Saturday, June 11, 2011

LESSON 6: “Pillars”

LESSON 6: “Pillars”

1)      Shahada:

“There is no god but Allah, and I submit to the Lord of the Worlds.”

This is concluded from a cursory study of 2:131, , , 10:90, 39:54 and 40:66.

2:285 and 9:74 indicate that Muslims should make intention to obey Allah.

Sunni/Shia sects imitate the hypocrites of 63:1, asserting what Allah already knows and what is unrelated to submission.

In spite of “Muslim” meaning “Submitter”, they do not submit and thus go no further than Iblis.

They make intention to perform salaat, but this is not making intention to obey Allah.

2)      Zakat:

2:219 says that Muslims should spend what they can afford on charity.

2:215 says that charity is for parents, relatives, orphans, the needy and wayfarers.

Under traditional “Islamic” law, zakat has been reduced to a state tax equivalent to 2.5% of one’s income.

Tax is a function of society, so it is insufficient for Muslims to pay 2.5% to the government if they can afford to give more.

Muslims should perform their tax obligations and pay any surplus (after expenses) to charity.

People with low incomes should be given opportunity to pay what zakat they can.

3)      Fasting:

Fasting is fully-detailed in 2:183-187.

4)      Pilgrimage (Hajj):

Pilgrimage to the Sacred Mosque is incumbent for all who can afford it (3:96-97).

The period of Hajj starts with the first new moon of the appointed months (2:189).

The months of Hajj were well-known (2:197), like the sacred months ().

There are twelve months; four of them are sacred (9:2, ).

Dhul-Hijjah is the main month of Hajj so it is sacred.

Dhul-Qad’ah is taken from the word “qa’ada” which means “to sit”. Fighting was forbidden during the sacred months (2:217).

The sacredness of Dhul-Qad’ah allows people to prepare and make the pilgrimage in safety.

The sacredness of Muharram (“sacred”) allows people to journey homewards in safety.

Rajab conveys “respect”, so we consider this a sacred month.

The Hajj is performed in the “well-known months” (plural = three or more), and these months are sacred (2:197).

Therefore the Hajj itself can be accomplished in Dhul-Qad’ah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram.

However, the travelling to and from Mecca may be included so I would perform the actual rites in Dhul-Hijjah.

After all, some of the rites are preferably done en masse (2:198-199).

Since the rites are completed in this month, one may continue remembering Allah throughout Muharram (2:203) (hence performing the pilgrimage in all three months).

Umrah (2:158) can be performed in any month and may be combined with the Hajj (2:196).

5)      Prohibitions/measures of Hajj:

Hunting (5:1-2, 5:95)

Conflict (2:217)

Sexual intercourse, mischief and arguments (2:197)

If one cannot attend (2:196)

6)      Rites of Hajj:

Animal offerings for a food supply (5:97, ).

Circling the Kaaba whilst praising Him (2:125, , )

The Safa and Marwah (2:158)

Mount Arafat (2:198)

7)      Summary:

One should bring offerings when making the pilgrimage (2:196, 5:97).

Getting into a state of Ihram would be principally advisable (2:125, 2:222).

One will arrive at Mecca and circle the Kaaba as the people do (). This is performed seven times as there are seven heavens.

Seven cycles are not obligatory according to the Qur’an, but it may have been an acceptably-established custom.

Allah did not specify any number, but if it were established then He did not order it to be changed.

One can then traverse the distance between the Safa and Marwah (2:158). This does not need to be done seven times.

At a later stage, pilgrims will continue to the plain of Arafat (2:198).

Having left the previous place in the morning, Muslims might spend at least the rest of daylight here (“Arafat” conveys “recognition”, so one would remember Allah here).

(The time we spend at each stage is up to discretion, since Allah would have specified a minimum duration as he did in 2:203.)

Eventually one will depart (with the others when all agree) and arrive near “al-Mashar al-Haram”. 

This is perceived as the plain near Mecca, where people spend the night praying (2:198).

However, it is only a place “near” al-Mashar al-Haram thus it more likely that the “holy monument” is the Sacred Mosque (in its surroundings).

It is the only place described as “sacred” concerning Hajj.

The Qur’an only says that there is no blame on one for doing this step (2:198), but it is preferable.

2:199 instructs one to move on from wherever (and whenever) the people move on from (to the Sacred Mosque), and to continue lauding Allah during the specified days (Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram).

One must do this for a period of at least two days (2:199).

To see possible explanations of “the ten nights” in 89:2, see 7:142 and 20:103. In the context, it may be a reference to the “beginning and end” of a person’s sojourn on Earth (ten days are described as one in 20:103-104). 7:142 is also plausible (ten special nights granted at least to Prophet Musa). Please see and 27:84.

8)      Afterthoughts:

Nowhere is it stated that circling the Kaaba must come before visiting Arafat. In fact, it would make sense to complete the pilgrimage by arriving at the Sacred Mosque.

Arriving at Mecca first would simply make one’s “registration” and preparation easier (like a motel).

Since some rites are done en masse, there would ideally be a schedule arranged by organisers.

The point is a “pilgrimage to Mecca” which if performed in the sacred months (with full rites), will be complete.

Contrary to belief, Hajj is not about searching for stones, throwing stones or kissing stones.

Stoning is not recommended (11:91, , , 36:18). It is a misuse of time because remembrance is for Allah alone (6:162, ).

The stoning tradition derives from a story about Prophet Ibrahim being tempted by the Devil, so it has nothing to with actually serving Allah.

Hajj is about making a journey, and seeking Allah.

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