One of the rituals of Hajj is the throwing of pebbles at the three pillars of temptation that symbolizes Satan, when he tried to dissuade Prophet Ibrahim from carrying out the command of God.
The pile of broken umbrellas, huge rocks, and of course, rubber slip-ons of all hue piled around the pillars of temptation tell more than a story. The minor story of course is that some people come to Hajj unprepared and thus unaware what to hurl at Satan. The major story is that why only small pebbles are needed. The questions, what to hurl and why only small pebbles are closely connected.
The completion of the rites of Hajj, as we know them, was executed by Prophet Muhammad after he removed all idols from the Kabah. The objects that needed major demolition equipment had been done away and what now remain are fresh idols that keep cropping up at all times. The need for heavy demolition equipment does exist, but the heavy-duty stuff that needs to be removed are not big rocks of idols, but the rocks of corruption, greed, power, vanity and self-indulgence. The equipment needed to remove these rocks, are sincere doses of God Consciousness (Taqwa).
Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), perhaps, the foremost idol-breaker, launched a mission against idolatry when it was the absolute norm – he stood firm against the tide of idol worship and challenged this deep-rooted social norm. Today, we live amidst a tide of idols, however, these idols, although man-made like their predecessors, enjoy a form that is far more deceptive than the word idol usually conjures up for us. The modern day idols of the love for power or recognition is taking many forms, and most often these idols in the guise of current-day social norm are not only hurtful to the individual but indeed the community.
Prophet Ibrahim was confronted by the same psychological and emotional challenges that confront us: making and worshipping idols was the norm, and in his case the family’s livelihood too. This is where his greatness lies that he was able to break from these barriers and demolish the idols. Yes, there was opposition, but none from within him. He felt no fear, no hesitancy in undoing his family’s source of income. He was driven by a desire to break the shekels of idolatry and establish the worship of One true God.
The jihad (struggle) of Prophet Ibrahim is as relevant for us today, as it was thousands of years ago. Today, although it seems that no physical idols need be broken, but many idols confront us: there are still billions who are worshipping man-made idols, there are many who, drunk with power, are devastating human rights at will, and above all human beings live with false notions of wealth.
The popular ditty goes: "What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." Humanity is held in deception and awaiting Muslims to break psychological and emotional idols and free themselves and the rest from this temporal world.