The value of glorifying the Sacred City: The importance of values lies in the fact that they are the criterion by which people, ideologies, actions, positions and subjects can be judged and measured; moreover, values decide the identity of the community; the values in a given community have a direct effect and influence on the manners and conduct which the members of that community adopt.
Whenever the values of a community originate from the teachings of its faith, the behaviour and conduct of its people will reflect such a faith and they will certainly enjoy fine and fulfilling lives within their respective communities.
Strengthening the social values that Islam instructs and emphasises upon is the safety valve that protects and guards the community, and one of the greatest and most important of such values is to glorify the symbols of Allah. Indeed, such glorification results in lofty social customs and etiquettes that guarantee the stability of the Muslim community and assures happiness in this life and the Life to come.
Allah Almighty has made this city a Sacred and Secure one and has honoured His House (the Ka’aba); He made glorifying this city one of the most honourable acts of worship by which a person draws close to Allah; He says (what means): “That [is so]. And whoever honours the symbols [i.e. rites] of Allah — indeed, it is from the piety of hearts.” [Qur’an 22: 32]
Glorifying what Allah and His Messenger sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam have glorified results in establishing great social values that will yield countless benefits to the Muslims, and will reflect the unity of the Muslims - a nation that direct themselves to one Qiblah (direction during prayer towards Ka’aba), believe in one religion and harbour the same objectives and hopes, as if their hearts are that of a single person.
The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam taught us how to build this value of glorifying Makkah - since his prophethood started in Makkah itself - in a practical manner that is away from fantasy and in a realistic manner that is easy to comprehend, and made it deeply rooted in the hearts in a way that guaranteed the continuity of such glorification by those who reside in the Sacred City and those who come to visit it. He did so with great wisdom and with tender care which caused people to long to see and glorify this Sacred City.
Words and actions that reflects its love:
Imaam Al-Bukhari, may Allah have mercy upon him, reported on the authority of ‘Aai’shah, may Allah be pleased with her, that she said: “When the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam came to Al-Madinah, both Abu Bakr and Bilaal became sick. Whenever fever attacked Abu Bakr, he would recite the following verses of poetry:
A person wakes up among his household-active he is
While death is in fact closer to him than his shoelaces
Whenever fever eased from Bilaal, he would recite the following verses of poetry:
Will I ever again go back to spend a night- only once
In the valley with Ith-khir and Jaleel (plants) in abundance?
And will I one day again drink from the water of Mijannah? 
And will again see (the mountains of) Tafeel and Shaamah? 
Then he would say: ‘O Alah! Curse Shaybah Ibn Rabee’ah and ‘Utbah Ibn Rabee’ah and Umayyah Ibn Khalaf as they forced us from our land to a land full of diseases’.
Then the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “O Allah! Make Al-Madinah dear to our hearts just like you made Makkah dear to our hearts, and even more so. O Allah! Bless our Saa’ and our Mudd  and make it a healthy place for us, and move its fever to the area of Al-Juhfah.”
Bilaal, may Allah be pleased with him, also said: “We arrived at Al-Madinah and it was a land full of diseases as the valley of Bathaan would have putrid water running through it.’”
Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated: “The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, addressing Makkah: “How good you are as a landand how dear you are to my heart! Had your people not forced me out of you, I would have never come out and left you and would have never resided in any other city but you.” [At-Tirmithi and Ibn Hibbaan]
Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated: “When the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam was forced to leave Makkah he headed out to a cave, turned around, and said, addressing Makkah: “You are the most beloved land to Allah, and you are the most beloved land to me. Had the polytheists not forced me out of you, I would never have come out and left you. The worst enemy is the one who transgresses the sanctities of Allah, or kills a soul without due right or kills a soul as revenge from the era of pre-Islamic ignorance.” Then Allah revealed the following verse (which means): “And how many a city was stronger than your city [i.e. Makkah] which drove you out? We destroyed them; and there was no helper for them.” [Qur’an 47:13]” [Ibn Jareer At-Tabari] Imaam al-Qurtubi, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “This is an authentic narration.”
Imaam At-Tirmithi, Ahmad and ‘Abd bin Humayd, may Allah have mercy upon them, reported that ‘Abdullaah bin ‘Adiyy Ibn Al-Hamraa’, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated: “I saw the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, standing on a hillock  and addressing Makkah, saying: “I swear by Allah! You are the best of the lands of Allaah and you are the most beloved land to Allah, and had it not been that I was forced to leave you, I would have never left you.”
