Hajj literally means, “to continuously strive to reach one’s goal.” о¡о! حج‎‎ !о¡о

Details of Hajj

By: Femi Abbas


This is the season of Hajj. It comes up in the month of Dhul Hijjah every year. Hajj means aspiration towards a higher pedestal in spirituality. It is, divinely, a pillar of Islam made obligatory by Allah for Muslims who can afford it once in a lifetime. Hajj is an ordained pilgrimage and not a mere tourism. Thus, the visa issued to Muslims who perform Hajj annually is that of pilgrimage and not one of tourism. Whilst pilgrimage is a spiritual exercise, tourism is a pleasurable journey.


Similitude of Hajj

The similitude of Hajj in the life of a Muslim is like that of pregnancy in the womb of an expectant mother. The experience may vary from woman to woman as the foetus in the womb undergoes various stages of development before it reaches the stage of delivery. By the time the child is finally delivered, the mother feels a relief of her life while the child assumes a tabula rasa (clean slate) that makes him absolutely innocent.

Spiritually, a pilgrim is like a newly born baby if he strictly performs Hajj as prescribed by Allah. But if he returns into the world of vanity after Hajj, he automatically becomes like a person in snow-white attire who finds himself in a palm oil market. Unless he spiritually guides his loins, he may immediately become a tainted person both in body and in soul.


Rigours of Hajj

Muslim pilgrims who are going on Hajj must be prepared to go through series of rigour both spiritually and physically. The rigour of getting the money with which to perform Hajj; the rigour of getting the travelling documents including visa; the rigour of taking care of the home front before embarking on the Holy journey; the rigour of boarding the plane with a sense of high risk; the rigour of going through the security checks at the embarkation point at the home of residence as well as the disembarkation point in Saudi Arabia;  the rigour of performing the Tawaf and Sa’y; the rigour of moving from Makkah to Mina on the 8th day of Dhul-Hijjah, then to Arafah on the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah, and back to Mina via Muzdalifah on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah; the rigour of locating the tents at Arafah; the rigour of throwing the pebbles at the Jamrat in Mina on the three or four days known as Ayamu-t-Tashrik; The rigour of performing Tawaful Ifadah at the Sanctuary in Makkah after the first day of throwing the pebbles; the rigour of shaving the head (by men) and slaughtering the rams by all; the rigour of performing the farewell circumambulation otherwise known as Tawaful Wida‘i, all in the midst of millions of people can be too much to forget easily after Hajj.

Whoever is not bothered by the money spent on Hajj should at least be bothered by the various stages of the rigour involved including that of visiting Madinah. To lose all these to the forces of Satan after Hajj is like losing one’s travelling passport after obtaining visa. The prayer of every genuine pilgrim is to retain the validity of Hajj forever.


Conditions for Hajj performance

Performance of pilgrimage must be based on certain fundamental conditions. These include genuine intention and high spiritual standard. An intending pilgrim must have attained puberty. He must have been an ardent practitioner of the first four pillars of Islam: (Salat, Zakah, and Sawm) all of which are fervently based on faith (Iman). Hajj without these pre-requisites is like a tree without roots. Money is a major pre-requisite for Hajj but it is not absolute.

Hajj, the last pillar of Islam shows very vividly, the similitude of what mankind will experience on the Day of Judgment. Looking at the unique way in which pilgrims dress for Hajj and how they assemble at Arafat leaving their luggage behind in Makkah, one will realize how ephemeral this world is.


Purpose of Hajj

The various stages of preparation through which pilgrims pass before arriving at Arafat are symbolic of our peregrinations in life as human beings. Like the Day of Judgment, Arafat is the climax of Hajj performance. Anybody who misses Arafat misses Hajj. But Arafat is not by physical appearance alone. It takes a combination of factors to participate effectively in that great assembly which serves as the climax of Hajj.

