With Hajj just around the corner, below is a message that was delivered by Ayatullah Jawadi Amoli for the hujjaaj last year (2011 - 1432 AH). The text of the speech has been translated by Sheikh Shuja.
جَعَلَ اللَّهُ الْكَعْبَةَ الْبَيْتَ الْحَرَامَ قِيَامًا لِلنَّاسِ
God has made the Ka‘bah, the Sacred House, sustentation for mankind. (5:97)
Perpetual praises are due to God all-immaculate; salutations without end are in order upon God’s holy prophets—particularly his Eminence, the Seal of Prophethood (The Blessings and Peace of Allah be upon him and his Progeny); boundless benedictions are owing upon the immaculate and purified Family—especially his Eminence, the Seal of Sainthood, the extant and promised Mahdi (May Allah hasten his noble deliverance). We wish to near ourselves in friendship to these sacred souls and distance ourselves from their nefarious foes!
May the Peace of Allah be upon the Hujjaj and ma’tamirin who are the guests of the all Merciful and Divine Salutations be upon the visitors of the qiblah and the mataf who are the invitees of the Lord of the Ka’bah! Now that you have answered the call of [Abraham] the Friend of Allah and have accepted the invitation of [Muhammad] His Beloved, it is opportune that you turn your attention to some principles at hand, some of which will be alluded to in the course of the following points:
First: The result of [God’s] invitation to those who fast in the blessed month [of Ramdan] is that they take on the likeness of angels who are free of food and drink and other such necessities; and the fruit of the invitation to those who circumambulate and take retreat in the Sanctuary of Revelation is that they acquire the demeanour of angels; for surely, at the table of fasting and the banquet of Hajj and Umrah, there is nothing but being cleansed from the decline into the baseness of the physical world, and there is only the felicity of the ascent to the metaphysical realm. The descent of the angels is never without the permission of the Host of the Land of Revelation:
وَمَا نَتَنَزَّلُ إِلَّا بِأَمْرِ رَبِّكَ
We do not descend except by the command of your Lord. (19:64)
The loci of their descents are the hearts of the steadfast seekers and firm of faith:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ أَلَّا تَخَافُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا
Indeed those who say, ‘Our Lord is Allah!’ and then remain steadfast, the angels descend upon them, [saying,] ‘Do not fear, nor be grieved! (41:30)
Now, some of the invitees strive to wipe their hearts clean of the love of the world so that the angel of intellection and temperance may alight thereupon, while others are fervent in worship so that with the descent of the angel of beauty and majesty, their hearts are conquered and the devils are thereby banished from the scene. So one group takes their inspiration from the poetic verse [of Hafiz], “as the devil makes its departure, the angel enters;” while another group takes the verse, “the devil runs from the people that recite the Qur’an” as their refrain. In both cases, “It is they who are truly the faithful. They shall have ranks near their Lord”. (Qur’an 8:4)
Second: The central element and common thread of the Hajj and Umrah is a total awareness of the principles tawhid, nubuwwah, and ma’ad (along with justice and imamate) and their practical embodiment in the rites. All the rites—both the wajib and the mustahab—of this fourth journey from God’s creation to His creation in God, are accomplished with the grace and special effusion of God from beginning to end. The outcome of revelation and prophethood can be seen in the effects of prophet Abraham (‘a) and the Prophet (S). Abraham is introduced in the Qur’an as the imam of all people — without this being made particular to a specific place or time:
إِنِّي جَاعِلُكَ لِلنَّاسِ إِمَامًا
‘I am making you the Imam of mankind.’ (2:124)
It is such a world-leader that established the House of God, with His permission, to be the place of worship for everyone in all the ages. The harmonious statements of the Qur’an in this regard are:
وَإِذْ بَوَّأْنَا لِإِبْرَاهِيمَ مَكَانَ الْبَيْتِ
When We settled for Abraham the site of the House. (22:26)
وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ
As Abraham raised the foundations of the House… (2:127)
إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِلْعَالَمِينَ
Indeed the first house to be set up for mankind is the one at Bakkah, blessed and a guidance for all nations. (3:96)
فِيهِ آيَاتٌ بَيِّنَاتٌ مَقَامُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ
In it are manifest signs [and] Abraham’s Station… (3:97)
The Muslim community are not only honoured to be a part of Ummah of that leader, but they are doubly honoured to be counted as his spiritual children:
مِلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۚ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَفِي هَٰذَا
…the faith of your father, Abraham; he named you ‘Muslims’ before, and in this…(22:78)
Without doubt, the Ummah that follows their Imam and the children that take their lead from their father are basing themselves on true intellectuality and sagacity. This is because the followers of his creed have been called sagacious and knowledgeable, while the renouncers have been labelled as simpletons and fools:
وَمَنْ يَرْغَبُ عَنْ مِلَّةِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِلَّا مَنْ سَفِهَ نَفْسَهُ
And who will [ever] renounce Abraham’s creed except one who fools himself? (2:130)
Hence, to implement the Abrahamic rites—as per Muhammadan Islam—is to take advantage of that intellect by which “the Merciful is worshipped and heaven is acquired.”
