وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا
And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever is able to find thereto a way ~ Surah Al Imraan 3:97
The Significance of Haj
The following story is attributed to Junaid al-Baghdadi regarding an explanation of the essence of Hajj.
Junaid ibn Muhammad Abu al-Qasim al-Khazzaz al-Baghdadi also known as Junaid Baghdadi was born in Baghdad (830-910 AD). He was one of the early Persian scholars and teachers of Islam.
Once Junaid Baghdadi met a man who had returned from Hajj (Hajji). After observing him for a while he asked him, “Have you been to Hajj?”
Hajji: Yes, I have just come back.
Junaid: When you left your home with the intention of Hajj, did you repent from all your sins?
Hajji: I did not think about it.
Junaid: In that case, you did not even depart for Hajj.
Junaid: What about your journey, rest-breaks and stopovers? When covering distances, did you move mentally and spiritually closer to Allah?
Hajji: I was too busy with other details of the journey and did not reflect on that.
Junaid: Then you have not really travelled to the house of Allah.
Junaid: How about while putting on the Ihraam and replacing your usual clothes, did you think about discarding your undesirable habits and attitudes?
Hajji: It did not cross my mind.
Junaid: Alas! You did not even put on the Ihraam.
Junaid: Did you experience the presence of Allah while you were standing in Arafaat as if He was in front of you?
Hajji: No, I did not get that feeling.
Junaid: That means you did not even reach Arafaat.
Junaid: When you went to Muzdalfah, did you think about gathering your your worldly desires and aspirations as you picked up the pebbles so that you can cast them out when you reach the pillars of temptation?
Hajji: I was only thinking about gathering the pebbles.
Junaid: So, you have not even been to Muzdalfah.
Junaid: What about throwing stones at the pillars? When performing that ritual, did you make a pledge to avoid corrupt enticements and cast away your ill deeds?
Hajji: This did not happen either.
Junaid: Unfortunately, you have not performed Ramy (stoning rites) either.
Junaid: How was your Tawaaf (circumambulation)? Did you feel overwhelmed by an ardent attraction towards the perfect Majesty of Allah during Tawaaf?
Hajji: No, I was only counting the number of Tawaaf I was making.
Junaid: It is, then, as if you have not even performed Tawaaf.
Junaid: Perhaps you understood the spirit, wisdom and objective of running between Mounts Safaa and Marwah. Did you think about the struggle of Mother Hajira? Did you think about her faith and devotion to Allah?
Hajji: Not really.
Junaid: In other words, you have not performed Sayee (running between Safaa and Marwah).
Junaid: Tell me about your sacrificial rites. While slaughtering the animal, did you sacrifice for the love of Allah? And did you think about Prophet Ibrahim and his unwavering commitment to Allah?
Hajji: That did not come to my mind.
Junaid: In that case, you have not even offer the sacrifice.
Junaid: Allah is the Most Merciful! You must go back next year and perform the Hajj again with the correct spirit and attitude of becoming God Conscious. You need to re-enact the experiences of Ibrahim AS and contemplate on his example. Remember and reflect on the verse of the Quran that says, “And Ibrahim who fulfilled his commitments.” (53:37)