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Hajj as an opportunity for individual and social transformation

As one of the most central religious rituals in Islam, Hajj has the potential to exert deep and lasting effects on Muslims. The following article, published by Khamenei.ir, tries to explain both the kind and scope of such effects from the viewpoint of Imam Khamenei.

In explanation for the philosophy behind Hajj, God, the Almighty states “that they may witness the benefits for them”[1]. This term suggests the capacities and opportunities Hajj brings to all the Muslims. According to Allameh Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i, the renown Shia scholar, given the absoluteness of the term ‘benefits’, this verse refers to both worldly benefits and benefits in the hereafter.[2] Imam Khamenei not only believes in both worldly benefits and hereafter benefits for Hajj,[3] but believes these benefits can be enjoyed by both Muslims and the whole humanity.[4] On this basis, we should view Hajj as a multifaceted opportunity. Understanding the ground for opportunities in this divine duty and religious program can help to better use these benefits.

 

Hajj as constructive and transformative

The horizon of opportunities in Hajj pilgrimage is wider than and beyond other religious rituals. What makes Hajj distinct from other religious duties and plans lies in its bringing a “multifaceted transformation.” According to Imam Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, the effects and blessings of Hajj are as wide as the transformation in the individual and the Islamic nation.

With all its requirements, Hajj can turn an ordinary Muslim into an undefeatable and non-threatenable or non-enticeable Muslim: the correct (performance of) Hajj can lead to internal transformation in every Muslim and create a spirit of monotheism, connection with God, trust in Him and rejection of all the idols within and outside one’s being, or the degrading lusts and powers holding humans captive, and can develop a feeling of powerfulness, self-confidence, salvation, and sacrifice in Muslims. This is the transformation that creates a human being who does not even think of being oppressed and cannot be threatened nor enticed.[5]

Another aspect of transformation that can be brought about by Hajj is transformation in the social structure of Muslims and is as wide as the Islamic nation. In his discussion on the “constructive and transformative Hajj”, Imam Khamenei draws our attention to this very function of Hajj: “the correct (performance of) Hajj can make a united, efficient and powerful body out of the separate members of the Islamic nation, familiarize them with each other and each other’s words, pains, developments and needs, and help them exchange their experiences… I dare say that if this Islamic duty alone would be performed in the right way and as requested in the Islamic Sharia, it would bring the Islamic nation an honor and power that it deserves.”[6]

As emphasized in Imam Khamenei’s statements, combining forces and capacities in the Islamic world for achieving honor and power is rooted in the nature and quality of the Hajj rituals; this capacity of Hajj pilgrimage is something added from outside. In explaining the verses related to Hajj and pointing out its worldly benefits, Allameh Tabataba'i also emphasized the promotion of small communities into greater ones and turning of small forces into a great force against which no great mountains can resist.[7]

Therefore, it is clear that, with all its rites and characteristics, Hajj is basically a great capacity and opportunity for creating an Islamic nation and civilization.

 

Manifestations of opportunity in Hajj

After emphasizing Hajj as an opportunity, it is appropriate to point to the manifestations and signs of this opportunity. As a spiritual issue and a divine duty, Hajj does the same thing with humans as other acts of worship. Hajj relieves human being from ignorance and provides him/her with an opportunity for “recovering him/herself”.[8] What is effective in eliminating this ignorance and recovering oneself is showing “courtesy toward Hajj”, which forms the spirit of Hajj, that is to say “modesty, remembering and attention to God and feeling that one is before God in every moment.”[9]

Besides its spiritual benefits and capacities, considering the fact that Muslims from different groups all over the world with different cultures, rites and beliefs gather together, Hajj brings another opportunity; it provides the opportunity for mutual understanding of Muslims. Hajj is an opportunity for Muslims coming from all across the world to “exchange their experiences, wishes, achievements, and capabilities.”[10] Hajj can also act as a great media. On this basis, Hajj is “an opportunity for creating awareness”,[11] which the Islamic world should use particularly for knowing the enemies and their plans and plots and set this knowledge as the basis for “declaring hatred of the arrogance.”[12]

 

Planning as the precondition for using the opportunities of Hajj

What was said was an attempt to describe Hajj as an opportunity and explain the most important examples and manifestations of this opportunity. From the perspective of Imam Khamenei, although Hajj is an important opportunity and “a reservoir for the Islamic world”, it can be wasted like any other opportunity. Or “if this reservoir is not used or abused, the Islamic world will be deprived of it despite its need (to use this opportunity) or, God forbid, may even suffer losses as the result of it.”[13] What can provide the ground for maximal use of this opportunity is planning. The Leader of the Islamic Revolution stressed that Hajj be planned based on its “purposes and results” in Hajj and that the “governments, religious scholars, and thinkers of the Islamic world” are responsible for this planning.[14] In this case, the uses made of this opportunity by the Islamic nation “will not be comparable to any other achievement in the Islamic world.”[15]

 


[1] Surah Al-Hajj (The Pilgrimage); from verse 28.

[2] Allameh Tabataba'i, Almizan fi Tafsir-e al-Quran, volume 14, p. 369.

[3] His speech in his meeting with Hajj authorities, on September 11, 2013: One goes there “to see their benefits” [Quran: 22:27]. These benefits are not limited to this world. There are both worldly benefits as well as benefits for the hereafter, spiritual benefits and moral; this is Hajj.”

[4] His speech in his meeting with Hajj authorities, October 9, 2010: “If this great united movement of the Islamic nation is held in a sound, complete and faultless manner, its effects and blessings will benefit the whole Islamic world or in another sense the whole humanity every year.”

[5] Message to Hajj Pilgrims, June 3, 1992.

[6] Message to Hajj Pilgrims, June 3, 1992.

[7] Allameh Tabatabaei, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir-e al-Quran, volume 14, p. 369.

[8] Speech in his meeting with the Hajj authorities, December 20, 2004.

[9] Ibid

[10] Message to Hajj Pilgrims, May 18, 1993.

[11] Speech in his meeting with the Hajj authorities, December 20, 2004.

[12] Speech in his meeting with the Hajj authorities, December 20, 2004.

[13] Message to Hajj pilgrims on May 18, 1993.

[14] Message to Hajj pilgrims, June 3, 1992.

[15] Ibid.

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