I meditated on renowned Hadith of the prophet Muhammad that narrated by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and other narrators on the authority of `Abdullah ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) which states: (Islam is built upon five pillars:
1- Testification that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
2- Performing (the obligatory) prayers.
3- Paying Alms.
4- Fasting the month of Ramadan.
5- Performing pilgrimage.
Though, the Hadith is very renowned and unanimously agreed upon and all Muslims memorize it, yet; we have to thoroughly make contemplation.
Allah, Almighty, has selected five things to act as the pillars of Islam and the remaining ordinances are inferior to those five. If one of the five pillars is not obtainable, the imposing structure of Islam would be then demolished.
To that point, there is perplexing thing; it is just why pilgrimage is counted one of these five pillars of Islam. Why pilgrimage in itself?!
Pilgrimage and the calamities of the Day of Judgment
Pilgrimage is an act of worship is applied obligatory once lifetime and in case of capability. The Muslim incapable to perform pilgrimage is not bound by this pillar. Accordingly, millions of Muslims for ages had not and will have not the ability to perform pilgrimage, whether as they are incapable financially or incorporeally.
Even the competent, most of them will not perform pilgrimage except once lifetime which may extend to sixty or seventy years. In this regard, the prophet (PBUH) said: (the ages of my nations range between sixty and seventy). The Muslim only spends two or three weeks in this rite, or even one or two months, a few period if compared to his lifetime, yet, pilgrimage is counted a pillar of Islam?! Over and above, nowadays, pilgrim can conclude the pilgrimage in one week and stay at splendid hotels and be nearer to the Kaaba than Mecca inhabitants.
Why does Allah, Almighty, make this incidental rite a pillar for Islam?! In spite of the fact that it is not required except once lifetime for the competent only?!
As I mentioned earlier, this question needs contemplation, as there must be advantages of the Muslim performing pilgrimage. Pilgrimage will affect the course of the life of the pilgrim on earth as this incidental visit to Kaba may be a reason to change the course of the whole life of that pilgrim Muslim man or woman. Accordingly, the pilgrim will implement the remaining pillars of Islam and that is why pilgrimage is counted one of the pillars of Islam.
However, if this is right for those performed pilgrimage, how is the case for the incapable who are not few?
No doubt that there is an advantage befalls all Muslim Nation irrespective of whether the pilgrim performs it annually or once a lifetime or even those incapable to perform.
"That they may witness benefits for themselves"
Pilgrimage benefits all Muslims, thus Allah, Almighty, made it a pillar for Islam. Thus, what are the objectives of Shariàh concerning pilgrimage? What are the advantages and the consequences of pilgrimage?
Let's contemplate together to see the reason why Allah chose pilgrimage to be a pillar for Islam.
On contemplation, I found out that Allah, Almighty, says: (And proclaim to the people the úajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass -That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on known days over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals. So eat of them and feed the miserable and poor). Then, Allah, Almighty, stated that pilgrimage has benefits, a word which is general and inclusive, that I believe that it should not be restricted to the financial and commercial ones as some Duàh and interpreters do. In other words, the pilgrim contributes merchandise.
I believe that it is unfair to restrict the benefits of pilgrimage to business only and it implies diminishing to the inclusiveness of that word, especially at that time where the provision of Muslims there in Saudi Arabia in one day of petrol in one or two days amounts to the income of trade in the term of pilgrimage wholly. This is well-demonstrated by the fact that the main benefits vest in china and Japan, as they are the producer for most of the goods spread at days of pilgrimage rite and not Muslims.
Accordingly, we have to contemplate on the main benefits of pilgrimage.
Benefits of pilgrimage;
No doubt that the pilgrimage has many benefits where there is no room to detail here. Yet, the most important benefit for piligrimage is that it reminds all Muslims, be pilgrims or non-pilgrims, of the Day of Judgment. The points of resemblance between pilgrimage and the Day of Judgment are many that the pilgrim experiences one or more than one situation reminds him of the Day of Judgment and he relates his experiences to the non-pilgrims on return and thus people keep vivid the Day of Judgment. It is granted that every Muslim knows a number of pilgrims who would relate to him the rites he performed in pilgrimage and their experiences.
Allah, Almighty, made beloved pilgrimage to all Muslims that every Muslim is eager to perform pilgrimage and to bid farewell to pilgrimage before and after their journey. They are dedicated to visit the pilgrimage on return and listen to their experiences. Therefore, pilgrimage the time of pilgrimage is a time for reminding Muslims of such great benefits and the Day of Judgment.