For Hajj to serve its spiritual purpose in the life of a pilgrim, certain steps must be taken before leaving home. They are as follows:

  • Fine-tuning the first four pillars of Islam very sincerely
  • Packaging the intention to perform Hajj
  • Ascertaining the security of the way
  • Providing adequately for the family and dependents at home
  • Paying all outstanding debts including promises
  • Ascertaining the condition of health
  • Perfecting immigration procedures
  • Undergoing all necessary medical services including inoculation
  • Assuming a mood of humility like that of a servant approaching his Master
  • Readiness to endure hardship and to tolerate fellow pilgrims’ attitudes



While admonishing Muslims on spiritual journey including Hajj Prophet Muhammad once said: “Actions shall be judged according to intentions. Whoever embarks on a spiritual journey for the sake of Allah will be adjudged on that basis. And whoever bases his/her intention for pilgrimage on marriage or material gains should not expect any reward beyond that for which the intention is based.” The steps to follow in the performance of Hajj are as follows:


The Miqat

Miqat is the specified place for the wearing of Ihram dress. There are five of such places in all. What most do therefore is to wear their Ihram dress in Jeddah which has now been adjudged right through a Fatwah. Thus, pilgrims can now wear their Ihram dress on arrival at the pilgrims’ airport in Jeddah. However, pilgrims whose first destination in Saudi Arabia is Madinah have no problem with Miqat. Such pilgrims should just wear their Ihram dresses at the Miqat in Madinat.



Tawaf means circumambulation of the Ka’bah. The very first Tawaf to be performed by any pilgrim on entering Makkah is called Tawaful Qudum (meaning welcoming circumambulation). It is performed before a pilgrim settles down in any residence. Tawaful Qudum is an obligatory Sunnah from which only residents of Makkah among pilgrims are exempted.


Residence in Makkah or Madinah

Most pilgrims often seek their accommodations in Makkah or Madinah close to the Haram. This is to enable them to walk to from the Haram conveniently at the time of any Salat. To minimise pilgrims’ regular occurrence of missing their ways, they are provided with hand bands bearing the addresses of their residences. Pilgrims are therefore advised to wear such bands at all times to enable them show it to either the official Saudi Hajj guides or Saudi policemen when the road is missed. It is also important for pilgrims to always be with their identity cards provided by the commission or private agents. This is to enable them to be identified in case of sickness, accident or even death.


Movement to Mina

Pilgrims’ statutory movement to Mina is on the 8th of Dhul Hijjah. Such pilgrims must spend the night of the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah in Mina where they must observe Salatus-Subhi of the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah which is Arafah Day before proceeding to the Plain of Arafah. Pilgrims must be ready to undergo some rigour in the process of moving to Mina from Makkah. The rigour which normally affects all pilgrims is engendered by limited time available for millions of pilgrims who must move to that spiritual camp before the sunset on the day preceding Arafah day. Such movement must commence from Makkah and after Tawaful Qudum. There is movement to Mina from Madinah since there is no Tawaf in Madinah.


The Day of Arafah

All pilgrims proceed to the Plain of Arafat are advised to stay under their tents and concentrate on the spiritual activities that take them to the place. They must reach Arafat not later than mid day when Salatu-d-Dhuhr and ‘Asr should be observed combined. Anybody who is not at Arafat by mid day is considered not to have taken part in the assembly and therefore missed Hajj.

Immediately after observing the combined Salatu-d-Dhuhr and ‘Asr the Imam who led the two Salat is expected to give a sermon. Listening to such sermon is as compulsory as giving it by the Imam. The great assembly of Arafat terminates shortly before sunset (Magrib) while the pilgrims return to Mina via Muzdalifah.



At Muzdalifah, pilgrims are expected to halt their journey to observe Magrib and ‘Ishai combined. They are also expected to pass the night there and observe the Salat-s-Subh of the following day before proceeding to Mina. Muzdalifah is adjacent to Mina and a walking distance to the Jamrat (the stonning place).



Stoning of the devils (Rajmu Jamrat) begins a day after Arafat and continues for the next three or four days that the pilgrims are supposed to spend at Mina. This exercise is obligatory and without it Hajj is considered incomplete except when and where a pilgrim is hindered by certain inevitable conditions. There are three points at which stones are to be thrown. Seven pebbles are to be thrown at each point on every one of the three or four days to be spent in Mina.