Third: Knowledge has a basic lower-level that is marked by sensorial apprehension and experimentation, and it has a superior higher-level that is informed by vision and immediate knowledge of the immaterial and the metaphysical. Just as sensorial knowledge is sometimes less and sometimes more, envisioned and directly witnessed knowledge is likewise. That which was given to the Imam of the Ummah of Hajj and Umrah, that is Abraham the Friend of God, was a very comprehensive vision of the beginning and end of the cosmos:
وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُرِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ مَلَكُوتَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَلِيَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُوقِنِينَ
Thus did We directly show Abraham the dominions of the heavens and the earth, that he might be of those who possess certitude. (6:75)
Now directly showing and partaking in a vision is different from looking and seeing, just as the supernal dominion is different from the temporal world. Most people can see the world hereunder, Abraham, though, envisioned the heavenly dominions. His followers have been encouraged to look into the dominions of the heavens and the earth, with the hope that the looking would end in a vision.
أَوَلَمْ يَنْظُرُوا فِي مَلَكُوتِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ
Have they not looked into the dominions of the heavens and the earth (7:185)
Seeing the dominions of the world is accompanied by the vision of the unseen hand of God that holds the dominion of all things:
فَسُبْحَانَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ مَلَكُوتُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ
So immaculate is He in whose hand is the dominion of all things and to whom you shall be brought back. (36:83)
Such knowledge of the dominions is a sure knowledge that is not apart from good deeds; the first fruit of such a vision is the disdaining from the evanescent. In the words of Abraham,
قَالَ لَا أُحِبُّ الْآفِلِينَ
He said, ‘I do not like those who set.’ (6:76)
This world with all of its false glitter and shine is evanescent and loving it is the root of all intellectual errors and practical mistakes, as per the tradition:
“The love of the world is the root of all error.”
Fourth: While prophet Abraham prayed that his progeny would be given the mantle of imamate, and God accepted his prayer and guaranteed the same in the case of those of them that are not oppressors. The good doers amongst the progeny of that Imam have a share, albeit small, of the imamate promised to the pious in the Qur’anic prayer:
وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا
…and make us imams of the Godwary. (25:74)
The other prayers of his eminence (‘a) with respect to his progeny such as:
رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ فَاجْعَلْ أَفْئِدَةً مِنَ النَّاسِ تَهْوِي إِلَيْهِمْ وَارْزُقْهُمْ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ
Indeed the nearest of all people to Abraham are those who follow him, and this prophet and those who have faith, and Allah is the guardian of the faithful. (3:68)
will also be answered in respect of his spiritual children, but only to the extent of their capacity and worth.
