In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, 'Selawat' (blessings) and 'salam' (peace be upon) Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
"And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. I do not want from them any provision, nor do I want them to feed Me." (Surah Adh-Dhariyat 51: 56-57)
"Don't forget prayers and du'as for the safety of Muslims especially in the Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, the Rohingyas and of course the many in doing their hajj and in general in other countries where Muslims are persecuted and for the liberation of Masjid Al-Aqsa."
In the writer's opinion, this remembrance also suited for the occasion of Eid Al-Adha; this year it falls on Thursday, September 24. So to dear readers, Eid Mubarak.
According to the Muslim calendar (the Hijra year), Eid Al-Adha falls on the 10th Dhul-hijjah; the blessed month of Hajj. For this year, Dhul-hijjah, the 12th month of the Muslim calendar of Hijra began on Tuesday, September 15, 2015. This is the month Muslim perform hajj, with its peak when they do ‘wukuf’ (to stop or gather) in Arafah (or Arafat) on the 9th Dhul-hijjah (Wednesday, 23th September).
Wukuf, being the highest 'rukun' (component) of hajj must be rendered; without which hajj does not take place. The requirement is the presence in Arafat, regardless of whether the pilgrim is riding, walking, sitting or moving. In Arafat one is to spend the afternoon from dhuhr (midday) to maghrib (sunset) prayer times making du’as (supplications) and repenting to leave Arafat with all of one's sins forgiven.
For Muslims who are not performing hajj in their homelands, they are encouraged to perform recommended deeds during the first 10 days of Dhul-hijjah such as fasting especially on ‘Wukuf’ day and giving charity. Then during Eid Al-Adha (10th Dhul-Hijjah) when Muslims perform ‘solat’ (Eid prayers) and the days of Tashreek (11, 12, and 13th Dhul-Hijjah) they are recommended to do the slaughter or ‘korban’ (sacrifice) animals (such as sheep and cow).
Insya-Allah (God willing), during this first 10 days of Dhul-hijjah, I would like to write about 'various issues' that were being told to me during 'my rounds' and 'hang about' (presence) at masjids. Perhaps we could do some reflections about them.
A few days ago I visited a grand old man of my kampung. He was a retired teacher of more than 80 years of age. Haji Mat asked me what had befallen to our society - crime were on the raise while moral of the people especially the young generation were at the lowest level.
At one point, he raised the issue of abandoned babies and asked me: "Did you notice how cats and hens raised their offspring? The mother gave her best; but nowadays human beings have the heart to throw or abandoned or even kill their own babies. What had befallen our society? We are now worst than the 'jahiliah' period (times of ignorance)."
An 'ustaz' (religious teacher) in his 'tazkirah' (lessons) at a masjid near my house, when commenting on the current haze situation said: "This is nothing new. The question is why Allah SWT made the wind blew it to our country? There is a 'surah' in the Qur'an which mentioned about the haze...it is in Surah Al-Dukhan (Smoke).
In ayah 10 and 11 of the surah, Allah SWT says with the meaning: "But watch thou (O Muhammad) for the day when the sky will produce visible smoke. That will envelop the people. This will be a painful torment."
Why did Allah SWT gave that warning? In the earlier ayah (8 and 9), Allah SWT says with the meaning: "There is no God save Him. He quickeneth and giveth death; your Lord and Lord of your forefathers. Nay, but they play in doubt."
The 'ustaz' claimed that human values in our society and country is getting from bad to worse with those in power and with power portraying bad examples - there were certain leaders good at deceiving the people by projecting 'their clean image' but the truth was they were great liars and sinners.
Another 'ustaz' warned Muslims to be aware about 'jerebu hati' (haze of the heart) instead of focusing too much on the current haze. He said, haze of the heart is more difficult to cure than the 'actual haze' for "many of us do not realized that we were suffering from it' where else in the haze case, professionals could point to its source such as hot spots and work to find its solution.
'Haze of the heart' would destroyed us because we do not know which is right and wrong, good and bad; for example we could not differentiate between 'sumbangan' (donation) and 'rasuah' (bribery), said the 'ustaz'. Luckily the 'ustaz' did not use the term 'derma' (also donation)...well 'derma' is quiet sensitive to 'some of us'!
He said 'jerebu hati' would have implications upon us in the Hereafter compared to the 'actual haze' but the irony of it, people especially the top brass of the country put great concern on it but totally ignored the 'jerebu hati' syndrome that had even 'infected' some of them!
