by Imam Murtada Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi Jumu’at Mosque, Okene, Kogi State Nigeria
In the name of Allah, the most Merciful the Bestowal of Mercy
Alhamdulillah. Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from our soul’s evils and our wrong doings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide; and he whom He misguides, no one can guide.
I bear witness that there is no (true) god except Allah – alone without a partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad (saw) is His Servant and messenger.
“O you who believe! Revere Allah the right reverence, and do not die except as Muslims”. (Al-imran, 3:102)
“O people! Revere your Lord who has created you from a single soul, created from it its mate, and dispersed from both of them many men and women. Revere Allah, through whom you demand things from one another and (cherish the ties of) the wombs. Indeed, Allah is ever watchful over you”. (An-Nisa’, 4:1)
“O you who believe! Revere Allah and say just words. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Messenger have certainly achieved a great Victory” (Al-Ahzab, 33:70-71)
Indeed, the best speech is Allah (swt)’s Book and the best guidance is Muhammad (saw)’s guidance. The worst affairs (of religion) are those innovated (by people), for every such innovation is an act of misguidance leading to the Fire.
O my respected people,
Hajj is the pilgrimage to the ‘House of Allah’ in Makkah. It is compulsory on every adult Muslim in any part of the world who has the means, power and the wherewithal to undertake the journey. Hajj also is the fifth pillar of Islam. Every year it brings together what may justly be described as the largest gathering of mankind in the world. Thus hajj is a very special annual event, unlike anything that any other religion has in the world. For fourteen hundred and thirty five years (1435 A.H.) Muslims have been gathering annually in Makkah without interruption in response to their Lord’s Commandment in order to express their devotion to Him.
Hajj is, above all, a journey of individual self-renewal inspired by piety and devotion to Allah (swt). In this quest, the individual is strengthened by the knowledge that thousands of human beings from all over the world regardless of their worldly status, language, country, region or race, are in pursuit of the same objective- the pleasure of their Creator (ALLAH).
Many of the rites of the hajj date from the days of Prophet Ibrahim (AS). There is a sense of history, in going along the same straight path that has been the way of the Prophets of Allah (swt) in the past and those who followed them. There is also a natural feeling of universal and brotherly identity among the pilgrims as they go anti-clockwise around the cub-like building of the Ka’aba, clothed in the simple garments of the state of ihraam, or as they stand deeply inspired on the plain of Arafat from noon until sunset.
The powerful emotions experienced during this act of worship and international gathering are difficult to describe as they are so personal to each pilgrim.
Hajj, unlike any other occasion, has the capacity to lie bare the fancies and vanities of man. The talbiyya or the special refrain announcing man’s willingness and eagerness to acknowledge and obey Allah (swt) resounds throughout the Hajj environment:
LABBAIK LA SHARIKA LA KA LABBAIK…’
‘Here I am, O Lord, here I am!
Here I am; no partner has you; here I am!
Surely to you is all Praise, all goodness and all
Sovereignty; no partner has you’!
The simplicity, beauty and power of this humble but poignant refrain create the mood in which the pilgrimage is performed. It is important that the very highest standard of conduct and excellence of manner is displayed by each pilgrim. Arrangements and facilities for hajj have improved a great deal in recent years but at the same time intrusion by too much technology affects the somber mood of hajj. It is essential to maintain a happy balance. As far as possible natural solutions to ecological and environmental problems due to such a large gathering of humans, should be found. This would ensure the spirit and the atmosphere of contemplation, devotion and personal rectification that are the prime objectives of this pilgrimage.
The Qur’an gives guidance on the code of conduct to be adopted at hajj in the following verse:
“The Hajj (pilgrimage) is (in) the well-known (lunar year) months (i.e. the 10th
Month, the 11th month and the first ten days of the 12th Month of the Islamic Calendar, i.e. two months and ten days). So whosoever intends to perform hajj therein (by assuming Ihraam), then he should not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commit sin, nor dispute unjustly during the Hajj. And whatever good you do, (be sure) Allah knows it. And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa (i.e. piety, righteousness). So fear Me, O men of understanding! (Al-Baqarah, 2:197)
It is therefore essential that steps are taken to ensure that the mood of hajj is not marred or ruined by the environment and the physical conditions under which hajj is performed. The prior briefing and education of pilgrims in the ritual and courtesies of hajj would be useful.
The following is a brief summary of the rituals of hajj:
- Changing to ‘Ihraam’, prior to arriving in Makkah.
