Circumambulation to Achieve the Pilgrimage Accepted by God

Wahba Mahmoud Diyab

For our spiritual growth are provided symbols and means of expressions in our ordinary lives. Such is the Pilgrimage, meant to gather men and women from far and near to share in sacrifice, prayer, and praise, in age-old centre worship. The sacrifices –too- are symbols of Piety of Heart, a longing to share with fellow-men in the bounties of God. In the Fight for Truth is testing our purity of motives, unselfishness of aim, and devotion to Right at the cost of Self. Fearless must we fight; for Truth has often been flouted, but must finally win.
So let us follow the revelations and virtues indicated in them regarding the Pilgrimage and its ordinance.
Here are verses (23-38 from Surat Al-Hajj 22- where Pilgrimage is ordained:

God will admit those who believe and do work righteous deeds, to Gardens/Paradises beneath which rivers flow; they shall be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and pearls; and their garments there will be of silk. (23) 
 And they are guided [in this life] to the purest of speeches, and they have been guided to the Path of Him, Who is Worthy of all Praise. (24)
Verily, those who disbelieved and hinder (men) from the Path/Way of God and from the Sacred Mosque which We have made (open) to (all) men, equal to the dweller in it and the visitor from the country, and any whose purpose therein is profanity or wrong-doing, then We Will cause him to taste from a painful torment/a most grievous penalty. (25)
Behold! (and remember) when We Gave (showed) the site of the Sacred House to Ibrahim; saying:” do not associate anything –in worship- with Me. And sanctify My House for those who circumambulates it, and those who stand up (performing prayers), and those who bow (submit themselves with humility and obedience to God, and prostrate themselves in prayer. (26)
And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men /mankind they will come to you on foot and mounted on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant mountain highway (to perform Hajj). (27)
That they may witness the benefits provided for them (the Hajj) and celebrate the name of God, through an appointed days (10th, 11th, 12th, and 13thDhul-Hijja) over the cattle which He has provided for them (for sacrifice),[at the time of slaughtering by saying: {Bismillah, Wallahu-Akbar, Allahumma Minka Wa-Elaik}. Then eat thereof and feed therewith the poor, distressed, ones in want. (28)
Then let them complete rites prescribed for them, and perform their vows, and circumambulate the Ancient House (Al-Ka’aba).(29)
Such (is the Pilgrimage) and whosoever honors the sacred rites of God it is good for him in the sight of his Lord. And lawful to you (for food in pilgrimage) are cattle (live-stock), except those mentioned to you (as exceptions). But shun the abomination of idols, and shun the word that is false.(30)
Being true in Faith to God, and never assigning/associating partners to Him. And whosoever assigns partners to God he (will be) as if he had fallen from the sky/heaven and snatched up by birds, or the wind had swooped (like a bird on its prey) and thrown him into a far-distant place. (31)
Such (is the state); and whoever holds in honors the Symbols of God (in the sacrifice of animals), such [honor] should come truly from piety of heart. (32)
In them (the cattle offered for sacrifice), are benefits for you for an appointed term- then afterwards their place (for sacrifice) is near the Ancient House. (33)
And for every nation We have appointed rites/ceremonies (for sacrifice) that they may celebrate the name of God over the sustenance (cattle) He Gave them (fit for food). [And remember] your God is One, and then submit your wills to Him in Islam, and (O’ Muhammad) give glad tidings to those who humble themselves. (34)
To those whose hearts are filled with fear when God is mentioned, who show patient perseverance over their afflictions, and keep-up regular prayers, and who spend (in charity/in God’s Cause) out of what We Have bestowed upon them.  (35)
(and) The sacrificial camels We have made for you as among the Symbols from God, in them is (much) good for you, then pronounce the name of God over them when they down on their sides (after slaughtering), eat thereof and feed the one (who is not begging) live in contentment, and such who beg with due humility; thus have made animals subject to you that you may be grateful. (36)
It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches God; but it is your piety that reaches Him; thus He has made them subject to you, that you may glorify God for His Guidance to you and proclaim the good tidings to all the beneficent/doers of good. (37)
Verily, God will defend those who believe, Verily, God do not love any that is traitor to faith, or shows ingratitude. (38)