Regarding the hajj, this year about three million Muslims from all corners of the world were expected in the Holy Land to perform the hajj manasik (rites and ceremonies performed at hajj). After Arafah, the pilgrims would then proceed towards Muzdalifah and pick up pebbles there to be used when stoning the Pillar of Aqabah or Qubra on Eid Adha (10th Dhul-Hijjah).
In Mina, they are required to stay for three nights where they will stone the three ‘jamrahs’ beginning with the first Pillar (i.e. the one which is furthest from Makkah), followed by the middle Pillar and lastly the Pillar of Aqabah.
The pilgrims will also shave their heads or cut their hair and then proceed to Makkah to perform the Tawaf Al-Ifadah (circling the Kaabah seven times which is an essential part of Hajj) and then perform Sa’y (walking seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwa). While waiting for the the big day (Wukuf this Wednesday, 23th September), pilgrims fulfill their days by performing prayers and 'tawaf' in the Grand Masjid of Makkah (Masjidil-Haram).
Some prefer to perform ‘umra’ (small hajj) again and again but they are advised not to it frequently as they needed a lot of energy to prepare for the hardship of hajj. It is advisable to perform hajj when one is at a young age. Perhaps the time is right when one is in his thirties or forties because physically and mentally he is fit to fulfil some ‘robust’ obligations that need strength and stamina such as stoning the devils at the jamrahs in Mina.
Furthermore pilgrims have to use the power of their legs for activities such as walking frequently (perhaps five times daily for 'fardu' prayers) from one’s hotel room to the Prophet's Masjid (in Madinah) and Al-Haram Masjid (in Makkah). During hajj, a distance of one or two kilometers from the hotels and the masjids are normal.
For hajj or umrah obligations such as tawaf and sa’y, one has to walk a distance; for example for sa’y when one has to walk seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah, the distance could be more than four kilometers (600 meters x 7)! When performing the stoning of the devils, it is normal for pilgrims to walk quite a far distance, perhaps two to three kilometres from their tents in Mina to the jamrah.
Pilgrims are supposed to stay for four days and three nights in Mina (10, 11, 12 and 13 Dzul-hijjah) dan stone the three jamras everyday during the stay except during 10th Dzul-hijjah (Eid) when pilgrims only stone the main jamrah (Jamrah Al-Aqabah). Thus, to perform hajj one should be physically and mentally fit, so it is advisable to Muslim to take the necessary steps for example started saving from an early age, hoping and praying one could perform the fifth pillar of Islam at the earliest time possible and not at old age.
Writing about my own experience in the Holy Land after being there a few times, I loved to be ‘alone’ (without the presence of known companions near me) in places such as Majidil-Haram and while gathering in Plains of Arafah because I had the feeling of nearness to Allah SWT.
Without the presence of ‘a known person’ close to me, I could ‘freely’ pour out my heart to Allah SWT. I was free to shed tears without the feeling of being ‘observed’ by ‘close relatives and friends’.
When you are ‘alone’ it is easy for you to talk and admitted about your past sins and then beg forgiveness from the Almighty. In one such occasion, I was sobbing, lost for words.
I reached for my small du’aa book and read the supplications, among others: "O Allah! I ask of Your integrity and soundness in my religion, my life, my family, and my possessions.
O Allah! Cover my shame, pacify my fears, guard me from what is in front of me and behind me, from what is on my right and on my left, over my head and under my feet.
O Allah! Grant health to my body. O Allah grants health to my hearing.
O Allah! Grant heath to my sight. There is no deity except You.
O Allah! You are my Lord. There is no deity except You. You are my Creator and I am Your creature. I try to keep my covenant with You and to live in the hope of Your promise as well as I can. I seek refuge in You from my own evil deeds. I acknowledge Your favours to me, and I acknowledge my sins. Forgive me my sins, for there is no one who can forgive sins except You.
O Allah! I seek refuge in You from worry and sorrow. I seek refuge in You from impotence and sloth, from stinginess and cowardice, and I seek refuge in You from the burden of debt and from being humbled by men.
O Allah! Make the beginning of this day good, the middle prosperous, and the end successful. I ask You to grant me the good of this world and of the Hereafter. O Most Merciful of all Who show us mercy!
O Allah! You hear my words, You behold my situation, You know what is open and what is hidden within me; nothing is hidden from You. It is me alone who is in need, a humble seeker of Your forgiveness. I beseech You with humility in my heart, with trembling and fear, in prostration and utter helplessness.
O Allah! Grant me soundness of belief, goodness of character, forgiveness of my sins, and Your eternal pleasure in the Hereafter, Ameen.