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Newsletter for November 2016
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The Pilgrimage "HAJJ"
by Dr. Ali Shariati Translated by: Ali A. Behzadnia, M.D. & Najla Denny
As a person who is "knowledgeable about religion" and whose field of study is "the history of religions", I reached the following conclusions as a result of my study and research of the historical evolution of each faith whereby I compared what the faiths were in the past and what they are now as well as a comparison in the differences between the "truth" and the "reality" of the faiths.
My conclusion is not based on personal religious feelings nor prejudices: If we study and evaluate the effectiveness of each religion in terms of the happiness and evolution of mankind, we will discover that there is no prophecy which is as advanced, powerful, and conscious as the prophecy of Mohammad (PBUH) (i.e. Islam and its role in man's social progress, self-consciousness, movement, responsibility, human ambition and struggle for justice; Islam's realism and naturalness, creativity, adaptability with scientific and financial progress and orientation toward civilization and the community).
Contemporaneously, we will discover that there is no prophecy which has deteriorated and been transformed into a completely different representation as much as the prophecy of Mohammad (PBUH)! It seems that some power composed of all physical facilities as well as knowledgeable advisors, openly or secretly has hired a group of the most educated and intelligent philosophers of history, social scientists, sociologists, social psychologists, politicians, human scientists, theologizes.
Orientalists, experts in Islamic studies, Qur'anic interpreters and people who are familiar with Islamic literature, the social relations of Muslims, the traditions of Muslims, the personalities of Muslims, the weaknesses and strengths of Muslims, the interests of Muslims, the socio economic behavior of Muslims, the roles of special people ... to completely change the Islamic doctrine through the pursuit of cautious and scientific research of Islam and Muslims!
As far as I know, from the practical and conceptual point of view, the most important pillars of the Islamic doctrine which motivate the Muslim nation and makes it's citizens conscious, free, honorable and socially responsible are: TAWHEED, JIHAD, and HAJJ Unfortunately, the teaching of the concept of TAWHEED is limited only to elementary schools. Beyond that, it may be spoken of at the philosophical and theological discussions held by religious leaders; but such discussions are totally foreign and inapplicable to the lives of the people.
In other words, only the existence and oneness of God are considered - not TAWHEED in it's real sense! As for the concept of JIHAD, it is absolutely forbidden and buried in the graveyard of history. The fundamental principle of JIHAD, "encouraging people to do good deeds and to avoid wrong deeds" is only applied when blaming the friends instead of when correcting the wrongdoers.
And lastly, HAJJ is viewed as the ugliest and most illogical action that Muslims perform yearly. The enemies of Islam were successful in bringing about changes by implementing a unique policy. The "prayer book" was brought from the grave yard into the city while the Holy Quran was taken away from the citizens in the city and given to those at the graveyard who read for the souls of the dead.
A similar approach was used in the theological schools (madresah). The Holy Quran was seized from the hands of students who studied Islam and put away on the shelf; it was replaced by the book of principles and philosophical discussions. So, it is obvious what the enemies can do to us when the Quran is absent from the lives of Muslims and not included in the curriculum of Muslim students! Does the intellectual individual who feels a responsibility towards his people and a Muslim whose faith endows him with a responsibility or an intellectual Muslim who has this dual responsibility feel at ease by sitting passively? Does he think resorting to a western ideology will save his people and solve their problems?!? NO!! !
Oh my intellectual friend and my Muslim brother - either you feel a responsibility toward the people or toward Allah. It does not matter; we are in the same boat and are endowed with the same responsibility. In order to liberate ourselves and regain our honor, it is best to employ the same tactics that our enemy used. We must return to the path from which we were abducted!
Therefore, we have to bring the Holy Quran from the graveyard back to the city and read it to those who are alive (not deceased)! We have to remove the Quran from the shelf, open it before the eyes of the students and let them study it. Since our enemies could not destroy the Quran, they closed it and left it in a corner to be respected as the HOLY BOOK! It is our duty to reuse it as a "book" - a "book to study" - as is designated by the name QURAN! May we hope that one day the Quran will be accepted as the classic book of our Islamic school and used for our Islamic teachings!
May we hope to see the day when Quranic study will be required in order to qualify for a degree in Ijtihad. [Exegesis of divine law on theological and legal matters]. If we return to the Quran and make it part of our lives, we will realize the essence of Tawheed. If we consider the Quran as the structure of our system, we will realize the creativity and efficacy of such duties as: Hajj, Jihad [holy war], Imamat [Leadership of the Islamic Community], Shahadat [Martrydom] ... and the meaning of our lives!!!! Now let us look at one of these duties - Hajj - and search for its significance from a monotheistic point of view. This book is a summary of my personal experience and understanding after performing the Hajj three times and touring Mecca once. It is only the comments and interpretations of the rites by a humble servant of God.
No Muslim has the right to view the rites on the basis of this writing since it is not a book on "religious jurisprudence" but rather a paper to make you think! I have attempted to interpret the ceremonies as a Muslim Hajj who is entitled to talk about the Hajj when he returns home. I can discuss my views with others; this has been a "tradition" too. Every year the minority who were able to participate in the Hajj will share their views with the majority who did not have this opportunity.
If there was a responsible leadership who demonstrated as much interest in teaching more than a million Muslims from various parts of the world (ie. from the least developed villages and least trained natives) as they do in their meals, health, souvenirs and luxurious but ugly shows of aristocracy (which contradicts Hajj) and if they were only a bit concerned about realizing the meaning of the rites rather than being meticulously obsessed and prejudiced about performing the rites themselves then the Hajj could have been a yearly course of practical and theoretical teachings of the Islamic doctrine given to more than a million Muslim representatives from all over the world!
