Hajj - Beyond Rituals

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured Topics: Hajj Views: 14902

The concrete pillar stood yonder and as I approached it with a handful of pebbles, I felt a certain stir of emotion.

I was brought up on the foundations that there are no idols to be worshipped and that we need no props to reach our Creator, and here I stood ready to pelt an innocuous looking concrete tower, called the Big Satan with stones.

Before I stopped and renounced my obligation of doing what had been ordained, the significance of the ritual I was supposed to embark upon struck me. Yes, we needed no idols but here is Allah Subhanahu wa Taala, telling us that we need to stone this idol called Satan. This exercise meant going against the conventions that I have become used to. This exercise meant that while no props were required for reaching out to Allah, but here we were to violate this conventional wisdom by seeing a concrete pillar as the accursed one and then pelt it with stones. This was an exercise to instill in us the reality that the All-Powerful can command us to accept what is beyond reality as and when He pleases.

The shattering of this mindset also testifies to the fact that the Hajj is beyond symbolism and a set package of exercises, as many would have us assume. The mere act of stoning a concrete pillar was an act to inform us that the Hajj is not an ordinary event but an extraordinary experience where even conventions change. The rituals of Hajj are not to make the pilgrims to go mindlessly through the motions prescribed in textbooks and return home with a 'certificate' of having been there.

The act of gathering Muslims from all corners of the inhabited world is much more than making them go through a set of prescribed rituals. If it were so, then we could have been asked to gather in congregations like we do on the two Eids and conduct such an exercise.

However, the largest congregation of people on earth in a single space needs to be examined from the perspective of the Prophetic advise contained in his last Hajj sermon to the believers where he directed them to convey the message to those who were absent from this great assembly.

The fact that he said that the message be conveyed to those absent is not just an old message but it is also an obligation to experience anew and then convey this new experience to those who could not come. In a world that counts more than 1.25 billion Muslims this also means that Muslims are required to focus on the need to develop, advance and utilize means of mass communication, even if we are to suppose that only Muslims are the 'absent' ones to be addressed. In reality, the entire humanity is the real focus of this command. Thus, the Muslim responsibility stretches to not only developing means of mass communications but such means of mass communications that it will convey the message of 'Peace' to the entire humanity.

This should make the Muslims reflect on how far behind we are in fulfilling this duty, especially when we see that we did not invent the printing press nor did we excel in using it and that we neither own the networks, nor did we develop the satellites and cables that carry these networks. The need to rectify these shortcomings should be addressed from a host of aspects: the entrepreneurs must seek ways to developing media ownerships, the youth should seek the scientific empowerment to be able to develop and control new and more effective means of mass communications, and those blessed with chores of leadership need to introduce policies that encourage such pursuit.

The pillar of temptation signifies the place where Satan tried to tempt Prophet Abraham to disobey God. 

The Hajj experience starts with the donning of the Ihram, a uniform for all surpassing all socioeconomic divisions. This means that all classes that are normally held away from each other due to social barriers are now free to communicate with each other to learn and share. The coming together of so many experiences is an occasion for the Muslim Ummah to keep abreast of what is happening in the Muslim and other non-Muslim lands all over the world. The sharing of joys and pain carries another significance beyond the mere act of socialization. It needs to be understood in the light of the Qur'anic admonition that the Ummah is like one body, feeling its joys and pains. Thus, when the pilgrim from Chechnya, Palestine, Iraq or Kashmir relates his tales of sufferings, the other Muslims need to go beyond just giving him their box of Kleenex. They need to take actions that can promote justice in these areas and anywhere else where their might be suffering and injustice.

The actions required to stop things that are bad from perpetuating have been made clear by Prophet Muhammad .. If someone sees corruption taking place then they should stop it with their hands, if they cannot do that they should change the condition by speaking against it and if they cannot do that they should at least condemn it in their heart, and that is the minimum of faith.

The social dimension of Hajj is to help Muslims refocus their energies so that they do not forget what is happening the world over and take time to examine their situation. They need to examine their situation such as the inability of the Muslim leadership to respond to the growing challenges. The stones that we throw at the Satans need to picked up and recast against the barriers that block our spiritual and physical progress and development.

  Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured
  Topics: Hajj
Views: 14902

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Older Comments:
Hajj binds the whole humanity together black and white rich and poor all are equal before Allah no body is superior to his other fellow human being except of course in Taqwa as He clearly said Inna akramakum indallahi Atqakum.They all dorn the white cloth chanting together Labbaikal Lahumma Labbaik.He is the one who taught human being what he knows not Allamal Insanu malam ya alam.Unfortunately human being is so proud Kalla Innal Insan... when he sees himself indepedent not needing anything. But remember we are all heading to the same destination as one day we have to go to the grave whether we are prepared or not.So the Hajj reminds us of the Day of Judgement that one day we have to give account before our Rabb.Before that we pass through the grave after the usual interogation by the two Angels Munkar and Nakir as being interrogated by members of security or the police.Then we will all be ressurected at the same time and stand before the Lord of the Universe Rabbil Alaameen. You go alone to the grave and face whatever you have done in this short journey whether good or bad only your deeds would accompany you and no one else.So the Hajj prepares us for the short and long but strenous journey full of pit falls which we have to face, as Allah has decreed Kullu Nafsin Zaiqatil Maut every soul will taste death.Not only we the weak Human beings but even the special chosen creations of Allah called Angels including the Angel of death will all face the death.So therefore who are you weak human being?Tommorow in the grave you are nobody except if you know your Lord and followed His commands and the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W).So it is our responsibility to invite the whole humanity towards the truth.May Allah give all of us guidance,but we the Muslims must show good example and Hajj is the time to show the humanity that we are on our way to meet our Creator and we invite every one to join us so they may become successful in this life and the Hereafter.

All praise,honor and glorification is for Allah (swt)alone. May Allah (swt) grant Prophet Muhammad (puh)the highest level of paradise. Thank you for your compelling, beautiful article. May Allah (swt) compel our Muslim leadership to respond with strength and may He (swt) bless you richly.

The reason that I am against this article is that the writer has forgotten a point, wa Allaahu Alim. While he is correct that it is for Allaah Ta'Alaa to legislate what is accepted and rejected in the religion that He approves, and only for Allaah to do this, through the words of His Rasul, sall'Allaahu alayhe wa salaam, we know that among other things, the shaytan feels every pelting of every stone that we throw against him, that he is accursed, rejected, punished, pained, by every act of obedience that the children of Adam, alayhe salaam, do in obedience to Allaah Ta'Alaa and he refused and refuses to do.
But no doubt the writer forgot. And we all forget, being human. May Allaah forgive me and him and all who strive in obedience to Him. Ameen.

Whilst surfing the net in quest of inspiration for my Eid-ul-Adha Khutba, I came across this article. A well-written and thought-provoking article. I particularly liked the analogy used in comparing the stones we throw at Satan to the barriers that block our progress and development. May Allah Reward the author, and any other contributor, for such an inspiring and forward-looking view.


Just for correction:
maybe this brother can not see the logic of what he says:

"there are no IDOLS to be WORSHIPPED"
later he said:

"Yes, we needed no idols but here is Allah Subhanahu wa Taala, telling us that we need to stone this idol called Satan..."

Not worshipping Idol and stoning in direction of a pillar, can never ever contradict one another.

instead of asking scholars in Makkah to enlight you and make your Hajj based on facts not your thoughts, you prefered to stay AS IS...Subhana Allah, He gives wisdom to whom He likes... your pen wrote here unconscious message to the whole Islamic world saying "I don't know that much about Hajj, but I did it"

congratulation brother :). May Allah accepts your Hajj and the conventional wisdom requires you to learn alots about Hajj for next time. Insha Allah.

Yaa Allah, overcome our mistakes and help us, without your help we are just easy prey for satan. Ameen

Please IslamiCity please..

"Yes, we needed no idols but here is Allah Subhanahu wa Taala, telling us that we need to stone this idol called Satan."

This is absurd, where did Allah or Muhammad (SAW) said ...when we do stoning at Hajj we stone Satan! Well may be the hujja exists I may not know, I stand to be educated. Even from the name of the activity itself no where is it mentioned as "jamratul Shaitan" why this connotation then? May be you may go forward to explain the kissing of the black stone, also.

My humble submission is that these are part of what Allah mentioned as "mutashabihat". If you are a good Muslim (one who submits to Allah) then u go ahead and perform the rituals, Why you do them should not bother you the least not to talk of interpreting them.

As I said I stand to be corrected: ..Hatu Burhanakum...

