Hajj and Father of the Prophets; Ibrahim
- :Al-Balagh Foundation
The Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) continued his long journey across Babylonia, Syria and Arabia. He folded up long periods of time, while crossing plains, hills, valleys, rivers and deserts to arrive eventually in the promised land of Mekkah al-Mukarramah. To this place, he brought with the pioneers of faith and life; his wife Hajar and his eldest son lshmael (a.s.).
The land of peace was the last station of the journey of Ibrahim (a.s.). Ibrahim (a.s.) examines the deserts and mountains of Mecca, as if looking for a new great event that will come into being on this particular land. Ibrahim's great heart resorts to silence to cover his secret and fate. Ibrahim (a.s.) raises his head, and stretches his hands towards the heavens. He humbly says:
"0 our Lord! Surely I have settled a part of my offspring in a valley un-productive of fruit near Your Sacred House, our Lord! That they may keep up prayer; therefore, make the hearts of some people yearn towards them and provide them with fruits; happily they may be grateful." Holy Qur'an (14:37)
With these words Ibrahim (a.s.) bids adieu to his wife and child and returns to Palestine to his first wife Sarah. Hajar finds refuge in silence, Ishmael turns about. She clambers up and down the two hillocks of Safa and Marwah. He gets desperately thirsty. Hajar (Hagger) runs up the nearby hill in search of water. She seeks water but in vain and in her desperation climbs up another hill. He kicks the desert's sands with his small feet. On his withered lips, there is thirst and dryness. Deep in his heart there is love and faith. In his eyes is the great hope of the future which gives the good news of the rising of an Ummah that will grow in the barren valley the tree of faith and life. For some precious drops of water, the baby beats the ground with his feet, and caresses the sands with his fingers with the serenity of the prophets and the love of the saints, as if stroking the breast of the earth - the dear mother - so it may pour on his lips drops of water. The helpless mother watches in deep anguish. Behold, the earth's heart relents affectionately to her great son.
It responds to his wish as he responds to the call of Allah. The ground splits a little, and suddenly a spring flows to extinguish the thirst of the earth. This is a sign foretelling the greatness of this great baby. Hajar is seized by astonishment.
Is it true or a mirage? She slowly approaches the water and dips her hand into it and gives a handful to Ishmael. Mother and son Ishmael stay near the spring of Zamzam. Ishmael joyfully plays around it, in the land of the Divine Messages, soon to rebuild in this very land with his father, the Ka'ba, to which the hearts of the monotheists have always longed for. A place visited by its lovers.
Years pass and Ibrahim (a.s.) returns to meet Ishmael, to write a new chapter of the history of faith on the sacred land. He, with the aid of his son, embarks on the building of a house for worship. He continues the construction. He raises the foundations of the house, little by little the house, symbolic of monotheism in the heart of barren Arabia, is built. The Ka'ba is raised, where the souls circumambulate around it:
"And when We assigned to Ibrahim the place of the House, saying: Do not associate with Me anything, wad purify My House for those who circumambulate wad the standing wad the bowing wad the prostrating. And proclaim to the mankind (the duty of) pilgrimage; they shall come to you on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path". Holy Qur'an (22:28-27)
Ibrahim (a.s.) and his son complete the construction of the house
"And when Ibrahim wad Ishmael raised the foundations of the House:
Our Lord! Accept from us; surely You are All-Hearing: All-Knowing, Our Lord! And make us both submissive to You and (raise) from our offspring a nation submitting to You and show us our ways of devotion wad turn to us (mercifully), surely You are the Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful". Holy Qur'an (21:127-128)
The House of Allah became a symbol of faith, a place of worship and glorification of Allah, a place to which people journey, a place of sanctity and security to the guests of Allah.
Ibrahim (a.s.) was looking after the House. In it he was humbly worshipping and glorifying Allah, and holding it in high esteem. He deeply felt the glory of this sublime symbol and waited for its great role in humanity's life.
This stony House was Allah's. It was a simple humble House floating on a sea of sand amidst waves of mountains and scattered hills, surrounded by bareness on every side. Could any one think that house set up in the middle of the desert, out of touch with the spring and people, could ever be so inhabited and highly glorified? Yes...