Also verses 158 + 196-203 from Surat Al-Bagara 2- and commentary:

Verily, As-Safa and Al-Marwa (two mountains in Mecca) are among the Symbols of God. So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or Umrah (Pilgrimage) to the House (the Ka’ba at Mecca) to compass them round (Tawaf between Safa and Marwa). And whoever does well voluntarily, and then verily God is All-Recognizer, All-knower.  (158)   
And complete the Hajj and Umra (pilgrimage)–properly- in the service of God. But if you are prevented (from completing it), then send an offering/ sacrifice a Hadi-animal (sheep/cow or camel) such as you can afford (may find) and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice. And if any of you is ill, or has an ailment in his scalp (necessitating shaving), he should –in compensation- pay a Fidea (ransom), which is either observe fasting or feed the poor, or offer a sacrifice; and when you are in safety/peaceful conditions –again- then whosoever wishes to to continue the Umra on to the Hajj (al-tamattu –and al-qiran). He must make an offering/slaughter a Hadi, such as he can afford. But if he cannot afford it, he must observe fasting three days during the Hajj, and seven days on his return (to his home), making ten days in all. This is for those whose household is not in the precinct of the Sacred Mosque. And fear God (be pious) and know that God is strict/severe in punishment. (196)         
The Hajj (Pilgrimage) is the well know months, so if any one undertakes/ intends to perform Hajj, let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the Hajj. And whatever good you do –be sure- God Knows it. And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best of provision is the right conduct (piety-righteousness). So fear Me O’ you who are wise/ men of understanding. (197)   
There is no sin/crime on you if you seek the bounty of your Lord (during the Pilgrimage). Then when you pour down from –Mount- Arafat celebrate the Praises of God at the Sacred monument, and celebrate His praises as He has directed you, even though before this you were astray. (198) 
Then pass on/depart from the place whence all the people depart. And ask God for His forgiveness, for God is Oft-Forgiving – Most Merciful. (199) 
So when you have accomplished your holy rites, celebrate the praises of God, as you used to celebrate the praises of your father, or far more remembrance with heart and soul. Some of mankind who say “Our Lord, give us Your bounties in this world/life”, but he have no portion in the Hereafter. (200)    
And of them there are some who say “Our Lord, give us good in this world/life and good in the Hereafter and save/defend us from the torment of the Fire”. (201)
Those will be allotted their share of what they have earned. And God is swift at (his) reckoning/account. (202)
And- celebrate the praises of God during the appointed days, but whosoever hastens (to leave) in two days, there is no blame on him, and whosoever stays on/delayed there no sin/blame on him, whom he is pious and his aim is to do right. And then fear God –be pious- and know that you are surely will be gathered to Him. (203)  

