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Monday, 09 October 2017

Circumambulation around the Virtues of Pilgrimage

For our spiritual growth there are provided Symbols and means of expression in our ordinary lives

. Such is the Pilgrimage, which is meant to gather men and women from far and near to share in sacrifice, prayer, and praise, in an age-old centre of worship. The sacrifices –too- are symbols of Piety of Heart, a longing to share with fellow-men in the bounties of God. In the Fight for Truth is tested our purity of motives, unselfishness of aim, and devotion to Right at the cost of Self. Fearless must we fight; for Truth has often been flouted, but must finally win.
So let us follow the revelations and virtues indicated in them regarding the Pilgrimage and its ordinance:
(a){Behold! And (remember) when We gave the Site to Ibrahim, for the Sacred House (at Mecca), (Saying): “Associate not anything with Me; and sanctify My House for those who circumambulate it and those who stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves therein in prayer” 26 S. Al-Hajj 22). -The Site of Mecca was granted to Abraham/Ibrahim (and his son Ismail) for a place of worship that was to be pure- without idols- the worshipping being paid to the One True God- and universal, without being reserved –like Solomon’s Temple of later times- to any one nation or race.     (b)- ( And remember when We made the House (the Ka’aba of Mecca) a place of an assembly and resort for mankind and a place of safety, and you (people) take the [Maqam] place of Ibrahim “the stone on which Ibrahim used to stand while building the Ka’aba) as a place for prayer; and We have covenanted /commanded Ibrahim and Ismail that they should purify –sanctify My House for those who are compass/ circumambulating it, or use it as a retreat (I’tikaf-??????) or bowing or prostrating themselves in prayers.125- Al-Bagara 2). The Ka’aba = (The House of God). Its foundation goes back to Abraham/Ibrahim. Its fourfold character is here referred to: (1) it was the centre to which all Arab tribes resorted for trade, for poetic contests, and for worship. (2) It was a sacred territory, and was respected by friend and foe alike. At certain seasons, all fighting was and is forbidden within its limits, and even arms are not allowed to be carried, and no game or other thing is allowed to be killed. Like the Cities of Refuge under the Mosaic Dispensation, to which manslayers could flee (Num. xxxv 6), or the Sanctuaries in Medieval Europe, to which criminals could not be pursued. Mecca was recognized by Arab custom as inviolable for the pursuit of revenge or violence. (3) It was a place of prayer; even to-day there is a station of Abraham/Ibrahim within the enclosure, where Abraham/Ibrahim was supposed to have prayed. (4) It must be held pure and sacred for all purposes. Though the verse as a whole is expressed the First Person Plural, the House is called “My House”, to emphasize the personal relation of the One True God to it, and repudiate the Polytheism which defied it before it was purified again by Muhammad Al-Mustafa [PPBUH]. Four rites are here enumerated, which have now acquired a technical meaning: (1) Compassing/ circumambulating the sacred territory, or going round the Ka’aba-) Tawaf= ???? (. There are special guides who take pilgrims and visitors around. (2) Retiring to the place as a spiritual retreat/resort, for contemplation and prayer (I’tikaf = ??????). (3) The posture of bending the back in prayer-) Ruku’a=????). (4) The posture of prostrating oneself on the ground in prayer – (Al-Sujud=??????). The protection of the holy territory is for all –but special cleanliness and purity is required for the sake of the devotees who undertake these rites.
(c){And remember when Ibrahim said; “My Lord make this City (Mecca) a place of security/ of peace and provide its people with fruits, such of them who believed in God and the Last Day, He (Allah) said “Yea; and such as those who reject Faith/disbelievers- for a while I Will grant them their pleasures, but soon I Will drive them to the torment of Fire and the Evil destination indeed -126- Al-Bagara 2) –The root for the word (Salama=?????) in the word Islam implies –among other ideas- the idea of Peace, and therefore when Mecca is the City of Islam, it is also the City of Peace. The same root occurs in the latter part of the name Jerusalem, the Jewish City of Peace. When the day of Jerusalem passed (see verse 134 or 141 of S. Al-Bagara 2), Mecca became the “New Jerusalem”, or rather the old and original “City of Peace” restored and made universal. The territory of Mecca is barren and rocky, compared with Al-Taif –for example-, a city 70-75 miles east of Mecca. A prayer for the prosperity of Mecca therefore includes a prayer for the good things of material life. This is the literal meaning. But note that the opposition in this verse is between the fruits of the Garden for the righteous and the torments of the Fire for the evil ones; a spiritual allegory of great force and aptness.      
 (d){And remember when Ibrahim/Abraham and (his son) Ismail raised the foundations of the House saying this prayers “Our Lord please accept this (service) from us; Verily, You are the All- Hearing the All-Knowing-127- Al-Bagara 2). 
