The Merit of Pilgrimage (Hajj)

The Merit of Pilgrimage (Hajj)

from The Book On The Secrets Of Pilgrimage (Kitab ‘asrar Alhajj)
By ‘Abu Hamid Muhammad Alghazali  رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰهُ‎

In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful, Praise be to God Who has made the confession of [Divine] Unity a fortress and a bulwark for His servants; and has made the Ancient House [ka’ba] a resort for mankind and a place of safety; and has dignified it in relation to Himself, honouring it, fortifying it, and bestowing his favour upon it. And He has made the visiting of it and the circumambulation around it a [protective] veil between the worshipper and the Torment, and [has made it] a shield. The Blessing [of God] be upon Muhammad the Apostle of mercy and the Master; of the Community may he be granted abundant peace as well as his close relatives and companions.

Now then, the Pilgrimage is one of the Pillars and Foundations of Islam, the act of worship of a lifetime, the seal of all that is commanded, the perfection of Islam, and the completion of religion. Concerning it God the Most High has revealed his statement “This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion” (5: 4). And concerning it the Prophet – the blessing of God be upon him – said, “Whoever dies without, having performed the Pilgrimage let him die, if he wish, either a Jew or a Christian.” How exalted is that act of worship without which religion is lacking in perfection, and the evader of which is equal in, waywardness to Jews and Christians: [Such a worship] deserves that much attention be devoted to explaining it and to detailing its essential elements (‘arkan), its proprieties, its merits, and its mysteries. 

Allah said [to ‘Abraham], “And proclaim unto mankind the Pilgrimage. They will come to thee on foot, and on every lean camel, coming by every distant tract” (22 : 27). Qatada said, “When God the Most High commanded ‘Abraham the Peace and Blessing of God be upon him and upon our Prophet and upon every chosen servant of God to proclaim unto mankind the Pilgrimage, he proclaimed, “0 People, God the Most High has built a House; go to it on Pilgrimage.” God the Most High said. “That they may witness [it’s] benefits for them” [22 : 28]. It was [once] said, “The business is during the season [of Pilgrimage], and the reward is in the hereafter.” One of the early fathers [Salaf] commented when he heard this: “By the Lord of the Ka’ba, surely they be forgiven.” It has been said by way of interpretation of the saying of God the Most High, “Now, since Thou hast adjudged me as lost, I will assuredly lie in wait for them on Thy straight path” [7 : 18] that [this saying refers to] the path to Mecca [and that it is] Satan who lies in wait so as to bar people from it. [The Prophet]the Blessing of God upon him said,”Whoever performs Pilgrimage to the House without foul talk or iniquity is free from sin[literally: departs from his sins] as [he was] on the day his mother bore him.” And the Prophet the Blessing Of God be upon him also said, “Satan has never been seen as to be more mean, or humiliated, or miserable or vexed that on the day of Arafat.” That is solely because of what he sees of the revelation of the mercy and forbearance of God may He be praised toward grave sins. Thus it is said, “There are some sins which are expiated, only by the standing on Mount ‘Arafat.” Jafar Ibn Muhammad has attributed this saying to the Apostle of God – upon whom be the blessing of God.

One of those pious persons (mugarrabin) who have insight [into the unseen] related that ‘Ib1isGod curse him appeared to him once at Mount ‘Arafat in the shape of a person. As his body was frail, his colour pallid, his eyes tearful, and his back broken, [The pious man] said to him, “What has made your eyes tearful?” He answered, “The going forth of pilgrims without [any intention of doing] business Isay, they are intent [on Pilgrimage alone]; I fear they will not be disappointed, and that makes me sad.” “What has made your body frail?” The [pious man] asked. He said, “The neighing of horses for the sake of God the Most High. Had it been for my sake, that would have been more to my liking.” The [pious man] said, “What has changed your colour?” He said, Cooperation of people in obedience [to God]; had they cooperated in disobedience, that would have been more to my liking.” “What has caused your back to be broken?” the [pious man] asked. He answered, “the saying of a worshipper, [O God].”I ask of You a good end. ‘I say, Woe to me.’ When that man becomes pleased with his[good] deeds, I fear that he might become aware [of his own conceit].”

The Prophet the Blessing and Peace of God be upon him said,”Whoever sets out on the Greater or LesserPilgrimage and dies [before completing the Pilgrimage], will until the Day of Resurrection be awarded with the award of a pilgrim. And whoever dies in one of the two shrines will not be exposed [to Judgment] or made to give an account. To him it will be said, “Enter into Paradise,” And the Prophet the Blessing and Peace of God be upon him said,”One Pilgrimagewhich is accepted [in the sight of God] is better than the whole world and what is in it; a Pilgrimage which is accepted [in God’s sight] has no reward but Paradise.”

And he the Blessing and Peace of God be upon him – [also] said, “those who go on the Greater or lesser Pilgrimage are a delegation of God Almighty and His visitors. If they ask [something] of Him, He grants [it] to them; if they beg His forgiveness, He forgives them; if they voice their supplication, it is granted to them; and if they intercede [on behalf of anyone], their intercession is granted.” A saying [of the Prophet]transmitted by [members of the Prophet’s] household [declares]: “The most sinful man is the one who, though standing on ‘Arafat, thought that God has not forgiven him.”