a){Behold! And (remember) when We gave the Site to Ibrahim, for the Sacred House (at Mecca), (Saying): “Associate not anything with Me; and sanctify My House for those who circumambulate it and those who stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves therein in prayer” 26 S. Al-Hajj 22). -The Site of Mecca was granted to Abraham/Ibrahim (and his son Ismail) for a place of worship that was to be pure- without idols- the worshipping being paid to the One True God- and universal, without being reserved –like Solomon’s Temple of later times- to any one nation or race.     (b)- ( And remember when We made the House (the Ka’aba of Mecca) a place of an assembly and resort for mankind and a place of safety, and you (people) take the [Maqam] place of Ibrahim “the stone on which Ibrahim used to stand while building the Ka’aba) as a place for prayer; and We have covenanted /commanded Ibrahim and Ismail that they should purify –sanctify My House for those who are compass/ circumambulating it, or use it as a retreat (I’tikaf-أعتكاف) or bowing or prostrating themselves in prayers.125- Al-Bagara 2). The Ka’aba = (The House of God). Its foundation goes back to Abraham/Ibrahim. Its fourfold character is here referred to: (1) it was the centre to which all Arab tribes resorted for trade, for poetic contests, and for worship. (2) It was a sacred territory, and was respected by friend and foe alike. At certain seasons, all fighting was and is forbidden within its limits, and even arms are not allowed to be carried, and no game or other thing is allowed to be killed. Like the Cities of Refuge under the Mosaic Dispensation, to which manslayers could flee (Num. xxxv 6), or the Sanctuaries in Medieval Europe, to which criminals could not be pursued. Mecca was recognized by Arab custom as inviolable for the pursuit of revenge or violence. (3) It was a place of prayer; even to-day there is a station of Abraham/Ibrahim within the enclosure, where Abraham/Ibrahim was supposed to have prayed. (4) It must be held pure and sacred for all purposes. Though the verse as a whole is expressed the First Person Plural, the House is called “My House”, to emphasize the personal relation of the One True God to it, and repudiate the Polytheism which defied it before it was purified again by Muhammad Al-Mustafa [PPBUH]. Four rites are here enumerated, which have now acquired a technical meaning: (1) Compassing/ circumambulating the sacred territory, or going round the Ka’aba-) Tawaf= طواف (. There are special guides who take pilgrims and visitors around. (2) Retiring to the place as a spiritual retreat/resort, for contemplation and prayer (I’tikaf = أعتكاف). (3) The posture of bending the back in prayer-) Ruku’a=ركوع). (4) The posture of prostrating oneself on the ground in prayer – (Al-Sujud=السجود). The protection of the holy territory is for all –but special cleanliness and purity is required for the sake of the devotees who undertake these rites.
(c){And remember when Ibrahim said; “My Lord make this City (Mecca) a place of security/ of peace and provide its people with fruits, such of them who believed in God and the Last Day, He (Allah) said “Yea; and such as those who reject Faith/disbelievers- for a while I Will grant them their pleasures, but soon I Will drive them to the torment of Fire and the Evil destination indeed -126- Al-Bagara 2) –The root for the word (Salama=سلاما) in the word Islam implies –among other ideas- the idea of Peace, and therefore when Mecca is the City of Islam, it is also the City of Peace. The same root occurs in the latter part of the name Jerusalem, the Jewish City of Peace. When the day of Jerusalem passed (see verse 134 or 141 of S. Al-Bagara 2), Mecca became the “New Jerusalem”, or rather the old and original “City of Peace” restored and made universal. The territory of Mecca is barren and rocky, compared with Al-Taif –for example-, a city 70-75 miles east of Mecca. A prayer for the prosperity of Mecca therefore includes a prayer for the good things of material life. This is the literal meaning. But note that the opposition in this verse is between the fruits of the Garden for the righteous and the torments of the Fire for the evil ones; a spiritual allegory of great force and aptness.
(d){And remember when Ibrahim/Abraham and (his son) Ismail raised the foundations of the House saying this prayers “Our Lord please accept this (service) from us; Verily, You are the All- Hearing the All-Knowing-127- Al-Bagara 2).
(“Our Lord and make of us Muslims submissive to You, and from our offspring/progeny a Muslim nations submissive/bowing to Your Will and show us our places for the celebrations/ ceremonies of Umrah and Hajj [due rites] and accept our resentence; Truly You are the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.128 –Al-Bagara 2).
