Haj and its important rituals

Updated 20 August 2016

Haj and its important rituals

This is the concluding part of article on Haj.

AS you near the miqat, your heart will tremble and tremor. Is this really happening? Is my heart getting closer and closer to His House? Soon you will enter Allah’s haram. It is only fitting that you enter into a state, both externally and internally, that justly corresponds to this honor. Beyond the miqat, there is only talbiyah.
The essence of Haj is the journey of our hearts away from the house of our lower selves (nafs) with its passions, inclinations (ahwa) and attachment to the created world to the haram and, ultimately, the House of Allah. We must leave these temporal attachments to receive the greatest divine connection. We must leave to arrive. Ihram is from haram. Both meanings, to be sacred and to be forbidden, are carried in it. Through the ihram, the heart is meant to leave the temporary and the finite — to make it, in a sense, “forbidden” — and to prepare for the sacred audience of Allah’s presence.

Beginning talbiyah
One enters into ihram with talbiyah. Talbiyah is the heart’s most profound surrender to the invitation and call of Allah: Here I come to You, my Lord, here I come — fully and forever. With the talbiyah, we proclaim that no associate or attachment will distract us from seeking Allah. Our hearts will not see, hear, obey, or be lured to another, besides Him. The recitation of this talbiyah is to be said with constancy and conviction, and not intermittently and infrequently.

Mina
Mina, or Muna, means desire, hope, longing. Some texts teach that it was in Muna that Adam (peace be upon him) longed and desired to journey back home to paradise and to be, once again, in Allah’s presence. It is in Muna that the journey begins. The day spent in Muna, termed the day of tarwiyah (meaning, in part, to quench, to drink to one’s fill), is meant for our heart to focus on the aim of their journey, to gather in resolution and focus, and to begin our inner momentum toward the House of Allah.

Arafat
Arafat means to know, to understand. Another verb scale conveys the meaning of perfuming, making fragrant, scenting. Arafat is the essential pillar of Haj; without Arafat there is no Haj. Arafat is the cleansing station outside the haram where we stand and seek forgiveness for all that we’ve committed in our lives. We beg and implore Allah to make us worthy of entering into His haram, visiting His House and being in His presence. Here, on Arafat, we learn two things. As we acknowledge our disobedience, our sins, our rebelliousness and our forgetfulness, we know our unworthiness as true servants. We reveal everything to Allah, minor or major, Who knows already but simply wants us to admit with true transparency and sincerity what we are inside of our selves.

Muzdalifa
Muzdalifa, from the Arabic root izdilaf, means to approach, to get closer. It’s is a second station of cleansing and purification. The pilgrim is now closer to the Kaaba. We remain in supplication after fajr, imploring Allah again for pardon and guidance. Some scholars have said that in Muzdalifa, Allah also forgives our violations against the rights of others. Such violations are not usually forgiven unless, in addition to seeking forgiveness, we remedy what has been violated.
Muna and the casting of pebbles
During the Haj of Ibrahim (peace be upon him), he was commanded to sacrifice his son. Allah, of course, never intended that the slaughter take place. Allah wanted, instead, to purify and free Ibrahim from every love and every attachment besides Him. It was in Muna that the shaitan attempted to waylay Ibrahim from sacrificing his son. Ibrahim cast pebbles at the shaitan to reject his designs and prompting. In casting the pebbles, the pilgrim affirms Allah’s greatness over everything and covenants with Allah that he or she will never regress to anything which displeases Him. Casting the pebbles is the casting away of shaitan, the lower self (nafs) with its desires, inclinations and evil, and, ultimately, casting away everything besides Allah.

Tawaf Al-Ifadah
Ifadah means to flood, to rush, to move. The movement from Arafat to the Haram is called ifadah. The rite of tawaf that takes place after the casting of the pebbles, the sacrifice and the shaving of the head is likewise termed Tawaaf Al-Ifadah.

Sai between Safa and Marwa
Sai means to work, to strive, to act. We remember in sai the actions of Hajar (peace be upon him) as she climbed, walked and ran up both Safa and Marwa looking for sustenance for her starving child.

Days and nights in Mina
During our stay in Mina, we re-affirm and re-declare our desire and hope for spiritual freedom by casting pebbles for three days. Each casting of the pebbles cements our resolution to contain and confine both the lower self and shaitan. You remain in Muna as Allah’s guest.

Concluded
— duai.co.za


Gospels lead us to the Qur’an

Updated 23 September 2016

Gospels lead us to the Qur’an

Brandon Yusuf Toropov gives a vivid account of his personal quest to study the most authentic verses of the Bible — the Q verses — and his coming into the fold of Islam. Thhis is the concluding part of his story.

