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Abraham: The Muslim Prophet

By Sarah Joseph

Abraham is a central figure to three faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – but the scriptural differences can cause deep divisions. So here we examine how Abraham’s story can heal our fractured world.

He defied his father and his community; he had to flee for his life; he abandoned his family in the wilderness; he was prepared to kill his son. With such a background, Abraham would not appear to be a good role model. Yet, he is revered by billions of people over thousands of years, and his life is a testament to pure monotheism, great sacrifices and devotion to

kabah_Makkah

“Muslim” is not a noun introduced from the time of Muhammad; rather it is a way of being and thinking that has existed since the beginning of creation.

God. The Qur’an speaks of Abraham with great admiration:

And who could be of better faith than the one who surrenders utterly to God, and is a doer of good and follows the faith of Abraham, the upright one? ( An-Nisaa’ 4:125)

Abraham was born in a society steeped in the worship of idols. Early on in his life, he tried to persuade his father to reject this practice and submit himself to the One True God. But his father’s business centered on crafting idols of worship, and so he rebuked Abraham, “I shall most certainly cause you to be stoned to death!” (Maryam 19:46)

Abraham’s reply is a perfect lesson in gentleness and politeness:

Peace be upon you! I shall ask my Lord to forgive you: for, behold, He has always been kind to me. (Maryam 19:47)

Idol-worship was seen by Abraham as something self-degrading and enslaving. He saw no greatness and experienced no awe in the worship of statues that his father and other human beings crafted with their own hands. So he tried to free his community from this harmful practice.

In the Qur’anic narrative, he sets a testing scenario for the people by destroying all their idols except the largest one. When the people remonstrated with him, Abraham mockingly told them to ask the big idol for answers. The people were confounded, but only momentarily, and soon they demanded his death: “Kill him… burn him”. (Al-`Ankabut 29:24). But God saved him by cooling the flames.

By this point, the young Abraham had defied his father, enraged his community, and derided their beliefs. He had challenged the centers of power and upset the status quo with his persistent reasoning and logic. He even won the public debate with Nimrod, the king. By doing so, he became a dangerous dissident.

Though he had won the intellectual arguments against his father, his community, and his king, he had been unable to win their hearts, and they threatened him with death. So Abraham was forced to flee with his wife Sarah and nephew Lot.

But his trials and tribulations were not over. Having committed his life to God, he was tested still further. He was commanded to leave his wife Hagar and son Ishmael in the wilderness, and later to sacrifice Ishmael.

On the sacrifice, it is written in Genesis that, “Sometime later, God tested Abraham… ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac… Sacrifice him as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’” (Genesis 22:1-2)

In the Qur’an, however, it intimates that Ishmael is the one whom God had commanded for sacrifice.

The Qur’an tells us, after the story of sacrifice was finished, that as Abraham showed his faith in God and his willingness to sacrifice his only son, Isma`il, then God gave him the news that Isaac was to be born. So this whole event took place before the birth of Isaac.

And We gave him the good news of Isaac – a prophet,- one of the righteous. (As-Saffat 37:112)

The fundamental lesson for us here is our willingness to give up that which is dearest and closest to us; whether we have the resolve and willpower necessary to achieve the higher spiritual goals.

The Qur’an praises Isaac, and his son Jacob, calling them “righteous men” (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:72), and explains how God “made them leaders who would guide in accordance with Our behest: for We inspired them to do good works, and to be constant in prayer, and to dispense charity: and Us alone did they worship.” (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:73) And Jacob’s son, Joseph, is also a prophet blessed by God.

The Qur’an reveres all the prophets, named and unnamed, and as such, it is an amazingly inclusive religious text. It even insists on equality, stating that “no distinction is to be made between them.” (Al-Baqarah 2:285)

However, some factual differences with other religious texts are paramount to Muslim theology, as the following example of ‘informed consent’ shows. The Bible informs us that Isaac had no idea what his father was intending, “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7).