This is wisdom filled attempt at talking to the inner dimension of us all. A dawah that will cross barrier of faith and hit at the intellectual base of our being. The jamrat looked at simply can raise some devilish questions except if assessed beyond the obvious- as yor article really did. Jazakumllaah khaira.

The section of the message (thoughts) of the spoken one about muhammad's last sermon and that it should be told to those that were absent. If it is the same one I am remembering, muhammad adds that those who are absent might understand it more than those that were there. (Not a quote, the meaning.) Why is this omitted? My soul being committed to islamic belief (by HOLY allah's grace) has to question something about the pelting of the stones against a piece of "concrete" that is supposed to represent shaytaan's temptations. It reminds me of the adulterous woman about to be stoned. By men. And Iesa telling the men to let the one of them who is without sin cast the first stone. Throwing stones at shaytaan's temptation's will not make them go away. The last Surah in the HOLY qur'an tells us that when tempted by shaytaan that the rememberance of HOLY allah will make them go away. Thus it is repentance and remembering HOLY allah that keep us safe from shaytaan. I understand I lack the knowledge of those brought up in muslim surroundings. Yet the word of HOLY allah cannot contradict itself. The words of the prophets (given by HOLY grace) must harmonize and not contradict each other. Thanks for the place and space to ask and answer in communications. It is a blessing and much to be gratefull for. I pray for the true teaching of Islam to be more in the usa and more muslims to be here. This is my belief and there are few here that are true believers. Inshallah, HOLY allah can change this capitalist place for the better. Thank you.

I so very much like the idea that pebbles have to be "recast against the barriers". I would like to expand and say that pebbles in this case are not necessarily physical rocks. They can be embodied in research for better scientific presence (we mignt not have invented the printer, but we sure did invent many of the modern sciences), we can use this stone agaisnt our stagnant scientific advancement. They can be artucles to denouce or remind a leadership of its historical role to re-create or destroy an entire umma. Pebbles can a militantism or jihad against the soul and its negative inclinations.
While I commend you vividly for seeing this ritual in a larger way than just hitting a cement cone in Hajj, I'd like to draw your attention that it does not go against the conventional wisdom. Islam states there are (or there should be) no idols to "WORSHIP". It does not deny there are endless numbers of idols to fight. Satan is the leader of idols muslim fight everyday. We are told to say "a3oudo billah mina shaitan arrajim" before we read the quran, when we do something wrong, or when we forget something, etc... Everytime we utter those words seeking divine protection against Satan we are casting pebbles against the unfmaous idol. God also informs us in teh quran that "Wa ja3alnaha Roujouman li Shayateen." God created star that hit Shayateen continously. The Hajj ritual is sybloic of all this ongoing struggle against an evil that swore by teh almighty's power, he will set u astray; away from "sirataka Lmoustaqim".
The ritual is in the heart and goes along with the teachings of Islam. There is hardly anything in the teachings that goes against conventional wisdom.
Allah is behind my intentions. I ask Him to reward you highly for your concerns for our Umma and to forgive me/us for mispeaking if we did at all. He is All-Aware and All-Able to reward. Wa Salat wa salam 3ala Mohammed wa Alih wa sahbihi Amen.

The article expresses the wish & hope of what the Muslim Ummah should have achieved. In finding answers to the Ummah's current problems, we should know the current condition of the Ummah. For example, majority of the Ummah, more than 60%, is uneducated or under-educated, and is poor. This condition of ignorance is ripe for religious manipulation and conversion schemes. The other 40% is trapped into materialistic greed, political corruption and partnering with other corrupt powers to enjoy dictatorships and tyrranical power mongering. Thus, the true belivers are a small minority with a mountain-size problem to bring Islaah to the Ummah. Education of the masses is the first step and the biggest step. Can we come together to form a large Educational Strategy Think Tank and implementation organization for world-wide work. May Allaah swt guide and help us. I volunteer myself to this immense task, and welcome sincere partners.

Assalamu alaikum Ilove your article,i will like you to continue sending me this article.

We can not forget that after we throw the tiny
pebbles at the three pillars of temptation, satan
is constantly throwing his forces at the Three major religions. His aim is to break the faith of Muslims ,Christians and Jews.

As-salaamu alaikum;
The writer is to the point. And the barriers that we erect within our minds need to be broken with the stone hard blows of Allah's truth, as exemplified in the uswahtoon hasan of His final Prophet, Muhammad (s.).

