Not Going for Hajj? You Can Still Take Lessons for Personal Growth
Hajj is in the air.
The buzz is on TV, radio & across the Internet.
You come across special talks, resources, books, blog posts, videos & announcements online and even at the Masajid.
Special Hajj themes, features & products are seen on magazines and discussed in schools as part of the curriculum.
As the blessed time of annual pilgrimage (Dhul Hijjah) draws closer, you receive calls & messages from loved ones announcing their impending trip. And you feel happy for them. You really do.
They even ask that you compile your Du’a (supplications) list, so they can forward your special requests while on Hajj. And you feel happy that they remember you in their happiness & in sharing from the goodness of their blessed trip.
What more can you ask for?
After all, you keep praying hard to make it for Hajj in your 20s or 30s. It just hasn’t happened yet.
What comes next?
Your Hajj goal remains the same & the learning continues – with patience, hope & trust in Allah (swt), even as you seek to take simple life lessons from the Hajj rites. These lessons will benefit you in numerous ways in your personal life as well as in the professional.
Come along with me, let’s draw a closer lens on Hajj – the When, – How, – What & – Where of Hajj.
“Hajj (Pilgrimage) to the House (the Ka’bah) is an obligation that humanity owes to Allah, for those who can find a way (i.e. for those who can find the means to do it). And whoever disbelieves (i.e. denies the Hajj), then Allaah is beyond any need of all that exists (from His creation).” [Surah Aali ‘Imraan: 197]
Brief History: How Did it Originate?
”When we showed Ibrahim (as) the location of the House saying,”Do not ascribe any as partner to Myself and cleanse My House for those who make Tawaaf, those who stand, those who bow and those who prostrate.”[Surah Hajj: 26]
Since the time the Ka’abah was build as the first house for worship of Allah, Muslims from all parts of the earth travelled to the house to perform Tawaaf (circumbulation) and other religious rites.
The history of the pilgrimage – (Hajj), roots itself in Abrahamic origins.
Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was faced with many trials, which he overcame through deep faith and submission to His Lord.
One of such trials was regarding his wife Hajar & son, Ismail.
By His command, he left Hajar and Ismail in a desert area with some provisions. She fell into distress when the provisions ran out. She ran back & forth between two hills, As-Safa & Al-Marwa seeking water & help of any kind. The water of Zamzam was the answer to her call of distress; provided as a mercy from Allah(swt).
The Angel Jibril was sent with the blessed gift, which brought hope and renewal to Hajar and her son.
The seven trips between As-safa and Al-marwa is just one of the symbolic rites of Hajj tied to Ibrahim (as).
”Announce the Hajj to mankind. They will come to you on foot and all kinds of lean animals, coming by every distant road so they can be present at what will profit them…” [Surah Hajj:27-28]
Hajj: At a Glance
Where: Makkah in Saudi Arabia.
When: Dhul Hijjah; last month of Islamic Lunar Calender.
Attendees: Millions of Muslims.
Significance: One of the five pillars of Islam.
Hajj Sites: Makkah-Arafat-Mina-Muzdalifah.
Pillars of Hajj
Whoever does not witness (the day) at ‘Arafah, his Hajj is unacceptable.
This is based on the hadeeth of Allah’s Messenger,
“The Hajj is ‘Arafah.”
(Abu Dawud & at-Tirmidhi)
The pillars of Hajj are four.
They are as follows;
2. Standing at Arafah.
3. Tawaf al-ifadah (seven circuits of tawaf after stoning the larger pillar on Eid morning).
3. Sai between As – Safa and Al – Marwa (seven trips ).
The 8th of Dhul Hijjah commences the order of the rites of Hajj. The pilgrims assume Ihram & begin with an intention and uttering the statement, “Labbayk Allaahumma bi – Hajjin” or, “Labbayk Hajjatan”.
This marks the beginning of the rites of Hajj in a similar way the pronouncement of Takbeer (utterance of Allaahu Akbar) begins the prayer.
Beyond a Simple Journey: A Rewarding Hajj
“Complete (perform properly) the Hajj and ‘Umrah for Allaah…” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 196]
Hajj is obligatory on every Muslim who has the (physical, financial, and circumstantial) ability to make the journey. And it is important to remember that the reward for a Hajj that is accepted by Allah, the Most High, is nothing less than the Garden of Paradise.
This blessed journey is based upon the belief in Allah’s Unity (Tawheed) & a response to His call. Hence the pilgrim must have a correct intention, one of making the journey for the pleasure of Allah (swt) alone. And Pilgrims should take all Hajj rites from Prophet Muhammad (saw).
What Makes Hajj so Special?
Hajj is a Spiritual Journey.
It is a Call.
It is a Promise.
It is an Opportunity.
It is an Awakening.
It is a Purification
It is a Duty.