In the Qur’anic version, Abraham asked his son’s opinion, and Ishmael was fully aware and readily submitted to his father’s obligation:

And when the child had become old enough to share in his father’s endeavors, the latter said: ‘O my dear son! I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you: consider, then, what would be your view!’ He answered: ‘O my father! Do as you are commanded: you will find me, if God so wills, among those who are patient in adversity!’ (As-Saffat 37:102)

Without Ishmael’s consent, to the Muslim mind Abraham’s submission to God is tantamount to human sacrifice; with Ishmael’s consent it is a joint act of submission to God. Of course, God requires no such sacrifice, consensual or otherwise. Abraham could keep his beloved son and more, for God promises Abraham a nation (an ummah).

Much is made of God’s promise. Abraham was indeed concerned for his children and his descendants. Firstly, and primordially, our responsibility to the world begins with our responsibility to our children. But perhaps also because he had a sense of history, and knew that what he wanted to achieve could not be done within one generation. God however tells him, “My Covenant does not include the wrongdoers.” (Al-Baqarah 2:124)

Role Model, Living Lessons

Thus, affirming through Abraham’s story that it is deeds, not birthright that ultimately matter. Much also is made of the fact that according to the Bible God promises to Abraham a land. Thousands of years later, people are still fighting and killing one another because of those disputed claims. This should be an uncomfortable reality for anyone who claims to believe in Abraham’s message of honest and upright conduct.

But Abraham does not have to be a divisive figure. Regardless of who claims him, or makes claims on his lineage, he is a role model for all. As God says in the Qur’an, “I am going to make you a leader for all of mankind to follow” (Al-Baqarah 2:124), it is the message of Abraham that is consistent in all the scriptures, and over which we can unite.

Abraham taught belief in the One God, and urged the leading of an upright life. Abraham’s story, primordial and archetypal, much of which is re-enacted annually through the Hajj, shows us the common, ancient origin of our human roots. Those roots have grown to become different trees, but each is a manifestation of the same reality, namely worship of the One Creator Who created us all; who created us into diverse nations and identities so that we can constructively engage with one another, and compete in the doing of good.

Abraham expressed an archetypal spirituality which is in harmony with our natural inclination towards good. The Qur’an describes how Abraham was “neither a Jew nor a Christian, but a hanif (an upright man who had surrendered (to Allah), a Muslim. And he was not of the polytheists.” (Aal `Imran 3:67)

Not being a Jew or a Christian is undisputed from a historical perspective as he pre-dates both, but how could he be a “Muslim” (Aal `Imran 3:67) as he predates that too, does he not? This is where we have to understand that Muslim is not a noun introduced from the time of Muhammad; rather it is a way of being and thinking that has existed since the beginning of creation. It describes the one who surrenders himself to God, and thus all the prophets were in that sense Muslims, for they all surrendered to God.

As for Abraham being a hanif (an upright, righteous person) the word has at its root in the way of Abraham, to incline towards good, to turn away from wrong. Thus, a person without any taught religion would come to the way of the hanif if they were to ponder the revelation of the created world.

Through Abraham’s progeny, we are united by familial ties: Jews and Muslims are often described as cousins. The story of Abraham reminds us of the deep connection of our kinship. We have a shared human experience, and remembering Abraham’s story gives us the opportunity to remember our original spiritual and moral substance.

Remembering his covenant with God gives us the opportunity to remember our own original covenant. When we were souls with God, He asked us, “Am I not your Lord?” (Al-`Araf 7: 172) And our souls affirmed, “Yes, we do so testify.” (Al-`Araf 7:172).

We all have the same essential experience of being human. We will have different physical experiences; of wealth or poverty, of health or illness, of gender and race, but the essence of being human is the same.

We can argue about whom the covenant between God and Abraham is with, or we can fulfill our own covenant with God. We can disagree about whom God asked Abraham to sacrifice, or we can dedicate our own sacrifices to Him.

We can dispute with each other about the nature of the tests Abraham faced, or we can face our own tests with fortitude, forbearance and patience. We can fight about our differences, or we can remember that we are united in the singular conviction that Abraham held; there is only One God worthy of worship, and we surrender ourselves to Him.

Abraham’s life was the exact opposite of idol worship. If he is to be relevant today, we have to ask what are the idols which we have crafted with our own hands, and which we take to be our gods.

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Source: Emel Magazine.