While going for the pebble-throwing exercise, pilgrims are advised to take their pebbles along with them. On the first day of stone throwing, only seven stones are thrown at only one spot. On the subsequent three or four days, pilgrims are required to throw twenty one pebbles each day with seven stones thrown at each of the three spots provided. These amout to 21 stones each day.

Picking such pebbles at the point of throwing them is forbidden. All pebbles must have been picked before leaving the tent for the ‘Jamrat’ or on the way to the ‘Jamrat’. For pilgrims who decide to spend three days in Mina, the total number of pebbles to be thrown is 49 (7 for the first day, 21 for the second day and 21 for the third day). For pilgrims who choose to spend four days, the total number of pebbles to be thrown is 70.


Majzarah (Abattoir)

Slaughtering of all sacrificial animals is done at the abattoir in Mina. Pilgrims do not need to bother themselves by going to the abattoir for the purpose of carrying out this compulsory obligation. They can simply buy the guaranteed ticket sold by designated Saudi agents. The ticket is the evidence that one has performed that duty. The slaughtering is done on behalves of the pilgrims by some authorised artisans who are paid by the Saudi Hajj authorities from the money paid for those animals. The animals to be slaughtered at Jamrat range from rams to camels. A pilgrim should slaughter one ram or more while seven pilgrims may combine to slaughter one camel or five of them may jointly slaughter on cow.


Tawaful Ifadah

For pilgrims who can afford to go to Makkah after throwing the first seven pebbles, it is good to perform Tawaf-ul-Ifadah. For those who cannot, the exercise can be deferred till the end of Tashrik. Pilgrims who have performed Tawaf-ul-Ifadah are free to shave their heads and change from their Ihram dress into civil or traditional dresses.

The only reason for any pilgrim to go to Makkah from Mina during the camping period is to perform Tawaf-ul-Ifadah. No pilgrim should break camping rule by going to Makkah without performing Tawaf-ul-Ifadah. And after performing Tawaful Ifadah, no pilgrim should remain in Makkah or elsewhere without returning to Mina before sunset.

With the completion of the camping days in Mina which is climaxed with Tawaful-Ifadah and the arrival of all the pilgrims in Makkah, Hajj has been completed except for Tawaf Wida‘i otherwise called farewell Tawaf. That Tawaf is also obligatory.

It is then left for pilgrims to decide whether or not to go to Madinah. Visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah is not obligatory. But it will be spiritually odd for any pilgrim to choose not to visit the Prophet’s Mosque before or after performing Hajj in Makkah and its environs.



Throughout the Hajj exercise, what should be uppermost in the mind of a pilgrim is the spiritual benefit. Hajj is made compulsory only once in a life’s time for those who have the wherewithal to undergo it and can satisfy the conditions attached to its performance.

The Hajj Guide app is available on Apple’s App Store, Android’s Play Store and Windows’s Phone Store, making it one of the few apps available across all three mobile platforms. Watch live TV coverage of the Hajj: English (channel KSA2) or Arabic (channel KSA1)
On Monday, September 12 or 10 Dhul-Hijjah 1437, Muslims all over the world will celebrate Eid-ul-Adha. Speaking on new projects, Yousef bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, CEO of Qatar Charity, said: “This year’s campaign will include paying atonements and vows, the charity of the ‘Ten of Dhu al-Hijja’ and offering pilgrims’ presents. wwwpages: qcharity.org/en/global

Hijrah (Immigration to Madinah), no doubt, kindled the light of hope in the hearts of the early Muslims who set a shining example for all Muslims, in every generation, to emulate.

Hijrah, in essence, is a process of transfer to a better situation. It is not meant to find a comfortable place where one would relax and stop endeavor (attempt). Rather, it is a search for an environment more favorable to continuous and constructive effort. Immediately after reaching Madinah, the Prophet undertook an all-embracing process to establish a faithful and strong society. This is a significant aspect and important lesson to learn from hijrah.