7 Hajj Lessons for Personal Growth
1. Sacrifice. Sacrifice in any form is never easy on the human heart. But with the right intention and continued striving, every sacrifice becomes easier & rewarding.
Think about the sacrifice of the pilgrim, who leaves his family, means of livelihood and comfort of his home to make this blessed journey. S/he will encounter a lot of challenges & difficulties but earning the pleasure of the One for Whom this journey was carried out, will make all the hard work seem easier.
Take Action. Sacrifice some time, money or your skills/knowledge so others can benefit today – either at home, work or in the community. Make it something to bring about positive change?
2. Self control. The state of Ihram confers certain obligatory acts on pilgrims in much the same way it makes others prohibited. The pilgrim is thus faced with whispers from satan and a range of temptations only self control can overcome.
Why remain steadfast?
It is the end goal; the promise of a reward which makes it worthwhile for the pilgrim to maintain that control.
Take Action. What one thing will you start or give up on today for a bigger, better and more rewarding future goal?
3. Excellence – No excuses! A wise pilgrim has an aim of performing Hajj correctly and properly, such that their Hajj will be accepted. The pilgrim is a guest to Makkah & the Ka’abah; as such he seeks to earn approval of his Host & avoid His anger.
It is an opportunity to gain a clean slate of deeds and earn rewards. As such, s/he performs all rites free of error and misguidance. And this brings about positive change from striving at excellence, rather than sinking in excuses. Make yours an excuse free life & take a bold step today.
Take Action. Crush that number 1 excuse that stops you from moving towards positive change? Write it out and crush it for real. Tell yourself, No Excuses allowed!
4. Unity & Brotherhood. Hajj brings together people of all races and colours in a unique blend of brotherhood. The unifying factor is having the same belief system as Tawheed – belief in the Oneness of Allah (swt). Loving each other as brothers and sisters and avoiding disputes and disobedience to Allah is thus necessary while on Hajj.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) said:
“None of you has truly believed unless he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” (Bukhari).
The pilgrim tries to be on guard against the plot of Satan who is always ready to cause dissension amongst the worshipers.
In your daily life, such unity & brotherhood can serve as a support system – to help you navigate through personal and professional changes. It is a system that has no cultural or class boundaries. It increases the bonds of love & motivation to do good, lends strength when you feel down and presents examples you can follow or learn from.
Take Action. Do you have a true friend or strong support network of righteous people around you? Build your network, one brother/sister at a time.
5. Celebration. The days of ‘Eid – which follow Hajj – are the days of joy and happiness. They are intended for eating, drinking and remembering Allah. Just as the pilgrim gets to relax after much striving so should you remember to take a break and celebrate your little and big successes, after much hard work. Acknowledge your milestones and push ahead while maintaining high standards.
Take Action. Think about a milestone have you crossed recently and plan on how you will celebrate it?
6. Travel as worship. Before making this journey, the intending pilgrim devotes time to courses, trainings and readings to educate and enlighten him/her. This is with the knowledge that Hajj is not a pleasure or sightseeing trip. It is not a cultural display forum or avenue for family get-togethers. Rather it is a form of worship – it is travel as worship.
Your career, family or studies – or whatever you will be attending to during this hajj season, away from the holy precincts, is your worship opportunity. Make every moment count! Renew your intention & do things right.
Take Action. Assess your daily schedule & note the activities you spend your time on? Can you transform it into worship? If yes, do so through the power of great intentions otherwise ditch it & replace with more favourable activities.
7. Attitude of servitude. Hajj should be made seeking His reward alone and with a complete sense of servitude to Him.
The pilgrims fulfill their obligatory worship rites such as prayers, make supplications, engage in remembrance and complete the Hajj rites in servitude, humility and with sincerity. Their devotion is not for Allah’s benefit just as the flesh and blood of the sacrificial animals will never reach Him.
Rather, it is the Taqwa (sincere intention) that will reach Him; the sense of gratitude, submission, purification of the soul and hope of gaining the reward of the Almighty (swt) alone.
Take Action. Begin everything you do today with a sincere intention. Begin with a WHY. And think about better ways can you serve (with sincerity) your Creator (swt), yourself & others around you.
Don’t Feel Left Out
You are not going for this year’s Hajj.
Whether you will be spending quality time with your family or engaging mostly in your business/studies during this period, when others will be flying out to Makkah to join millions of pilgrims from over the world; use these Hajj lessons for personal growth to better yourself – mind, body & soul.
When you aim for a better life & strive towards personal growth, you will find it easier to make relevant personal changes that will facilitate this goal.
These changes begin in your mind (as an intention), then externalised through specific limbs (e.g. as speech & utterances) and finally through your overall actions.
Change begins with you.
And change only happens when you take action.
Do not spend the days of Hajj day-dreaming about Hajj.
Take action. Do something today.
Begin with one Hajj lesson.
And change your life.
Which other life lessons can you take from Hajj to facilitate your personal growth?