The Fifth Pillar of Islam - 14
by Sheikh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (Raheemullahalayh)
Reformative Role of Islam
Islam has also played a reformative role of profound significance in the sphere of Pilgrimage. The Pagans had introduced numerous pervese innovations and rituals in the Hajj destroying its spirit and doing a tremendous harm to its aims and advantages. Paganish pride, tribal vanity and the discriminatory behaviour of the Quraish were mainly responsible for it. The holy Quran and the Shariat put an end to the lamentable state of affairs by doing away with each and every vestige of the days of Ignorance and giving to mankind something the like of which it had never seen before.
During the pre-Islamic days the Quraish did not go to Arafat with other pilgrims but stayed back at Haram. They said that they belonged to the family of God and were the custodians of the House of Ka'aba. They, thus, sought to assert the superiority of their position and perpetuate their privileges. Their Paganish pride and tribal arrogance was brought to an end by God and it was enjoined upon them to do as the others did and make the halt at Arafat.
Hazrat Ayesha relates that the Quraish and those who followed their example halted at Muzdalifa, and they were known as Hums, while the rest of the pilgrims stopped at Arafat. But when Islam came, God commanded His Apostle to proceed to Arafat and make a halt there also, and, then, return with the other pilgrims. This is what is implied in the Quranic verse:
Ibn-i-Kathir says that Ibn-i-Abbas, Mujahid, Ata, Qatada, Suddi and other theological doctors also are of the same view. Ibn-i-Jareer, too, has related in the same manner and there is a general agreement over it in the Ummat.
Like the fairs of Okaz, Zul Majanna and Zul Majaz, the Haj too, had become an occasion for flourish, pomposity, competition and polemics. It was the habit of the Pagans to be on the look out for opportunities of self-glorification. They made use of every festival and congregation to show themselves off in high feather and to talk about their ancestors in a vainglorious manner. The congregation of Mina was ideally suited for the display of their crude tribal instincts and, hence, it was forbidden by Allah and a better alternative was prbvided to them.
It is related by Hazrat Ibn-i-Abbas that "the Pagan Arabs used to compete with each other in vulgar ostentation and selfpraise during the season of the Haj. They bragged about the chivalry, nobility and hospitality of their ancestors, and related how they fed others, carried their loads and shed rivers of blood for their sake. They had no other occupation than to praise their forefathers. It was at such a time that the Quranic verse was revealed: Remember Allah as ye remember your ancestors or with a more lively remembrance."
With the passage of time the Haj had lost much of its purity, simplicity and sanctity and become just another fair in which all sorts of games and shows were held and brawls and altercations took place. It all was condemned by God who proclaimed:
Ibn-i-Kathir tells that it was related by Abdullah bin Wahab from Maalik that "the occasion for the revelation of the Divine Commandment, 'Let there be no angry conversation on the Pilgrimage' was that the Quraish used to stay at Muzdalifa near Mash`ar-i Haram and they wrangled among themselves. A group of them would say that it was in the right and the other would say that it was in the right. This was the position so far as I know; but God knows best."
Likewise, when the Pagan Arabs killed the animals as a sacrifice to their gods they placed their flesh before them and sprinkled their blood on them. Upon it, the following verse of the Quran was revealed:
It is related by Ibn-i-Kathir that "the Pagans used to throw the flesh and blood of the sanctified animals at the House of Ka'aba. On seeing it, the holy Companions said to the Prophet
Another custom among the the Pagan Arabs was that when they did the Niyat for the Haj they refrained from going into their houses through the doors as it was considered to be sinful. As long as they remained in the state of Ihram they entered into them by scaling the walls. This, too, was prohibited by the Quran which said that there was no virtue in it.
Some people avoided taking the wherewithal of the journey with them when they set out on the Haj pilgrimage. They thought that it was against the spirit of reliance upon God to take provisions with them. "We are the guests of God", they said, "Why should we take upon ourselves to make arrangements for our meals and other wants?" Yet they felt no disgrace in begging for their requirements on the way. It was supposed to be an act of penance and resignation. This practice, also, was forbidden by God.
It is related by Ibn-i-Kathir that some people started on the journey in such a condition that they carried no provisions with them and were empty-handed. They would say: "We are going on pilgrimage to the House of God. Will He not feed us?" It was to discourage them that the verse, 'So make provision.........,' was revealed denoting that the pilgrims should take enough provisions to meet their needs and save them from stretching a begging hand before others.
Again, the Pagans considered it sinful to engage in trade during the season of the Haj, and, thus, a lawful activity was rendered unlawful by them. It is related in Bukhari on the authority of Ibn-i Abbas that in the days of Ignorance the markets of `Okaz, Zul Majanna and Zul Majaz were famous but trade was forbidden during the season of the Pilgrimage. Upon it, the following verse was revealed:
A most abominable custom was that some people performed the circumambulation of the House of Ka'aba naked saying that they could not carry out the ritual dressed in clothes in which they committed sins. The Paganish practice was a standing invitation to lewdness and perversion. Upon it, the following verse was revealed:
Awfi relates on the authority of Ibn-i-Abbas that "some people did the circumambuiation round the House of Ka`aba in nude. To them God sent down the command of zeenat (meaning adornment) which signifies a dress that covers the parts of the body that are to be covered and is also seemly and respectable. Ibn-i-Kathir writes that Mujahid, Ata, Ibrahim Nakh`ee, Saeed bin Jubair, Qatada, Suddi, Zahak, Maalik and Zohri have taken the same view of this verse and they all are agreed that it was revealed in respect of the Polytheists who used to circumambulate round the House of Ka`aba without wearing any clothes.
In Bukhari it is related from Ibn-i-Abbas that "the holy Prophet had directed the delegation he sent under the leadership of Hazrat Abu Bakr a year before the Farewell Haj to proclaim on the sacrificial day that after that year no Polytheist was to perform the Haj nor could any one carry out the circumambulation of the House of Ka`aba naked."
Some of the Pagan Arabs believed that the ritual of walking between the hills of Safa and Marwa should not be observed. The following verse was revealed in that connection.
It is related by Orwa that Once Hazrat Ayesha enquired from him what was meant by the verse, 'Lo.! the mountains of As-Safa and Al-Marwa are the Landmarks of Allah... .....'He replied that it meant that there was no sin in going around the hills of Safa and Marwa. She, thereupon, remarked, "My nephew! You are wrong. Had it meant what you say it would have read: It is no sin for him who does not go around them. The verse was revealed in these circumstances that the Ansars, before the dawn of Islam, used to pay reverential homage to the idol of Manat which was installed near Musallah and he who did so regarded the Tawaf of Safa and Marwa to be sinful. Later they enquired about it from the Prophet and said that during the days of Ignorance they regarded as incorrect the Tawaf of Safa and Marwa. Upon it the verse (quoted above) was revealed". Hazrat Ayesha went on to say that the Prophet then instituted the practice of the Tawaf (of Safa and Marwa) which now no one can abrogate. It is related from Mohammad bin Yusuf in Bukhari that "I enquired about Safa and Marwa from Anas and he replied that `earlier we considered it (the Tawaf of the two hills) to be a sign of Paganism and on the advent of Islam we abandoned it. Thereupon the verse was revealed.' "
The Islamic Shariat, through these far-reaching changes, restored the magnificent institution of the Haj to its pristine glory and now it has been protected and made safe against every kind of pollution and distortion.