In the month of Rabiul Awwal of the thirteenth year of the prophetic mission migration took place.
In the month of Rabiul Awwal of the thirteenth year of the prophetic mission migration took place, that year became known as the 1st year of Hijrah (622 CE). The first day of the year is observed on the first day of Muharram, the 1st sacred month in the Islamic calendar.  The Hijrah kindled the light of hope in the hearts of the early Muslims who set a shining example for all Muslims, in every generation, to emulate. God says in the Quran: “Those who believe, and have emigrated, and have struggled in the way of God with their possessions and their lives are greater in degree with God; and those, they are the triumphant. Their Lord gives them good tidings of mercy from Him and beatitude; for them shall be gardens wherein is enduring bliss, therein they shall abide forever. Surely with God is a tremendous reward.” (At-Tawbah 9:020-2)

Abu Bakar (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab Mudar which comes between Jumadah and Sha’ban.”

The month of Rajab, in its superabundant favors and benefits, reverence and sanctity, is next to none. It is linked to Almighty Allah (SWT) as Sha’ban to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) and Ramadan to his Ummah (Muslim Community).

Muharram is so called because it is a sacred (muharram) month and to confirm its sanctity. Allah’s words (interpretation of the meaning): ” … so wrong not yourselves therein … “ mean do not wrong yourselves in these sacred months, because sin in these months is worse than in other months. It was reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said that this phrase referred to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred, so that sin in these months is more serious and good deeds bring a greater reward.

Hijrah was one of the most important events in the history of Islam. It is for this reason the Caliph Omar adopted hijrah date to calculate years. Muslims chose hijrah as the focal point to reckon their chronology.

In physical terms, hijrah was a journey between two cities about 200 miles apart, but in its grand significance it marked the beginning of an era, a civilization, a culture and a history for the whole mankind. Islam progressed not only from the physical hijrah, but because Muslims took hijrah seriously in all its aspects and dimensions.

Announcement: Country specific Hijri calendar for 1438/2017. Click here to download (Size 5 MB).

When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) immigrated from Makkah to Madinah, he did not just transfer his residence or take shelter in another city, but as soon as he arrived in Madinah he began the transformation of that city in every aspect:

– Masjid (Mosque): The Prophet first established a Mosque to worship God. He himself worked in carrying the stones and building that small, humble but most powerful structure. That was the beginning, but soon other mosques were established in Madinah.

– Brotherhood: He established brotherly relations between the Muslims who migrated from Makkah and the residents of Madinah who helped the Prophet and his companions. What was important was to have good relations between Muslims. They should have their brotherhood on the basis of faith, not on the basis of tribes as they used to have prior to Islam.

– Intercommunity and Interfaith Relations: Prophet Muhammad also established good relations with other communities living in Madinah. There was a large Jewish community as well as some other Arab tribes who had not accepted Islam. The Prophet prepared a covenant for relations between these communities.

– Water System in the City: The Prophet asked the companions to dig wells in different parts of the city. It is mentioned that more than 50 wells were opened in the city of Madinah and there was enough clean water for everyone.

– Agriculture and Gardening: The Prophet encouraged the companions to cultivate the land and make gardens. He told them that anyone who would cultivate any dead land, would own it. Many people started working and cultivating and soon there was enough food for everyone.

– Poverty Eradication: In a short period of time it happened that there were no poor people in Madinah. Everyone had enough food and shelter and the Prophet used to give gifts to coming delegations.

– Safety, Security, Law and Order: Madinah became the safest city in the world. There were very few incidents of theft, rape, drunkenness or murder and they were immediately taken care of.

In short, the hijrah teaches that wherever Muslims go, they should bring goodness to that land. Muslims should work for both moral and material goodness of the society.

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According to a hadith, when Adam (a.s), carrying out God’s order, accompanied by Archangel Gabriel performed the Hajj rites and left Mina for the House, Satan appeared to him in the site of al-Jamara three times trying to prevent him from performing his duty with temptations. However, Adam with a hint from Gabriel by throwing seven pebbles at Satan in three sites, drove him away. Hence, this act became a tradition for the descendants of Adam. According to other hadiths, this happened to Prophet Ibrahim (a.s). Ali ibn Jaafar asked his elder brother, Imam Kazim (a.s) about the philosophy of the Ramy al-Jamarat. The Imam answered:

