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Hajj - Once In a Lifetime

Are You A Haji or A Tourist
Thousands of Muslims had gathered in the Haram of Makkah. All were performing Tawaf - going seven times round the Ka'ba - and loudly reciting Talbiyya. The noise was deafening.
Abu Basir - the Blind Companion of Imam Ja'far Sadiq (A.S.) was impressed, moved and touched by all he could hear. He exclaimed: "What a great number of Hujjaj!" Immediately, Imam Ja'far Sadiq (A.S.), who was standing besides him, replied that the noise was greater than the number of true Hajis. Imam then put his hands on the eyes of Abu Basir and asked him to see for himself. Abu Basir then saw that there were only a few human beings among the multitude. The rest were like Donkeys, Pigs and other animals, revealing their true inner selves.
Such people have been described in the Holy Qur'an in Sura e Munafiqun when Allah said: "And when you see them (the hypocrites), their persons will please, and if they speak, you will listen to their speech…. They are the enemy, therefore, beware of them…."
The noise they were making was like the braying of donkeys as described in the Holy Qur'an: "surely the most hateful of voices is braying of the donkeys" (Luqman: 31:19).
After completing the construction of House of Allah (Ka'ba), Allah, (S.W.T.), asked Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.): "And proclaim among men the Pilgrimage; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path." Haj: 22:27).
Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.) proclaimed the message, calling upon people to come for Haj. The call reached all human beings - born and yet unborn. Those who responded, will perform true Haj.
Immediately thereafter, Shaitan also called upon people to come to Makkah. His call also was responded to. Those who come to Makkah in response to Shaitan's call do not go for Haj but are tourists just visiting Makkah. Their hearts are not pure and their hearts turn ever harder. Allah describes such people in Qur'an: "There is a disease in their hearts, so Allah added to their disease and they shall have a painful chastisement because they lied." (Baqarah: 2:10).
Before embarking on a journey to Makkah, one should ask oneself a few questions:
Is the intention of performing Haj a pure intention for the sake of Allah and none other?
Imam Ja'far Sadiq (A.S.) has said that there are two types of Haj. One is performed for the sake of people and the reward should be expected from them on the Day of Judgement. The other one is for none but Allah, (S.W.T.), and the reward should be expected from Him.
In the Qur'an, Allah says: "And for Allah, the pilgrimage of the House (of Allah) is obligatory upon the people who have strength to go there" (Aale Imran: 3:96).
For most of you, it will the First and Last Haj. Another such opportunity may never arise in your life-time.
Have you mentally prepared yourself for this Spiritual Journey?
Imam Ali (A.S.) has said that Allah, (S.W.T.), selected Makkah for His House towards which He invited people to come because it is a barren place, devoid of any attraction.
Do you know the significance, importance and value of this Holy Journey? What do you expect to gain from it? What are you going to lose, if you are not careful?
Have you read Dr. Ali Shariati's book "Haj"? Everyone must read this Book before proceeding for Haj.
Have you been concentrating much on physical comforts available there: accommodation, food, services, etc. ignoring the real purpose of Haj?
Is it important for you to have rooms in 5-Star Hotels with air-conditioning, food of your taste on order? Are you prepared to forgo some comforts and bear a little inconvenience so that it makes you remember HIM more intensely? Have you so soon forgotten the spiritual exercise of Fasting - which was only two months ago?
Have you read carefully the Dua of Imam Husain (A.S.) on the Day of Arafah and tried to understand it? Will you be reading it on the Plains of Arafah with true feelings and understanding?
Do you know that - according to Ahadith - someone not forgiven during the Holy Month of Ramadhan cannot expect forgiveness from Allah but on the Plains of Arafah? Will you be missing this opportunity?
Will you be serving other Hujjaj or expecting others to serve you? Will you be expecting to get your Cup of Tea prepared by someone for you? Will you be leaving others to carry your luggage, see to your comforts and be at your call whenever you want?
