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Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam (09 Jul 2012 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Let’s Redeem the “Benefits” of Hajj!


By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam

9 July 2012

Although there is nothing earth-shattering in this, as many brave souls have previously and in recent times, expressed similar thoughts on Hajj as here, but they have done so in its spiritual and religious terms. As Mankind is given the right by Quran 25: 73 to question its actions, this probing is based on temporal and practical benefits to Muslims.

Poet Iqbal for example had asked in this regard:-

Zaairaan-e-kabaa say Iqbal yeh puchey koyee,

Kyaa haram kaa tohfaa zamzam kay siwaa kuchh bhhi nahin’?

[Iqbal asks the tourists of Kabbaa,

Is the gift of Haram nothing but Zamzam?]

The gullible Muslim-Nation quenches its spiritual thirst with the holy Zamzam water once a year and asks absolution from God of individual sins, but gains not much else.

Hence these enquiries are on the basis that all actions, good or bad in nature produce appropriate reactions. It stands to reason therefore to ask as to what are the practical “Benefits” of the Pilgrimage or Hajj 22: 28 in the particular city of Makkaa. What has it ever achieved for Muslims and what are the returns on it? The questions are:-

-- The law of requital is enunciated clearly in Quran 53: 39 etc. The rituals must therefore be analysed in terms of beneficial return on investments and effort. The conventional pilgrimage to a city in Arabia is one of the most important actions. It is performed by two to three million souls every year now. Should it not accrue some benefits therefore to the community of Muslims and mankind at large?

-- References to Hajj, Makkaa (bakkaa?) Haram, Qibla and kabbaa, abound in Quran. To deny their importance and existence would be similar to Queen Victoria’s denial of Bolivia’s existence during a dispute with it, and childishly tearing its map and stomping on it, saying, “Now, Bolivia does not exist”. (K Mennon, the Indian diplomat to London quoted in one of his speech.)

-- There are now TWO Haram(s), one in Makkaa and the other in Madinah; as the Arab Rulers, the custodians of two holy Basilicas have titled themselves “Khaadimul Haramain” although only ONE only is given in Quran. Is it for ِليَشتَرُوا بِہِـ ثَمَناٌ قلَيلَا۔ "as to make from it small gain 2: 79”? Are the material gains small to the host country?

-- Religious Scholars have written volumes on spiritual benefits of the Hajj for the life ‘hereafter’; however to focus on this world 2: 202, that is life here and now-‘fid-dunya’ would need a paradigm shift in ‘thinking’; such as was accomplished by the Messenger over fourteen centuries ago and that which reversed everything that mankind did and worshipped at the Temples in the name of their Religious deities and personalities.

Yet the pre-Muhammad trading city of Makkaa, we are told, from ancient times, and the temple has, with some modifications for pilgrimage rituals survived in the performance of Hajj today. Is then today’s Hajj in iconic and economic terms any different than before?

-- Was the old Makkan customs regurgitated after the Messenger, only a few decades or centuries later and the black stone now covered under the embroidered black shroud to make it a statuesque tangible religious focus of today?

-- Were the old obelisks –or today’s walls erected to curse the Satan despite the Quran saying on Satan’s behalf, “don’t curse me, but curse your ‘Self’ 14-22”? Should the hajis therefore not cast stones at each other, instead of the rajam on the Satan who refuses to die and comes back every year to be stoned?

-- If the fixation with the windowless cuboid Kaabaa and the geographical place is believed by many as ‘God’s house’, is it not at odds with 2: 115 & 177 etc. where it is stated that He is the Master of the whole universe, and He encompasses all?

- To that effect did not Ibrahim in desperation, eventually say: “I turn my face towards the primal Creator of the Universe 6: 71 to 79” and Muslims too recite the same in their fard or obligatory prayers?

-- Is then the Qibla not an intellectual concept and not a peg on the earth, but to set humanity free from the bonds of man-made icons and man’s exploitation by man?

      -- Can it not be argued that Makkaa is not where the Code of Islam was promulgated; as its founder, according to Quran is Ibraham, a true and sincere Muslim, not a Christian nor a Jew, and historically from Ur- Mesopotamia now in Iraq on the river Euphrates. Should not that, if anywhere else, be the Muqaam of Ibrahim 3: 97; his lofty place?

Dr Iqbal, who has never been the favourite son of the Clergy, in his poem laailahaa-illalah laments the loss of the true muqaam of Muslims:-

Yeh dore apney Braheem kee talaash main hai

Sanum-kadah hai jahan’—laailaahaa-illallah!

This age is in search of its own Ibraham,

Where there is a now a house of idols -- laailaahaa-illallah!

