وَإِذْ جَعَلْنا البَيْتَ مَثَابَةً لِلنَّاسِ وَأَمْناً.
“(And when) We made the House a pilgrimage for men and a (place of) security. (The Holy Quran; 2:125)”
The human society, when differences arise and violations arise, is in need for an internationally-recognized forum before which all people feel responsible so that if a wronged individual or nation appeals to it, all nations will rise up in support and take right from the oppressor. Human society is in need for an international forum of security to the grievances of human beings and nations in fear. The same need has encouraged the modern man to form the United Nations Organization. The success or failure of this organization is not to be discussed here. For this reason, in the world of Islam, this need has been taken into consideration and God has made the Kaaba a place of security in the world in addition to making it sacred so that the Ummah who esteem this house will not allow anyone to be wronged or oppressed. In this way, not only will oppression or intimidation cease to exist among people but also Muslims will be known as reformers and guarantors of security at an international level. It is true then that the Kaaba is the guarantor of the world peace and security; therefore, man can live a happy life and enjoy blessing if the Kaaba is considered as maintenance for people and the Hajj rites will be performed with its perfect conditions.
IGNORING HAJJ MEANS DISPERSION IN HUMAN SOCIETY
If, God forbid, one day the Hajj rites are abandoned or become devoid of content, human society will collapse, blessings will depart man’s life, and oppression and insecurity will prevail.
The PROPHESY OF the ABANDONMENT OF THE KAABA AND ITS SINISTER EFFECTS IN TRADITIONS
One of the sinister events happening at the end of the world causing spread of oppression in the human societies is the closing of Hajj and the abandonment of the Kaaba. Speaking of the events happening before the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (may Allah expedite his reappearance), Imam Sadiq (a.s) has said:
ورَأَيتَ بيتَ اللهِ قَد عُطِّلَ ويُؤمَرُ بتَرْكِهِ... فكُنْ على حَذَرٍ واطْلبْ إلى اللهِ النّجاةَ واعْلَم أنّ الناسَ في سَخَطِ اللهِ عزّ وجلّ...
“(When) you see that Allah’s House is closed down and the Hajj rites are abandoned, beware you; supplicate to Allah to be safe from His punishment, for people are at this time subject to Allah’s wrath.”
HAJJ, GOD’S RIGHT TO MAN AND MAN’S GRATEFULNESS TO HIM
وَللهِ عَلى النّاسِ حِجُّ البَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطاعَ إِليهِ سَبيلاً؛ وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللهَ غَنيٌّ عَنِ العَالَمِينَ.
“… and pilgrimage to the House is incumbent upon men for the sake of Allah, (upon) every one who is able to undertake the journey to it; and whoever disbelieves, then surely Allah is Self-Sufficient, above any need of the worlds (The Holy Quran; 3:97)”
This Quranic Verse reveals God’s right to men. In the same way that every benefactor has a right, and the person who has been favored tries to make up for his benefactor’s beneficence and pay a visit to his house to express his thanks, it is the duty of people to make pilgrimage to God’s House to offer their thanks to Him.
THE TRUE BENEFACTOR IS GOD AND OFFERING THANKS IS OBLIGATORY
God Who is the true Benefactor is the One Who has favored human being infinitely. In this relation, the Holy Quran says:
وَإِنْ تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَةَ اللهِ لا تحُصُوهَا.
“… and if you count Allah’s favors, you will not be able to number them. (14:34)”
Showing God’s favor to man, the Holy Quran also says:
أَلم تَرَوا أَنَّ اللهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُمْ مَا في السَّماوَاتِ وَمَا في الأَرْضِ وَأَسْبَغَ عَلَيكُمْ نِعَمَهُ ظَاهِرَةً وبَاطِنَةً.
“Do you not see that Allah has made what is in the heavens and what is in the earth subservient to you, and made complete to you His favors outwardly and inwardly? (13:20)”
Does such a Benefactor not have right upon you to go to His House and offer Him gifts as much as you can for expressing thanks to Him?
GOD ACCEPT GENEROUSLY EVERY LITTLE DEED
For all benefactions, God only expects His servants to visit His House and to offer a sacrifice, that too, to the extent of each one’s financial capability.
THANKFULNESS BENEFITS MAN, NOT GOD
Visitation of the Sacred House does not benefit God, for He is above what we think of Him. Rather it is a grace from the Almighty God. By call to Hajj, God has made man distinct from animals.
THANKFULNESS TO GOD MAKES MAN DISTINCT FROM ANIMALS
One of the advantages of human beings is the virtue of gratitude to the Benefactor though this quality exists to some extent in certain animals but it is not a necessary quality in them. Yet man cannot possibly do without it unless he has lost his human nature as a result of indulging in carnal desires and lusts and has become an animal. In this connection, the Holy Quran says:
اُولَئِكَ كَالأنعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ؛ اُولَئِكَ هُمُ الغَافِلُونَ.
“They are as cattle, nay, they are in worse errors; these are the heedless ones. (7:179)”
Evidently, not only do such bestial ones refuse to thank their benefactor but also they will deny Him.
