The Prophet’s Haj step by step

Adil Salahi | Arab News
Publication Date: 
Fri, 2008-10-31 03:00

All Muslims know that to follow the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in matters of religion is required as a duty. To follow him in other aspects is always good and fruitful, except where he expressly stated that what he did was specific to him. In as far as offering the pilgrimage is concerned, we have no option but to follow his guidance. As he started his pilgrimage, he said: “Learn from me your rituals.” This is an all-embracing Hadith that makes clear that the way the Prophet did his pilgrimage is the proper way we should all follow. We have a very detailed Hadith narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah telling us of everything the Prophet did on his pilgrimage. In this first of six articles we will be perusing this Hadith and, where necessary, adding comments to provide a full picture that helps us in offering this great act of worship. Jabir reports:

“God’s Messenger (peace be upon him) stayed (in Madinah) nine years without offering the pilgrimage. In his tenth year in Madinah it was announced to all people that God’s Messenger would be offering the pilgrimage. Many people flocked to Madinah seeking to follow the Prophet’s guidance and to do like him.”

Several reasons led to the delay of the Prophet’s offering of the pilgrimage. In the first few years of his stay in Madinah, he could not have traveled to Makkah, while the Quraysh, its inhabitants, were raising one army after another to fight him. When Makkah fell to Islam toward the end of Year 8, the Prophet chose not to offer the pilgrimage the following year because he did not wish to see the abominable practices of the unbelievers which they introduced into the pilgrimage, such as being naked when doing the tawaf. In Year 9, Abu Bakr was the leader of the pilgrimage and a ban was declared prohibiting idolaters from coming to Makkah for pilgrimage, and banning the practice of doing the tawaf naked. With that done, the pilgrimage could be offered in the proper Islamic way, and this is what the Prophet did. With him was no less than one hundred thousand people, all eager to offer this great act of worship with him.

“We went out with him until we arrived at Dhul-Hulayfah where Asma’ bint Umays gave birth to Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr. She sent a message to the Prophet asking what she should do (considering that she would be in her postnatal period). He told her to have a bath and to wrap herself properly (putting a wide piece of cloth at the place of discharge, tying both ends from the front and the back and sticking that wrapping tight to a belt she has around her waist.) She could then enter into ihraam, or consecration. The Prophet offered his prayers at the mosque there and mounted his she-camel, Al-Qaswa’. When his she-camel was well into the desert, I looked up and saw all around me people walking or riding animals, accompanying him. I could not see the end of them in any direction: Front or rear, right or left. The Prophet was with us receiving Qur’anic revelations, the interpretation of which we knew very well. Whatever he did, we did likewise. He raised his voice with phrases stressing God’s oneness: Labbayk Allahumma labbayk. Labbayk Laa shareeka laka labbayk. Inna al-hamda wal-ni’mata laka wal-mulk. Laa shareeka lak. People raised their voices with whatever praises they wished to repeat, and the Prophet did not take exception to any of that. He, however, maintained his own form of talbiyah.”

A woman’s discharge, whether menstrual or postnatal, does not stop her from offering the pilgrimage. She can indeed perform all the duties and rituals required, but she obviously cannot offer her prayers. She is exempt from these. Here we have the detailed guidance the Prophet gave to Asma’ making clear that she could conduct her pilgrimage easily, but she must not do any tawaf until she has been cleansed of all discharge. It should be noted that she gave birth to her son shortly after departure from Madinah, when she arrived at the point of meeqat, which is Dhul-Hulayfah or Abyar Ali as it is better known nowadays. The ruling given to her applies to all women who start such discharge at any time during their pilgrimage. We also learn that there could be different forms of declaring our response to God’s call to do the pilgrimage. However, the Prophet’s preferred form is the one that millions of pilgrims repeat all the time.

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