Amongst the congregational articles of worship of Islam the ceremonies of Haj are the greatest and most magnificent worship performed by the Muslims, because the performance of these ceremonies and that too once in a year is the sublime manifestation of unity and fellowship, a perfect sign of freedom from belongings and place, a prominent example of equality between different classes, a source of strengthening relations between Muslims etc.
Now if we Muslims make little use of the opportunity afforded by Haj for our betterment and convene this annual Islamic congress (which can undoubtedly solve most of our social problems and can bring about far-reaching changes in our lives) without deriving proper benefit from it, it is not because the law is defective but the fault lies with the Muslim leaders who do not, make proper use of this grand ceremony.
Since the day Prophet Ibrahim had constructed the Ka'bah and invited the monotheists to perform its pilgrimage, this place has always been the centre of attraction, where tawaf was done by the godly peoples and every year groups of pilgrims came from different parts of Arabia and from all corners of the world for the pilgrimage of this House and performed the ceremonies taught by Prophet Ibrahim.
However, as a consequence of the passage of time and also because of the people of the Hijaz being deprived of the guidance of the Prophets, the selfishness of Quraysh, and the rule of idols over the Arab world, the ceremonies of Haj fell prey to change and alteration from the viewpoint of time and place and lost their real features.
For these reasons the Prophet was ordered by Allah in the tenth year of migration to participate in the Haj ceremonies personally so that he might practically teach the people their obligations and might discard the old and unwanted practices of this article of worship and also instruct the people about the limits of 'Arafah and Mina and tell them about the time of departure from those places. As compared with its political and social aspect, therefore, this journey carried a greater educational aspect.
In the eleventh Islamic month (Zil Qa'dah) the Prophet got it proclaimed in the city as well as amongst the tribes that he intended to perform the pilgrimage of the Ka'bah that year. This news inspired great interest in the Muslim ummah. Thousands of persons pitched up tents in the outskirts of Madina and awaited the departure of the Prophet.1
The Prophet appointed Abu Dujanah as his representative in Madina and proceeded to Makkah on the 28th of Zil Qa'dah taking with himself sixty sacrificial animals. When he reached Zil Hulayfah he put on, at Masjid Shajarah, ehram, which consisted of two plain sheets of cloth, and while putting on ehram he recited the well-known supplication, which commences with the word Labbayk (Here am I) which is a reply to the call of Prophet Ibrahim.
He said Labbayk every time he saw a rider or arrived at a high or a low spot. When he reached near Makkah he discontinued reciting Labbayk. He arrived in Makkah on the 4th of Zil Hajah went straight to the Masjid Haram entering there through the gate of Bani Shaybah. He was then glorifying Allah and seeking blessings for Prophet Ibrahim.
During tawaf he stood opposite the Black stone. In the first instance he performed its istilam2 and then went round the Ka'bah seven times. Thereafter he stood behind Maqam-i Ibrahim and offered tawaf prayers consisting of two rak'ats. After offering the prayers he commenced Sa'i between Safa and Marwah.3
Then he turned to the pilgrims and said: "Those who have not brought sacrificial animals with them should come out of the state of ehram and all the things which are unlawful for them (during ehram) will become lawful with taqseer (shortening the hair and/or cutting the nails). However, I and others who have brought sacrificial animals with us shall remain in the condition of ehram till we have slaughtered the animals in Mina.
This thing weighed heavily on some persons and their excuse was that they did not like that the Prophet should continue to remain in ehram whereas they should go out of it, and the things which were unlawful for him should become lawful for them. At times they said: "It is not correct that we should be the pilgrims of the House of Allah and the drops of the water of (ceremonial) washing should be falling from our heads and necks".4
The Prophet chanced to see Umar who was still in the state of ehram and asked him whether he had brought any sacrificial animal with him. He replied in the negative. Thereupon the Prophet said: "Then why have you not come out of ehram.
He replied: "I don't like that I should come out of ehram whereas you should continue to remain in the same state". The Prophet said "You will stick to this belief not only now, but till the day of your death".
The Prophet was displeased on account of the doubt and indecision of the people and said: "If the future had been as clear to me as the past, and I had been aware of your unjustified indecision and doubt, I too would have come for the pilgrimage of the House of Allah without a sacrificial animal just like yourselves.