-- Again, if the fixation is on the basis that Hajj is one of the five ‘pillars’ of the rites of passage in Islam, then may not one ask as to why none of the previous Messengers including Messenger Isaa- Jesus, the nearest one to Muhammad in time and space, not make a single journey there? Although all the Messengers were given the same Divine message of Belief and rites and none were differentiated between 41-43, 3-84 etc?

--  Should not this gathering be turned into useful conference-Shuaraa- 42: 38 of Heads of Governments too, to find solutions to the problems that beset the Muslim-world and the world at large, particularly in this hostile age for Muslims; perhaps somewhat of its own making? ----This practicality was first suggested by a Muslim Scholar G.A Parwez.

-- It is said that ‘ridding on the shoulders of giants, one sees further’. One can then suggest a step further that there are strengths and opportunities in this annual gathering and tangible benefits to the whole Muslim-Nation if this annual Hajj was held in different Muslim countries. Will it not spread and distribute (2-3, 36: 47 etc) economic benefits to these countries with the spiritual benefits accrued as well? May not it go some way in eliminating their poverty?

For practical purposes, the exercise called ‘SWOT’-- Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats, well known to young business MBA executives today, is suggested to be carried out if the Muslim-world is to redeem the benefits of Hajj for the Nation as a whole; if not the mankind- annas 2: 125,196 etc--. That the Book has ordained for Hajj.

It is easy to see the weakness, and the threats with this fixation to a particular place;-

I-It bars the friendly curious humanity from witnessing Quran’s message of Hajj.

Ii-It imposes drain on scarce foreign exchange on entire Muslim world, which in itself is largely dirt poor and destitute and in many cases the begging bowl of the world.

iii- it fills the coffers and accords huge economic benefits to just one country year in year out, yet too rich in itself with other gifts of the Creator which in reality belong to the whole Muslim Nation to share, if not the mankind as a whole.

Iv- Importantly, it prevents the Muslims from travelling the planet earth as Quran many times, implores them to do–“Do they not travel through the earth so that their hearts and minds may thus learn wisdom 22-46”? Does it not suggest that travel is one of the important means of acquiring knowledge and wisdom? The earth is after all a “huge expanse 91: 6”, is it not a shame then to visit the same place twice?

v- Most importantly, many millions of animals, all over the Muslim-world are slaughtered in the name of God. A ritual which was a pagan rite of ‘sacrifice’ of blood and gore; is still performed in His name who says -‘has no use for it, 22-37’. It causes untold misery and the wastage of precious animal resource as food-(except for dealers of hides/skins and cattle!) ‘God dislikes all extravagance 7: 31’. The unhygienic pollution and stench in the Muslim-world during this period, is appalling. Although killing of animals is ordained but only at the place of Hajj, as it says, ‘to feed the weary travellers 22-36’.

And so the tragedy of imposed poverty, ignorance, wastage and of religious-trade piles up. All in all it seems that the Muslim Nation’s efforts and collective wealth that is spent, is wasted for no tangible benefits–“those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works 18: 104”!

Opportunities exist, in the spirit of committing “righteous deeds” as ordained in the book, at this gathering. It could be turned into the paradigm that the apostle initiated with his last and perhaps the only Hajj for the purpose of important ‘sermon on the mount’-. This thought- has been suggested by many brave souls before. But religions and churches maintain that, pilgrimage is ‘pure-worship and spirituality’ for all religions! Of this world we are taught not to bother, again contrary to 2-202. It appears that perpetuation of religions and their industry is a must for the ‘Mother Church’ and its Hierarchical elite, the Clergy to survive at huge costs to mankind and particularly Muslims in Hajj!

A well-known saying goes: “Hands extended to help others are better than those raised in Prayers”. Musulleen have raised their hands and have bruised their foreheads on the prayer rug in that direction for centuries, to no tangible benefits to show in this world, except of course for the undeserving rich host country getting even richer!

It is most appropriate therefore to quote here, from way back, six centuries or so ago a Sufi Punjabi poet Bulleh Shah:

Baed Quran’ parh parh thhakay

—Sujday kardeyan’ ghas gaye matthay

—nah Rub Teerath nah Rub Makkay!

 ----Got tired of chanting Vedas, Quran

— Bruising foreheads in prostrations

— (but) God is neither to be found in Teerath nor in Makkaa!

It seems that along with the CEOs of the religious industries, and the Khadim of Haram(s), have colluded for centuries for their mutual and exclusive “worldly Benefits” but only promising the pilgrims the benefits of “Hereafter” 2: 202!

