Hajj and Praying

Hajj and Praying
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Question: What are the points that we should be careful about in order to optimize our benefits during Hajj? What should our priorities be while petitioning to God in those blessed lands?

Answer: Muslims who have the means to do so must go to Hajj, in accordance with the verse meaning, “Pilgrimage to the House is a duty owed to God by all who can afford a way to it” (Al Imran 3:97). It is a reality that in our time travel conditions are rather comfortable, Hajj is fulfilled more easily, and people have much better means to complete the requirement. More importantly however, the Muslim world, which has been in a still state for a few centuries, is finally awakening to the practices of their faith. Every year, in addition to the four or five million people who go to Hajj, a considerable number of people wait to be given permission. When you witness dejected people who return from Hajj application centers without having received permission, you become aware that people are reawakening and reconnecting to religious feelings and thoughts.

A change in people is not a quick process similar to a seed sown in a field growing into wheat. Investments made to people yield their fruit many years later. Therefore, we believe that this positive progress of revival in faith will continue increasing. Perhaps, ten million people will simultaneously supplicate to God in Arafat in the years to come; consequently, blessings of God will pour upon us, believers will stand up once more on their own two feet and attain sound faith, peace, contentment, and trust.

Years’ Worth Compacted into Seconds

Hajj is a type of worship, which must be carried out since God commands it. This is His essential right and it is our duty to offer worship to our Bounteous Lord, who is the Absolute One to be worshipped and the Rightful One, whose good pleasure is sought. In this respect, believers must first carry out the Hajj requirement in obedience to the command of God Almighty, who showers His blessings upon us. They must turn to God with tremendous purity in intention and try to immensely and richly benefit from the holy lands. For this particular reason, they need to first be conscious of the meaning of their destination. As pilgrims set forth, they must be conscious of the fact that they are journeying toward the realm favored by God Almighty—the realm which is a projection of the Lote Tree of the Furthest Limit (Sidrat al-Muntaha)on earth—and that they are advancing toward the ultimate shrine of humanity directing them to their Creator. Their hearts must be filled with these feelings. At the same time they should try to fulfill the obligation of Hajj by observing all the manners from the major to minor thoroughly and always turn to God in full submission. In other words, all throughout the duty of Hajj, one must sit, stand, walk, and do everything with the consciousness of doing them for the sake of God; they should keep up this consciousness while opening their hands before the Ka’ba, putting their faces to the Gate of Repentance (Multazam), greeting or kissing the Black Stone, going to Mina, staying in Arafat, and passing to Muzdalifa. In short, they should carry out all of the required acts for the sake of God and thus try to render their valuable seconds by compacting years’ worth into them.

In addition, a person needs to avoid environments that might lead to heedless and lighthearted behaviors during this sacred journey. In order to stay aware of this, it is better to isolate ourselves from unnecessary pursuits and people that may waste our time. Instead of engaging in useless talk while at our special destination, one must long for the places where hearts soften and tears stream down. When I was in Medina, the words of a person with a deep love for the noble Prophet pierced through my heart. He was saying “O Messenger of God, I have been here for days, I haven’t heard a sound from you. Now I am about to leave for the Ka’ba. What am I supposed to say if they ask me what I brought from here?” He said so many similar things of this kind that it was impossible not to be moved. So we had better look for such experiences to move our hearts and remind ourselves that we might not find another chance for such a journey again.

Exerting Ourselves in Prayer during the Day of Arafat

The days in the holy lands must be taken as invaluable chances to implore God Almighty; we must always strive to represent the hearts of all Muslims and try to pray with that eagerness. For example, the moment of seeing the Ka’ba for the very first time is a magical one. Therefore, such a moment must be utilized carefully in terms of praying. Similarly, when someone goes to Mina, they should see it as the first station of purification before going to Arafat, and open up to God without wasting a second.

God Almighty accepts the prayers made in Arafat, as saintly figures confirmed—maybe it is not correct to cite a percentage, but let me do it for the sake of expressing the multitude of the prayers accepted, ninety nine percent. We can safely say that for the people who turn to Him wholeheartedly, God Almighty accepts the prayers even of those who are not eligible for it.

As it is known, the noble Spirit of the Master of Humankind, may millions of peace and blessings be upon him, always prayed for his followers in Arafat. He exerted himself in asking for forgiveness even for those who violated others’ rights. It is narrated that this wish was not accepted due to some certain wisdom. However, when the Prophet of Mercy and Compassion came to Muzdalifa dejected, he opened his hands there as well and prayed for his followers until the morning with no sleep at all. Ibn Abbas reports that he was near him during those prayers, and that the noble Messenger of God smiled toward the end of his supplication; Ibn Abbas states that he took it as a sign of glad tidings in regards to what the beloved Prophet prayed for. How much I wish for that to be true, for it would mean redemption for us as well.