- Arrival in Makkah and going around the Ka’aba. This is called Tawaf.
- Hastening between the two hills called Safa and Marwah. This is called Sa’y.
- Halting at Mount Arafat on the 9th of the month of Zul-Hijjah.
- Staying overnight at Muzdalifa.
- Staying at Mina.
- Stoning at Jamrat-ul-Aqaba.
- The sacrifice offering at Mina.
Although not part of the hajj ritual, many pilgrims on hajj visit the Prophet’s (saw) mosque at Madinah where he is buried. The Prophet’s (saw) mosque is the second holiest place in Islam. This is highly recommended because by visiting Madinah one is paying his respects to the greatest teacher of mankind ever born and whose life continues to be a source of guidance and inspiration to millions.
My Respected Brothers and Sisters,
Umrah, a minor form of hajj can be performed any time of the year. Except for Tawaf and Sa’y and of course the prayer in Masjid-al-Haram, other rituals of hajj are not obligatory for umrah.
My respected Brothers and Sisters,
I ask Allah by His beautiful Names and His Sublime Attributes to accept the efforts of our pilgrims who have the intention to visit His sacred House and to render their Hajj accepted, their efforts appreciated and their sins forgiven.
May He also make it easy for them to perform their rituals and help them to fulfill them properly. May He gave us and them a good end, and help us and accept our good deeds, for He is the Most Generous, Most Kind.
I say these words of mine and I ask Allah to forgive me and you and all the remaining Brothers and Sisters, so ask Him for forgiveness, for He is the Oft- forgiving, most merciful.
Praise be to Allah who has made His sacred House a place of assembly for men (and women) and a place of safety (Al-Bakarah, 2:125), and has increased it in magnificence, eminence, honour and awe. I praise Him, may He be exalted, and I give thanks to Him, and I ask Him to help me and you to repent and turn to Him. Praise also be to Allah, who said:
“And for every nation we have appointed religious ceremonies”. (Al-Hajj, 22:34)
And I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah alone, with no partner or associate, and I bear witness that our Prophet Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger, His chosen one and His close Friend. May Allah send blessings and peace upon him and upon his family and companions, the virtuous and righteous, and upon those who follow them in truth until the Day of Resurrection.
Fellow Nigerians’ Pilgrims,
Fear Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, for whoever fears Allah, He will protect him, and whoever puts his trust in Him, He will suffice him.
O slaves of Allah, during these days, every year, the Muslim Ummah approaches a great occasion; people look forward to it and their hearts long for it and the Muslims rejoice in it. That occasion is O slaves of Allah, the pilgrimage to the sacred House of Allah, where you find the holy places, the place where the Revelation descended and the Prophet’s mission began, the place from which the light of faith shone forth for all of humankind. It is this place where tears are shed, mercy descends, relief is granted, status is raised, sins are expiated and the Lord of mercy bestows kindness and generosity. As it says in the Hadith of as-Saheehayn (i.e. Al-Bukhariy and Muslim), in a Marfu’ Hadith narrated from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) said:
“An accepted Hajj brings no less a reward than Paradise.” (Al-Bukhariy, 1773; Muslim, 1349)
And it is also narrated from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
“Whoever performs Hajj and does not utter any obscene speech or do any evil deed will go back as his mother bore him”. (Al-Bukhariy, 1819; Muslim, 1350)
O pilgrims to the Sacred House of Allah,
In order to gain the benefits of Hajj and attain the blessings and reward decreed for the pilgrims from Allah, everyone who heads towards this Ancient House must adhere to the Shari ‘a way and the guidance of the Prophet (saw) in the manner in which he performs this great obligation. There are conditions and essential parts of Hajj, actions that are obligatory and Mustahabb (i.e. recommended), guidelines and etiquette to be observed – and attention must be paid to all of that.
O slaves of Allah, O pilgrims to the House of Allah, O you who have the intention to come from far away, crossing wilderness and desert, travelling by air, road and by sea, going through all this hardship and putting up with all these difficulties, leaving behind your wealth, your children all your families and your homelands – I give this brief and comprehensive advice to you, and a few helpful words, as you are preparing to perform this great act of worship:
- Indeed, first and foremost know that, the basic principle on which all acts of worship is based, Hajj and others, is Tauheed, affirming the oneness of Allah and worshipping Him alone, and no other.
- Sincerity towards Allah alone.