Three million Muslims annually in one place every year should help solve at least one World problem; out of the many that Muslims have today, and redeem the benefits of the Hajj in this world too 2:201,18: 10, in a business-like manner. This is desperately needed for the nation, which must seek to re-establish its own lofty Muqaam amongst the nations of the world!

A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is an Indian-origin Engineer (Retd.) based in Australia for over forty years.

URL: http://newageislam.com/ijtihad,-rethinking-islam/rashid-samnakay,-new-age-islam/let’s-redeem-the-“benefits”-of-hajj!/d/7870



  • While I support the institution of Hajj, and realise its value for spiritual elevation and a practical lesson in racial, class and gender equality, I also feel like some other commentators in the thread that at the moment this institution is not able to realise its potential the way the Prophet must have visualised it. This cannot happen until the holy cities of Mecca and Medina are controlled by the international Muslim community. But that seems a distant dream at the moment. So disillusioned Muslims are throwing up various ideas how to utilise the spiritual energy Hajj generates for the betterment of the community of which now Arabs are only a very small part.


    Perhaps one episode from history that could help take the debate further is the fact that Muslim theologians have found ways of dodging the Hajj requirement at Mecca if the politics so demands. The example is that of Umayyad caliph `Abd al-Malik bin Marawan (Reign            685–705) who is said to have built Dome of the Rock to divert the Hajj from Makkah to Jerusalem for fear that his adversary in Mecca `Abdullah bin al-Zubayr will get the Syrian pilgrims to pledge their allegiance to him as the latter was taking a pledge from all pilgrims at that time.


    What is supposed to have happened was that afraid of Meccan ruler Zubayr, Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marawan stopped Syrians from going to Makkah for Hajj. When the people protested he put forward a Hadees narrated by Ibn Shihabuddin al-Zuhri who quoted the Prophet (saw) as having said: "The caravans should not be set out except for three mosques, the Sacred Mosque, my present Mosque and the Mosque of Jerusalem."


    Marwan is then reported to have added something like this: the Mosque of Jerusalem stands for the Sacred Mosque for you. And here is the Rock on which it is said that the Prophet set his foot before ascending to the heavens. This rock, he claimed, stood for the Ka`bah. Then, it is said; he built a Dome on the Rock, suspended silk curtains on it and appointed servants for it. And told the people to revolve around it like they revolve around the Ka`bah and so it was during the rule of Bani Umayyah. It is also said that that “the plan of the rock with the two ambulatories around the rock itself, originated with the liturgical requirements of the tawaf.”  (Ref. Ahmad b. Abu Ya`qub Ibn Wadih al-Ya`qubi (Reference: Ed. M. T. Houtsma), Tarikh, 1883, Volume II, Leiden, p. 311, as quoted on the site Islamic-awaremness.org)


    Some apologists of Bani Umayyah have expressed doubts if this is indeed how Dome on the Rock acquired its prominence in the days of Bani Umayyah. This is quite possible though, as there would be no reason otherwise for this Hadees to have been concocted at this point. However, while history is lost in questions of authenticity, it does at least provide an example of how ulema provided Hadeeses to suit the political exigencies of Muslim rulers in early days of Islam. But if true, this does show that Hajj at Mecca has not been considered an unmovable requirement by Salafi Muslims.

    By Sultan Shahin - 11/14/2012 2:22:38 PM

  • Rashid Sb, I too agree with what Ashok Sharma has said or maybe he has summarised what I said in my post.  I have discussed in my previous post how  Malcolm X was transformed from a racist Muslim to a true Muslim after performing Hajj and meeting people from all races, colours and regions of the World. I have also discussed why such a gathering cannot take place anywhere else or on any other occasion.
     Since your concept differs from what Hajj is according to the Quran and what most Muslims believe, the description "individual religion-nubulous-based-spitituality" should apply to your views.
     Also, even though Iran is Shia and no friend of the Arab and have their own places of `pilgrimage' to their holy sites, Hajj still retains its importance and considered as fard.
     I am curious to know why you omitted to discuss the verses that I have cited in your article.
    By Naseer Ahmed - 11/12/2012 12:33:18 AM

  • Dear Rashid saheb, I endorse your and Ashok Sharma's view on this. Thanks for new interesting ideas.
    By rational - 11/11/2012 11:47:13 PM