Imaam al-Faakihi, may Allah have mercy upon him, reported on the authority of ‘Amrbin Shu’ayb, who reported from his father who reported from his father that he (‘Amr’s grandfather) said: “The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam sent ‘Itaab bin Usayd as a leader for the people of Makkah and said to him: “Do you know where I am sending you? I am sending you to the people (dear to) Allah. There is no city dearer to Allah - the Almighty, the Glorified - and to myself than this city, and had it not been that its people forced me out of it, I would never have left it.”
This is Makkah and this is its virtue. Will we win the honour of glorifying it and loving it with its due love and glorification?
 Jaleel: a weak plant that the residents of Makkah would use in their homes.
 Mijannah: a place that was a few kilometres from Makkah which had a market.
 Shaamah and Tafeel: Two mountains about 50km from Makkah.
 Saa’ and Mudd: measures of weight for food
 This small hill was at the lower end of the market overlooking Makkah.
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/
The meaning of Haj
Verily all praise and thanks is due to Allah, we thank and praise Him and we seek His aid and depend upon Him and we ask Him for forgiveness and seek refuge in Him from the evils of ourselves and the wickedness of our deeds. Whoever Allah guides there is no one who can lead him astray, and whoever Allah leads astray there is none who can guide him. I testify that there is nothing deserving of worship in truth except Allah Who is Alone and without any partner and I bear witness that Muhammad is the slave servant and final Prophet and Messenger of Allah. Verily the most truthful and correct speech is the Book of Allah and best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). The worst of all matters in religion are those newly invented matters and each invented matter is a forbidden innovation and every forbidden innovation is a straying and every straying is in the fire.
Haj is a journey massive in scope that millions upon millions of people undertake year after year from each and every corner of the world. It is also a tremendous display of true devotion to Allah that is unmatched anywhere else in the world. There quite simply is no other journey like it because it leads to the most unique place in the world, Baitullahi Al-Haraam, The Holy House of Allah in Makkah. It is an answer to a most ancient call and invitation from Ar-Rahmaan, the Most Merciful Himself. You as a visitor will be His guest and the reward you may reap for your trek will be like that which none can provide except Him, Most High is He above all imperfection! Your journey to Makkah is to perform the rites as shown to us by the last of the Messengers of Allah, Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). These rites began from the time of the father of all prophets and messengers to come after him, Ibrahim (‘alaihi salaam). It was he who made the call to us in fulfilment of the command of Allah to him, namely to establish the Haj to the Holy House for all human beings.
It is however, only the true believers who answer the call and perform the rites correctly in letter and in spirit and truly benefit from this journey. It is our hope to assist you in fulfilling your noble intention of Haj in the best manner possible according to the most authentic and reliable manner as proven in the life of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and his noble companions (radiallahu anhum ajma’een). It is your duty to find out all that you can in order to perform this religious duty and it is our duty to do our best to help. Take advantage of those around you among the knowledgeable and righteous people to ask about whatever you may need assistance with and they will undoubtedly assist you.
Haj: Its Meaning and Merits
Verily the first House appointed for mankind was that at Bakka, full of blessing, and a guidance for Al-’Aalameen. In it are manifest signs, the Maqaam of Ibrahim; whosoever enters it he attains security. And Haj to the House is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses. [Surah Ale-Imran 96-97]
And proclaim to mankind the Haj. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every deep and distant mountain highway. That they may witness things that are of benefit to them, and mention the Name of Allah on appointed days. [Surah al-Haj 27-28]
Haj is the fifth pillar of Islam. Allah has made it compulsory on those who are able from among His worshippers. He said: And Haj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka’aba) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence). Haj is not obligatory more than once in a lifetime according to the statement of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in an authentic report: Haj is once and whoever performs it more it is an additional good. Allah has also said: And complete Haj and Umrah as a duty owed to Allah. (Surah al-Baqarah 2:196)
The practice of delaying the Haj to the latter part of one’s life is unfortunate and an error. It is a clear lack of understanding for a person to live their youth in an irreligious manner or as they believe “enjoying life” only to leave religion for their old age. This strips the meaning of this major rite away as it does the other rites of Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, Hasten to perform the duty of Haj for verily none of you knows what will happen to him.