However, I can't help, because I have brought the sacrificial animals with me and according to the Command of Allah, "Till the sacrificial (animal) reaches its place". I must remain in the state of ehram till I have slaughtered those animals at the sacrificial ground of Mina.
However, every person who has not brought a sacrificial animal with him should come out of ehram and should treat, whatever he has already performed, to be umrah and should, thereafter, wear ehram for Haj.5
The Commander of the Faithful became aware of the Prophet's departure to perform Haj. He also proceeded to Makkah along with his soldiers to perform Haj and took thirty-four sacrificial animals with him. He also brought with him the pieces of cloth which he had collected from the people of Najran the prescribed tribute. While on his way he delegated the command of the soldiers to an officer of his and himself hurried to Makkah.
He met the Prophet, who was extremely pleased to see him and asked him: "How did you make your intention?" He replied: "At the time appropriate for ehram I put on ehram with your intention and said 'O Allah! I too am putting on ehram with the same intention with which Your Prophet has put it on'. Then he informed the Prophet about the sacrificial animals which he had brought with him. The Prophet said: "The obligation of both of us in this matter is one and the same and we must remain in the state of ehram till the sacrificial animals are slaughtered".
Then he ordered Ali to go back to his soldiers and bring them to Makkah. When Ali rejoined his soldiers he found that all the pieces of cloth, which he had collected from the people of Najran in accordance with the agreement concluded on the day of Mubahilah, had been distributed amongst the soldiers and they were wearing them by way of ehram.
Ali was very much displeased on account of this action which had been taken by his representative during his absence and said to him: "Why did you distribute the pieces of cloth amongst the soldiers before I delivered them to the Prophet?" He replied: They insisted that I should lend the pieces of cloth to them and take back after the Haj ceremonies had been performed". Ali said to him: "You were not authorized to do so". Then he took back the pieces of cloth from them, packed them and delivered them to the Prophet in Makkah.
People, for whom justice and discipline is painful, and who wish that events should always take the turn liked by them, went before the Prophet and expressed their annoyance at Ali's taking back the pieces of cloth from them. The Prophet asked one of his companions to go to the complainants and convey to them his message: "Desist from speaking ill of Ali. He is dauntless in enforcing Divine laws and is not a flatterer''.6
Ceremonies of Umrah came to an end. The Prophet was not inclined to stay in the house of anyone during the interval between the ceremonies of Umrah and those of Haj. He, therefore, ordered his tent to be pitched outside Makkah.
The eighth day of Zil Haj arrived. The pilgrims of the House of Allah proceeded on the same day from Makkah to ''Arafah so that they might perform the ceremony of ''Arafah from noon of 9th Zil Haj till the sunset on that day.
On 8th Zil Haj, which is also called the day of tarwiyyah the Prophet proceeded to ''Arafah via Mina and stayed in Mina till sunrise on the 9th of the month. Then he mounted his camel, left for ''Arafah and alighted at a place called Numrah, where his tent had been pitched. Addressing the splendid gathering there he delivered his historical sermon while he was mounted on the camel.
On that day the land of 'Arafah witnessed a great and splendid gathering, the like of which had not till then been seen by the people of the Hijaz. The voice of monotheism and the slogans of the worship of One Allah were ringing in that land. The place which had been, till only a little time earlier, the residence of the polytheists and idolaters became, forever, the base for the worshippers of One Allah.
The Prophet offered the noon and the afternoon prayers in ''Arafah along with 100,000 persons, and the victory of Islam over blasphemy became decisive and final. Thereafter, the Prophet mounted his camel, and delivered the historical sermon, which was repeated by one of his companions, who had a loud voice, so that those at a distance might also come to know what the Prophet was saying. On that day he commenced his sermon thus:
"O people! Hear my words, for it is possible that I may not meet you at this spot in future".
"O people! Your blood and property (honour and reputation7) are respectable for one another, like this day and this month, till the day on which you meet Allah, and every transgression in this behalf is unlawful".
In order to be sure of the desired impression of his words on the people about the respectability of the lives and property of the Muslims the Prophet asked Rabi'ah bin Umayyah to ask them: "Which month is this?" -All of them replied: "It is a respectable month and warfare during this month is prohibited and unlawful".