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Hajj: From Abraham to Muhammad, and In-between

Kabah_Makkah

Just as Ibrahim strove to end the worship of false gods and bring people under submission to the One God, so did the Prophet Muhammad revive the same pure deen.

 

Brothers in Islam! Hajj, or the Pilgrimage, was instituted by the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) to serve as the focal meeting place for all believers in the One God. Thus he made Makkah the center of the world-wide Islamic movement and installed his elder son, the Prophet Isma`il, there to continue his mission.

Idol Worship among Ibrahim’s Descendants

Only God knows exactly how long Isma`il’s children stayed on the right path. But within a few centuries of the death of Ibrahim and Isma`il people had abandoned their teachings and had gradually gone astray like all other people around them. Hundreds of idols were installed in the sacred Ka`bah, which had been built as a center for the worship of the One God.

Ironically enough, idols were made of Ibrahim and Isma`il too, whose whole lives had been spent eradicating idol-worship. The descendants of Ibrahim, who had repudiated all idols, began to worship idols like Lat, Manat, Hubal, Nasr, Yaghuth, `Uzza, Asaf, Na`i/ah and many more. They also worshipped the sun, moon, Venus, and Saturn. They also worshipped jinns, ghosts, angels and the spirits of their dead ancestors.

Superstition rose to such a level that if they did not have the family idol with them while away from home, they worshipped any stone they came across on their way. Or, if no stone was available, even a round ball made of clay with a sprinkle of goat’s milk over it served as their god.

Reverting to the same kind of priesthood which Ibrahim had fought so fiercely against in Iraq, they turned the Ka`bah into a sort of temple and installed themselves as priests there. Adopting all the tricks of priests, they began accepting gifts and offerings from pilgrims flocking from the four corners of Arabia.

In this way all the work done by Ibrahim and Isma`il was destroyed and the purpose for which they had introduced the system of Hajjwas superseded by different types of objectives.

How Corrupted Hajj Became

A Yearly Carnival

The degree to which Hajj was corrupted in that period of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) can be gauged from the fact that it degenerated into an annual carnival. For many tribes from near and far, Hajj became an important social event. Poets and clowns used it to brag and boast about the bravery, renown, dignity, strength and generosity of their tribes. They even resorted to hurling insults at one another.

The chiefs of the tribes vied with each other in flaunting their generosity. They slaughtered camel after camel with the sole purpose of extolling their name, generosity and hospitality. Singing, revelry, drinking, and adultery were part and parcel of the festivities. The thought of God scarcely occurred to anybody.

Perverse Rites

Tawaf (Circumambulation of the Ka`bah) did continue, it is true; but in what form? Men and women walked together around God’s House stark naked, saying, “We go before God just as our mothers gave birth to us”.

Worship also continued to be performed in the mosque of Ibrahim, but again, in what form? By clapping hands, by whistling and by blowing horns. The name of God was proclaimed, but with what words? They said: “Here am I, my Lord, I am present. No one is Your partner except the one who is Yours. You are its master, of whatever it possesses”.

They did make sacrifices in the name of God. But the blood of the sacrificial animals was spilt on the walls of the Ka`bah and their flesh thrown at its door in the belief that Allah needs that flesh and blood.

Sacrilege of Sacred Months

Ibrahim had declared four months of Hajj as sacred and had directed that no warfare should be waged in these months.

These people partially observed this sanctity; but if they wanted to fight during the sacred months, they simply declared Ibrahim’s ruling null and void for a particular period and added extra ‘holy months’ the following year.

Self-imposed Restrictions

Even those who were sincere towards religion were led into strange, excessive ways by their ignorance. Some people used to set out for Hajj without any provisions for the journey and lived by begging food. They considered this an act of piety, claiming that they had full trust in God and, while proceeding towards the House of God, had no need of worldly goods.

Doing business or working during the Hajj journey were generally considered unlawful. Many people gave up food and water during Hajj, and regarded this abstention as worship.

Others stopped speaking while on Hajj, which they called al-hajj al-mumit (the dumb Pilgrimage).

There were countless other customs of this type which I do not want to waste your time describing.