The Merits of Haj
Haj is a journey not made for any purely personal end or to fulfil any base desire. It is intended solely for Allah and a fulfilment of a duty prescribed by Him. No one can prepare himself for it unless he has a true love of Allah in his heart as well as a fear of Him and he feels strongly that Haj is a religious rite ordained by Allah and an obligation. Leaving everything behind is a demonstration of the love for Allah that a servant has. He will have a willingness to sacrifice and face hardships and forego the comforts of home for the sake of Allah. Haj combines the physical and the monetary aspects of worship so it develops both spiritual and moral goals in a person such as sincerity, piety, humility, obedience, sacrifice, and submission to the will of Allah.
The self-control, humility, and obedience produced by prayer and fasting are all present in the Hajj as well as is the cleansing of greed from the heart as is done by giving Zakaat. The pilgrim spends in the way of Allah and enjoys the privilege of offering many prayers in the great Masjid wherein prayers are far superior to that of those given anywhere else in the world. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has stated that a single prayer in Al-Masjid Al-Haraam is worth 100,000 prayers performed elsewhere. The greatest merits of Haj however are the purification of sins and a guaranteed place in Al-Jannah. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has said: The person who makes pilgrimage to Allah’s House without committing any acts of indecency or disobedience to Allah will return home as he was on the day his mother bore him and the reward for a Haj Mabroor (accepted Haj) is nothing less than Paradise (Al-Jannah).
Haj is not always easy, but the rewards for outweigh the sacrifices and the effort. A pilgrim’s pure belief and sincere seeking the reward of Allah is the only way he can avoid negative actions and reaction that may spoil their Haj. One is thrown in the middle of the world’s largest melting pot with little or no time to adjust. Hot weather, contrasting customs, foreign languages, intense crowds, meeting hose with dishonourable intentions are all bound to lead to misunderstandings, bruised feelings and the like. It is precisely through this process that one may be elevated and attain the spiritual heights of an accepted Haj and one that will have a lasting effect on one’s life.
A history of Haj
Haj literally means ‘to set out for a place’. Islamically, however, it refers to the annual pilgrimage that Muslims make to Makkah with the intention of performing certain religious rites in accordance with the method prescribed by the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).
Haj and its rites were first ordained by Allah in the time of the Prophet lbraaheem [Abraham] (‘alaihi-s-salaam) and he was the one who was entrusted by Allah to build the Ka’aba – the House of Allah – along with his son Ismaa’eel [Ishmael] at Makkah. Allah described the Ka’aba and its building as follows:
“And remember when We showed Ibraaheem the site of the [Sacred] House [saying]: Associate not anything [in worship with Me and purify My House for those who circumambulate it [i.e. perform tawaaf] and those who stand up for prayer and those who bow down and make prostration [in prayer, etc.].” (Surah al-Haj 22:26)
After building the Ka’aba, Ibraaheem would come to Makkah to perform Haj every year, and after his death, this practice was continued by his son. However, gradually with the passage of time, both the form and the goal of the Haj rites were changed. As idolatry spread throughout Arabia, the Ka’aba lost its purity and idols were placed inside it. Its walls became covered with poems and paintings, including one of Jesus and his mother Maryam and eventually over 360 idols came to be placed around the Ka’aba.
During the Haj period itself, the atmosphere around the sacred precincts of the Ka’aba was like a circus. Men and women would go round the Ka’aba naked, arguing that they should present themselves before Allah in the same condition they were born. Their prayer became devoid of all sincere remembrance of Allah and was instead reduced to a series of hand clapping, whistling and the blowing of horns. Even the talbiyyah* was distorted by them with the following additions: ‘No one is Your partner except one who is permitted by you. You are his Master and the Master of what he possesses’.
Sacrifices were also made in the name of God. However, the blood of the sacrificed animals was poured onto the walls of the Ka’aba and the flesh was hung from pillars around the Ka’aba, in the belief that Allah demanded the flesh and blood of these animals.
Singing, drinking, adultery and other acts of immorality were rife amongst the pilgrims and the poetry competitions, which were held, were a major part of the whole Haj event. In these competitions, poets would praise the bravery and splendour of their own tribesmen and tell exaggerated tales of the cowardice and miserliness of other tribes. Competitions in generosity were also staged where the chief of each tribe would set up huge cauldrons and feed the pilgrims, only so that they could become well-known for their extreme generosity.
