The Fifth Pillar of Islam – Revolt against the Worship of Matter
by Sheikh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (Raheemullahalayh)
It was also necessary for a Muslim to rebel, once in a while, against the cold and cheerless intellect. A life which is not occasionally shaken by tumult and revolt is not worth living. A man should, at times, liberate himself by breaking the fictitious bonds of habit and custom, of pedantic law, artificial taboos and stereotyped conventions, and handing over the control of his affairs to the heart. He should, at least once in a lifetime, go into wilderness in the manner of a dejected lover and give a proof of the sweet madness of love as the want is of the people of faith and sensitiveness for only then can he have a taste of real freedom. Who will call him free who is permanently a slave to convention and society? How can a person be a true ‘Monotheist when he is a prisoner of his own habits, desires and inclinations? How can he be considered loyal and faithful if he is always obeying the dictates of the mind and unless he weighs everything in the scales of his created intellect and its material advantages become apparent to him he cannot arouse himself to a deed of devotion and fidelity?
The Hajj, in its particular form, is entirely opposed to the selfimposed laws and the mechanical routine of life the worshippers of matter and intellect and the prisoners of discipline and orderly conduct are addicted to. What it aims at is that faith in the Unseen and the urge and ability to carry out an order, blindly and unhesitatingly – simply because it is an order – may take root in one’s inner self and the cold and calculating intellect may be dispossessed, for a time, of its authority which weighs and balances everything and lays stress only on its logical and perceptible aspect.
Imam Ghazali has delved deep into the spirit and purpose of the Hajj and drawn an excellent portrait of it with his inimitable pen. He says:
“In its nature and design the House of Allah is like a regal court to which adorers and admirers, and those stricken with the torment of separation, come from far and near, way-worn, haggard and dishevelled, with their heads bowed in submission and the conviction of their wretchedness embedded in their hearts, forgetting themselves before His Glory and Magnificence and knowing fully well and affirming wholeheartedly that He is too Sublime, too Exalted to be encompassed by a boundary-wall or contained in a city or town, so that their devotion and servitude and crying and lamentation may reach their limit and nothing is left waiting by way of obeisance and self-surrender.
“That is why they are required to carry out certain acts and perform certain rites that lie beyond the domain of the intellect, such as, Rami Jemar and Sa’ee. All these acts signify the highest form of slavery and bondage. Zakat is an exercise in compassion the purpose of which is easily understood. Sawm is a spiritual discipline for self-purification and suppression of the evil. propensities the Devil exploits in order to gain his end, and in it the aspect of devoting oneself to prayer by cutting down other engagements is manifest. In Salaat, the Greatness and Glory of the Lord and the bondman’s own humbleness is revealed through Ruku, Sujud and other acts which are also conducive to meekness and self-abasement. But Rami Jemar and Sa’ee and the other similar rituals of the Hajj impart no joy or satisfaction to the heart. They do not appeal to human nature and the intellect also does not discover any sense or purpose in them. These acts are performed solely in a spirit of obedience, knowing that it is the command of God which has to be carried out in any event. The idea is to divest the mind of its authority and dominance and to keep the self away from things for which it may develop an inclination because when the mind fully accepts a thing the heart automatically gets inclined to it and the inner bent or liking itself becomes the mainspring of action. The spirit of complete surrender and submission is, thus, lost in its observance. It was said by the Prophet pointedly at the time of the Hajj, ‘Here I am for the Hajj with a true heart and in a spirit of obeisance and servility.’ The Prophet did not use these words for any other mode of worship including Salaat.
“Since God, in His Wisdom, has made salvation dependent upon the carrying out of duties with loyalty, devotion and humbleness the devotional acts and observances (whose inner significance is beyond the understanding of man) are more efficacious in diverting the attention from self-purification and virtuous to complete self-surrender.”)
Of the ritual of Rami Jemar, Ghazzali tells that its very essence lies in absolute submission to a Divine Command. “Its aim”, writes he, “is abstract obedience and compliance with commands, irrespective of their nature, so that complete servitude became evident. Reason or volition have nothing to do with it. It, further, signifies a resemblance with Hadhrat Ibrahim for it was at this place that the accursed Devil had tried to tempt him and to create a doubt in his mind about the Hajj pilgrimage and Hadhrat Ibrahim was inspired by God to throw pebbles at him so that he left him alone. Now, if someone were to imagine that Hadhrat Ibrahim had thrown pebbles at the Devil because he had appeared before him in reality but since, in his own case the Devil wan not to be seen, it was senseless to carry out the formality he should know that this notion, too, had been planted in his mind by the Devil in order to weaken his resolve to humble him.”
“Know that,” he goes on to stress, “Apparently you threw the Pebbles at Jemaratul Uqbah (the last Pillar) but, in fact, they hit the Devil in the face and break his back for nothing humiliates him more than the carrying out of a Divine Command solely out of reverence for Him and in a spirit of loyalty and obedience, without choice or intellect having a share in it.”
Similarly, about, Qurbani (sacrificial offering of animals) Imaam Ghazali observes:
“Know that compliance with the command of Qurbaani is a means to the propitiation of Allah. It should be carried out readily and in the hope and expectation that God, in His mercy, will protect each and every limb of yours from the fire in return for each and every limb of the animal sacrificed by you. That is how it occurs in the Traditions. The bigger the sacrificed animal is, the greater will the reward be on it.”