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Hajj as a Symbol of Obedience

Among the main themes and messages of Hajj is submission and obedience to Allah.

When we read about the remarkable stories of Prophet Ibrahim AS, Prophet Isma`il AS, and Hajar RA, we witness extraordinary examples of obedience and submission to Allah, which is the core meaning of Islam. Actually, submission is the very meaning of the word “Islam”. So, the meaning and essence of Islam are manifested in Hajj, which reminds us of our mission and purpose in life.

Hajj is a symbol of obedience. It signifies submission to Allah. During this fifth pillar of Islam, Hajj, the pilgrims commemorate together the acts of obedience and submission performed by Prophet Ibrahim AS and his family when he was commanded to take his wife, Hajar RA and their son Isma`il AS to an uninhabited, barren, distant land and leave them there alone. He submitted and obeyed.

ثُمَّ قَفَّى إِبْرَاهِيمُ مُنْطَلِقًا فَتَبِعَتْهُ أُمُّ إِسْمَاعِيلَ فَقَالَتْ يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ أَيْنَ تَذْهَبُ وَتَتْرُكُنَا بِهَذَا الْوَادِي الَّذِي لَيْسَ فِيهِ إِنْسٌ وَلاَ شَىْءٌ فَقَالَتْ لَهُ ذَلِكَ مِرَارًا، وَجَعَلَ لاَ يَلْتَفِتُ إِلَيْهَا فَقَالَتْ لَهُ آللَّهُ الَّذِي أَمَرَكَ بِهَذَا قَالَ نَعَمْ‏.‏ قَالَتْ إِذًا لاَ يُضَيِّعُنَا‏.‏ ثُمَّ رَجَعَتْ، فَانْطَلَقَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ حَتَّى إِذَا كَانَ عِنْدَ الثَّنِيَّةِ حَيْثُ لاَ يَرَوْنَهُ اسْتَقْبَلَ بِوَجْهِهِ الْبَيْتَ، ثُمَّ دَعَا بِهَؤُلاَءِ الْكَلِمَاتِ وَرَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ، فَقَالَ ‏{‏رَبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنْتُ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِي زَرْعٍ‏}‏ حَتَّى بَلَغَ ‏{‏يَشْكُرُونَ‏}‏‏.

When Hajar RA realized what was happening, she cried out, “Ibrahim! Are you going to leave us in this valley where no people live?” She repeated the question yet she received no answer, so she asked him, “Did Allah order you to do this?” He replied, “Yes.” So, she said, “Then Allah will not let us perish.” Thus, she submitted and obeyed.

Furthermore, when his son Isma`il AS became older, Ibrahim AS received a command from his Lord to sacrifice him.

Allah describes it in these words:

فَلَمَّآ أَسْلَمَا وَتَلَّهُۥ لِلْجَبِينِ

And when they both submitted to Allah and Ibrahim laid down his son prostrate upon his forehead for sacrifice; [as Saffat 37; 103]

He submitted and so did his son. The family of Ibrahim AS was a family of obedience and submission. They were tested and tried again and again, but the result was always submission and obedience.

Hence the huge sum of money spent to endure the restrictions of ihraam, sleep under the open sky in Muzdalifah and live in tents in Arafat and Mina. Tawaf of the Ka’bah even though we don’t worship it, running between Saffa and Marwah although we’re not looking for water like Hajar RA did and pelting the jamarat whereas they are not Shaytaan but the sites where Shaytaan had appeared to Ibrahim AS in order to deter him from fulfilling the command of Allah, all indicate to the same spirit of obedience. The continuous and tiresome movement of the haaji – from Makkah to Mina, Mina to Arafat, Arafat to Muzdalifah, Muzdalifah to Mina, Mina to Makkah and back to Mina – is based on the same spirit of obedience. His fatigue and desire to rest do not matter at that moment; all that matters is the need to submit himself to the command of Allah.

It is for the same reason that no matter how punctual a person may normally be with his Salaah, in Muzdalifah he delays the Maghrib Salaah until the time of Isha and then performs both Maghrib and Isha at the same time. As explained by Shaikh Abul Hasan Nadwi R, this is because he worships Allah instead of Salaah. Similarly, he uncovers his head in ihram despite his normally strict adherence to Sunnah attire. It is because Hajj is all about obedience to Allah.

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