The Fifth Pillar of Islam

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by Hazrat Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi Saheb R.A

Sanctity of Time and Space

God has bestowed two special `sanctities’ upon the Haj, the sanctity of time and the sanctity of space, due to which the pilgrim remains alive to the grandeur of the occasion and the solemnity of his own responsibility. He is zealously vigilant in his conduct and never becomes neglectful of the unique spiritual atmosphere surrounding the Pilgrimage. In the Quran it is set forth that:

“Lo! the number of the months with Allah is twelve months by Allah’s ordinance in the day that He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred: that is the right religion. So wrong not yourselves in them.” (-ix . 36)

And also that:

“They question thee (O Mohammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great transgression.” (–ii: 217)

It is related that the Prophet once said, “Verily, Time has returned to its original state – as it was on the day on which God created the heavens and the earth. Four months are sacred in it Zi-Quad, Zil-Hijja, Moharrum and Rajab”.

As for the sanctity of space, we read the following in the Quran:

“Say (O Mohammad)! I am commanded only to serve the Lord of this Land which He hath hallowed, and unto Whom all things belong. And I am commanded to be of those who surrender (to Him).” (-xxvii:91)

It is related by Ibn-i-Abbas that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said on the occasion of the victory of Mecca, “Migration has ceased from today but Jihad and Niyat remain. Start out at once when you are called up for faith.” He also remarked, “God has granted sanctity to this town from the day on which He created the heavens and the earth. This sacredness will endure till the end of the world. Even before me warfare was prohibited in it and to me also it has been allowed only for a short time of the day. Now it is forbidden, with the sanctity of Allah, till the Last Day. In it, neither a thorn can . be plucked nor a straw broken nor a bird or animal driven for game nor an article dropped (by any one) picked up.” Upon it, Abbas enquired, “O Prophet of God! Can Ikhir also not be pulled out (which was often needed by the people)?” The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) replied, “Of course, with the exception of Ikhir.”

To commit a sin within the bounds of Haram is, in any case, a grevious matter. But, according to some doctors even the intention to commit a sin in it is an offence and, in their support, they cite the following verse of the Quran:

“Whosoever intendeth wrongful partiality in it, him We shall punish with a painful doom.” (-xxii : 25)

Ibn-i-Katheer, for instance, asserts that “the distinction of the Haram is that here even a person who thinks of committing a sin is liable to be called to account and punished no matter whether he carries it into action or not.”

With the sanctity of time and space, a number of special regulations have been prescribed for the sanctity of Ihram as well. Hunting, for example, is forbidden to one who is in the state of wearing it. Says the Quran:

“O ye who believe! Kill no wild game while ye are in the state of Ihram.” (-v:95)

To hunt and to eat the fish of the sea is made lawful for you, a provision for you and for sea-farers; but to hunt on land is forbidden to you so long as ye are in the state of Ihram. Be mindful of your duty to Allah, unto Whom ye will be gathered.” (-v:96)

To quote from Hazrat Shah Waliullah’s Hujjutullah-ul-Baligha: “These things are forbidden to the pilgrim who is wearing the Ihram so that he attained the state of humbleness, renouncement of ostentation and dishevelment and unkemptness, the reverent fear of God and of His punishment became dominant in him and he was not caught in the web of (worldly) desires and interests. Hunting has been included among the prohibited things because it also falls within the sphere of self-indulgence and is a kind of entertainment.”

For many a pilgrim the journey of the Haj is a long one, taking a lot of time.

“And proclaim unto mankind the Pilgrimage. They will come unto thee on foot and also on lean camel; they will come from every deep ravine.” (-xxii:27)

During the journey the pilgrim passes through various experiences. He comes into contact with different people and has to live among strangers for days and weeks. In it situations can arise that tested his patience and made him irritable. He can be provoked to be quarrelsome or incited to commit other misdeeds. Often he is inclined to be petty and mean and to behave in a manner he consider ed disgraceful even at home. Sometimes, he is guilty of a moral indiscretion which is plainly injurious to the spirit of his mission. All such things have been particularly forbidden to the pilgrim since there was a greater likelihood of their occurrence during the Haj.

“The Pilgrimage is in the well-known months, and whoever, is minded to perform the Pilgrimage therein (let him remember that) there is to be no lewdness or abuse nor angry conversation during the Pilgrimage. And whatsoever good ye do Allah knoweth it. So make provision for yourselves (hereafter); for the best provision is to ward off evil. Therefore, keep your duty unto Me, O men of understanding.” (-ii: 197)

These teachings and regulations (related as they are directly to mind and conscience, deed and intent, and time and space) have vested the Haj with a sense of solemnity and self-denial which is wholly its own. The uplifting influence the rites of the Haj exert on life and the inclination for self-searching and moral and spiritual restraint and correction they produce in the pilgrim is not equalled by a similar event or observance in any other community. This uniqueness goes to confirm the truth of the celestial Tradition of the Prophet which says: “He who performs the Haj and commits no lustful act during it and does not disobey God, (in any other way), will return from it as pure and sinless as he was at the time of his birth.