The Secret & Philosophy of Hajj 2

The Secret & Philosophy of Hajj 2

The Financial Dimension

Contrary to what some people imagine, utilizing the great assembly of Hajj for strengthening the financial foundations of the Islamic nations is not inconsistent with the spirit of Hajj. Instead, according to the Islamic traditions, it constitutes one of the philosophies for it.

What harm is there if the Muslims in that great gathering, were to lay the foundations of a common and associated Islamic market, and pave the way for commercial transactions amongst themselves in a manner in which neither do their profits enter the pockets of their enemies nor does their economy become dependent upon the others? An act of this type would not be called 'craving for the world' but rather, it would constitute an act of worship and Jihad (in the way of Allah).

In that tradition of Hisham b. Hakam from Imam as-sadiq (a.s), an express reference has been made towards this aspect that one of the objectives of Hajj is strengthening the commerce of the Muslims and facilitating economic association and cooperation amongst them. In another tradition, Imam as-Sadiq (a.s), interpreting the verse…

لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُناحٌ أَنْ تَبْتَغُوا فَضْلاً مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ‏

“There is no blame on you in seeking bounty from your Lord.”(1)  … says: The meaning of this verse is 'seeking livelihood'.

إِذَا أَحَلَّ الرَّجُلُ مِنْ إِحْرَامِهِ وَ قَضَى فَلْيَشْتَرِ وَ لْيَبِعْ فِي الْمَوْسِمِ.

“And when a person comes out of his iHram and completes the Hajj, he should conduct business transactions during the season of Hajj (for instead of being a sin it carries rewards.)”(2) This meaning is also witnessed in a tradition(3) from Imam 'Ali b. Musa al-Ridha (a.s) which explicitly enumerates the philosophies and objectives underlying the rites of Hajj; in the tradition, the Imam (a.s) recites the following verse of the Noble Qur`an:

لِيَشْهَدُوا مَنَافِعَ لَهُمْ‏

“That they may witness advantages for them”,(4)

A reference to the fact that the verse alludes to the spiritual benefits as well as the material ones - although both of them, from one perspective, can be looked upon as being spiritual in nature. In short, if this great worship were to be utilized correctly and perfectly, and the pilgrims of the House of Allah, at a time when they are active and their hearts are emotionally ready in that holy land, were to make use of this great opportunity for solving the various problems that plague the Islamic society by establishing various political, cultural and mercantile assemblies, it would surely serve to untie the knots and solve the problems. Perhaps this is why Imam as-Sadiq (a.s) has said:

لاَ يَزَالُ الدِّينُ قَائِماً مَا قَامَتِ الْكَعْبَةُ.

“The religion shall continue to stand as long as the Ka'bah (Kaaba) continues to do so.”(5)

Imam 'Ali (a.s) too has said:

أَللٌّهَ اللٌّهَ فِي بَيْتِ رَبِّكُمْ فَلاَ يَخْلُو مِنْكُمْ مَا بَقِيتُمْ فَإِنَّهُ إِنْ تُرِكَ لَمْ تُنَاظَرُوا.

“Fear Allah in the matter of His House (Ka'bah)! Do not desert it for if it is deserted, divine reprieve shall be taken away from you.”(6) In view of the immense significance of the above issue, in the Islamic sources of traditions a separate chapter has been devoted to the ruling that if it were to ever happen that in a particular year the Muslims decide to refrain from going for Hajj, it would become obligatory upon the Islamic government to send them to Mecca by means of force!(7)

Hajj, An Important Worship for Human Development

The journey for Hajj is a divine one and, in reality, a great migration; an expansive field for self-development, self-rectification and the Greatest Battle (Jihad-e-Akbar). The Hajj rituals collectively are an act of worship profoundly associated with the struggle of Ibrahim (a.s) his son Isma`il (a.s) and his wife Hajar and if we were to remain heedless of this aspect while studying the secrets and objectives of Hajj, many of its rites and rituals would only float before us as enigmas; the solution to this lies in keeping this deep association within our sights during the course of the study.