Imam Zainul Abedin (A.S.) used to go for Haj incognito (unrecognised) and serve people during the journey. Once a person who knew him joined the caravan on the way to Makkah (from Madinah). He reprimanded people for taking service from Imam (A.S.) The people apologised to Imam stating that they did not recognise him. Imam was very upset and reprimanded the person for introducing him as it denied him the benefit of serving others.
Are you going there only to serve others? Should you not go there to serve Allah, (S.W.T.) and His Creation?
Once someone visited Imam Ja'far Sadiq (A.S.) after performing Haj and started praising a member of his Haj Caravan. He stated this man was very very pious indeed. During the whole journey, he did nothing but pray, recite Qur'an and Dua. Imam (A.S.) immediately asked "then who was attending to his needs"? He replied that he and others in the Caravan looked after him. Imam (A.S.) said that everyone of them was better than that "pious person". In Islam, a person who attends to his own needs and requirements and also helps others is btter than the so-called "pious persons".
Have you mentally and physically prepared yourself to serve others? Prophet Muhammad, (S.A.W.), has said: "I am not afraid that after me the Muslims will return to polytheism. I am worried of their bad planning."
Have you planned how will you spend your time in Haj? Will you be gossiping, chattering, doing ghibat or vain, useless talk? Have you memorised or taken Qur'an and Dua Books with you, for you to benefit from them? Will you be talking to Allah all the time or with the people around you? Will you be worried if Allah is pleased with you or what human beings will think of you?
Did you know that if you complete recitation of whole Qur'an on the Mountain of Marwa, Allah will forgive you your sins and fulfil all your wishes?
Do you know what you have to recite whilst performing Tawaf, Saee, Taksir..?
Do you know that you should be performing Mustahab Tawaf for Prophet Muhammad, (S.A.W.), all the Imams (A.S.), your relatives, friends, people of the city you come from and so on? Would you be remembering them or just thinking of yourself?
If you go without planning and preparation and come back without any change in you, you can be sure that you have answered the Call of Shaitan and not the Call of Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.)

HAJI! SO YOU ARE UPSET
He narrated: "One night as we entered the Masjid al-Khif with the companions, we saw Haji Sayyid…. Sitting there with all the Tehrani and Irani friends. He was very upset at the state of the pilgrims and the condition of the thoroughfares in regard to matters of ritual purity and impurity. It appeared that some water had splashed on him, while entering the Masjid al-Khif and that had made him most upset: "'O God! O Lord! All that we wanted was to offer just two rak'ahs with ritual purity in Your mosque, but look! Would these Arabs and these people in this state of theirs allow us to do even that!"
I took him to the task, saying to him, "A disciple left his teacher to visit a Sage.(very wise man). The Sage asked him: "What did your teacher teach you?" The disciple said: "Our teacher has taught us to observe the acts of obedience and to refrain from ins."
The Sage said to him: "That is purely Magian dualism! Didn't he tell you to devote yourselves to Allah and to attend to Him by abandoning everything other than Him?"
"'My dear sir! Why do you alter the religion of God?' Why do you distort the Shari'ah? Why do you cut the people from God, and entangle them with their rituals? Is not the religion of the Messenger of Allah an easy and lenient one? Didn't he say: ' I have been sent with an easy lenient Shari'ah, one which is not cumbersome.'?
"Haven't the Messenger of God and the Imams said: 'Everything in whatever form at whatever time and place, is clean except when you are certain of its being unclean?' But you reverse the matter and say: 'Everything is unclean until it is ascertained to be clean.'
"Why don't you leave the people alone? Why don't you leave them alone with their Prophet and their easy and lenient faith? Why do you bar the way of attention to God and undivided devotion to Him? Why do you lock His open door?
"All those who perform the Haj - right from the Miqat where they assume the Ihram until the time of Taqsir and the sacrifice, when they emerge from the Ihram - must have their attention turned towards God, so that they see and hear no other than God, and their mind is not taken off a moment from God. The rites and the acts must not be viewed in isolation: they, including tawaf, prayer and the rest of the rites, are assignments which are to be carried out in the natural course, and throughout these rites the goal should be God, and not the rite itself, One's hearts and mind should focus on God, not on the validity or invalidity of rites. That is the very dualism which conceals the One God from sight and puts the two gods of valid and invalid acts in His stead.
