Friday, September 9, 2016

'Merdeka', hajj and unity...

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.


The Declining Day (Al-'Asr)
1. By the declining day,
2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss,
3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort 
one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.

SPORTS, food and humour bind us, said Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in his live 59th National Day (Merdeka) address to the nation. 

The Prime Minister was right in saying the three things that could united us as Malaysian but an 'ustaz' during his 'tazkirah' (lesson) which I followed recently said that to achieve total unity among us, we had to be united in 'iman' (faith) first.

Be united in 'iman' and only after that perhaps we could look for 'extra or temporary factors' such as through sports, food and humour as pursed by the PM. Sports without 'iman' would not bring us no where, perhaps in this world we would have all the glitter and glamour (perhaps won gold at the Olympics), but is that our aim in life; the question is what are our 'chances' in the Hereafter?

How could sports could bind us where certain disciplines such as gymnastics, beach volleyball and swimming forced women participant to be in a 'one or two piece outfits' that 'bares all'...nowadays even 'burqinis' are ban on beaches of some countries...all these divide us because human beings (the powerful) tend to instill (force) their way of life to others...

Only with 'iman' we could be united in propagating the truth and of course we could not be united in propagating sinful acts and ill activities.  In the Qur'an, Allah SWT says: "...And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty." (Al-Ma'idah; 5:2)

Scholars said, Allah has enjoined upon us to cooperate in righteousness and piety with everybody. What matters is that our common endeavour is a good one. He has forbidden us from cooperating with people in sin and transgression, regardless of who they are. In this way, Allah has defined for us the limits of cooperation, but He has not placed restraints on who we can cooperate with. 

With 'iman' intact in our hearts, we could utilize fully 'the extra and temporary factors' such as sports, food and humour; they could be steered to be in line with our 'iman' thus we would be rewarded both in this world and Hereafter. 

Allah told us to be successful in both worlds; we pleaded to Him with this du'a: 'Rabbana atina fid-dunya hasanatan wa fil 'akhirati hasanatan waqina 'adhaban-nar' (Our Lord! grant us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and save us from the chastisement of the fire." (2:201)

In Islam all our actions are considered 'ibadah' (acts of worship) and would be rewarded by Allah The Greatest; be in small matters such as going to the toilet or of highly looked upon jobs such as administrating departments to governing states or countries. But one important aspect must be looked upon and that is our 'niat' (intention); if our 'niat' is in line with the teaching of Islam then we would be rewarded otherwise, our deeds would be wasted.

Well, if doing 'small things' such as going to the toilet could be an 'ibadah', then what could be said about 'bigger and more important things' such as involving in sports and celebrating one’s country’s independence day or 'Hari Merdeka'. It is also an 'ibadah' if we fulfill the requirements stipulated in Islam.

Let us look at what renowned Muslims have said about 'merdeka'. At the height of the conquest of Persia, the Muslim general, Sa'ad ibn Waqqas carried out Caliph Umar Al-Khattab's will and sent to Rustum (or Rustam), the Persian great general, a number of his companions lead by Asim ibn Amir to call on him to follow Islam and Allah's path.

The conversation between them and the Persian leader lasted long. Finally they ended their talk by Asim telling him, "Allah has chosen us to turn whom He chooses of His creatures from paganism to monotheism, from the narrowness of life to its freedom, from the ruler's injustice to Islam's fairness. Whoever accepts our offer we will leave him alone and will refrain from hurting him. Whoever fights us, we will fight him until we fulfill Allah's promise."

The points elaborated by Asim to Rustum are looked upon as the meaning of 'merdeka' (freedom). It was regarding 'transforming' people from paganism to monotheism, from the limitations of life to freedom and from a ruler's injustice to the fairness in Islam.

In Islam, each of us is equal in the eyes of Allah SWT. There is no difference between a rich and a poor man. Yes, only 'takwa' (fear of Allah) differentiates people for He says in the Qur'an: "O mankind! We have created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that who has At-Taqwa. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware." - (Surah Al-Hujurat, verse 13)

The celebration of the National Day (August 31st) and 'Hari Malaysia' (September 16th) this year coincided with the occasion of Eid Al-Adha; this year it falls on Monday, September 12. 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 Saturday, September 3, 2016. 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 (Sunday, 11st 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).

Regarding the hajj, this year about four 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). After completing their hajj, pilgrims fulfill their days by performing prayers and 'tawaf' in the Grand Masjid of Makkah (Masjidil-Haram) before going home.

Doing reflections about the activities of hajj helps us to understand why it was concluded that only by 'iman' could united people. Imagine, the 'azan' (call of prayers) made 4,000,000 (four million) people (according to Wikipedia) went rushing to Masjidiharam (Haram Mosque), and then they were in deep concentration, prostrating to Allah SWT - all the actions of the 'imam' were followed by the million of congregators...where else in the planet could we see this demonstration of united hearts, souls and bodies?

Subhanalllah, only 'iman' could unites people...

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