Before going on citing the points of resemblance between pilgrimage and the Day of Judgment, I should declare it that most of corruption spread in land is out of heedlessness of the Day of Judgment, the Day of Resurrection wherein every human will be held questionable on his deeds in the worldly life, since the very moments of adulthood and until death. Allah, Almighty, says: (Indeed, those who go astray from the way of Allah will have a severe punishment for having forgotten the Day of Account).
Indeed, to be heedless of the Day of Account is the real ordeal. If man kind considered that day, all troubles of humanity will vanish. Therefore, it was the first thing to the prophet Muhammad to admonish people of Quraish in the first stage of Dàwah, where he (PBUH) addressed them saying: ( By Allah, Almighty, it is certain that you will die as it is certain that you sleep. It is certain you will be resurrected as you are certain that you regularly wake up, and you will be held responsible for your deeds. Accordingly, it is paradise of Hell-fire perpetually therein.
If man keeps in mind the Day of Judgment, he would be certain that he will be questioned on every moment of his life, for every word, piaster he assumed, every movement and repose and for every interaction between him and others and between him and Allah, Almighty.
Pilgrimage is a great shock that reminds Muslims of what they overlooked for long time. If one of us kept in his mind that he will be held questioned, will he accept a bribe, wrong others, steal, be undutiful to his parents, and violate the rights of his wife, children, and neighbors of even those whom he does not know?, absolutely not.
In this way, it becomes clear that the welfare of mankind is to keep admonished of the Day of Judgment.
Allah, Almighty, says: (Woe to those who give less [than due],………….. The Day when mankind will stand before the Lord of the worlds?).
If defrauder were certain about the fact that they will be held questioned, they would not act in that way. We should keep in mind that it is not restricted to trade, however; it extends to the relation of the husband with his wife, that is, when the husband is wronged, he would seek his right in full. If he is wrongdoer, he would withhold his wife's right. The same is applied to your relation to your children, neighbors and workfellows.
Also, this applied to the relation of mankind to their Lord, Allah, Almighty, namely if a mischief befalls us, we would draw near to Allah through prayer, fasting and all means. In this connection, Allah, Almighty, says: (It is He who enables you to travel on land and sea until, when you are in ships and they sail with them by a good wind and they rejoice therein, there comes a storm wind and the waves come upon them from everywhere and they assume that they are surrounded, supplicating Allah , sincere to Him in religion, "If You should save us from this, we will surely be among the thankful……………… the enjoyment of worldly life. Then to Us is your return, and We will inform you of what you used to do).
This is the Day of Resurrection which if mankind considered it, they would never approach Allah in this manner.
Thus, pilgrimage is a clear plain admonition to all Muslims that they will be resurrected to Allah, Almighty.
How does pilgrimage remind Muslims of the Day of Account?
Muslims remember the Day of Account from the very steps heading to the way of Mecca to perform pilgrimage. Muslims are keen to collect the money for pilgrimage from lawful means. They pay a big sum of money that may amount to ten or fifteen thousands or twenty or more at some occasions. Yet, Muslims pay these sums delighted!! Why? This is because they aspire to perform the duty of pilgrimage. Then, head to their brethren asking their pardon from whomever he wronged one day. They repay their debts as if making ready to the Day of Account.
Pilgrims assemble their household and advise them concerning what they have to do during his absence. People bid farewell to them before traveling. Large mass of non-pilgrims bid farewell to the pilgrims. This scene reminds the pilgrim and Muslims wholly that there will come a day where every body will one day go out without return as every soul will taste death, but the dead will never be back to the worldly life.
The clothes of pilgrim remind him of the Day of Judgment. It resembles the coffin clothes and that the shoulder let exposed of the pilgrim reflects the state of complete nakedness on the Day of Judgment, the matter which reminds Muslims of their state on the Day of Account.
Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated on the authority of lady `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) that the prophet Muhammad said: ("The people will be gathered barefooted, naked, and uncircumcised." I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Will the men and the women look at each other?" He said, "The situation will be too hard for them to pay attention to that).
During the rites of pilgrimage, Muslims feel a state resembles the Day of Judgment. All Muslim Nation experience this state with pilgrims. They all leave the issues of the worldly life behind and busy them selves in condition of remembrance, asking forgiveness and supplication to Allah, Almighty.