Restoration of Hajj

Fulfillment of Ibrahim’s Prayer

This situation lasted for about two thousand years. No prophet was born in Arabia during this long period nor did any prophet’s genuine teachings reach the people of Arabia.

Finally, however, the time arrived for granting Ibrahim’s prayer which he had made while raising the walls of the Ka`bah:

Our Lord! Do You send to them a Messenger, from among them, who shall convey unto them Your revelations, and teach them the Book and the wisdom, and purify and develop them. (Al-Baqarah 2:129)

The perfect man who descended from Ibrahim was Muhammad ibn `Abdullah (blessings and peace be on him).

Just as Ibrahim was born into a family of priests, so was Muhammad into a family which had been for centuries priests of the Ka`bah. Just as Ibrahim struck a blow with his own hands against the priesthood of his family, so did Muhammad finally eradicating it for good.

Again, just as Ibrahim strove to end the worship of false gods and bring people under submission to the One God, so did the Prophet Muhammad revive the same pure deen (religion) which had been introduced by Ibrahim.

After 21 years, when he had completed this work, once again, at God’s command, he declared the Ka`bah the center of all those in the world who surrendered to God alone and issued the same summons to the people to come to it for Hajj as had Ibrahim.

A duty owed to God by all men is the Pilgrimage to the House, if one is able to make his way there. And as for the disbeliever, God is All-sufficient, needing nothing from all the worlds.(Aal `Imran 3:97)

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s book “Let Us Be Muslims”. 

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The Story of Hajj: How Did It Begin? (Part 1)

By Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi 

Hajj, or the Pilgrimage, is the last among those acts of worship which Islam enjoins upon you.

Like the Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, it moulds your life and prepares you so that you may live in surrender to Allah.

The word Hajj means to make a resolve to visit a holy place: visiting the Ka`bah in Makkah is therefore called Hajj.

How did it begin?

The origin of Hajj is rooted in the Prophet Ibrahim’s life (peace be on him). That story is very instructive, and illustrative, too, of the true meaning and significance of Hajj. That story you must know to fully understand the benefits Hajj can bring to you.

Life and Mission of the Prophet Ibrahim

Which Muslim, Christian or Jew does not know the name of Ibrahim (peace be on him)! Two-thirds of mankind revere him as their leader. The Prophets Musa, `Isa and Muhammad (peace be on them) are all his descendants. It is the lamp of guidance lit by him that has for long illuminated the whole world.

Ibrahim was born in what is now Iraq, over four thousand years ago. At that time, the people had forgotten the One God. No one recognized Him as the Master, no one lived in surrender and obedience to Him.

The people among whom Ibrahim was born, while the most advanced in the world in art and science, industry and agriculture, were also the most steeped in ignorance and error.

One simple thing they, despite their technological advance, could not understand: anything which has itself been created cannot be worthy of worship.

Idolatry was the norm. Superstitions like astrology, idol-worship, divination, witchcraft and use of talismen and amulets were widespread.

A priest class controlled the temples, supervised worship rites and rituals, conducted marriage and funeral ceremonies, and claimed to be oracles, able to disclose the unknown, foretell the future, and determine Divine wishes.

And the people, in general, believed that they indeed had such powers, that they had access to their deities, that they could intercede with them on their behalf or invoke their wrath to fall upon them. For them, the priests were the lords of their fate.

The kings were in collusion with the priests, the two sides working together to keep the people under their servitude.

They gave full backing to the priests, and the priests made the people believe that the king of the day, as well as being the owner of his country and complete master of his subjects, was also a god among other gods. His word was the supreme law; his power over their lives and properties was absolute.

Indeed, worship rites were performed for and before the king so that the belief in his godhood came to be entrenched in the minds of his subjects.

In times like this, the Prophet Ibrahim was born into a family of privileged priests. His forefathers were high priests and it was quite natural that he should follow in their footsteps. He received the same education and training; the same gifts and offerings were awaiting him.

Many adherents were eagerly waiting for the moment when they could bow their heads before him with folded hands. The ancestral seat of priestly power could be his for the taking.