  (“Our Lord and make of us Muslims submissive to You, and from our offspring/progeny a Muslim nations submissive/bowing to Your Will and show us our places for the celebrations/ ceremonies of Umrah and Hajj [due rites] and accept our resentence; Truly You are the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.128 –Al-Bagara 2).  
  (“Our Lord- and send amongst them an Apostle of their own who shall recite/rehearse to them Your Signs and Verses and instruct them the Book (The Qur’an) and the full knowledge of the Islamic laws and jurisprudence of wisdom and sanctify/purify them, Verily, You are the All-Mighty- Exalted in Might, the All-Wise. 129- Al-Bagara 2). – See how beautiful this prayer is, and how aptly it comes in here in the argument! Such Paganism or star-worship or planet-worship as there was in Abraham/Ibrahim’s time was first cleared out of Mecca by Abraham/Ibrahim. This is the chief meaning of “sanctification” or purification in the verse 125 above, although of course physical cleanliness is (in physical conditions) a necessary element of purification in the higher sense. Abraham/Ibrahim and his elder son Ismail then built the Ka’aba and established the rites and usages of the sacred city. He was thus the founder of the original Islam (which is as old as mankind) in Arabia. As he becomes a devout man, he offers and dedicates the work to God in humble supplication, addressing Him as the All-Hearing, All-Knowing. He then asks for a blessing on himself and his progeny generally, both the children of his eldest-born Ismail and his younger son Isaac. With his prophetic vision he foresees that there will be corruption and backsliding in both branches of his family: Mecca will house 360 idols, and Jerusalem will become a harlot city (Ezekiel xvi 15), a city of abomination.  But the light of Islam will shine, and reclaim the lost people in both branches and indeed in the entire world.  So he prays for God’s mercy, addressing Him as the Oft-Returning, Most-Merciful. And finally he foresees in Mecca an Apostle teaching the people as “one of their own”, and in their own beautiful Arabic Language; he asks for a blessing on Muhammad’s [PPBUH] ministry appealing to the Power and Wisdom of God.
 (e)- {And proclaim to mankind the Pilgrimage. They will come to you on foot and –mounted- on every kind of lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant wide mountain highways. 27 Surat Al-Hajj 22.) – When the Pilgrimage was proclaimed, people came to it from every quarter, near and far, on foot and mounted. The “lean camel” coming after a fatiguing journey through distant mountain roads typifies the difficulties of travel, which pilgrims disregard on account of the temporal and spiritual benefits referred to in verse (28).
  {That they may witness the benefits provided for them, and celebrate the name of God, through the appointed Days (the 8th, 9th, and 10th, of Dhul-Hijja), over the beast of cattle which He has provided for them (for sacrifice); then eat thereof and feed the distressed ones in want. (28) S. Al-Hajj 22}. the three special days of Hajj are the 8th, 9th, and 10th of the month of Dhul-Hijja, and the two or three subsequent days of Al-Tashriq= ?????. But we may ordinarily include the first ten days of Dhul-Hijja in the term. The great day of commemorative Sacrifice (Eidul-Adha=??? ??????) is the 10th of Dhul-Hijja: the meat then killed is meant to be eaten for food and distributed to the poor and needy.         Bahimatu Al-Na’am = ????? ??????? – means animals and cattle specifically used for meat, and here for sacrifice. 
{The let them complete the duties/rites prescribed for them, and perform their vows, and (again) circumambulate the Ancient House. 29 S. Al-Hajj 22) (1)- (Tafath=???) is the superfluous growth on one’s body, such as nails, hair, etc. which is not permitted to remove while in Ihram. These may be removed on the 10th day, when the Hajj is completed; that is the rite of completion. (2) The spirit of the Pilgrimage is not completed by the performance of the outward rites. The Pilgrim should carry in mind some vow of spiritual service and endeavor to perform it. Then the pilgrim approaches the rite of the Final (Tawaf) Circumambulation.
{ God has made the Ka’aba The Sacred House, an asylum of security and benefits for mankind, as also the Sacred Month, the animals for offerings, and the garlands that mark them; that you may know that God has knowledge of what is in the heavens and on the earth, and that God is Well-Acquainted with all things -97 S. Al-Maida 5).
All sorts of people from all parts of the earth gather during the Pilgrimage. They must not think that they are strangers, that nobody knows them, and that they may behave as they like. It is the House of God and He has supreme knowledge of all things, and all motives. While He is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful, He is also strict in enforcing respect for His Ordinances.
We all may know that the supplication of our Father Abraham/Ibrahim should include the ones whose circumstances has made it difficult for them to be with the pilgrims in the Holy Ka’aba, and as is his call for the bounties of God to all His ancestors; we wish that the domestic pilgrims who are performing pilgrimage by their souls and emotions would be accepted for them, and hope the merciful bliss from God could reach the hearts of our local trades and who are in the hold of the market to send-off the racketeers and sell the commodities –including the sacrifice animal- by prices witnessing the blessings of God. AMEN.