CALL TO WORSHIP IS MAN’S DIGNITY
What grace it is from God to man to make him duty-bound to pray, to make pilgrimage to Mecca, and to do other religious acts that are somehow expressions of thanks by which man’s dignity is safeguarded. In this relation, Imam Sajjad says:
والحمدُ للهِ الذي لَو حَبَسَ عن عَبادِهِ مَعرِفةَ حَمدِهِ على ما أبلاهُمْ مِن مِنَنِهِ المُتَتابِعَةِ وأسْبغَ عليهِم مِن نِعَمِهِ المُتَظاهِرَةِ لَتَصَرَّفوا في مِنَنِهِ فَلَم يحْمِدوهُ وتَوَسَّعوا في رِزْقِهِ فَلَم يَشْكُرُوهُ ولَوْ كَانُوا كَذَلِكَ لخَرَجُوا من حُدودِ الإنسَانِيّةِ الى حَدِّ البَهِيمِيَّةِ فَكانوا كَما وَصَفَ في محْكَمِ كِتابهِ: إِنْ هُمْ إِلا كَالأنعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبيلاً.
“Praise belongs to Allah, for had He withheld His servants the knowledge to praise Him for the uninterrupted kindnesses with which He has tried them and the manifest favors which he has lavished upon them, they would have moved about in His kindnesses without praising Him, and spread themselves out in His provision without thanking Him. Had such been the case, they would have left the bounds of humanity for that of beastliness and become as He has described in the firm text of His Book: ‘They are but as the cattle, nay, but they are further astray from the way.”
WHY IS AN UNGRATEFUL MAN MORE ASTRAY THAN BEASTS?
Lacking in intellect and being subject to its instincts, an animal does not ignore its natural forces nor does it deviate from its path, rather it acts as its Creator wills. In this relation, the Holy Quran says:
مَا مِنْ دَابَّةٍ إِلا هُوَ آخِذٌ بنَاصِيَتِها إِنَّ رَبِّي عَلى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ.
“… There is no living creature but He holds it by its forelock; surely, my Lord is on the right path. (11:56)”
Therefore, if an animal is not on human path and does not reach human perfection, it has not committed any sin nor has it done anything contrary to what is expected from it, rather it walks on the right path in reaching animal perfection and follows its own instinct which is its right path. However, man who has intellect, an advantage over animals, is duty-bound to recognize his Benefactor and to be thankful to Him. Therefore, when this graceful human quality is missing, man will deviate from his natural path, which is God’s right path and he will become more astray than beasts hence subject to a great loss and punishment.
CALL TO HAJJ IS GOD’S GRACE TO MAN
To sum it up, by inventing man to the acts of worship, especially visitation of His Sacred House, God has had grace on him by giving him dignity and preventing him from falling into the state of an animal.
WHAT PROFITABLE TRADE THE VISITATION OF THE KAABA IS!
The visitation of the Kaaba by the humble servant and his offering of an unworthy sacrifice is means by which God will shower with His double blessings of the world and the Hereafter.
SOME OF THE WONDERFUL BLESSINGS OF HAJJ ACCORDING TO TRADITIONS
The intention of Hajj opens the gates of God’s mercy. Imam Baqir (a.s) was quoted as saying:
إنَّ الحَاجَّ إذا أخَذَ في جِهازِهِ لم يَخطُ خُطْوَةً في شَيءٍ مِن جِهازِهِ إِلا كَتَبَ اللهُ عَزَّ وجَلَّ لهُ عَشْرَ حَسَناتٍ ومحَى عَنهُ عَشْرَ سَيّئاتٍ ورفعَ له عَشْرَ دَرَجَاتٍ حتّى يفْرُغَ مِن جِهازِهِ مَتى ما فَرَغ...
“When a man intends to go on Hajj, for every step he takes in preparing for his journey Allah will write ten good deeds for him and will write off ten of his wrongdoings and will elevate his ten scales until he completes his preparatory affairs.”
NOT ALL HAJJ PILGRIMS ARE EQUAL IN TERMS OF REWARD
Imam Sadiq (a.s) said:
الحُجَّاجُ يَصدُرونَ على ثَلاثةِ أصنافٍ؛ صِنفٌ يُعْتَقُ مِن النّارِ وَصِنْفٌ يَخْرُجُ من ذُنوبهِ كَهَيئَةِ يومِ وَلدَتهُ أُمُّهُ وصِنْفٌ يُحْفَظُ في أَهلِهِ ومَالِهِ، فَذلِكَ أَدْنى مَا يَرجِعُ به الحَاجُّ.
“The Hajj pilgrims who return home are three groups; one are rescued from the fire (of Hell), another are cleansed from their sins as if they have been just born, and the third group return home with their wealth and family secured. This is the least reward the Hajj pilgrims can obtain.”
WHY IS THE DIFFERENCE IN REWARD?
Evidently, the difference in reward is because of difference in intention –Niyyah-, the difference in cognition of the Lord of the House, and the difference in understanding the secret of the acts and the influence of the Hajj rites on the soul. One pilgrim goes there with the pure intention to please God, to ascend to heaven, and to loosen the chains of captivity of self so that he will not be trapped by Satan hence going to Hell. Such a man will be rescued from the fire (of Hell) forever.
Another pilgrim goes on Hajj solely to discharge his religious duty without paying attention to the spirit of the act or removing vices from his self and obtaining virtues. Thanks to Hajj, his sins will be forgiven but since he has not been purified, he has to be careful about his future so that Satanic temptations and his carnal desires will not push him to sins hence fire.
The third man goes on Hajj to escape people’s blame, to get the title of Hajji, and to gain business profits. The reward of such a man is only material and worldly. His family and wealth are secure until he comes back home.