Those who had performed their Hajj this year are returning back to their homes with the intention of starting a brand new life. This also means that the topic of Hajj will not be addressed for another year from today. I, however, would like to do things differently this year; to encourage people to make the intention for Hajj next year and to set aside a sum of money for it from as early as today. This is because Hajj offers life lessons that cannot be appreciated except by those who have performed it. In fact, the more this trip is repeated, the clearer those life-changing lessons become.
The fact that Hajj is given the title of “pillar of Islam” is—at first—baffling. As for the Shahādah, we repeat this statement many times each day. The same can be said about Salāh; we carry it out at least five times a day. Again, the same can be said about fasting; 30 days of fasting every year, as well as Zakāh; a yearly payment to the poor. As for Hajj, it’s an act of worship that only requires three days or so in a lifetime. Afterwards, you do not necessarily need to consider doing it ever again, yet it’s given the title of “pillar”. Why is this? Surely, it’s because of the secrets within it and the life-changing properties within those few days of Hajj that are so powerful, they cannot be reproduced by any other experience in life. Today, I wish to share with you some of those lessons as part of my farewell message for Hajj, in the hope of cementing your intention for a Hajj this time next year from as early as today.
1. The most powerful reminder of the day of reckoning
There is a Surah of the Qur’an titled “Al-Hajj”, and the very first āyah, seemingly, has nothing to do with Hajj. Allah said:
يا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّ زَلْزَلَةَ السَّاعَةِ شَيْءٌ عَظِيمٌ (1) يَوْمَ تَرَوْنَهَا تَذْهَلُ كُلُّ مُرْضِعَةٍ عَمَّا أَرْضَعَتْ وَتَضَعُ كُلُّ ذَاتِ حَمْلٍ حَمْلَهَا وَتَرَى النَّاسَ سُكَارَى وَمَا هُمْ بِسُكَارَى وَلَكِنَّ عَذَابَ اللَّهِ شَدِيدٌ (2)
“O mankind, fear your Lord. Indeed, the earthquake of the [final] Hour is a terrible thing. The Day you shall see it, every nursing mother will forget her nursling, and every pregnant one will drop her load, and you shall see mankind as in a drunken state, yet they will not be drunken, but severe will be the Torment of Allah.”
The fact that the very first āyāt of Surat Al-Hajj do not actually address the Hajj but the Day of Reckoning is an indication that there is a link between the two; for the former is a powerful demonstration of the latter. Just as the forgetfulness of this Day is the mother of all sins, similarly, the remembrance of it is the mother of all repentance. Here are some similarities:
(a) The beginnings of both
Hajj began with a call which Ibrahim ﷺ was instructed to make after he raised the foundations of the Ka’ba, as Allah said:
وَأَذِّنْ فِي النَّاسِ بِالْحَجّ
“And proclaim to the people the Hajj”
Ibrahim would ascend mount Abū Qubais calling out “O people, Allah has commanded you to perform Hajj, so do so”, a call which Allah would miraculously convey to mankind. Similarly, the day of reckoning shall begin with a call.
وَنُفِخَ فِي الصُّورِ فَإِذَا هُمْ مِنَ الْأَجْدَاثِ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَنْسِلُونَ
“And the Trumpet will be blown (i.e. the second blowing) and behold from the graves they will come out quickly to their Lord.”
(b) The farewells of both
Days before the pilgrim departs for Hajj, he bids his family farewell, texts his friends for forgiveness, repays his debts and writes a will. It really is as if the pilgrim is making his way to the Home of the Hereafter.
(c) The nudity of both
After the male pilgrims undress, two pieces of fabric will be their attire for about 2-3 days, and one cannot help but realise the striking resemblance between them and the shrouds that shall cover our bodies before we are lowered into our graves. The partial nudity of Hajj really is a reminder of the day of absolute nudity, the Day of Reckoning.
The Prophet ﷺ said:
يُحْشَرُ النَّاسُ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ حُفَاةً عُرَاةً غُرْلاً قُلْتُ : يَا رَسُول الله ، الرِّجَالُ وَالنِّساءُ جَمِيعاً يَنْظُرُ بَعضُهُمْ إِلَى بَعْض ؟! قَالَ : يَا عائِشَةُ ، الأمرُ أشَدُّ مِنْ أنْ يُهِمَّهُمْ ذلِكَ
“People will be resurrected barefoot, unclothed and uncircumcised. I (‘Aisha) said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, will the men and women not look at one another?’ He said: ‘O ‘Aisha, the matter on that day will be too severe for anyone to care about this.’”
(d) The ambience of both
The crowds of Hajj, the cramming involved in each of its phases and the perpetual yelling is a reminder of why the Day of Reckoning was given the names of Yawm al-Hashr—The Day of Cramming; Yawm al-Tanādī—The Day of Calling; and Yawm al-Talāq—The Day of Meeting. Why was it given this name?