Pilgrims meet a very crowd scene of people mass at one place exactly as all mankind will be resurrected in the Day of Judgment at one place and therein they will be called: Here, come to Your Lord. All mankind will meet the Lord of the Worlds who describes this state through the Quranic verse: (That Day, everyone will follow [the call of] the Caller [with] no deviation therefrom, and [all] voices will be stilled before the Most Merciful, so you will not hear except a whisper [of footsteps].).
All pilgrims stand up as the state in the Day of Judgment where Allah, Almighty, says: (And stop them; indeed, they are to be questioned."). Pilgrims in the rites of pilgrimage suffer heat and sweat, exactly like the Day of Judgment when people's sweat will mount up to seventy cubits as narrated in the authentic Hadith by Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Abu Huraira who said: Allah's Apostle said, "The people will sweat so profusely on the Day of Resurrection that their sweat will sink seventy cubits deep into the earth, and it will rise up till it reaches the people's mouths and ears.".
Standing on the Day of Judgment will not long only for one or two hours. No, it a long and difficult issue.
In the event that pilgrims appropriate successive days to perform the rites of pilgrimage, the Day of Judgment is also long that Allah, Almighty, says: (Indeed, We fear from our Lord a Day austere and distressful). Some interpretations of the Glorious Quran referred to "qamtareera" as the long day where `Abdullah ibn `Umar stated: it is one hundred year, Ka`b state: it is three hundred years while others stated that it is fifty thousand years. No doubt that the day of Judgment is a long difficult day that needs considerable preparations and concerns.
Walking between As-Safa and Al-Marwa back and forth reminds people of walking towards Allah on the Day of Judgment which is described by the quranic verse: (The Day they will emerge from the graves rapidly as if they were, toward an erected idol, hastening). People remember their walking among the prophets of Allah seeking their intercession to Allah, Almighty. They will go to Adam (PBUH) who will direct them to Noah (PBUH) who in turn will direct them to Abraham (PBUH) a prophet will direct them also to Moses (PBUH) who will direct them to Jesus (PBUH) who finally will direct them to Muhammad (PBUH).
As well, visiting the grave of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH), though not of the rites of pilgrimage, yet, it reminds you that you will be gathered one day with the prophet Muhammad. Also, performing prayer in Rawdah (area between the Prophet’s pulpit and grave) as a part of paradise, would make the pilgrims feel the state of paradise, a state releases you from the distresses of life to feel the condition of paradise.
Pilgrim Muslims feels these state, rather they relate it to their friends and household. At any cost or effort, pilgrims feel eager to return once again to perform pilgrimage.
Muslims experience these feelings annually at the time of pilgrimage to keep vivid the state of the Day of Judgment that it will truly experience.
If Muslims remember the Day of Judgment in this manner, how will its condition and standing among other nations be?
After reviewing the resemblance points between the Day of Judgment and pilgrimage, it becomes plain the reason why Allah, Almighty, commenced the chapter of Al-Haj (Pilgrimage) by reminding of the Day of Judgment (O mankind, fear your Lord. Indeed, the convulsion of the [final] Hour is a terrible thing. On the Day you see it every nursing mother will be distracted from that [child] she was nursing, and every pregnant woman will abort her pregnancy, and you will see the people [appearing] intoxicated while they are not intoxicated; but the punishment of Allah is severe).
The Glorious Quran has no random thing. Every letter and word revealed by Allah for a wisdom (Then do they not reflect upon the Qur'an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction).
For long time I was amazed why Allah, Almighty, commenced the chapter of Al-Haj (Pilgrimage) by reminding of the Day of Judgment instead of citing the importance of pilgrimage?!
After contemplating on the great import that Allah, Almighty, made pilgrimage a means to remind Muslims by the Day of Judgment, amazement vanished.
It is not the goal to overburden Muslims through performing the rites of pilgrimage (What would Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe?), however; the goal is to secure benefits for people in both this and the other life.
If we keep in mind vividly the Day of Judgment, our life, nay, the life globally, will be safe and peaceful and welfare will befalls us in the Hereafter.
Finally, I beseech Allah, Almighty, to deem accepted the pilgrimage rites of the pilgrims and to predestine performing pilgrimage for incapable Muslims, to make us comprehend his wisdom and to reinforce Islam and Muslims