- Following in the footsteps of the beloved Prophet (saw), as Allah has
Commanded, and adhering to his Sunnah, and learning from him.
- Fearing Allah (swt), striving to obey Him and draw closer to Him by doing righteous deeds, especially when the virtue of both time and place come together.
- Bringing to mind the importance of this obligatory duty, this is not just a trip or holiday or Hajujuwa, as our great and respected Malam, Sheikh Lawal Abubakar from Kaduna puts it. It is not to be undertaken as a habit or custom, or to copy someone else. Rather it is a spiritual journey, the atmosphere of which is filled with sublime meanings, noble aims and great opportunities to repent and turn to Allah and to adhere to His straight path, far removed from misconceptions in belief and thought, and wrong behavior and attitudes.
- Bringing to mind the high esteem in which this Ancient house is held, the holiness of these blessed places and the reverence and awe that surrounds them. No blood is to be shed there, no tree is to be cut, no game is to be disturbed and no lost property is to be picked up except by the one who will announce it, as it says in al-Saheehayn, in the report from Ibn abbas (R.A). The trees, game, people and animals are all safe from fear and harm.
- Preparing for Hajj by acquiring practical knowledge, learning about the rulings and rituals of Hajj, and asking people of knowledge (Ulama’/ Malamai) about anything you do not understand. It is not permissible to worship Allah on the basis of ignorance or to perform the rituals without knowledge – every pilgrim should pay a great deal of attention to this matter.
- Avoiding sins and all Haram actions, as Allah (swt) says:
“Let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the Hajj”. Al-Bakarah, 2:197)
Thus, a person should compel himself to do acts of worship and keep away from sins.
- Striving to make sure that one’s Hajj will be accepted and doing everything that could increased the good deeds of the pilgrim and perfecting the rituals, with the help of Allah. Part of this depends on choosing good travelling companions. It also includes acquiring lawful earnings, because that is one of the means of acceptance, by Allah’s leave.
- striving to act in accordance with sublime Islamic principles and noble Shari’ a etiquette, and keeping away from anything that is contrary to good etiquette and good manners with Allah or with His slaves. Beware of offending fellow Muslims in word or deed, for Hajj, O slaves of Allah, is a school in which one learns to acquire a noble attitude, praiseworthy characteristics, good qualities and sublime principles such as patience, forbearance, cooperation and selflessness, far removed from violence, harshness, pushing and shoving, and annoying others.
Respected Brothers and sisters,
This is how the pilgrims should understand this great worship and obligation. They should take this advice to heart and make it a practical reality in their actions and behaviour.
Today, the Muslim Ummah is in the greatest need of understanding and learning unity, faith, patience, perseverance, cooperation, brotherhood, community spirit and strength. All of these are the fruits and effects of this great obligation (Hajj) which Allah has summed up in the words:
“That they may witness things that are of benefit to them, (i.e. reward of Hajj in the Hereafter, and also some worldly gains from trade etc.)”. (Al-Hajj, 22:28)
O guests of the Most Merciful, delegates of the All-knowing Sovereign, you are preparing to visits those holy lands, so give thanks to Allah, may He be glorified, and focus on worship and obedience. A lot of resources and services will been made available to you, first and foremost by Allah’s grace, and then thanks to the actions of those who are responsible for pilgrims services in the National, states, and local governments levels – may Allah reward them and place that in the balance of their good deeds for their great efforts in taking good care of the pilgrims, amin.
My respected people, know that,
Anything good I have said is from Allah, and any mistakes are my own and I seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.
Finally, send the blessings and peace – may Allah have mercy on you – upon the best one who ever prayed, fasted, performed Hajj and prayed Qiyaam al-lail (i.e. Night Prayer), your Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullah, the best of human kind, as the All-knowing sovereign has commanded you, when He said:
“Allah sends His salaat (Graces, Honours, Blessings, mercy, etc.) on the prophet Muhammad, (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and also His angels too (ask Allah to bless and forgive him). O you who believe! Send your salaat on (ask Allah to bless) him (Muhammad, May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and (you should) greet (salute) him with the Islamic way of greeting (salutation i.e. AS-Salaamu Alaikum)”. (Al-Ahzab, 33:56)
This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today (Jumu’ah) Shawwal 27, 1435 A.H. (August 22, 2014) by Imam Murtada Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi Jumu’at Mosque, Okene, Kogi State Nigeria. He can be reached via 08038289761 and [email protected] or [email protected]