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A Letter to Pilgrims: Showing Mirror to Hajis

Review of The Mirror of Accepted Hajj by Dr Nisar Ahmed Bhat Trali
12:00 AM May 16, 2024 IST | Muhammed Maroof
a letter to pilgrims  showing mirror to hajis
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Dear Pilgrims

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May God accept your pilgrimage and show the evidence of acceptance to us. I just wanted to draw your kind attention to the following points that may help accept your request for acceptance of pilgrimage and secure your ticket to Heaven.

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  • You are amongst the most fortunate less than one percent Muslims who could afford the costs of transport and stay though I am not sure whether you have necessary documents along with you that are required by the Committee of Angels screening applications for acceptance in the divine court. These documents include:
  • NOC from 40x4=160 neighbours that you know them or have got them professionally surveyed or take care of them – you attend them or at least pay your zakat and sadaqa to needy among them.
  • You have done repentance of major and minor sins. And know that the mother of all sins is sense of agency or saying “I” – if you keep count of people who came to see you or congratulate you on hajj or have any grudge against those who didn’t it shows your sense of “I” is still intact and as such your hajj has not been accepted.
  • You have no grudge against anyone. You don’t mind bad words spoken against you or don’t have anxiety to explain your position. You don’t indulge in backbiting.
  • Membership of family kitties, zero interest based credit cooperatives or participation in angel financing initiatives. Given there are besides family or friend kitties that make available money, fifty six registered institutions in India including a few in Kashmir that allow you an option of investing and saving without involving interest and you know all traditional religions and great majority of great economists across cultures have all questioned interest – demanding profit on credit – you shouldn’t delay a day in choosing to register with them. Pool savings with these so that you can help people struggling with debt or lack of finances for business units – this earns merit of hajj and umrah.
  • NOC on ethical treatment of daughter in law/mother in law/parents.
  • NOC from halal certification bureau – that you have taken care in earning halal way. It is hard to get this certification if you have dilly dallied files for want of money or sufarish, you have chosen careers that are at the cost of environment or larger community empowerment.
  • Copy of Zakat Returns filed in last years: Zakat properly calculated by professionals or qualified Imam/ Mufti and then taking trouble to professionally survey eligible recipients and seek to ensure their transformation into givers.

I invite you to take stock of the following points from the lucid encyclopedic book, the first of its kind published in Kashmir for which the veteran pioneering publisher Mujtaba Al-Hayat  needs to be thanked.

  • Before leaving, it is obligated to repent from every major and minor sin. Count the sins you are indulging in routinely –from biting to blocking money in saving accounts or houses or land that isn’t cultivated projects that don’t help community or your neighbor or relative or struggling local farmers or artisans.
  • Whatever happens contrary to one’s wish or comfort zone, silence should be one’s response during entire journey. Don’t complain about this or that person one encountered in Hajj. Recalling Rabia Basri’s retort to someone who asked why she doesn’t scold Satan – she didn’t finish thinking of God to think about Satan – one should have been lost in contemplating God to have even noticed what is incongruous about one’s experience of people. Anyone who reports to you that he or she was pushed by someone , tell him, as Dr Nisar advises, why don’t you think that those about whom you complain may have been intoxicated by seeing God’s house that they don’t notice the fender of others when performing this or that ritual.
  • Hajj is easy. It embodies and trains for minimalist idea of living. Key obligations are easy. Sans stitched clothes, sans amenities, sans elaborate paraphernalia one learns to enjoy rhythms of living, open sky and solitude.
  • Regarding enquiries about wrongs done during hajj the Prophet (saw) took lenient view of this or that transgression but said destroyed are those who attacked someone’s honour. Indulging in any verbal fight or complaining about anyone or disregarding anyone or failing to give attention to other are to be guarded against.
  • Hajj requires every Muslim or human’s rights to be paid off. I don’t know of anyone who is meticulously conscious of rights of neighbours, of Muslims,  not to speak of general community or non-Muslims.
  • Hurting a Muslim is haram so trying to kiss the black stone when it is great crowd and some may be hurt or limits of modesty may get transgressed is to be avoided as kissing is not obligatory but not hurting a Muslim is obligatory.
  • The virtue of inviting people for meals is like hajj and umrah.
  • It is good to go for hajj many times only if there are no needy ones around in the community and one needs to do isthikhara before undertaking them. It is far better to help people in neighborhood or community than to go for additional hajj/umrah. There are too many people in immediate neighborhood whom one is obligated to help, who have claim over our savings or for whom is a right in our wealth.
  • Hajj recalls death and as such after hajj one should be prepared for death as one is prepared for wazwan or meeting one’s fast friend. Ihram reminds of coffin. Leaving family, country and all kinds of attachments such as to clothes, luxuries, delicious food and standing under the sky with nothing to anchor oneself in, alone with God in Mina and Arafat, (one recalls Lear in the storm scene) one finds oneself as if liberated from all worldly dross and ready to embrace the Beloved or death with a smile.
  • To be patient over sufferings in living in Medina ensures ticket to Heaven.
  • Before Hajj associate with Pir Kamil who will help in tazkiyyah of nafs, the person is best identified as one in whose presence love or attachment to he world decreases.
  • The sign of accepted hajj is that one is a changed person: One doesn’t express anger as frequently as one did before or one feels contended, unagitated, forgiving, enjoying prayers and whatever is commanded such as hosting parties.
  • One must throw stones in remi ritual oneself except if some shariah recognized excuse uzr-i-sharyi. Crowd isn’t a valid excuse.
  • Hajj isn’t picnic or tourism. It isn’t shopping time. Must be done in the spirit of worship. Here one may add a caveat that hajj is only five days and one can enjoy rest of days spent in hajj in exploring history and culture of sacred cities or build ties for trade  or do needful for halal earnings which is itself enjoined in Islam. Getting one’s share from the world or building trade is a noble act, an act of worship.
  • It is obligatory (not optional or just recommended) not to hurt anyone – for Hafiz it is the only commandment from which all other commandments follow. If you have hurt anyone or grabbed his due or taken qard, seek forgiveness. Anyone to whom you owe any haqq,( say zakat), pay it or clear it. Write will regarding issues that need to be written about.
  • Choose such prayer as the following to get your best deal done. God give me a heart that has no desires (dil-i bay mudaa). God give me yourself so that all things are added or one needs nothing. Let us seek the Kingdom of God or deeadar so that nothing else is needed. One of the greatest sages has remarked that only one prayer suffices for life God thank you. God give us patience. With patience one gets God along with and as such what else does one need. Prayer as the kernel of worship is gratitude. Let us learn to pray with great sages.

What is missing in the book is anthropological, mythic, cross cultural treatment of the idea of Hajj. Classic hajj travelogues and great works on Hajj aren’t referred. Major literary, sociological and philosophical explorations of hajj aren’t reviewed. It also takes more conservative or one sided (of particular school) view of certain issue such as taking pictures or face veil. However, it succeeds in being a comprehensive guide to Hajj that every pilgrim should read. If you want to know if your hajj has been accepted or at least it has been a turning phase towards more God conscious life evaluate yourself  --  if after pilgrimage you love your neighbors better, calculate your zakat/ushr, become less angry over trivial issues, get prayers of your parents or daughters-in-law, get more detached from worldly attachments, become more helpful to community through qard-i-hasan etc., less judgmental and more appreciative of your kith and ken, start investing in God’s bank (giving sadaqah or qard-i hasan) where one gets 2 to 700 times returns¸ start overcoming bossing complex or ego pathologies, it means your pilgrimage has not been in vain.

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