Hajj and Unity of Mankind

By Prof. Shahul Hameed

Islam, which literally means peace and submission, is the religion of the universe. In Allah’s universe, everything is assigned a proper place: The sun, moon, stars, and all the celestial bodies follow laws that Almighty Allah has determined for them, and they never go out of their ordained course. Everything in the world, from the tiniest electrons to the gigantic galaxies, follows its own laws. The laws followed by the phenomena of the world are perfectly evident in our world, where humanity’s birth, growth, and life are regulated by biological laws. All bodily organs, from small tissues to the heart and brain, are governed by the laws prescribed for them:

Allah Almighty says in His Holy Qur’an:

(He created the heavens and the earth in true (proportions): He makes the Night overlap the Day, and the Day overlap the Night: He has subjected the sun and the moon (to His law): Each one follows a course for a time appointed. Is not He the Exalted in Power - He Who forgives again and again?) (Az-Zumar 39:5)

In his book "Towards Understanding Islam", Abul A`la Mawdudi says:

As we humans can to a great extent deduce the set of laws which control the phenomena of the universe, we call them ‘natural laws’ even though it is Allah Almighty, the Creator and Ruler of the universe, who established them; and hence, it is His Law that is followed by every thing in the universe. That is the reason we call Islam the religion of the universe; because, Islam is nothing other than obedience to God, Who is the Lord of the universe. From this angle, everything in existence is Muslim – air, water, heat, stones, trees, and animals – as they all obey the Creator by submitting to His laws. Even unbelievers and atheists are Muslim as far as their bodily existence is concerned, for each part of their bodies follows the course Almighty Allah established for it, from birth until death and dissolution.

Islam teaches that Almighty Allah, nature, and humanity are not remote, alien to, or opposed to each other. Almighty Allah makes Himself known to humanity through nature and humanity itself: and nature and humanity are two books (of creation) that make Him known. Islam is the name of the code according to which nature functions in perfect obedience and by which humanity is required, but not forced, to live by using its free will.

Allah Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an:

(O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).) (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), is reported to have declared in his farewell address at Arafah: “O humankind! Your Lord is one Lord, and you have one father. All of you are from Adam, and Adam is from dust. The noblest of you is the most God-fearing. No Arab has any superiority over a non-Arab, no non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab, no black person has any superiority over a white person, and no white person has any superiority over a black person – superiority is only through piety.” (At-Tirmidhi)

That is to say, the unity of mankind – just like the unity of nature – is a concept of Islam derived from the Unity of the Creator, Who is the Source of all existence. As Allah is one, all humans are created by the One God and are basically equal.

For the above reason, to a Muslim, social status and racial superiority are meaningless as the equality and brotherhood of humanity is basic to the living faith of Islam. Islam is Allah’s Religion – in the sense that it was Allah who inspired all His prophets to preach to their people, the same religion of submission to the will of the Creator. Hence it is only reasonable to believe that Allah does not confine His religion or favors to any particular nation, race, or age. For this reason, there cannot be any contradiction or fundamental differences between elements in the religion of Allah. When understood properly, it affords no chance to any one to feel any sense of ‘supremacy’ or presumed exclusivity. Moreover, when imparted to humans, it instills into their consciousness a clear concept and a sound basis of human brotherhood. As the Muslim believes in the Oneness of Allah, the oneness of mankind, and the oneness of religion, he believes in all the messengers and revelations of God without discrimination.

Of all the rites of Islam, Hajj is most particularly significant to the concept of unity in that it brings nations and tribes together from distant lands before their Creator. Hajj strengthens the foundation of brotherhood among people and societies as nothing else can in such a spectacular manner.

This annual pilgrimage of Muslims unifies them as one brotherhood in the worship of Almighty Allah, the One Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe. Almighty Allah says in His Holy Qur’an:

(Surely this nation of yours is one nation, and I am your Lord, so worship Me)
(Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:92)

The essential unity of humanity is the constant theme upon which the whole edifice of Islam stands; and Muslims never disagree on this unifying idea. History can never call to mind a more superb call than this divine call for unity that was given through Allah’s Book and through Prophet Ibrahim at first, and finally through Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them both).

On the decisive day at Arafah, the declaration of the unity of humanity was given to mankind by Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). That was a defining moment in the history of humanity as that call dealt a death blow to injustice and discrimination on the basis of color, caste, race or language. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had announced: “The Hajj is Arafah”. Henceforth, millions of Muslims of every hue and stature from the far corners of the world flock to Arafah on the same ninth day of Dhul Hijjah every year to stand in prayer. To this day, the Day of Arafah is celebrated and honored as a day of human unity; a great day for the worship of the one and only God of the universe.

On this blessed day of all days, Muslims respond to the call of Allah given through His prophets (peace and blessings be upon them all):

(The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka: Full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings: In it are Signs Manifest; (for example), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah,- those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures.) (Aal `Imran 3:96,97)

(And proclaim unto mankind the pilgrimage. They will come unto thee on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every deep ravine.) (Al-Hajj 22:27)

The sense of unity and brotherhood Islam instills into its adherents is unparalleled in the history of mankind, as vouchsafed by the great historian Arnold Toynbee in "Civilisation on Trial",

The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue.

And H.A.R Gibb in "Whither Islam",

No other society has such a record of success in uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity and endeavor so many and so varied races of mankind. The great Muslim communities of Africa, India and Indonesia, perhaps also the small community in Japan, show that Islam still has the power to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition. If ever the opposition of the great societies of the East and West is to be replaced by co-operation, the mediation of Islam is an indispensable condition.

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