In this dismal darkness, where not a single soul existed who knew or believed in the Truth, it would not ordinarily have been possible for a man like Ibrahim to find its light, nor break away from the life of comfort and power mapped out for him by his family.

Commitment to the Truth

But the Prophet Ibrahim was no ordinary man; he was made of different stuff. On reaching maturity he began to reflect thus: How can the sun, moon or stars, which are rotating as if by order like slaves, and these stone idols, which are made by man himself; and these kings, who are human beings like ourselves, be gods?

What is there in these powerless objects, which cannot move of their own volition, which have no power to help themselves and have no control over their own lives and deaths, that man should worship them, seek fulfillment of his wants from them, fear their powers and submit in obedience to them?

Among all the objects on earth and in the heavens, there is not a single one which itself is not subject to some higher power and which does not fade away into oblivion at some time or other.

When none of them is my creator, when neither my life nor death is in the hands of any of them, when none of them possesses the key to my means of sustenance or the fulfillment of my needs, why should I accept them as lords, surrender to them, and obey them? Only that Being can be my Lord who created all things, on whom depends everything and in whose hands are the lives and deaths of all people.

These thoughts led the Prophet Ibrahim to the decision that he would never worship the deities which his people worshipped, and he openly declared before them:

O my people, I am quit of all those you take as gods beside God. I have turned my face unto Him who brought into being the heavens and the earth, having turned away from all false gods; and I am not of those who take gods beside God. (Al-An`am 6:79-80)

                                                                                                                                                    To be continued…

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s Let Us Be Muslims.

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What Are the Benefits of Hajj?

The following are some of the most important benefits of Hajj:

1- It deepens our awareness of the Oneness of Allah and helps us to be God-centered.

2- It teaches us the oneness of the human family under the Lordship of One God.

3- It helps us to develop a feeling of universal human brotherhood.

4- Finally, it enables us to renew our faith by making us aware of the transient nature of this life and our final standing before the Lord on the Day of Judgment.

Learn more from the video below by E-Da`wah Committee 

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Source: www.edc.org.kw

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The Story of Hajj: Prophet Ibrahim & His Journey to Truth (Part 2)

By Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi 

No sooner had Ibrahim made this declaration than tribulations and calamities of the greatest magnitude descended on him.

His father threatened him with expulsion from the family home. His community warned him that no one among them would give him refuge. And the government officials insisted on his case being brought before the King. But Ibrahim, lonely and forsaken by his relatives and friends, stood firm as a rock in the cause of Truth. He told his father respectfully:

The knowledge I have has not been vouchsafed to you. As such, instead of my following you, you should follow me. (Maryam 19: 41-5)

In answer to the threats of his community he broke their idols with his own hands to prove how powerless they were:

And by Allah, I have a plan for your idols – after ye go away and turn your backs. So he broke them to pieces, (all) but the biggest of them, that they might turn (and address themselves) to it… (Al-Anbiya’ 21: 57-58)

In the court of the King, he boldly declared: “You are not my Lord. My Lord is He in whose hands are your life and death as well as mine, and within the bounds of whose law even the movements of the sun are circumscribed.” (Al-Baqarah 2:258)

The royal court decided that Ibrahim should be burnt alive and he willingly came forward to suffer this horrible punishment for the sake of his unshakeable faith in the One God. After Allah with His supreme power saved him from this fate, he abandoned his home, his relations, his community and his country. He set out with his wife, Sarah, and a nephew, Lut, to wander from one land to another.

To this man the undisputed religious leadership of his people had been available. Yet he gave up wealth and power and preferred the life of a homeless and destitute wanderer rather than have to mislead people into the continuing worship of false gods.

He chose to live for the purpose of summoning people to their true God, even though he would be driven from place to place.

Migration

After leaving his home, the Prophet Ibrahim wandered in Egypt, Palestine and Arabia. God, alone, knows what sufferings he went through on his journeyings. He had no money or possessions nor did he have time to earn his livelihood. His sole vocation, day and night, was to bring people to the worship of the One God.

If a man of such ideas could not be tolerated by his own father and his own community, how was he going to be any more successful elsewhere? Where would he be welcomed? Everywhere the same temple priests and kings claiming godhood held sway; everywhere the same confused and ignorant common men lived, who were completely hoodwinked by them.

