Aerial view of Hijr e Ismail,picture credit googleimages
I travel to open my heart and eyes and learn more around the world than our books will accommodate.I travel to bring what little I can in my ignorance and knowledge,to those parts of the globes whose riches are differently dispersed.Six years ago I travelled to Mecca to perform Hajj in search of few unanswered questions.
Hajj is one of mankind’s most enduring rites for more than 1400 years.The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their household during their absence. There are about 3 million Muslims from all over the World perform Hajj and approximately 4 million Muslims perform Umrah every year.The present form of Hajj was established by Muhammad with its roots in the chronicle of Abraham, the Hajj is a set of rituals performed every year for five days in the month of Zia-Hajj. Pilgrims follow the route of Muhammad, who went on only one Hajj. It begins in Mecca, before moving to the desert of Mina, then to Arafat, for a day-long vigil, then to the rocky plain of Muzdalifah, a few miles away, where pilgrims collect pebbles to ritually stone the Devil, and then brings back to Mina for three days. Back in Mecca, pilgrims bid farewell to the Kaaba.
What is so special about the Hajj that it is expected to produce close to significant changes in the personality, attitude, and outlook of a person? Is there anything magical in the rites and rituals of the Hajj that produces the changes, or is it the constant conscious effort on the part of the performer to inculcate in himself/herself the spirit of those rites and rituals which brings close to the desired changes?What is the most significant aspect of this adoration?
Since my return from Hajj I have consulted many accounts written on Hajj to learn the essence and core lesson from Hajj.Majority of the accounts discuss about the rewards of Hajj , seldom scholars have pointed out towards the literal message.
While browsing many accounts on Hajj I came across a quote from Jaffer Sadiq;
“Ismail buried his mother Hajr in the area of Hijr e Ismail and then constructed a wall over it so that people would not step her grave.”
The whole practice of Hajj hides in these lines ,this tradition is further explained by Dr Ali Shariti in his account on Hajj,he elaborates;
Toward the west of Kaaba there is a semi-circular short wall which faces Kaaba. It is called Ismail’s Hajar. Hajar signifies lap or skirt. The semi lunar wall resembles a skirt.Sarah, the wife of Ibrahim had a black maid called Hajar. Here was a woman who was not honoured enough to become a second wife to Ibrahim yet Allah connected the symbol of Hajar‘s skirt to His symbol, Kaaba.The skirt of Hajar was the region in which Ismail was raised. The house of Hajar is there. Her grave is near the third column of Kaaba.
What a surprise since no one, not even the prophets, is reckoned to be buried in mosques, but in this case, the house of a black maid is located next to Allah’s house! Hajar, the mother of Ismail is buried in that location. Kaaba extends toward her grave. There is a narrow passage between the wall (Hajar’s skirt) and Kaaba. When circumambulating around Kaaba, Allah commanded that you must go around the wall not through the passage otherwise your Hajj will not be taken on.
Those who believe in monotheism and those who have accepted Allah’s invitation to travel to Hajj must touch this skirt when circumambulating the Kaaba. The grave of a black African maid is now a part of Kaaba; it will be circumambulated by man forever! Today the infection of social profiling still remains where we are judged on the colour of our skin, caste, social class or even beliefs. How wonderful is this symbol that Ismael planted?A flag of equality at the entrance of the all knowing, all seeing Great creator’s household. Now we can affirm the Kaaba is humanity’s bastion.
Allah, the Almighty needs nobody and nothing. However, among all His countless and eternal creatures, Allah has chosen one, mankind, the noblest of them.From among all humanity: a woman, From among all women: a slave, And from among all slaves: a black housemaid!
The weakest and most humiliated one of His creatures was given a place at His side and a room in His house. He has come to her house and become her neighbour.. Hence now, there are two, Allah and Hajar, under the ceiling of this “HOUSE”!
The rites of Hajj are a memory of Hajar. The word Hijrah (migration) has its root in her name as does the word immigrant.
Hajar‘s grave is in the midst of man’s circumambulation of Kaaba. You, the immigrant, who has disassociated himself from everything and accepted Allah’s invitation to go to Hajj, you will circumambulate Hajar’s grave and the Kaaba of Allah simultaneously. The planets rotate around the sun, the electrons around the nucleus, rotating around such a center mean allegiance with love. Tens of thousands circumambulating around the Kaaba and Hajr like the galaxy turning together with billions of stars.
Although the history of hajj goes back to Ibrahim’s era, but Islam contributed furthermore towards Hajr.In the second year after Hijrah according to some traditions Prophet Muhammad was commanded to change direction of prayers from Mosque Al-Aqsa to The Holy Kaaba.Prayers have become a constant reminder about the importance of women. Stand in respect when you embark on your prayers and bow down to bury your ego to acknowledge the status of WOMEN and thank Almighty God in Sujood for giving you this chance to infer.It is hard to realise.But for those who think they live in freedom and defend humanism, the significance of these incidents transgresses the scope of their apprehension.
Esteem is an unassuming resounding force. It means being treated with consideration and esteem and to have a regard for other peoples’ feelings, listening to people and discovering them, i.e. giving them one’s full attention. Even more importantly, respect means treating one with dignity. Respect is the opposite of humiliation and contempt. Hence, where the latter can be a cause of conflict, the former and its opposite can help translate it. How do you feel when you are appreciated , honoured and respected ?
Do women need any legislation to protect themselves under such commandment ?
”be respectful to women,for they are the mothers of mankind.”
This article first published in The Nation