Ibn ‘Abbas, may God be pleased with them [the son and the father], reported that the Prophet the Blessing and Peace of God be upon him said, “Everyday one hundred and twenty mercies descend on this House [i.e.the Ka’ba]; of these, sixty are for those who circumambulate [it], fourty for those who [merely] pray [before it], and twenty for those who [merely] gaze [at it].” In [another] tradition [we find the following]: “Circumambulate the House often for it is among the most important things that you will find on your record [lit. sheets] on the Day of Resurrection, and [it is, moreover,] the most delightful deed you will find.” For this reason, it is commendable first to do the circumambulation [independently] without [doing] the Greater or Lesser Pilgrimage, In [still another] tradition [we read]: “Whoever circumambulates: [the House] seven times, barefooted and bareheaded, is rewarded as though he had freed a slave, and whoever circumambulates [the House] seven times amid rain is forgiven of sins previously committed.” It is said that whenever God the Most High pardons His servant for a sin during the time [of ‘Arafat], He [olso] during that time pardons for that [same] sin all those who have committed it.

One of the Fathers (Salaf) said, “If the day of ‘Arafat coincides with Friday, all the people [who have stood] at ‘Arafat are pardoned [of their sins]. Such [a day] is the most excellent of days in this [earth ly] life; it was on such [a day] that the ProphettheBlessing and Peace of God be upon him performed his farewell pilgrimage, and he was standing [at ‘Arafat]when the, [following] words of God Almighty were revealed[to Him]: “This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion.”[5 : 4] The people of the Book said, “Had this verse been revealed to us, we would have made it a feast day.”‘Umar, may God be pleased with him, said, “I testify that it was revealed to the Apostle of God the Blessing and Peace of God be upon him on a day of two feasts: the Day of ‘Arafat the Day of Gathering [i.e. Friday], when he was standing at ‘Arafat.” The Prophet the Blessing and Peace of God be upon him said,”0 God, forgive the pilgrim and the man for whom the pilgrim asks forgiveness.”

It is reported. that `Ali Ibn Muwaffaq performed several pilgrimages on behalf of the Prophet the Blessing and Peace of God be upon him. He said, “I saw the Apostle of God the Blessing and Peace of God be upon him in the dream and said to me, “0 Ibn Muwaffaq, have you performed pilgrimages on my behalf ?” ‘Yes’ I said. He said, ‘And did you say L A B B A Y K A on my behalf?’ I replied, ‘Yes.’ He said, I will reward you on the Day of Resurrection when I will take you by the hand in the “stopping place” and let you enter the Paradise while all the people are in agony of the Judgment.” Mujahid and some other scholars said, “When pilgrims reach Mecca they are met by angels who greet those who ride Camels, shake hands with those who ride donkeys, and embrace those who come on foot.”

Al Hassan said, “Whoever dies immediately after Ramadan, or after a war, or after the Pilgrimage dies as a martyr.”And ‘Umar, may God be pleased with him, said, “The pilgrim is forgiven his sins as well as he for whom he has sought forgiveness during the months of Dhu al-Hijja, al-Muharram, Safar and twenty days of Rabi’ all ‘Awwal.”

It was the custom of the Fathers may God be pleased with them in bidding farewell to warriors, and in receiving pilgrims, to kiss [them] between the eyes and to ask for their prayers, and they has tened to do this [in the case of pilgrims] lest they become polluted with sins.

`Ali Ibn Muwaffaq is reported to have said, “I performed the Pilgrimage one year, and when it was the night of ‘Arafat I slept in the Mosque of al-Khaifat Mina. I saw in my dream as though two angels clothed in green came down from the sky. Then one of them called to the other, ‘0 slave of Gods, and he [the other] replied, Here am I. [Lab bayka], 0 slave of God”. The former continued, ‘Do you know how many performed pilgrimage to the house of our lord the Most High this year?’ ‘I do not know’, he answered. ‘Six hundred thousand have performed the pilgrimage to the House of our Lord’, the other said, but do you know how many of them were accepted?’ He said, ‘No.’Six persons?, the other concluded. Then they ascended into the air and disappeared from me, and I woke up in fright. I was very much distressed and my condition greatly disturbed. Then I said [to myself], ‘If the pilgrimage of [only] six persons has been accepted where am I among the six?’ Then, after I had left ‘Arafat I stayed for a while at Mash’ar al-Haram,and I began to meditate upon the multitude of people [who attended that year’s pilgrimage as compared to] the small number who were accepted. I fell asleep, and all of a sudden there were [before me] the two figures having descended [again] in their [same] form. And one of them called the other repeating the same words [as before]. Then he said, ‘Do you know What decision has our Lord made this night?’ ‘No’, the other said. He said, ‘He has given every one of the six a hundred thousand.’ Then, I woke up with such rejoicing as cannot be described.”

[Ali Ibn Muwaffaq] may God be pleased with him is also reported to have said, “I performed a pilgrimage one year;when I completed the rites I began thinking about those whose pilgrimage was not accepted and said, ‘0 God, I donate my pilgrimage and its reward to the one whose pilgrimage was not accepted. Then I saw the Lord of glory in my sleep, and He said to me, ‘0 ‘Ali, are you [pretending to be] more liberal than I when I am the Creator of liberality and generosity, and am the most liberal of the liberal and the most generous of the generous, and the more deserving of generosity and liberality than the all created beings. I donate all those whose pilgrimage I did not accept to those [whose pilgrimage] I did accept!”