We need to know and understand his life and the life of his sahabah in order to develop into the Adam that he created us to be. We must learn to overcome the evil insinuations within ourselves by stoning them with the Qur'an.

May Allah help us, lead, govern, guide, protect and sustain us until we reach his goal(s) for us members of the family of Adam? Amin.

excellent article
We need to start purification of the heart at home and in the family. Then our friends and neighbours and rest of our community. Then comes the big challenge. The will and determination to stone our self appointed leaders and the puppets of imperialism.Until we do not destroy these symbols and representaives of colonialism we wil be encapsulated within the mindset of subservience . Its time to pull out your Ahya al Uloom and do some self search.

Asslamualiekum I love your artical please send me more I like to read those artical.
Thank You and Happy Eid


The Article is informative and well thought out . I must only disagree with the premise that it is "OK" to believe in an Idol as long as we are being told by Allah it is something we must do. If one recognizes that a symbol ("Idol") is such a thing then they must by all means get rid of it, deny it. Rationalizing our thoughts to believe something other than what Allah has ordained is a dangerous business that has led to the downfall of past believers.

People usually seem more interested in throwing pebbles at somebody else's choice of barriers. Perhaps the point could be that the pebbles ought to be thrown at whatever the throwers (themselves) find tempting - whenever such temptation comes between the throwers (themselves) and their Lord. In the final analysis perhaps throwing pebbles at somebody else's choice of barriers would prove insufficient for the Muslim.


Bdorg, your statement was like taking 1 step ahead and 5 steps back. The "They hate us" nonsense is pretty old now, has been proven incredibly erroneous and displays the usual midwestern ignorance. The Taliban never hated us, why would they, after all we armed them to the teeth to kick out the occupying communist Soviet forces. It was our Stinger missiles that changed the course of war or 'occupation' rather. It was us who invited the Taliban to DC and to Texas to pen off a $4.5 Billion oil pipeline security deal, which collapsed when things did not go our way. In fact Ronald Regan introduced them to the press. If you claim they harbored Osama, you will recall that Osama was our guy. It was Osama who represented US interests in Afghanistan during Soviet occupation. We endeared Osama to the Afghanis with "Join the Jihad" pamphlets from the State Dept dumped on every Mosque from Kabul, Afghanistan and to Karachi, Pakistan and even Mosques in Michigan and New York. After 9-11 when our foreign policy changed to reflect our "deep" concerns for US & Israeli security - and oil of course, we naturally fully expected the Afghanis to abandon the earlier "Love Osama" programming to "Hate Osama" programming- overnight. Ignoring the religious, cultural and historical significance of Islamic brotherhood, we then set about bombing to kingdom come, an impoverished bunch of rag tag guys who did not even have shoes on their feet and upon achieving "victory" we swaggered like the Texas Rangers whooping it up after stomping on some kids in a day care center. Emboldened by our "victory" in Afghanistan we went on to pursue our new found oil/Evangelical/Israeli policy concerns agenda to Iraq where we continued the massacre, torture, rape and looting, which Europeans and Asians view on their TV sets each day. Blown up kids, torture victims, crying raped women, remains of executed detainees. Why do they hate us? No we hate them.


May Allah's Peace and Mercy be upon all, and may Allah give Mankind Hidaya. The Muslim Ummah must wake up and meet the challenges of this world head on! Let us scrape away the rust on our hearts and become true believers for whom no challenge is too big.
Peace be upon all.

KEDI said:
I hope we can get more of this just to explain to muslims as well as non muslims what Isalam is all about. Thank you


No muslim hate other people of any faith. This the one of the basic teachings of ISLAM (REFER-Quran- chapter-109 Kaafiroon.)

All they do not like is double or multiple standard policies against muslims(including vetoing innumerable UN resolutions)

Let them live in peace,prosper, and let them follow their faith.(Do not send missionaries taking advantaage of conditions or creating such conditions.)

This is all propaganda to grab the resources- oil, gas,wealth, faith etc) of Muslim countries.

Show me the example where muslims in the world were saved or rescued from NON-MUSLIMS...-NO-

In fact muslims were killed,tortured,abused directly or indirectly(Iran/Iran war,Gulf War where Muslims against muslims indirectly).

GOD (ALLAH)is great and watching you and all. Beware of HIS WRATH.

this artical has cleared up my thinking on islam, i know now that sept. eleventh wasn't islams doing, it was just people of the taliban that hate the us