"And your Lord creates wad chooses whom He wills." Holy Qur'an (28:68)
It was not long before glory shaded the land of stones and sand. The bare valleys of Mecca became a valley of fertility and abundance.
And why not? Was it not the land chosen by Allah to be the center of Ibrahim's message, the caller of the faith, and the roving messenger who was fascinated by the message of monotheism, and escaped the injustice of the tyrants to the justice of Allah, and from the nonsense of idol-worship to the religious wisdom of righteousness?
Was it not the land that deeply believed in Ibrahim's goals when the fertile valleys of Babylonia and Syria turned him down? Was it not the land that would enrich the soul with faith, and make the whole earth prosperous with civilization? Allah had chosen it for Ibrahim (a.s.) to put the Ka'ba in its heart and prepare a place for worship.
Was it not the land Allah willed to be a secure sanctuary and a house of peace?
Yes, indeed it was!
Allah willed that, within a short time the stark valley was clothed in a verdant vest. It was rapidly inhabited by the hearts of lovers and became crowded with worshippers. The valley echoed with the resounding call and Allah wanted this to be, so He ordered Ibrahim (a.s.):
"And proclaim to mankind (the duty of) pilgrimage; they will come to you on foot wad on every Lean camel, coming from every remote path". Holy Qur'an (22:27)
Ibrahim (a.s.) called mankind and the faithful's hearts responded. The caravans of the (pilgrims) compete generation after generation - to perform Hajj (pilgrimage). The voice of Ibrahim (a.s.) is still powerfully echoing in the ease of men, wafted on the waves of air: A perpetual call, a lovely voice, to which the souls anxiously and eagerly listen, and the hearts zealously hover towards. That is the call of our father lbrahim (a.s.) still ringing in the hearts of the uniteranians, when they are still responding to it humbly:
Labbaika .Allahumma labbaik
Labbaika La sharika laka labbaik
Innal hamda wan ni'mata laka wal mulk
La sharika laka
(Here I am, my Lord here I am.)
(Here I am, You have no partner, here I am.)
(Praise, grace and the kingdom is for You.)
(You have no painter.)
Therefore, Hajj became a religious duty since the Father of the Prophets Ibrahim (a.s.) voiced the monotheists' call over two milleniums later, when mankind had almost forgotten Ibrahim's toil, and had plunged in idol worship, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) the direct descendant of Ibrahim and Ishmael renewed the call of Islam, of which Hajj is a main pillar. The Ka'ba is its direction. The Glorious Our'an calls on all Muslims:
"... it is the duty of mankind towards Allah to make the pilgrimage to the House, whoever aim afford die way there, and whoever disbelieves surely Allah is Self- Sufficient above any need of the beings. " Holy Qur'an (3:97)
A narrative from the household of the Prophet (s.a.w.) says:
"In the period between the prophethood of Jesus and Muhammad, the Ka' ba complained to Allah, the Exalted saying: 0 my Lord! Why my visitors have dwindled? Why my worshippers have decreased? Allah, the Most High replied that: I shall send down a new light for the people who will eagerly long to you as the cattle yearn for their young ones 2. This is a clear reference to Ibrahim and Ishmael's illustrious descendants Prophet Muhammad and his ummah who revived the great socio-political-religious gathering at the Ka' ba, called Hajj."
Imam Mi (a.s.) says:
"(Allah) has made Hajj to His Sacred House incumbent upon you, by making it (Ka'ba) the Qibla for humankind. People gather around it (to satisfy their longing for faith and religion), as animals gather around (a watering place to satisfy their thirst) and as pigeons flock towards a place of refuge. Allah, the Exalted has made Hajj a sign of their humbleness to His greatness, and their submission to His mightiness. Allah chose from His servants obedient ones who respond to His call believe in His word. They follow in the footsteps of His messenger, and imitate His angels who circumambulate around His throne." 3
2. AI-Hur al-Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol. 5, The Book of Hajj, p. 14/ 4th edition- 1398 A.H.
3. lmam Ali, Nahjul-Balagha.
Adapted from the book: "The Hajj As Worship and Education" by: "Al-Balagh Foundation"
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