The sign of his prayers being accepted can be seen through the following verses:
إِنَّ أَوْلَى النَّاسِ بِإِبْرَاهِيمَ لَلَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ وَهَٰذَا النَّبِيُّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ۗ وَاللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
Indeed the nearest of all people to Abraham are those who follow him, and this prophet and those who have faith, and Allah is the guardian of the faithful. (3:68)
قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ إِذْ قَالُوا لِقَوْمِهِمْ إِنَّا بُرَآءُ مِنْكُمْ وَمِمَّا تَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ كَفَرْنَا بِكُمْ وَبَدَا بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةُ وَالْبَغْضَاءُ أَبَدًا حَتَّىٰ تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ
There is certainly a good exemplar for you in Abraham and those who were with him, when they said to their own people, ‘Indeed we repudiate you and whatever you worship besides Allah. We disavow you, and between you and us there has appeared enmity and hate forever, unless you come to have faith in Allah alone,’ (60:4)
This is because seeking the friendship and guardianship of the believers in the One God, and the enmity and disavowal of the oppressive infidels was one of the most outstanding policies of prophet Abraham (‘a); wise seekers in all ages did and still hold to this policy, and according to the extent to which they follow his eminence, are given the blessing of being “chosen” as well as the gift of “friendship” precisely because they are following a person who has been blessed with:
وَاتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ خَلِيلًا
And Allah took Abraham for a dedicated friend. (4:125)
وَلَقَدِ اصْطَفَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَإِنَّهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ لَمِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ
We certainly chose him in the [present] world, and in the Hereafter he will indeed be among the Righteous. (2:130)
Fifth: The founder of the Ka’bah and the progenitor of the Abrahamic prophets had internalized the remembrance of the End, as well as the Origin, in his innermost self and perpetually strove to purify and further refine this divine gift. All of this can be understood from the verse:
إِنَّا أَخْلَصْنَاهُمْ بِخَالِصَةٍ ذِكْرَى الدَّارِ وَإِنَّهُمْ عِنْدَنَا لَمِنَ الْمُصْطَفَيْنَ الْأَخْيَارِ
Indeed We purified them with the exclusiveness of the remembrance of the abode [of the Hereafter]. Indeed with Us they are surely among the elect of the best. (38:46-7)
That is to say, God gave them a pure and unadulterated gift (i.e. the remembrance of the abode or hereafter); while their sincere and pure remembrance of the hereafter was the reason for God to appoint them as those devoted exclusively to Him. In the ethos of the Qur’an, the true and original “home” or “abode” of man is the hereafter, in which he finds his final repose. It is called the dar al-qarar—the place of permanent subsistence and repose—while the world hereunder is called the dar al-mumirr—the place of passing and transience. Hence, the Hujjaj and ma’tamirin are answering the call of that person who was sincerely and purely in remembrance of the abode of the hereafter, and who, due to such sincerity, had become of those who are devoted exclusively to God. Hence the important message of the Hajj and Umrah is to correctly differentiate between the permanent and the transitory, between the final station and the passage along the way, so as to—like prophet Abraham—receive the salutation of peace from God:
سَلَامٌ عَلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ
‘Peace be to Abraham!’ Thus do We reward the virtuous. (37:109-110)
The salam of God comes with all things holy and wholesome and is the treasure that brings salvation.
Sixth: The Abrahamic invitation which was completed with the Muhammadan call, means that the responsibilities of the invitees of the Ancient House are critically important. God delineates these socio-political and religious responsibilities for the people of the Hajj and Umrah—sometimes by enumerating the attributes of the Ka’bah, sometimes by outlining the characteristics of its founders and builders, and sometimes by describing the traits of its callers.
The quintessential elements of man’s affairs are defined by correct thought and right motivation; with the former, truth is seen and with the latter, the truth is applied. The truth seer is a visionary and a truth-seeker is a person of capability. The expression in the Qur’an describing prophet Abraham and his progeny alludes to these two aspects of theory and practice or intellect and will in the following way:
أُولِي الْأَيْدِي وَالْأَبْصَارِ
…men of strength and insight. (38:45)
Of course, any extraordinary and outstanding feature implied herein pertains [first and foremost] to the builder of the House. That which can be understood from the assessment of the noble character traits of the founder of the Ka’bah—in particular his vision and power—and from the call to pilgrims the world over to come to it, is that the provision of the Hujjaj and ma’tamirin at the commencement of their journey is a correct understanding and a valid direction of motion; and at the end their souvenir must be the completion of these two characteristics and important principles. For, a blind Ummah and community whose hands are tied does not have the capacity to circumambulate the House that was built by builder of great vision and ability. This is because to make the rounds without seeing nor realizing the effects and reverberations of the builder of the House is to miss the point, a point that was poignantly stated by the leader of the monotheists and the undisputed wali Amir al-Mu’minin Ali ibn Abi Talib (‘a) where he said:
Do you not see how God, most Holy, has tried the first of men from the time of Adam to the last of men from this world by means of stones [i.e. the Ka’bah] which neither harm them nor benefit them; and which neither see nor hear; and He has made them His Sacred House, the one which He has made to be a sustentation for people.