لأنَّ إبْليسَ اللّعِينَ كانَ يَتَراءَى لإِبْراهِيمَ عليهِ السلامُ في مَوضِعِ الجَمارِ فَرَجَمَهُ إِبراهِيمُ، فَجَرَتِ السُّنَّةُ بِذلكَ “Since the cursed Satan appeared to Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) in the site of al-Jamarat and Ibrahim (a.s) threw stone at him, this act became tradition.”[156] The historical significance of Jamarat ritual hails from Prophet Ibraheem when the devil appeared to him three times. At each of the appearances, Angel Jibraeel (Gabriel) told Prophet Ibraheem (Abraham) to pelt the devil. Thus, the basis of the significance of the ritual. The ritual re-enacts Abraham (Ibrāhīm)’s pilgrimage to Mecca as explained by the Muslim historian al-Azraqi: When he [Abraham] left Mina and was brought down to al-Aqaba, the Devil appeared to him at Stone-Heap of the Defile. Gabriel (Jibrayil) said to him: “Pelt him!” so Abraham threw seven stones at him so that he disappeared from him. Then he appeared to him at the Middle Stone-Heap. Gabriel said to him: “Pelt him!” so he pelted him with seven stones so that he disappeared from him. Then he appeared to him at the Little Stone-Heap. Gabriel said to him: “Pelt him!” so he pelted him with seven stones like the little stones for throwing with a sling. So the Devil withdrew from him. All three jamarāt represent the devil: the first and largest represents his temptation of Abraham against sacrificing Ishmael (Ismāʿīl); the second represents the temptation of Abraham’s wife Hagar (Hājar) to induce her to stop him; the third represents his temptation of Ishmael to avoid being sacrificed. He was rebuked each time, and the throwing of the stones symbolizes those rebukes. The stoning of the jamarāt also represents the repudiation of man’s self and the act of casting aside one’s low desires and wishes.
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Are there degrees of Islam, and what are they?

Praise be to Allah(swt). Yes, there are three degrees of Islam, which are: Islam, eemaan and ihsaan. Each of them has a meaning and certain pillars or essential parts.

Islam, which in Arabic means submission. In sharee’ah terminology its meaning varies according to usage, and it may mean one of two things:

(i) When the word is used on its own and is not accompanied by the word eemaan (faith, belief), it refers to the religion as a whole, including both major and minor issues of belief, words and deeds, as in the verses where Allah(swt) says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Truly, the religion with Allah(swt) is Islam” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:19]

“and have chosen for you Islam as your religion” [al-Maa’idah 5:3]

“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:85]

hence some of the scholars defined it as meaning: Submitting to Allah(swt) by affirming that He is One (Tawheed) and submitting to Him by obeying Him and disavowing shirk and its people.


(ii) When it is used in conjunction with the word eemaan (faith, belief), in which case it refers to outward deeds and words, as in the verses where Allah(swt) says (interpretation of the meaning):

“The bedouins say: ‘We believe.’ Say: ‘You believe not but you only say, “We have surrendered (in Islam),” for Faith has not yet entered your hearts’…” [al-Hujuraat 49:14]

In Saheeh al-Bukhaari (27) and Saheeh Muslim (150) it is narrated from Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas that the Messenger of Allah(swt) (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) distributed (Zakaah) amongst (a group of) people while Sa’d was sitting there. Sa’d said: But the Messenger of Allah(swt) (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) left a man who I thought the best of them all, and did not give him anything. I said, “O Messenger of Allah(swt), why did you leave out So and so? By Allah(swt) I regard him as a faithful believer.” The Messenger of Allah(swt) (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) said: “Or (merely) a Muslim.” I remained quiet for a while, but could not help repeating my question because of what I knew about him. I said, “O Messenger of Allah(swt), why did you leave out So and so? By Allah(swt) I regard him as a faithful believer.” The Messenger of Allah(swt) (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) said: “Or (merely) a Muslim.” I remained quiet for a while, but could not help repeating my question because of what I knew about him. I said, “O Messenger of Allah(swt), why did you leave out So and so? By Allah(swt) I regard him as a faithful believer.” The Messenger of Allah(swt) (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) said: “Or (merely) a Muslim. I give to one person even though another is dearer to me, for fear that he might be thrown on his face in the Fire.”