How could, then, Ibrahim live peacefully in such an environment? For, not only was he himself not ready to accept the godhood of anybody except God, but he was also committed to proclaiming to the people that none except Allah was their Master and Lord and that, therefore, they should ignore the authority of their leaders and demi-gods and submit only to that One Being.

Thus condemned to a nomadic existence, wandering through Palestine, Egypt and the vast deserts of Arabia, he passed his whole adult life.

Raising a New Generation

During the last period of his life, when he was eighty-six and had despaired of offspring, Allah gave· him a child, Isma`il. But even then, this loyal servant of Allah did not think that, having himself wrecked his own home life, he should at least prepare his children to earn their living. No.

His only concern was that the mission on which he had spent his whole life should be carried on after his death. It was for this purpose that he had prayed to Allah to grant him children:

Our Lord! And make us submissive unto You and of our seed a nation submissive unto Thee, and show us our ways of worship, and relent toward us. Lo! You, only You, are the Relenting, the Merciful. (Al-Baqarah 2:128)

And when Allah granted his request, his only thought was to educate and train them to continue his mission.

The life of this perfect man was the life of a true and genuine Muslim. In early adulthood, when he had found God, God asked him: ‘aslim‘, that is, enter Islam, surrender yourself totally to Me, be solely Mine. In reply, he gave the pledge:

‘aslamtuli-rabbi al-almin’, that is, I have entered Islam, I belong to the Lord of the worlds, I have entrusted myself wholly to Him, I am ever-ready to obey:

And when it is said unto them: believe as the people believe, they say: shall we believe as the foolish believe? are not they indeed the foolish? But they know not. (Al-Baqarah 2:13)

To this pledge Ibrahim remained true throughout his life.

He gave up, for the sake of the Lord of the worlds, his ancestral religion together with its beliefs and rituals and renounced all the material benefits he could have derived from it. He braved the danger of fire, suffered homelessness, wandered from country to country, but spent every moment of his life in obedience to the Lord and in propagating His Deen.

The Greatest of Trials

But even after all these tribulations, there was still one trial left to determine whether Ibrahim’s love for his Lord was supreme above all else. Before the birth of his second son, he was asked to sacrifice what was then his only child to God. (Surat As-Saffat 37: 99-111)

When Allah had shown that Ibrahim was prepared to slaughter his son for His sake with his own hands, He said: ‘You have fully vindicated your claim to be a totally true Muslim. Now you deserve to be made the leader of the whole world.’ This act of investiture has been described in the Qur’an thus:

And when his Lord tested Ibrahim with (His) commands, and he fulfilled them all, He said, Behold, I make you a leader of mankind. Said he (Ibrahim) And of my offspring (will they too be leaders)? He said: My covenant shall not reach the evil-doers. (Al-Baqarah 2:124)    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            To be continued…

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s Let Us Be Muslims.

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What Is the Significance of Wearing Ihram?

What Is the Significance of Wearing Ihram?

Whenever a man goes for Hajj or `Umrah, they are required to remove their clothing and wear two pieces of towels or blankets.

A woman who goes for Umrah or Hajj is required to wear whatever she feels comfortable in but restrain from wearing any perfume, cutting nails etc.

What is the wisdom behind doing this? Is there any significance in wearing and being in the state of Ihram?

Sheikh Hasib Noor, Islamic Sciences Specialist, explains….

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Source: Faith IQ

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Are There Any Specific Du`aas the Prophet Made During Hajj?

Are there any du`aas the Prophet (peace be upon him) specifically made during hajj?

Performing Hajj is the 5th and final pillar of Islam. One must perform Hajj at least once in their life time. Hajj is upon us in a few days and a lot of people wonder if there are any specific du`aas the Prophet (peace be upon him) made.

Were there any specific du`aas the Prophet (peace be upon him) made during his Hajj?

Sheikh Hasib Noor tells the answer….

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Source: Faith IQ

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Is It Okay to Do More Than One Hajj?

The Prophet (peace be upon him) performed one Hajj in his life time. Should that not be an indication to us to only perform one Hajj rather than several?