Ibn ‘Abbās said, “It is the day of meeting because it is the day when Adam, the first of mankind, shall meet the last of his children.” Qatāda said, “It is the day of meeting because it is the when inhabitants of the earth will meet the inhabitants of the sky and the creation will meet with the creator.” Maymūn b. Mahrān said, “It is the day of meeting because it is the day when the oppressed and the oppressor shall meet.” Others have said, it is the day of meeting because it is the day in which a person shall meet the fruits of what he did today, and undoubtedly, all of this shall come to pass.
On top of the cramming, the pilgrims are also driven together towards the same direction, a reminder of the day when the same shall happen, as it is announced:
يا أيها الناس ! هلم إلى ربكم
“O mankind, proceed to your Lord.”
يَوْمَئِذٍ يَتَّبِعُونَ الدَّاعِيَ لَا عِوَجَ لَهُ وَخَشَعَتِ الْأَصْوَاتُ لِلرَّحْمَنِ فَلَا تَسْمَعُ إِلَّا هَمْسًا
“That Day, everyone will follow the call of the Caller with no deviation.”
(e) The perspiration of both
Hajj amazes you at how much your body can sweat without shrivelling up like a prune, a reminder of the Hadith:
يَعْرَقُ النَّاسُ يَومَ القِيَامَةِ حَتَّى يَذْهَبَ عَرَقُهُمْ في الأرضِ سَبْعِينَ ذِراعاً ، وَيُلْجِمُهُمْ حَتَّى يَبْلُغَ آذَانَهُمْ
“People will sweat on the Day of Judgement till their perspiration enters into the soil a distance of 70 arms’ lengths, and will rise till it submerges them, reaching their ears.”
(f) The sleep and awakening of both
On the night of Muzdalifa, you recline on the ground to sleep with the stars above you, the soil beneath you, and two basic garments just about covering you. Here, you can’t help but envisage your eventual lowering into the soil which shall be your home till the call for resurrection is made. Then, your tour operator wakes you up to pray Fajr in Muzdalifa. You rise in a dishevelled, rough and dusty state, strikingly similar to your eventual emergence from your grave on the Day of Reckoning; rough and dishevelled. After Salāh, you glorify Allah till just before sunrise, just as people will do on the Day of Reckoning in preparation for the judgement. Then, you and your group leave Muzdalifa along with millions of others, moving in one direction, just as you shall be made to move on the Day of Reckoning towards Allah.
(g) The transition of both
Despite the few days of Hajj, the amount of transition from place to place is amazing. Start off in Mina for a night, then from Mina to ‘Arafah, then ‘Arafa to Muzdalifa, then from Muzdalifa to the stoning of the Jamarāt, then the offering of the sacrifice, then the shaving of the hair, then it’s back to Makkah for circumambulation, then to Mina for three days, then to the Jamarāt on each, then back to Makkah for the farewell Tawāf. All of this is in striking resemblance to the Day of Reckoning which is also characterised by restlessness. First it’s death, then the grave, then the resurrection, then the gathering, then the intercession, then the judgement, then the receiving of books, then the scales, then the bridge, then paradise or hell.
(h) The outcome of both
The excitement of the pilgrims upon their return is inexplicable. What awaits them now is a life of purity, forgiveness and hope. Family and friends congratulate them which adds to the feeling of achievement and success, as people say “Alhamdu lillāh”. Likewise, when the horrors of the Day of Reckoning come to an end and the believers finally rest within their palaces in paradise, all that will be heard is “Alhamdu lillāh”.
وَتَرَى الْمَلَائِكَةَ حَافِّينَ مِنْ حَوْلِ الْعَرْشِ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ بِالْحَقِّ وَقِيلَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
“And you will see the angels surrounding the Throne, glorifying the praises of their Lord, and it will be judged between them in truth, and it will be said, ‘All praise is to Allah, Lord of the worlds.’”
2. It is one of the greatest templates for success
From a management perspective, what is it that makes a person successful? This is one of the most discussed questions in life, and each has a theory to put forward. Perhaps the summary of this discussion can be listed under three headings:
- Clarity of vision: Successful people start with the end in mind, knowing exactly what they want to achieve.
- Dedication: As Muslims, we call this Sabr (patience and perseverance).
- Network: Which others may refer to as unity.
Our dīn has given paramount importance to these qualities. As for the first, the Prophet ﷺ has informed us that “actions are (determined) by their intentions”. This is a narration which some scholars have described as being “half of the dīn”; as the intention sets your goal, and our goal is Allah. As for the element of dedication/patience, it has appeared in the Qur’an in no fewer than 90 places. As for the element of unity, never once did Allah address the Muslims in the Qur’an as individuals but as a collective body.
What’s interesting is that these three qualities are clearly manifest in Hajj. Hajj, linguistically, means Qasd/Aim. Therefore, the pilgrim knows where he is going, what he is going to do and what he wants from it by the end. Hajj is also an exercise in sabr, where you are challenged in every way, adapting to situations that you thought you could never adapt to. Finally, Hajj is a miraculous manifestation of unity.
Hajj, therefore, is a model of success, and should you wish to be such, extend these three Hajj-based qualities into your life till the day you die. Don’t live without a vision, and be committed to it until it’s achieved. Furthermore, don’t operate by yourself, for the greater your network, the greater your success will be. Make every effort to bring the Muslims together.