With regard to the Prophet’s words “or (merely) a Muslim,” when Sa’d (may Allah(swt) be pleased with him) said to him, “By Allah(swt) I regard him as a faithful believer” mean: You do not know about his faith, all you can see is his Islam in the sense of his outward actions.

The second degree is eemaan (faith), which in Arabic means belief which is committed to submission. In Islamic terminology its meaning varies according to usage and it may mean one of two things:

(i) When the word is used on its own and is not accompanied by the word Islam, it refers to the religion as a whole, as in the verses where Allah(swt) says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Allah(swt) is the Wali (Protector or Guardian) of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into light” [al-Baqarah 2:257]

“and put your trust in Allah(swt) if you are believers indeed” [al-Maa’idah 5:23]

And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) said: “No one will enter Paradise except the believers.” Narrated by Muslim, 114.

Hence the salaf were unanimously agreed that eemaan means “affirming in the heart – which includes actions of the heart – and saying with the tongue and acting with one’s physical faculties. It increases by doing acts of obedience and decreases by committing sin.”


Hence Allah(swt) limited the word eemaan to those who adhere to His religion in full, inwardly and outwardly, when He said (interpretation of the meaning):

“The believers are only those who, when Allah(swt) is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses (this Qur’aan) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith; and they put their trust in their Lord (Alone);

Who perform As-Salaah (Iqaamat‑as‑ Salaah) and spend out of that We have provided them.

It is they who are the believers in truth. For them are grades of dignity with their Lord, and forgiveness and a generous provision (Paradise)” [al-Anfaal 8:2-4]

And Allah(swt) referred to eemaan as including all of that when He said (interpretation of the meaning):

“but Al-Birr is (the quality of) the one who believes in Allah(swt), the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to Al-Masaakeen (the poor), and to the wayfarer, and to those who ask, and to set slaves free, performs As-Salaah (Iqaamat-as-Salaah), and gives the Zakât, and who fulfil their covenant when they make it, and who are patient in extreme poverty and ailment (disease) and at the time of fighting (during the battles). Such are the people of the truth and they are Al‑Muttaqoon (the pious)” [al-Baqarah 2:177]

And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) referred to eemaan as including all of that in the hadeeth about the delegation of ‘Abd al-Qays which is narrated in Saheeh al-Bukhaari (53) and Saheeh Muslim (17), where he said: “I enjoin you to believe in Allah(swt) alone. Do you know what belief (or faith) in Allah(swt) alone is?” They said: “Allah(swt) and His Messenger know best.” He said: “To bear witness that there is no god but Allah(swt) and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah(swt), to establish regular prayer, to pay zakaah, to fast Ramadaan, and to give one-fifth of the war-booty (the khums).”

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) described fasting the month of Ramadaan out of faith and in the hope of reward as being part of faith; he also said the same concerning spending the night of Laylat al-Qadar in prayer, fulfilling one’s trusts, jihad, Hajj, attending funerals, etc. In Saheeh al-Bukhaari (9) and Saheeh Muslim (35) it says: “Faith has seventy-odd branches, the highest of which is saying Laa ilaaha ill-Allah(swt) (there is no god except Allah(swt)) and the least of which is removing a harmful thing from the road.” It would take too long to mention all the verses and ahaadeeth that speak of this topic.


(ii) When the word eemaan is used in conjunction with the word Islam. In this case it is understood as referring to inward beliefs as in the hadeeth of Jibreel etc., and as in the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) concerning the funeral du’aa’: “O Allah(swt), whomever among us you cause to live, cause him to live in Islam, and whomever among us you cause to die, cause him to die in faith.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1-24; he said it is hasan saheeh. It was also classed as saheeh by al-Albaani, as stated in Saheeh Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 1/299. That is because physical actions can only be accomplished during life, but when one is dying all that is left is the words and actions of the heart.