They could learn the purpose of the Hajj, the meaning of the prophecy, the importance of unity and the fate of the Muslim nation. With a reserve of knowledge and information they could return to their countries and their individual lives to teach their community. As a result, all his life a Hajj could remain a guide in the darkness of his society - like a glittering beam in the darkness!
What has the experience of Hajj taught me? First one must ask - what does Hajj mean? In essence, Hajj is man's evolution toward Allah. It is a symbolic demonstration of the philosophy of Creation of Adam. To further illustrate this, it may be stated that the performance of Hajj is a simultaneous show of many things; it is a "show of creation", a "show of history", a "show of unity", a "show of the Islamic ideology" and a show of the Ummah.
The following conditions prevail in this "show". Allah (God) is the stage manager. The theme portrayed is the actions of the people involved. Adam, Ibrahim, Hajar, and Satan are the main characters. The scenes are Masjid-ul Haram, the Haram area, Masa, Arafat, Mashars and Mina. Important symbols are the Kaaba, Safa, Marwa, day, night, sunshine, sunset, idols and ritual of sacrifice. The clothing and make up are Ihram, Halgh and Taqseer. Lastly, the player of the roles in this "show" is only one; and that is YOU!
Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, young or old, black or white, you are the main feature of the performance. The role of Adam, Ibrahim and Hajar in the confrontation between "Allah and Satan" is played by you. As a result, you, individually, are the hero of the "show".
Annually, Muslims from all over the world are encouraged to participate in this great "show" (Hajj). Everyone is considered equal. No discrimination on the basis of race, sex, or social status is made. In accordance to the teachings of Islam, ALL ARE ONE AND ONE IS ALL.
The one who restores somebody's life, has restored the life of all and the one who kills one, has killed all. Yet the enemies of Islam continue to deliberately wage a campaign against Islam. They attack it by denying that Islam recognizes the human being as an individual endowed with special rights and values. In terms of the concept of Hajj, it is relegated to the status of a duty which has very little significance. As Imam Ali, the son of Kaaba says:
As if Islam is a lamb fur-coat that is put on inside out.
What have I personally learned from Hajj-me being so "little" and Hajj being so "great" in meaning? How far and what could I see from this experience? The following pages are the product of my humble efforts to answer these questions. My purpose is not to inform the reader what must be done during Hajj. This can be attained by referring to the book of rituals. Instead, I want to share with you my perceptions of the significance of Hajj. They should help you to understand why it is incumbent upon Muslims to perform this duty, or at least motivate you to think about Hajj.
Rejecting an Empty Philosophy
Life today (not life as it should be carried on) is an idle cyclical action a movement with no goal! A meaningless pendular action starts with the day only to end at night and night starts only to disappear at dawn. In the mean time, man is busy watching the play of these black and white "rats" who chew the strings of our life until we die.
Life (as we live it) is like a theater. Man watches these aimless nights and days. Indeed, what foolish play is conducted! When you are in need, you hope and struggle to overcome your needs. Yet once you achieve this, you view your past efforts humorously. What a senseless philosophy to live by!
Living on a day to day basis, the person lacks direction. His aim is only to live. What exists is a dead spirit in a living body. However, the Hajj experience alters this unhealthy condition!
Once you decide to perform Hajj and take the necessary steps, you are on the road to the actualization of Hajj. Before going to Hajj you reside in your home calm and reposed. Upon entering the state of mind for Hajj, you arise and move away from your routine environment.
Hajj is the antithesis of aimlessness. It is the rebellion against a damned fate guided by evil forces. The fulfillment of Hajj will enable you to escape from the complex network of puzzles. This revolutionary act will reveal to you the clear horizon and free way to migration to eternity toward the Almighty Allah.
Depart from your home. and visit "Allah's house", or the "house of the people"! You, whoever you are, you are a man, Adam's son, and a representative of Allah on earth! You are a relative of Allah, Allah's trustee, His master of nature and a student of God. Allah taught you the names. He made you from His spirit and endowed you with special qualities. You were praised by Him; His angels even prostrated to you. This earth and everything in it was made available to man. God became your "home mate", with you at all times and watching all of your actions. Are you living up to His expectation?
Prophet (PBUH): Allah is in the hearts of the believers Quran XXIX: 3
Thus Allah knoweth those who are sincere, and knoweth those who feign. Quran LVII: 25
And that Allah may know him who helpeth Him and His messenger, though unseen. Quran XVII: 7
Lo! We have placed all that is in the earth as an ornament thereof that we may try them: which of them is best in conduct. Quran LXVII: 2
Who hath created life and death that He may try you, which of you is best in conduct; and he is the Mighty, the Forgiving, With the passage of time and the influence of various forces of the social system which disregard human rights and duties, your character has been changed.
The vicissitudes of life have affected you to the degree that you became alienated and neglectful. Originally, with Allah's spirit in your heart, you were supposed to shoulder the responsibility of being Allah's trustee on earth. You were granted time as a means for fulfilling this task but you failed because the gift was used carelessly! Quran CIII: 2-3
By the declining day, Lo! Man is in a state of loss, This is what is called life! But realistically speaking what has been accomplished? What constructive contributions have you made? What have you gained? So many precious years have been lost, yet who are you? Oh trustee and vicegerent of Allah on earth, you have turned to money, sex, greed, aggression, and dishonesty. You have regressed to the inferior status that you occupied before almighty Allah blew His spirit into you.
Where is the spirit of Allah now? Oh man, rise out of this decadent situation! Divorce yourself from this gradual death. Leave your surroundings and go to the pure land.
There you may face Almighty Allah under the inspiring sky of Mashar. The estrangement which you have experienced will be overcome. At last, you will find yourself!
You can read the book at the following link
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