  • Dear Naseer Ahmad. Thank you for your comment. The upshot of which is your final comment.
    To me the difference between individual ‘religious-nebulous-based spirituality’ and globally ‘beneficial-outcome-based satisfaction’ is the ESSENCE of my Faith and is based on:-
    وَاَنٗ لٗيسَ لِلانسان اِلا ما سَعٰی   ( that MANKIND can achieve nothing except what it strives for 53-39) and I cannot even think of ever denying it.
    The benefits as considered accrued by individuals within religious paradigm may be beneficial to an individual but often its potential to humanity as a whole is denied of them; and sometimes even robbed of by a very small band!
    The comment herewith by Ashok Sharma perhaps sums up what I am alluding to.
    “Hajj has the potential of becoming a great platform for the message of world peace. The largest gathering on earth from diverse regions spanning the whole globe”.
    By Rashid - 11/11/2012 6:15:02 PM

  • Dear Rashid Sb, This is in response to your comment in another thread. Since the discussion properly falls under this article, I am responding here. I would like to also remind you that there is an earlier comment under this article pointing out the same flaw in your argument for which you did not respond.
    Consider the following Ayat:
    3:97. In it are Signs Manifest; (for example), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty people owe to Allah,- those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures.
    Is it not very clear from the above single verse alone that pilgrimage to the Station of Abraham is a duty people (who can afford the journey) owe to Allah?
    Also consider Surah 22 the Hajj:
     26. Behold! We gave the site, to Abraham, of the (Sacred) House, (saying): "Associate not anything (in worship) with Me; and sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer).
     27. "And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men: they will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways;
     28. "That they may witness the benefits (provided) for them, and celebrate the name of Allah, through the Days appointed, over the cattle which He has provided for them (for sacrifice): then eat ye thereof and feed the distressed ones in want.
     29. "Then let them complete the rites prescribed for them, perform their vows, and (again) circumambulate the Ancient House."
     30. Such (is the Pilgrimage): whoever honours the sacred rites of Allah, for him it is good in the Sight of his Lord. Lawful to you (for food in Pilgrimage) are cattle, except those mentioned to you (as exception): but shun the abomination of idols, and shun the word that is false,-
    Is there any room for doubt on what constitutes Hajj? It is a visit to the station of Abraham, circumambulating the Ancient House, wearing of Ihram, practising of prescribed rituals including running between the Hills etc. Hajj is clearly made obligatory for those who can afford it. To make excuses for not performing it, or arguing that it can substituted with something else, amounts to denial of faith as per 3:97. You could also look at verses 2:196 to 200.
    By Naseer Ahmed - 11/11/2012 4:35:34 AM

  • Haj has the potential of becoming a great platform for the message of world peace. The largest gathering on earth from diverse regions spanning the whole globe.
    By Ashok Sharma - 11/3/2012 10:44:01 AM

  • Mr. Samnakay brings some fresh insights to the subject of Hajj which are welcome.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 11/3/2012 1:41:26 AM

  • “Hands extended to help others are better than those raised in Prayers”. A very thoughful notion that can solve many problems. we must help others, simultaneously we must pray to Allah Kareem for true guidance so that we can be able to perform our divine duties and Hoqooqul Ibad as well. For that purpose, we must introspect and diminish our vices within our heart and soul. 
    By Raihan Nezami - 11/2/2012 10:38:43 PM

  • Excellent comments by Mr. Nasser Ahmad. Keep up please.
    By Manzoorul Haque - 7/14/2012 11:45:37 AM