We often see friends or people whom we know who go for hajj every year. Is this okay?

Sheikh Hasib Noor tells the answer….

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Source: Faith IQ

 

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Who Is Obliged to Perform Hajj?

By Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan 

Who is obliged to perform Hajj?

The main purpose of Hajj and `Umrah is to worship Allah in the places he commanded us to worship Him therein. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

Who Is Obliged to Perform Hajj

Hajj is an obligatory act of worship.

“Pebble throwing and performing sa`i saying (i.e. going between As-Safa and Al-Marwah) are made (decreed) for mentioning Allah.” (Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi)

Hajj (Pilgrimage) is uniformly agreed upon by Muslim scholars as an obligatory act of worship, and one of the pillars of Islam. It is prescribed for all Muslims; they are to perform Haj) once in their lifetime provided they can afford it. and it is a collective duty on all Muslims at a set time every year.

On the other hand, any performance of Hajj other than the obligatory one is considered a voluntary act of worship.

Concerning `Umrah, many scholars regard it as a religious duty, for when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked if women had to participate in jihad (fighting in the Cause of All ah), he replied:

“Yes, there is a jihad prescribed for them in which there is no fighting, namely Hajj and `Umrah.”

Accordingly, if `Umrah is authenticated to be a religious duty for women, then the more it is so for men. To illustrate, once a man said to the Prophet (peace be upon him), ‘My father is an old man who can neither perform Hajj nor `Umrah nor even travel.’ Upon that, the Prophet said le him:

“Perform Hajj and `Umrah on behalf of your father.”  (At-Tirmidhi)

Once in a Lifetime

According to the above, it is obligatory for a Muslim to perform Hajj and `Umrah once in a lifetime; the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Perform Hajj only once, and whoever performs it more than that, it is a voluntary act for him.” (Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah)

In Sahih Muslims (Muslim’s Authentic Book of Hadith), it is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace upon him) said:

“0 people! Allah has made Hajj obligatory for you, so perform Hajj.”

Upon that, a man asked, ‘(Is it to be performed) every year?’  The Prophet (peace upon him) answered, “If I were to say ‘Yes: it would become obligatory (for you to perform it every year) and you would not be able to do it.” (Muslim)

Who Is Obliged to Perform It?

A Muslim, male or female, must perform the obligatory Hajj as soon as one is able to, and whoever defers it without a legal excuse is deemed sinful, for the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Make haste to (perform the obligation of) Hajj, for the one of you does not know what might afflict him.” (Ahmad)

There are five conditions that must be fulfilled as prerequisites for performing Hajj: to be a Muslim, to be sane, to have reached puberty, to be free (not a slave), and to be able to perform it. Those who meet these prerequisites are obliged to perform Hajj immediately.

Would a Boy Perform Hajj?

Performing Hajj and `Umrah for a little boy is accepted as a supererogatory act of worship, as indicated in the l1adilh narrated by Ibn `Abbas:

“A woman lifted up a boy to (show him to) the Prophet and said, ‘Would this (child) be credited with performing Hajj? He (peace be upon him) replied, ‘Yes, and you will have a reward.” (Muslim)

Scholars uniformly agree that if a boy performs Hajj before reaching puberty, it is still obligatory for him to do it once again when he is an adult and has the ability to do it. That is to say, Hajj, which is performed in childhood, does not spare a person the obligatory Hajj when reaching puberty, and so is the case of `Umrah.

As for a child under the age of discretion, his guardian can assume ihram (a state of ritual consecration during Hajj or `Umrah) and declare the intention to perform Hajj on his behalf.

The guardian should stop the child from doing whatever acts which are forbidden during Hajj, and should perform tawaf (circumambulating the Ka`bah) and Sa`i (going between As-Safa and Al-Marwah) on behalf of the child while carrying him. The guardian is also to accompany the child to Mount `Arafah, Muzdalifah, and Mina, throwing the pebbles on his behalf.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence”.

Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan is a Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence, Member of the Board of Senior Ulema & Member of the Permanent Committee for Fatwa and Research.

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Family New Muslims

New Muslims, Niqab and Family Issues

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Sheikh Yasir Qadhi answers here…

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