Thus the people had totally abandoned the teachings of their forefather and leader Ibraaheem. The House that he had made pure for the worship of Allah alone, had been totally desecrated by the pagans and the rites which he had established were completely distorted by them. This sad state of affairs continued for nearly two and a half thousand years. But then after this long period, the time came for the supplication of Ibraaheem to be answered:
“Our Lord! Send amongst them a Messenger of their own, who shall recite unto them your aayaat (verses) and instruct them in the book and the Wisdom and sanctify them. Verily you are the ‘Azeezul-Hakeem [the All-Mighty, the All-Wise].” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:129)
Sure enough, a man named Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullaah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was born in the very city that Ibraaheem (‘alaihi-s-salaam) had made this supplication centuries earlier. For 23 years, the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) spread the message of Tawheed [true monotheism] – the same message that Ibraaheem and all the other Prophets came with – and established the law of Allah upon the land. He expended every effort into making the word of Allah supreme and his victory over falsehood culminated in the smashing of the idols inside the Ka’aba which once again became the universal centre for the worshippers of the one True God.
Not only did the Prophet rid the Ka’aba of all its impurities, but he also reinstated all the rites of Haj which were established by Allah’s Permission, in the time of Ibraaheem. Specific injunctions in the Qur’an were revealed in order to eliminate all the false rites which had become rampant in the pre-Islamic period. All indecent and shameful acts were strictly banned in Allah’s statement:
“There is to be no lewdness nor wrangles during Haj.” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:197)
Competitions among poets in the exaltations of their forefathers and their tribesmen’s’ achievements were all stopped. Instead, Allah told them:
“And when you have completed your rites [of Haj] then remember Allah as you remember your forefathers; nay with a more vigorous remembrance.” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:200)
Competitions in generosity were also prohibited. Of course, the feeding of the poor pilgrims was still encouraged as this was done in the time of Ibraaheem but Allah commanded that the slaughtering of the animals which was done for this purpose should be done seeking the pleasure of Allah rather than fame and the praise of the people. He said:
“So mention the name of Allah over these animals when they are drawn up in lines. Then, when they are drawn on their sides [after the slaughter], eat thereof and feed the beggar who does not ask, and the beggar who asks.” (Surah al-Haj 22:36)
As for the deplorable practice of spattering blood of the sacrificed animals on the walls of the Ka’aba and hanging their flesh on altars, then Allah clearly informed them that:
“It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is Taqwaa (piety) from you that reaches Him.” (Surah al-Haj 22:37)
The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) also put a stop to the practice of circling the Ka’aba in a state of nudity and the argument that the pagans put forward to justify this ritual was sharply rebutted in Allah’s question:
“Say: Who has forbidden the adornment [i.e. clothes] given by Allah which He has produced for His Slaves?” (Surah al-A’raaf 7:32)
Another custom which was prohibited through the Qur’an was that of setting off for Haj without taking any provisions for the journey. In the pre-Islamic period, some people who claimed to be mutawakkiloon (those having complete trust in Allah) would travel to perform Haj begging food the whole journey. They considered this form of behaviour a sign of piety and an indication of how much faith they had in Allah. However Allah told mankind that to have sufficient provisions for the journey was one of the preconditions for making Haj. He said:
“And take a provision [with you] for the journey, but the best provision is at-Taqwaa (piety).” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:197)
In this way, all the pre-Islamic practices, which were based in ignorance, were abolished and Haj was once more made a model of piety, fear of Allah, purity, simplicity and austerity. Now, when the pilgrims reached the Ka’aba, they no longer found the carnivals and the frolic and frivolity that had once occupied the minds of the pilgrims there before. Now, there was the remembrance of Allah at every step and every action and every sacrifice was devoted to Him alone. It was this kind of Haj that was worthy of the reward of paradise, as the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “The reward for an accepted Haj is nothing less than paradise.” [Saheeh al-Bukhari]
May Allah grant us all the ability to visit His House and perform the Haj in the manner of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).
* Labbaik Allaahumma labbaik... (Here I am present, O’ Allah, I am present...) This is the chant which the pilgrims say when they are going around the Ka’aba.
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