Significance of the Haj

ALL Praise belongs to Allah, The Irresistible One. The Self-Sufficient responds to the needs of each and everything in existence. There is none who stands independent of Him and His laws govern each and every one of us day and night.

It is His right that He be worshipped and obeyed merely due to Him being the Lord of the Universe. He sent prophets in succession to different nations in different times to make known this truth. They were met with obstinate hearts and harsh words, yet they stood tall in their quest to guide the erring. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was no stranger to such hostilities. He followed the footsteps of his ancestor, Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him). O Allah! Shower Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his family with Your blessings as You showered Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and his family with Your blessings.

Haj is a prime example of the profound relationship that exists between Prophet Ibrahim and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them). It is marked with the sacrifice of monotheism; a sacrifice that is part of the ritual uniting Muslims all over the globe. Blessed be He Whose Deen breaks every social distinction that breeds prejudice and hatred. There is more to "the sacrifice" than merely slaughtering an animal. Every drop of blood rejuvenates the soul of the God-conscious Muslim and he cries out, "Say, 'Verily, my Salat (prayer), my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)'." (Holy Quran, 6:162)

So keeping in mind that this sacrifice represents the very purpose of a Muslim's life, how can this year's sacrifice help him in attaining this nearness with his Lord?

For starters, let's reflect at Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and his sacrifice. To be blessed with a child in old age certainly has its thrills. The joy that accompanies newborns can only be explained by the parents. That moment of delight makes one forget the harsh realities of life, so imagine the state of the aged prophet and his noble wife! They cherished Ismail (peace be upon him), a child chosen by Allah. Ismail's (peace be upon him) virtuous manners earned him the love and respect of all. Who could endure sacrificing such a precious and lovely child?

Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) undertook this test. It is as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) informed us that the prophets were tested in the severest of ways. Allah rescued Ismail (peace be upon him) with a heavenly ram and revealed the glad tidings of passing this demanding test to Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him). Ismail (peace be upon him), the fruit of his life, the reward of a century of enduring hostilities, was the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him).

Today I am walking out to the goat market to fetch an animal to sacrifice. All I see is Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him), knife in hand, leaning over his hope after years of despair. The obedience Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) is demonstrating mysteriously flashes before my eyes. The patience and understanding of the young prophet Ismail (peace be upon him) further perplexes my thoughts.

O Allah! I am your disobedient slave who has demonstrated impatience in the face of every adversity. After years of struggling, I have found neither the strength to obey Your every call, nor has my patience accompanied me in times of need. Emotions are running high as I examine the teeth of a handsome goat. I have to choose the best sacrifice my pocket allows me. An hour later I emerge from the marketplace with the goat I have chosen. The only words that escape my lips are: "It is neither meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is piety from you that reaches Him. Thus have We made subject to you that you may magnify Allah for His Guidance to you. And Give glad tidings (O Muhammad) to the Muhsinun (doers of good)." (Holy Quran, 22:37)

O Allah! Make this Ummah (nation) of the blessed Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) an Ummah that can endure hardships. O Allah! Make us from those who choose the best sacrifice and make us submissive unto Your Command. O Allah! Help your slaves to sacrifice the pleasures of this fleeting world for the luxuries of the Hereafter. O Allah! Accept our deeds and make our children from the righteous. - Abid Ishaq

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