The Fifth Pillar of Islam - 7
by Sheikh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (Raheemullahalayh)
Centre for Universal Guidance
Protection against Pollution and Distortion
The Haj plays a vital role in the protection of the spiritual roots of the Muslim Millet. Nothing is more efficacious in keeping the Islamic faith safe from pollution, confussion and distortion and the Ummat bound to its moorings and in dispelling the deceptions and subverting the conspiracies (which have led to the ruination of many a community in the past) than this annual congregation.
Thanks to it, and the rites and formalities that are peculiar to it, the Muslim Millet, on the whole, is still inspired by the ideals associated with Hazrat Ibrahim (and which can be described as simplicity, profundity, uprightness, fidelity, tenderness, love and dedication) and has kept alive the tradition of passing on its legacy to the future generations. In this way it is like a throbbing, pulsating heart which is incessantly supplying new blood to the veins and arteries of the Ummat, The Haj affords an excellent opportunity of self-examination to the Muslims. They can test themselves on the anvil of the Ibrahimi origin and their leaders and reformers can take advantage of this unique combination of circumstances to purge them of the corrupting influence of the hypocrites, deceivers and extremists. Through it the Millet can safeguard its religious, cultural and intellectual identity and ward off the challenges of narrow nationalism and parochialism that are inimical to the fundamental spirit of Islam and destructive of the organic unity of the spiritual heirs and successors of Hazrat Ibrahim.
The Muslims live under different conditions in different parts of the world. They pass through diverse phases of existence like activity and stagnation, affluence and want, peace and turmoil and ease and difficulty. Sometimes, they are plagued with problems relating to culture and civilisation, and, sometimes, political and material considerations put them on trial. At one place the government under which they live is progressive and benevolent, at another it is reactionary aud despotic. But whatever the circumstances, the need is always there for the spark of faith in them to be stirred, the sentiment of love to be aroused and the lesson of unity and self-sacrifice to be imparted. God has made the Haj a springtime in which the ever-green tree of the Ummat sends forth new blossoms and the universal fraternity of Islam re-asserts itself.
In the words of Hazrat Shah Waliullah: "Just as for the government it is necessary to hold a periodical survey so that it can be known who is loyal and who is disloyal and who is a con scientious worker and who is a shirker, and also that, through it, its power and authority may increase and the people and officials come close to each other the Ummat, too, stands in need of the Haj in order that the truthful may be, separated from the hypocrites and people may come in ranks to the durbar' of Allah; they may know each-other and profit from each-other's company for better and more desirable things are generally acquired by knowing and associating with one another.
At another place the distinguished scholar remarks, "Included among the objects of the Haj is the one for which governments hold fairs and exhibitions. People come from far and near to see them, they meet one another and learn about the precepts of their State and pay their respects to its hallowed places. In the same way, the Haj is the fair or exhibition of Muslims in which a display of their glory is made, their energies are pooled together and the name of their community shines in the world. It is stated in the Quran:
Centre of Universal Guidance
It is the Will of Allah that even at most critical times the Haj will not be without the presence of the blessed personalities we speak of as `doctors of divinity', 'favourities of the Divine Court', `people of preaching and reform', and `men of the inner world'. It is on account of their participation that the atmosphere surrounding the Pilgrimage gets so overwhelmingly charged with radiance and spirituality that even the hardest of the hearts melt, the rebels and renegades are inclined to be repentant, the eyes that had never been moist with love or fear of God are flooded with tears, the cold furnaces of the hearts are lit up once again, the Mercy of the Lord descends from the heavens, the feeling of peace and tranquillity permeates the entire congregation and the Devil finds no place to hide his head. It is stated in the Traditions that "the Devil has never been seen more miserable, angry and downcast than on the Day of Arnfa and it is so because he sees with his own eyes that the Mercy of the Lord is descending upon the earth and grievous sins are being forgiven."
There is an indescribable quality about the spiritual climate of the Haj. Muslims coming from far away places experince an extraordinary awakening of the heart and they take back with them a provision of faith, love and enlightenment which sustains them and enables them to resist the pressures of fear, greed and lust. On their return they also share it with brothers who could not make the Pilgrimage owing to proverty, illness or any other valid reason and this wealth of religious feeling and awareness, thus gains currency in the entire Islamic society, the illiterate and the unknowing feel encouraged to acquire the knowledge of faith, the weak and the downtrodden draw inspiration from it, the spirits of the dejected and the heart-sick are revived and the Ummat acquires a new strength to carry out the duty of preaching and guidance.