"Right from the point of Miqat until emergence from the Ihram, you separate these unfortunate people from God. From the moment they assume the Ihram, you make them nervous lest something should splash on one's body or taint one's Ihram, lest one's shoulder deviate from the direction of the House, lest one should drift out of the Mataf while making the Tawaf, lest one's prayer should become invalid, lest one's Tawaf al-Nisa should be performed in an invalid manner and lest, as a result, one's wife should remain unlawful for one until the end of one's life.
"None of these things exist in the Shari'ah. This same usual prayer that the people perform is correct. Their Tawaf is correct. You make them invalid and stamp them with the seal of annulment. And you imagine the splash of those drops of water of a doubtful character as unclean. With such an approach, the people's Haj is wasted entirely. The Haji, who should be constantly with God from the Miqat until the conclusion of the rites, to emerge, with Taqsir and Halaq, from his undivided attention to God and the sacred state of Ihram with God, is distracted from God from the very beginning of Ihram, and this distraction, anxiety, and nervousness stay with him until the conclusion of the rites, and it is only on getting through with the rites that he takes a sigh of relief and then finds God.
"All the cautions that are observed in such cases and which require attention to the rites themselves and distraction from God are all wrong. Where do we find this kind of difficult and cumbersome caution in the Shari'ah of the Messenger of Allah or during the lifetime of the Messenger? The primary principle is the absence of hardship, the absence of Haraj and the absence of harm. Our primary principle, in the Noble Qur'an, is: "…. And devote to Him with utmost devotion." (73:8) that is, cut off yourself totally from all, and turn to God."

HAJI! What About The Refund On Your Draft
The following letter was received from a brother in Dubai:
Assalamun Alaikum.
Please allow me to inform you that when a hujjaj plans on going for Hajj, then he/she is required to obtain 2 drafts, so as to enable one self in getting the visa for Hajj.
One draft, which is non-refundable, is made payable to the Unified Agents Office, for an amount of 444 Saudi Riyals (approx. US $120).
The other draft, in 435 Saudi Riyals, is REFUNDABLE, and is made payable to the Automobile Union of Saudi Arabia.
At the time of entering the airport, Saudi Officials give us a book of coupons in exchange for the second draft. As we go in a group, we do not use their facilities, and therefore, we can explain and refrain from giving them the concerned draft (SR 435).
It has also been observed that a hujjaj with a western passport is easily accepted in keeping the draft, while on the other hand, the hujjaj with other passports are given a book of vouchers against this draft.
Whatever be the case, whether the draft has already been taken by the authorities, or if one is given the vouchers, then if time permits, they can go to the automobile office, located in Makkah, and get the full refund, with a copy of their passport, and their hajj visa page.
For any reason, if one does not have the time to do this, then they should send all the vouchers, with the photocopies of their passport and hajj visa page, asking for a refund, to the address provided below (preferably by Registered mail). Just in case if a hujjaj is to use any part of the voucher, then they can still get a refund on the remaining unused vouchers.
ADRESS:
THE MANAGER
SAUDI ARABIAN GENERAL CAR SYNDICATE
P.O.BOX 9268
MAKKAH, SAUDI ARABIA
From a personal survey, it was found that alhamdulillah, about 700-800 hujjaj from our community go for hajj every year. Since some 95% of them use private means of transport, the vouchers are not used, and unfortunately, no refund is being claimed.
Taking into account that 600 hujjaj leave behind unclaimed refunds, Saudi Riyals 435 each, totalling to 261 000 Riyals ($70 000 US), the money can be used for other good causes, rather than leaving it behind.
To the concerned recipients of this message, it is our appeal to please forward it to all the other jamaats and to hujjaj.
With salaams and duas,

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