with for making someone’s heartfelt desire a reality... That’s the ecstasy of intention.
May Allah make us among the fortunate to embark on this journey of Umrah and Hajj and insha’Allah accept the dua's of all those that have the desire and intention to say Labaik.