As a Western Muslim, Hajj teaches you to be the conscience of your country of residence by being a model of success. Hajj is an inspiring experience, particularly for those who feel deflated by what we’re experiencing worldwide. There, in Hajj, you realise that Muslims are not an insignificant minority, but a giant body that is nearing its awakening. When this body does awake and finds its voice, the world will marvel at the model for success that it shall set. Till that day arrives, however, allow Hajj to inspire you to play a role in this by setting a vision, dedicating yourself to it, and doing all that you can in bringing the Muslims together.
3. It’s one of the most profitable ways of collecting good deeds
During Hajj recently, one pilgrim said “The more I read into the narrations that detail the reward associated with each phase of Hajj, the more I realise how similar this opportunity is to that of a person with a trolley who walks into a supermarket and is allowed to fill his trolley as he wishes for free.” As a pilgrim, you are Allah’s guest, and never will you come across a host more generous than Allah.
Two men came to the Prophet ﷺ asking him about the rewards associated with each phase of Hajj, to which he said:
إنَّك إذا خرجتَ من بيتِك تؤُمُّ البيتَ الحرامَ لا تضعُ ناقتُك خفًّا ولا ترفعُه إلَّاكتب اللهُ لك به حسنةً ومحا عنك خطيئةً وأمَّا ركعتاك بعد الطَّوافِ كعِتقِ رقبةٍ وأمَّا وقوفُك عشيَّةَ عرفةَ فإنَّ اللهَ يهبِطُ إلى سماءِ الدُّنيا فيباهي بكم الملائكةَ يقولُ عبادي جاءوني شُعثًا من كلِّ فجٍّ عميقٍ يرجُون جنَّتي فلو كانت ذنوبُكم كعددِ الرَّملِ أو كقطْرِ المطرِ أو كزَبَدِ البحرِ لغفرتُها أفيضوا عبادي مغفورًا لكم ولمن شفعتُم له وأمَّا رميُك الجمارَ فلك بكلِّ حصاةٍ رميْتَها تُكفِّرُ كبيرةً من الموبقاتِ وأمَّا نحرُك فمذخورٌ لك عند ربِّك وأمَّا حِلاقُك رأسَك فلك بكلِّ شعرةٍ حلقتَها حسنةٌ ويُمحَى عنك بها خطيئةٌ وأمَّا طوافُك بالبيتِ بعد ذلك فإنَّك تطوفُ ولا ذنبَ لك ويأتي ملَكٌ حتَّى يضعَ يدَيْه بين كتِفَيْك فيقولُ اعملْ فيما تستقبِلُ فقد غُفِر لك ما مضَى
“If you leave your home aiming for the Ka’ba, then every time your camel raises its foot or lowers it, Allah will write for you a good deed and will erase from you a sin. As for the two units of Salāh which you pray after the Tawāf, it is equivalent to freeing a slave from the children of Ismail. As for your staying at ‘Arafah till the evening, Allah descends to the lower heaven and boasts about you to the angels, saying: ‘My slaves have come to Me in a rough state from every deep valley hoping for My Paradise, so if their sins were equivalent to the grains of sand or the drops of rain or like the foam on the sea I will forgive them. So proceed, O My slaves, for I have forgiven you and all those whom you intercede for.’ As for the stoning of the Jimār (the pillars), then for every stone that you throw, it will erase one of the major sins. As for your slaughtering of the animal, the reward of this will be saved with your Lord. As for shaving your head, then for every strand of hair, a good deed will be written for you and a sin of yours will be erased. As for your circumambulation around the Ka’ba after this, then – by this time – you are completely sinless, and an angel places his hand between your shoulders saying, ‘Work hard in doing good deeds in the days to come, for all of the sins of your past have been forgiven.’” 
Another pilgrim said that the secret behind his Hajj was that he had set aside a sum of money and booked a ticket one year in advance to cut out any potential whisperings of shaytan later on closer to Hajj, and he recommended others to follow suit. Delaying Hajj till death arrives could cost a person much of his hereafter.
‘Umar b. al-Khattāb said:
لقد هممت أن أبعث رجلا إلى هذه الأمصار، فينظروا إلى كل من كان عنده جدة فلم يحج، فيضربوا عليهم الجزية، ما هم بمسلمين، ما هم بمسلمين
“I was on the verge of sending out a person to the various cities for the purpose of pinpointing those people who have the ability to do Hajj but have not done it, to then take from them the Jizya, as they are not Muslims, they are not Muslims.”
 Al-Qur’an, 22:1-2
 Al-Qur’an, 22:27
 Al-Qur’an, 36:51
 Al-Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of ‘Aisha
 Muslim, on the authority of ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Amr
 Al-Qur’an, 20:108
 Al-Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Abū Huraira
 Al-Qur’an, 39:75
 Narrated by Al-Bazzaar and others, and classified as ‘Hasanun Lighairih’ by Al-Albany
 Sa’eed b. Mansoor