The point is that when either word, eemaan or Islam, is used alone, there is no difference between them, rather each of them when used alone refers to the entire religion. If there is any difference between them, then the word Islam refers to outward physical actions and the word eemaan refers to inward actions of the heart. This is what is indicated by the hadeeth of Jibreel which was narrated by Muslim in his Saheeh (8) from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab who said:

One day when we were with the Messenger of Allah(swt) (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him), there appeared before us a man whose clothes were exceedingly white and his hair was exceedingly black, and there were no signs of travel on him. No one among us recognized him. He came and sat down by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) and rested his knees against his and placed the palms on his hands on his thighs. He said: “O Muhammad, tell me about Islam.” The Messenger of Allah(swt) (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) said: “Islam is to testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah(swt) and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah(swt), to establish regular prayer, to pay zakaah, to fast Ramadaan and to go on pilgrimage to the House if you are able to.” He said: “You have spoke the truth.” And we were amazed at his asking that and saying that he had spoken the truth. Then he said: “Tell me about eemaan (faith, belief),” He said: “It means believing in Allah(swt), His angels, His Books, His Messengers, and the Last Day, and believing in al-qadar (the divine will and decree), both good and bad.” He said: “You have spoken the truth.” He said: “Tell me about ihsaan.” He said: “It means worshipping Allah(swt) as if you can see Him, and although you cannot see Him, He can see you.” He said: “Tell me about the Hour.” He said: “The one who is being asked does not know more about it than the one who is asking.” He said: “Then tell me about its signs.” He said: “The slave-girl will give birth to her mistress, and you will see the barefoot, naked, destitute herdsmen competing in constructing lofty buildings.” Then he departed and I stayed for a while. Then he said to me: “O ‘Umar, do you know who the questioner was?” I said: “Allah(swt) and His Messenger know best.” He said: “That was Jibreel, who came to teach you your religion.”

The third degree is ihsaan, which in Arabic means doing something well, perfectly and sincerely. In Islamic terminology its meanings vary according to usage and it may mean one of two things:

(i) When it is used alone and is not mentioned in conjunction with Islam or eemaan, it refers to the religion as a whole, as stated above with regard to the words Islam and eemaan.


(ii) When it is used in conjunction with either or both of the words Islam and eemaan, the meaning is perfecting one’s outward and inward deeds. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) explained it in a manner that no other created being apart from him (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) could have explained it, because of the gift of concise speech that Allah(swt) bestowed upon him. He (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) said: “It means worshipping Allah(swt) as if you can see Him, and although you cannot see Him, He can see you.” This is the highest degree of Islam. Those who attain this are the foremost in doing good, the ones who will be closest to Allah(swt) in the highest degrees of Paradise.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) has told us that the degree of ihsaan is of two categories, one of which is higher than the other.

The first position is the higher of the two: This means worshipping Allah(swt) as if you can see Him. This means that a person acts as if he can see Allah(swt) in his heart, so his heart is filled with light and the matters of the unseen becomes almost like that which is visible (i.e., it becomes very real to him). Whoever worships Allah(swt) with awareness of His nearness and turning to Him and acts as if he is before Allah(swt) and looking at Him is bound to fear Him and venerate Him.

The second position is that of sincerity and awareness that Allah(swt) is always watching. This means that a person acts with an awareness that Allah(swt) can see him and is close to him. If a person bears this in mind and acts accordingly, then he will be sincere towards Allah(swt) because this awareness will prevent him from paying attention to anyone other than Allah(swt) or doing anything for the sake of anyone else. If a person achieves this position, it will become easy for him to reach the position described above. Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah(swt) be upon him) said, “and although you cannot see Him, He can see you.” If a person truly understands when worshipping Allah(swt) that He can see him and knows all his deeds, hidden and visible, inward and outward, and that nothing is hidden from Him, then it will be easy for him to move from the lower position to the higher, which is the constant awareness that Allah(swt) is close to His slave and is with him, because it is as if he can see Him. We ask Allah(swt) of His great bounty.

See Ma’aarij al-Qubool by Shaykh Haafiz al-Hakami, 2/20-33, 326-328; al-Majmoo’ al-Thameen, 1/49, 53.’ Jaami’ al-‘Uloom wa’l-Hukam, 1.106.


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