(“Our Lord- and send amongst them an Apostle of their own who shall recite/rehearse to them Your Signs and Verses and instruct them the Book (The Qur’an) and the full knowledge of the Islamic laws and jurisprudence of wisdom and sanctify/purify them, Verily, You are the All-Mighty- Exalted in Might, the All-Wise. 129- Al-Bagara 2). – See how beautiful this prayer is, and how aptly it comes in here in the argument! Such Paganism or star-worship or planet-worship as there was in Abraham/Ibrahim’s time was first cleared out of Mecca by Abraham/Ibrahim. This is the chief meaning of “sanctification” or purification in the verse 125 above, although of course physical cleanliness is (in physical conditions) a necessary element of purification in the higher sense. Abraham/Ibrahim and his elder son Ismail then built the Ka’aba and established the rites and usages of the sacred city. He was thus the founder of the original Islam (which is as old as mankind) in Arabia. As he becomes a devout man, he offers and dedicates the work to God in humble supplication, addressing Him as the All-Hearing, All-Knowing. He then asks for a blessing on himself and his progeny generally, both the children of his eldest-born Ismail and his younger son Isaac. With his prophetic vision he foresees that there will be corruption and backsliding in both branches of his family: Mecca will house 360 idols, and Jerusalem will become a harlot city (Ezekiel xvi 15), a city of abomination.  But the light of Islam will shine, and reclaim the lost people in both branches and indeed in the entire world.  So he prays for God’s mercy, addressing Him as the Oft-Returning, Most-Merciful. And finally he foresees in Mecca an Apostle teaching the people as “one of their own”, and in their own beautiful Arabic Language; he asks for a blessing on Muhammad’s [PPBUH] ministry appealing to the Power and Wisdom of God.
(e)- {And proclaim to mankind the Pilgrimage. They will come to you on foot and –mounted- on every kind of lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant wide mountain highways.( Verse 27 Surat Al-Hajj 22.) – When the Pilgrimage was proclaimed, people came to it from every quarter, near and far, on foot and mounted. The “lean camel” coming after a fatiguing journey through distant mountain roads typifies the difficulties of travel, which pilgrims disregard on account of the temporal and spiritual benefits referred to in verse (28).
{That they may witness the benefits provided for them, and celebrate the name of God, through the appointed Days (the 8th, 9th, and 10th, of Dhul-Hijja), over the beast of cattle which He has provided for them (for sacrifice); then eat thereof and feed the distressed ones in want. (28) S. Al-Hajj 22}. The three special days of Hajj are the 8th, 9th, and 10th of the month of Dhul-Hijja, and the two or three subsequent days of Al-Tashriq= تشريق. But we may ordinarily include the first ten days of Dhul-Hijja in the term. The great day of commemorative Sacrifice (Eidul-Adha=عيد الاضحي) is the 10th of Dhul-Hijja: the meat then killed is meant to be eaten for food and distributed to the poor and needy. Bahimatu Al-Na’am = بهيمة الانعام – means animals and cattle specifically used for meat, and here for sacrifice.
{Then let them complete the duties/rites prescribed for them, and perform their vows, and (again) circumambulate the Ancient House. 29 S. Al-Hajj 22).
(1)- (Tafath=تفث) is the superfluous growth on one’s body, such as nails, hair, etc. which is not permitted to remove while in Ihram. These may be removed on the 10th day, when the Hajj is completed; that is the rite of completion.
(2) The spirit of the Pilgrimage is not completed by the performance of the outward rites. The Pilgrim should carry in mind some vow of spiritual service and endeavor to perform it. Then the pilgrim approaches the rite of the Final (Tawaf) Circumambulation.
{ God has made the Ka’aba The Sacred House, an asylum of security and benefits for mankind, as also the Sacred Month, the animals for offerings, and the garlands that mark them; that you may know that God has knowledge of what is in the heavens and on the earth, and that God is Well-Acquainted with all things -97 S. Al-Maida 5).
All sorts of people from all parts of the earth gather during the Pilgrimage. They must not think that they are strangers, that nobody knows them, and that they may behave as they like. It is the House of God and He has supreme knowledge of all things, and all motives. While He is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful, He is also strict in enforcing respect for His Ordinances.
We all may know that the supplication of our Father Abraham/Ibrahim should include the ones whose circumstances has made it difficult for them to be with the pilgrims in the Holy Ka’aba, and as is his call for the bounties of God to all His ancestors; we wish that the domestic pilgrims who are performing pilgrimage by their souls and emotions would be accepted for them, and hope the merciful bliss from God could reach the hearts of our local trades and who are in the hold of the market to send-off the racketeers and sell the commodities –including the sacrifice animal- by prices witnessing the blessings of God. AMEN.

 

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