Then the Prophet said to Rabi'ah: "Tell them: Allah has declared your blood and property unlawful and respectable for one another like this month until you leave this world." He again said to Rabi'ah: "Ask them which land is this?" - All of them replied: "It is a respectable land and bloodshed and transgression in it is strictly prohibited". He then said to Rabi'ah: "Tell them your blood and property are respectable like this land and every sort of transgression in it is prohibited ".
Thereafter the Prophet said to Rabi'ah: "Ask them which day is this?"-They replied: "It is the day of Haj-i Akbar (the Great Haj)". The Prophet said: "Tell them your blood and property are respectable like this day".8
"Yes, O people! You should know that the blood, which was shed during the Days of Ignorance should be forgotten and should not be avenged. Even the blood of Ibn Rabi'ah (a relative of the Prophet) should be forgotten.
You will return to Allah soon and in that world your good and bad deeds will be weighed. I tell you. One, to whom something has been entrusted, should return it to its owner.
Yes, O people! You must know that usury is strictly prohibited in Islam. Those, who have invested their capital to earn interest can take back their capital only. They should neither oppress nor be oppressed. And as regards the interest which the debtors of Abbas owed to him before Islam the same has lapsed and he has no right to claim it.
"O people! Satan has lost hope of his being worshipped in your land. However, if you follow him in small matters he will be happy and pleased. So do not follow Satan."
Making change9 in the sacred months (i.e. those months in which warfare etc. is unlawful) shows excessiveness of blasphemy, and those unbelievers, who are not acquainted with the sacred months are misguided because of this change and consequently a sacred month becomes lawful in one year and prohibited in another. They think that by doing so they change things made lawful by Allah into unlawful and vice versa.
It is necessary that the arrangement of lawful and sacred months should be according to the days on which Allah created the skies, the earth, the moon and the sun. In the eyes of Allah the number of months is twelve and out of these He has declared four months to be sacred. They are the months of Zil Qa'd, Zil Haj and Muharram, which are consecutive, and then the month of Rajab.
"Yes, O people! Your women have rights over you and you too have rights over them. Your right is that they should not admit anyone in the house without your consent, and should not be guilty of something unfair, failing which Allah has authorized you to quit their beds and also chastise them. In case, however, they revert to the path of truth, you should treat them with kindness and love and should provide them with comfortable means of life".
I recommend to you on this land that you should be kind to your women, because you hold them in trust from Allah and they have become lawful for you according to His laws.
"Yes, O people! Hear my words carefully and ponder over them. I am leaving two memorable things amongst you-one of them is the Book of Allah and the other is my speech and Sunnah,10 and if you abide by them you will never get astray."
"Yes, O people! Hear my words and think over them. Every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim and all Muslims of the world are brothers of one another. And anything out of the property of the Muslims is not lawful for a Muslim except when he acquires it with an honest intention." 11
"Yes, O people! Those present should communicate these remarks to those who are absent. After me there will be no prophet and after you Muslims there will be no ummah.12
"O people! You should know that I am announcing it today that I have banned all the ceremonies and beliefs of the Age of Ignorance and am informing you of their falsity".13
At this Juncture the Prophet discontinued the sermon and making a sign towards the sky with his forefinger said: "O Allah! I have communicated your message". Then after saying thrice: "O Allah! Be witness to it", he brought the sermon to an end.
The Prophet stayed in Arafah on the ninth of Zil Haj till sunset and before the sun was hidden in the western horizon and the atmosphere became somewhat dark he mounted his camel and spent a part of the night in Muzdalifah, and the time between dawn and sunrise in Mash'ar.
On the tenth day he proceeded to Mina and performed the ceremonies of Rami-i Jamrah, sacrifice and taqseer. Then he proceeded to Makkah to perform other ceremonies of Haj and thus he practically taught the same to others. In the terminology of Hadith and history this historical journey is called Hijjatul Wida' (the farewell Haj) and at times it is also named Hajul Balagh (Haj of the delivery of the message) and Hajul Islam (Haj of Islam). Each of these names has some associations, which are quite evident.
In the end it may be mentioned that it is commonly known amongst the traditionalists that the Prophet delivered this sermon on the day of 'Arafah, but some of them believe that this sermon was delivered on the 10th day of Zil Haj.14