Pilgrimage, The Witness, Beginning and End
Issue 758 » October 4, 2013 - Dhul-Qida 28, 1434
Al-Imran (The House of Imran) - Chapter 3: Verse 97 (partial)
Pilgrimage is a personal obligation on every individual once in a lifetime, and it becomes due when the conditions of ability are fulfilled, including physical health, ability to travel and safe passage.
Pilgrimage is the Muslims' annual general assembly which is held at the House from which their message was given to them for the first time, and which witnessed the birth of the pure faith of Abraham and which was the first House God has set up on earth for His own worship. Pilgrimage is, therefore, an assembly of great significance. Its historical associations centre round the noble concept of faith, which highlights the link between man and his Creator. Faith means man's spiritual response to God, a fact of great significance considering that only by the breathing of God's spirit has man acquired his humanity. It is a worthy concept to form the basis of human unity. Hence, it is appropriate that people should assemble every year at the Sacred Place which witnessed the birth of this call to mankind to unite on pure faith.
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol 2, pp. 152, 153
On the ninth day of Dhul Hijja in the tenth year of hijrah, the Prophet, peace be upon him, addressed 144,000 pilgrims on the Mount of Mercy. He spoke in small portions, and men around him repeated his words so that everyone throughout the valley could hear his speech.
The content of the message was powerful and intense, and the Prophet began by stating that he did not know whether he would again meet the pilgrims "in this place after this year." Then he reminded them of the sacred character of the place and month, as well as of that of their lives, their honour, and their belongings. He explained that the period of ignorance had come to an end, and so had its practices, its rivalries, and its conflicts based on power and profit. Henceforth, all Muslims were united by faith, fraternity, and love, which were to transform them into witnesses of Islam's message. They must under no circumstances accept being "either oppressors or oppressed." They were to learn of the equality of all poeple in front of God and the necessary humility becasue "you all descend from Adam and Adam was created from dirt. The most noble in the sight of God is the most pious. No Arab is superior to a non-Arab, except by their intimate consciousness of God [piety]." The Prophet reminded all the Muslims to treat their wives gently and added: "Be intimately conscious of God with regards to women, and strive to be good to them." Then he added, as if to show the Way and its conditions to all the faithful present and all those who were to follow his teachings through the ages: "I have left among you what will, if you keep to it firmly, preserve you from error: clear guidance, the Book of God and His Prophet's tradition." After each teaching the Prophet added: "Have I conveyed the Message? O God, be my witness!" At the end of the sermon, the pilgrims answered: "We bear witness that you have faithfully conveyed the message, that you have fulfilled your mission, and that you have given your community good advice." Then the Prophet concluded: "O God, be my wintess! ... And let whoever is present convey this message to whoever is absent." [Ibn Hisham]
The Prophet was indeed a witness in front of the spiritual community of Muslims. In communion with them, at the heart of the pilgrimage - which itself requires simplicity and the unity of human beings before their Creator - the Messenger recalled the essential point in the One's message: the absolute equality of human beings before God, regardless of race, social class, or gender, for the only thing that distinguishes them lies in what they do with themselves, with their intelligence, their qualities, and most of all their heart.
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 196, 197
Beginning and End
The knowledge of where a verse begins and ends is essential for a number of reasons, including:
1. The acceptability of the prayer. Some scholars state that, if a person has not memorized the Fatiha, he must recite seven other verses of the Quran instead of it, and this cannot be done unless one knows the beginning and end of a verse.
2. The proper recitation of the Quran. It is preferrable - not mandatory - to pause at the end of every verse, and many scholars have stated that this is the Prophet's Sunnah.
3. The acceptability of the Friday sermon. Some scholars have stated that it is obligatory for the Friday sermon to include at least one full verse in it.
4. The ease in finding particular passages in the Quran. The finding of a particular passage is simplified by the knowledge and numbering of the verses of the Quran.
"An Introduction to the Sciences of the Quran" - Yasir Qadhi, p. 152