  • Dear Rashid Saab,
    The nature of interactions with people you meet at Haj or in a mosque are distinctly different from the nature of interactions that you will have with the same set of people if you meet them at a party or while vacationing and therefore the impact cannot be the same. 
    A gathering of millions, all wearing Ihram, and performing Haj, is not the same as a gathering for a religious ijtema at any other place. Even if you call such an ijtema haj, and such ijjtemas are conducted in different countries by rotation, you will find these gatherings dominated by people from the country where it is held and very few coming from abroad. People would wait until the rotating haj is held in their country. So it can never be the same.
    Mecca and Medina have a place in the hearts of the Muslims because of the association of the place with the Prophet (PBUH) and with Ibrahim (PBUH).
    As regarding the income of Saudi Arabia on account of Haj, I am not sure whether the government of Saudi Arabia makes a profit. It certainly incurs huge expenditure but what is its income? I am sure the government would be incurring only losses although for its citizens, there is business to be done and profits to be made. If the same Haj was to be performed in any other country, it would certainly be costlier for the Hajis.
    Before undertaking Haj, Muslims reconcile all their differences with other people, settle accounts, seek forgiveness for wrongs done etc. They repent all their past sins and resolve to lead a clean life of virtue thereafter. They perform the Haj and thereafter take care that they conduct their affairs in such a manner that they do not incur the wrath of God. So, how can anyone say that there is no gain?
    Rituals, synchronized activity, place associations have great psychological and therapeutic value. Having a Qibla also achieves the same objective of synchronicity.
    What makes a soldier identify with his comrades is the ritual of synchronized marching for hours on end  in which (as described by many) his identity merges with that of the group. That is what makes him one with his comrades  and risk life for their sake in a war. You cannot achieve this effect with the group strolling together or playing soccer or any other way. The military parades and long marches have a value which may not be obvious to an observer.
    Haj is one such synchronized activity involving millions from every country and every race wearing the same Ihram and engaged in the same activity.
    There are several roads to heaven even without performing Haj and there is no guarantee of heaven to those who perform Haj either. Nor is there any  compulsion on anyone to perform Haj. If anyone has doubts about the value of Haj, he can save himself the expense.
    Finally, let us look at what the Quran has to say on the subject:
    196. And complete the Hajj or 'umra in the service of Allah.But if ye are prevented (From completing it), send an offering for sacrifice,such as ye may find, and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches theplace of sacrifice. And if any of you is ill, or has an ailment in his scalp,(Necessitating shaving), (He should) in compensation either fast, or feed thepoor, or offer sacrifice; and when ye are in peaceful conditions (again), ifany one wishes to continue the 'umra on to the hajj, He must make an offering,such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it, He should fast three daysduring the hajj and seven days on his return, Making ten days in all. This isfor those whose household is not in (the precincts of) the Sacred Mosque. Andfear Allah, and know that Allah Is strict in punishment.

    197. For Hajj are the months well known. If any oneundertakes that duty therein, Let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, norwrangling in the Hajj. And whatever good ye do, (be sure) Allah knoweth it. Andtake a provision (With you) for the journey, but the best of provisions isright conduct. So fear Me, o ye that are wise.

    198. It is no crime in you if ye seek of the bounty of yourLord (during pilgrimage). Then when ye pour down from (Mount) Arafat, celebratethe praises of Allah at the Sacred Monument, and celebrate His praises as Hehas directed you, even though, before this, ye went astray.

    199. Then pass on at a quick pace from the place whence itis usual for the multitude so to do, and ask for Allah.s forgiveness. For Allahis Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

    200. So when ye have accomplished your holy rites, celebratethe praises of Allah, as ye used to celebrate the praises of your fathers,-yea, with far more Heart and soul. There are men who say: "Our Lord! Giveus (Thy bounties) in this world!" but they will have no portion in theHereafter.

     What makes for a Haj is therefore, a time, a place, prescribed rituals, prescribed dress  and proper conduct and avoidance of certain otherwise permissible acts when not in Ihram.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 7/14/2012 2:54:49 AM

  • Malcolm X, who was one of the leaders of a racist "Nation of Islam" was transformed by seeing, meeting and speaking…..”--al Hajj Malik al Shabazz—could have got the same experience of “brother-hood” of Muslims in any other city if the hajj was held in any other city other than Makkaa!

    Sir, it was the multiracial, multicultural, multicolour, status and gender free humanity that impressed him, not the place.

    By Rashid - 7/13/2012 8:12:08 AM

  • The Quran has very explicit ayats on Haj and proper conduct during Haj and so for a Muslim who has no doubts about the Quran, there is no room for any debate on the subject. I wonder how  Rashid missed out on these ayats which are most relevant and  quoted  other ayats out of their context.  

    There are many who have returned from Haj regretting the experience and there are many who have no desire to  perform Haj and do not perform it.

    There are many others, who ardently desire not only to perform Haj but those who at great expense perform Umrah frequently. There are many whose lives are transformed by the Haj. Malcolm X, who was one of the leaders of a racist "Nation of Islam"   was transformed by seeing, meeting and speaking to people of  every race who had come to perform  Haj. He paid for the change with his life but died a true Muslim rejecting all arguments based on race.

    Performing Haj, alongwith a million others from every country in the world, and from all races is a unique experience. Muslim brotherhood can be experienced, and forged only through such an experience. All Hajis are united in the single objective of performing Haj and answering to the call of their God.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 7/13/2012 1:33:59 AM

  • Raihan Nezami, You need not travel so far just two nation you will have everything here starting from tortoise.
    By satwa gunam - 7/12/2012 11:39:55 PM

  • If someone has the financial capacity and his bank account can tolerate, one should go for HAJJ first even NAFIL, thereafter visit Galapagos Island and have full body massage in Pattaya. Isn't it ok?
    By Raihan Nezami - 7/11/2012 2:18:02 PM

  • Mr. Haque, I gave myself two options only. The third option is all yours. Enjoy!
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 7/11/2012 1:57:09 PM

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