The resource for such sustentation and the basis for such steadfastness is a profound awareness and sufficient power, by which the straight path of intellect and justice can be understood and then, with steady feet, traversed—all leading in conclusion to a pilgrimage of the Ka’bah that is “with strength and insight.”
Seventh: When Abraham the Friend of God was born, the Middle-east was full of heresy and idol-worship. One group saw no beginning and no end to the world, no origin and no goal, and, in their heretical thinking, saw death to be a mortification and the end of human life; another group, in their idolatrous ways, worshiped idols. In conclusion, this region was utterly devoid of the blessing of tawhid and there are no reports of tawhid existing in either the far East or the far West either.
Prophet Abraham, with special divine help, gained access to the dominions of the cosmos and acquired a correct unitive and tawhidi vision thereby. He then started to proliferate the teachings of this truth, and without any hesitation whatsoever he engaged and debated with Azar and was not taken aback by the latter’s threats and proclaimed his compatriots’ diabolical ways to be the work of Satan. He challenged the idol-worshipping oppressors of those ignorant times and in all of these fronts emerged as the victor and worked to save the needy and to enlighten those lost in the darkness of the age. In this regard, he took recourse to sacred “strength” and taking the axe in hand, went ahead to break the accursed idols into pieces. With the destruction of the imaginary “lords” he was taken to court and there he was, in truth, able to turn the tide in the favour of tawhid and make what was otherwise a certain disaster, quite uncertain. Immediately, he faced the bitter ruling of the idolaters:
حَرِّقُوهُ وَانْصُرُوا آلِهَتَكُمْ
‘Burn him, and help your gods! (21:68)
When he was being placed in the raging fire, he asked help from neither the stars nor the angels (and in fact left unanswered the offer of help from a certain angel by saying, “Is sufficient for me in my predicament He who has knowledge of my state.” Entering the fire in such a state, he was met with the divine cry:
يَا نَارُ كُونِي بَرْدًا وَسَلَامًا عَلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ
‘O fire! Be cool and safe for Abraham!’ (21:69)
which afforded him both coolness and safety.
Hence in the end it is the Abrahamic prophets and the divine scholars who follow in their footsteps that have become responsible for proliferating the blessings of tawhid—with all of these truths and teachings having been perfected and brought to life most recently by the Last Prophet and his Purified Family. As Mawlana Rumi says, “if it was not for the efforts of Ahmad, you too, like your ancestors, would have worshipped idols.”
Pay heed Hujjaj and ma’tamirin of the Sacred Precincts of Revelation, take note seekers of refuge and circumambulators of the Ancient House, and pay attention guests of the table of God’s mercy: There is the Muslim Ummah on the one hand and the Western world on the other; there is an awakening and desire for Islam in the Middle East and a call for economic justice in the West that is being experienced. [In such times] it is incumbent on all, especially religious scholars, to present the fundaments of the wisdom of Abraham the Friend of God, and Muhammad the Beloved of God—which have been expressed alongside the noble Qur’an by the Immaculate Family—to one and all. They must fulfill their mission that is implicit in the divine oath of:
ن ۚ وَالْقَلَمِ وَمَا يَسْطُرُونَ
Nun. By the Pen and what they write! (68:1)
by presenting the right written material, such as would explain the secrets of the ihram—its wisdoms and anti-oppression functions, or would deliver the rejuvenating message that hails from the shrines of the Prophet, the Immaculate Imams of Baqi, and the saints attached to the Ahl al-Bayt of the Prophet (s)—the message that emphasizes the blessings of unity along with the importance of disowning and distancing ourselves from the idolaters, the infidels and their confederates.
I pray for the success of one and all and the acceptance of their Hajj, Umrah, and Ziyarah, as well as the answering of their prayers.