The Ka’ba, Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifa are like heavenly windows that were opened for praying to and imploring God Almighty, Who does not let down those who supplicate to Him in full devotion while at these locations. One needs to sincerely believe this. Nevertheless, the Pride of Humanity also counsels us to pray with the belief and hope that the prayers will be accepted. For this reason, instead of saying, “I opened my hands and prayed, it doesn’t matter what happens after that,” we better exert ourselves in heartfelt prayer with conscious statements like, “My Lord, I have happened upon You! Here I am at Your door, seeking refuge with Your Greatness and the immensity of Your Mercy. My God, please do not leave me with my own vices! My God, I have come here to be purified! Please purify me O Lord!”

Hearts Imploring for All Muslims

People who go to these holy places during the blessed days can pray for themselves and their families alike. However, the Muslims’ condition, especially during our times, bears much greater significance than our personal matters do. The condition of Muslim lands is obvious and clear; we have never been so miserable throughout the history of Islam. We cannot stand on our own two feet, and we are trying to stand behind notions brought forth by others, whose real aim we aren’t aware of. Most of the time, this type of foundation is pulled away from under our feet and we inevitably topple over. Bediüzzaman, who suffered in agony about this condition, states that thinking about the Muslim world naturally prevents him from thinking about himself. In this respect, the Muslims who find the opportunity to go to Hajj and see the Ka’ba for the first time, should open up their hands and beg the Almighty, “My Lord, grant deliverance to, have mercy on and grant forgiveness to the followers of Your Messenger! My God, enable Muslims (the ummah) to straighten up! Show them the ways to a revival!” exerting themselves in prayer. While walking to Mina or if spending the night there, they should prostrate and pray for all Muslims in the same way, for Mina is the name of a blessed place of a very special importance. Imagine that in the early years of Islam, the Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him, found the positive response exactly in that special region that he could not even receive from the people he addressed in other places; it was the place where he found support. Thus that place holds a special value in terms of support. Therefore, while in present at the special place that God Almighty favors so much, we should raise our hands with the hope of finding Divine support, and pray, “Oh Lord, please help Muslims shake off misery and attain this process of revival!”

We must be conscious of the importance of our destination while walking toward Arafat. Who knows, of all the places on earth, it is likely the one of greatest proximity to God. Even people who are not saints can sense the preciousness of it. He may bestow extraordinary blessings upon people present there. For this reason, one must take the chance of opening up to God Almighty in this station of greatest proximity to heavenly realms and begging Him for all the believers. Pilgrims must not waste their time with eating and drinking while visiting. By taking a few morsels to subside the feeling of hunger and necessary function, they must strive not to waste any second of that brilliant segment of time. They must spend all of their time begging and entreating God Almighty until the sunset, presenting the due sincerity and loyalty that the blessed place requires.

Let me reiterate one point: it is not wrong to pray for oneself and relatives in that special place. However, it is of great importance to hold a self-sacrificing and altruistic attitude and make wishes for all Muslims, by being able to say, “My Lord, I have effaced myself at the moment; I have crossed out my person. I have completely turned my gaze to the faithful. I am only thinking about them, only making wishes for them…”

Referring the Matter to God

On the other hand, in addition to essential wishes, like people embracing faith in all corners of the world, it is also possible to pray against those who persecute believers with animosity. They can say for example, “My God, grant guidance to them and make them decent if they will be. If they will not, then let them get their justice.” Today, there are still oppressors and tyrants on Muslim lands, far worse than tyrants of the past. There are some unfortunate ones who cannot tolerate seeing people praying and filling the mosques, who are irritated by a fit of anger when they see a woman with a headscarf, who are committed to attacking Islam using all methods they can possibly find. Referring such people to God is a requirement of being faithful to Islam. The antagonists of religion who become enraged at seeing people practicing their faith can be mentioned in prayers by name. In Muslim countries, there are certain hypocrites who, although consistently claim they are not against religion, cannot tolerate even the simplest aspect of Islam in reality. Those hypocrites who do not wish to allow the believers enjoy democratic rights in their own country must be referred to God. Such prayers constitute another dimension of making the best of those blessed places.

Everybody may not feel this issue weighing on their conscience in the same way and level. In other words, everybody may not share this sensitivity, since they fail to recognize the significance of living for others. But still, if you can come together with one or two hundred people in those blessed places and form circles of prayer, then you can share your sad supplications to God from the bottom of your heart, kindle a fire in the hearts of people, and then beg God with the sorrows of those believers with burning hearts, asking for a revival, and encourage them to say “amin.”

This text is the translation of “Hac ve Dua

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