I WAS interested in the research being done that indicated that the oldest strata of the Gospels reflected an extremely early oral source known as Q (the Q source: Q from German, Quelle, meaning ‘source,’ is a hypothetical written collection of Jesus’s sayings) and that each of the individual sayings of Jesus (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) needed to be evaluated on its own merits, and not as part of the narrative material that surrounded it. This is because that narrative material was added many years later.

Wresting with the doctrine of the Trinity: The more I looked at these sayings, the more impossible it became for me to reconcile the notion of the Trinity with that which seemed most authentic to me in the Gospels. I found myself face-to-face with some very difficult questions. Where in the Gospels did Jesus use the word “Trinity”? If Jesus was God, as the doctrine of the Trinity claims, why did he worship God? And, if Jesus was God, why in the world would he say something like the following? “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark, 10:18) Did he somehow forget that he himself was God when he said this?

The Holy Qur’an: In November of 2002, I began to read a translation of the Qur’an. I had never read an English translation of the entire text of the Qur’an before. I had only read summaries of the Qur’an written by non-Muslims. (And very misleading summaries at that.)
Words do not adequately describe the extraordinary effect that this book had on me. Suffice to say that the very same magnetism that had drawn me to the Gospels at the age of 11 was present in a new and deeply imperative form. This book was telling me, just as I could tell Jesus had been telling me, about matters of ultimate concern. The Qur’an was offering authoritative guidance and compelling responses to the questions I had been asking for years about the Gospels.
“It is not (possible) for any human being to whom God has given the Book and wisdom and prophethood to say to the people: ‘Be my worshippers rather than God’s.’ On the contrary, (he would say): ‘Be devoted worshippers of your Lord, because you are teaching the Book and you are studying it.’ Nor would he order you to take angels and prophets for lords. Would he order you to disbelieve after you have submitted to God’s will?” (Qur’an, 3:79-80)
The Qur’an drew me to its message because it so powerfully confirmed the sayings of Jesus that I felt in my heart had to be authentic. Below, you will find just a few examples of the parallels that made my heart pliant to the worship of God. Each Gospel verse comes from the reconstructed text known as Q, a text that today’s scholars believe represents the earliest surviving strata of the teachings of the Messiah. Note how close this material is to the Qur’anic message.

On monotheism: In Q, Jesus endorses a rigorous monotheism. “Get thee behind me, Satan: For it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’” (Luke, 4:8) Compare: “Children of Adam, did We not command you not to worship Satan? He was your sworn enemy. Did We not command you to worship Me and tell you that this is the straight path?” (Qur’an, 36:60-61)

On Aqaba: Q identifies a right path that is often difficult, a path that unbelievers will choose not to follow. “Enter ye in through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there are who go in there. Narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew, 7:13-14) Compare: “The worldly life is made to seem attractive to the disbelievers who scoff at the faithful, but the pious, in the life Hereafter, will have a position far above them…” (Qur’an, 2:212)

On Taqwa: Q warns us to fear only the judgment of God. “And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear. Fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath the power to cast into Hell. Yea, I say unto you, fear Him!” (Luke, 12:4-5) Compare: “To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. God’s retribution is severe. Should you then have fear of anyone other than God?” (Qur’an, 16:52)

Earthly life: In Q, Jesus warns humanity plainly that earthly advantages and pleasures should not be the goal of our lives: “Woe unto you that are rich! For you have received your consolation. Woe unto you who are full! You shall be hungry. Woe unto you who laugh now! You shall weep and mourn.” (Luke, 6:24) Compare: “The desire to have increase of worldly gains has preoccupied you so much (that you have neglected the obligation of remembering God) – until you come to your graves! You shall know. You shall certainly know (about the consequences of your deeds.) You will certainly have the knowledge of your deeds beyond all doubt. You will be shown hell, and you will see it with your own eyes. Then, on that day, you shall be questioned about the bounties (of God).” (Qur’an, 102:1-8)

Crucifixion: We are left then with an amazing early Gospel, a Gospel that (non-Muslim) scholars believe is historically closest to Jesus, a Gospel that has the following characteristics: Agreement with the Qur’an’s uncompromising message of God’s Oneness; agreement with the Qur’an’s message of an afterlife of salvation or hellfire ... based on our earthly deeds; agreement with the Qur’an’s warning not to be misled by dunya, the attractions and pleasures of worldly life. A complete absence of any reference to Christ’s death on the cross, resurrection, or sacrifice for humanity! This is the Gospel that today’s most advanced non-Muslim scholars have identified for us ... and this Gospel is pointing us, if only we will listen to it, in precisely the same direction as the Qur’an! I became a Muslim on March 20, 2003. It became obvious to me that I had to share this message with as many thoughtful Christians as I could.
Concluded
Islamreligion.com