When we come to the sacrificial grounds in Mina, the innumerable sacrifices performed there leave us amazed and perplexed; basically, is it possible for animal-sacrifice to be a part of the rituals associated with an act of worship? But when we bring to mind the incident of Ibrahim (a.s) when he sincerely endeavoured to sacrifice his nearest and dearest one in the path of Allah subsequent to which the sacrifice at Mina came into existence in the form of a custom, we comprehend the philosophy lying behind it.

Offering sacrifice, in reality, implies one's total disregard for everything else when striving in the way of Allah and is a demonstration of cleansing one's heart from everything other than Allah. The reformative and educative effects of these rites can be derived in sufficient measure only when the entire scenario of the sacrifice of Isma`il (a.s) and the spiritual state of the father and the son leading up to the sacrifice is incarnated before man's eyes and this spiritual state casts its influence upon him.(8)

When we proceed towards Jamarat (three stone pillars, which the pilgrims strike with pebbles - each one to be struck with seven pebbles - in a special ritual of Hajj), the rituals there appear enigmatic and inexplicable to us and we are given to wonder as to what could be the idea behind stoning a lifeless stone pillar and what problem could such an act possibly solve? However, when we bring to mind the struggle of Ibrahim (a.s) - the champion of monotheism - against the whisperings of the Satan, who appeared before him on three occasions - each time seeking to weaken his resolve and distract him from the Jihad-e-Akbar (The Greatest Battle) - and on each occasion Ibrahim (a.s) repelled him by means of stones, these rites appear more meaningful and comprehensible to us.

These rituals convey the meaning that:  Throughout your lives, all of you too, are in confrontation with the whisperings of the Satans during the Jihad-e-Akbar (Greatest Battle), and until you do not stone them and drive them away, you shall never be victorious. If you desire that Allah, just as He had sent His salutations upon Ibrahim (a.s) and made his name and doctrine eternal, should also cast His look of grace and favor upon you, then you must follow his (a.s) path too.

When we arrive at Safa and Marwah where we observe the people repeatedly moving to and fro between one small mountain and another even smaller one without getting anything -  at times walking and at times running - we are surely overtaken by astonishment as to what kind of ritual this is and what could it possibly mean and signify.

But then, when we bring to mind the efforts of Hajar for saving the life of her suckling child in that hot and scorching desert, and how Allah, after her sincere efforts, granted her wish by making the water of Zamzam to flow from beneath the foot of her new-born child, the clock suddenly turns back for us, the curtains tend to get lifted and we find ourselves near Hajar, accompanying her in her quest and efforts. In the path of Allah, one cannot hope to attain any rank and status without exertion and effort!

From what we have presented above, it can be easily concluded that Hajj should be taught in this manner; the memories of Ibrahim (a.s) his son and his wife should be personified step by step so that not only is the philosophy of Hajj perceived and comprehended, but also its profound ethical effects illuminate and influence the souls of the pilgrims - for without these effects the entire Hajj is nothing but a mere façade.(9)



1. Suratul Baqarah (2), Verse 198

2. Tafsir 'Ayyashi, as stated by Tafsir al-Mizan, vol. 2, pg. 86

3. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 99, pg. 32

4. Suratul Hajj (22), Verse 28 (Tr.)

5. Wasa`il ash-Shia, vol. 8, pg. 14

6. Nahj al-Balagha, letter 47

7. Wasa`il ash-Shia, vol. 8, pg. 15 (The Chapter of 'Obligation Upon The Governor To Compel The People For Hajj') and Tafsir-e-Nemuneh, vol. 14, pg. 76

8. Unfortunately, of late, the sacrificial rites have come to acquire an undesirable form and the Islamic scholars must strive to rectify it.

9. Tafsir-e-Namunah, vol. 19, pg. 125