The General Political Attitude of Hajj

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The General Political Attitude of Hajj

Imitating the Holy Prophet (S) and following the instruction of the Holy Qur'an, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) made sure that the season of Hajj took the form of an annual meeting held by Muslims in order to declare their general political attitude and the most important situations that are related to all Muslims.


Historically, in the first year of their Hajj after the conquest of Makkah, Surah Bara'ah (al-Tawbah, No. 9) was revealed. The Holy Qur'an and the Holy Prophet (S) declared a release from all obligations towards the polytheists. This was one of the most significant political attitudes demonstrated by Islam.


In the last season of Hajj led by the Holy Prophet (S) and known as the hijjat al-wada’ (Farewell Pilgrimage), the Holy Prophet (S) delivered a sermon that included all political and social attitudes of Muslims.


At the end of his last Hajj, he declared the future leadership as Imam ‘Ali’s and the Muslims’ duty towards him. This declaration, which took place in a region called Khumm Spring (i.e. Ghadir), the Holy Prophet (S) openly declared:


O people, whoever has taken me as master, ‘Ali is now his master. O Allah, (please) be the friend of him who takes ‘Ali as master, be the opponent of him who antagonizes ‘Ali, give victory to him who supports ‘Ali, disappoint him who disappoints ‘Ali, love him who loves ‘Ali, and hate him who hates‘Ali.1


This event is unanimously reported by all Muslims.


The aforementioned traditions on the goals of Hajj also indicate this particular goal and practical outline. Of course, this goal is naturally imposed by the devotional act of Hajj and this annual gathering which is attended by select individuals of the Muslim nation as well as those who are financially capable of performing this religious duty.

Meeting the Imam and the Leadership of the Muslim Community


The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) emphasized meeting and visiting the Imam (‘a) during the season of Hajj in order to get his advice and guidance and to become acquainted with the detailed attitudes towards various issues that concern Muslims. These meetings also intended to provide the Imam (‘a) with a review of the activities of the faithful believers, their problems and common and private questions in addition to other affairs necessitated by the direct connection between the leader and the subjects with regard to the Muslim society and the process of building a virtuous community inside this society.


In this regard, Shaykh al-Kulayni and Shaykh al-Saduq have reported through a valid chain of authority that Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said:


The people have been ordered to come to these stones and circumambulate them so that they can then come to us to show their loyalty to us and offer their support for us.2


Many other traditions have spoken of the same topic. This proves the significance of meeting the Imam (‘a), which is an organizational trend in the process of building a virtuous community, during this blessed devotional system, considering it one of the devotional acts a faithful believer is required to do.


Moreover, this organizational trend is in reality an Islamic principle that has been put into practice by the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) in setting up the system of building a virtuous community.3 In plain words, the attachment of the people to their religious leadership and their commitment to the covenants and pledges that they make with their leadership (which may take various forms including following the guidelines, carrying out the commands, and giving complete support to the leadership) is actually one of the principles of Islam to which the Holy Qur'an (‘a) has called, saying:


O you who believe, answer the call of Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. Know that Allah intervenes between man and his heart and that to Him you shall be gathered. (8:24)


Hajj: Jihad of the Weak


Some traditions have reported the Holy Prophet (S) to have regarded Hajj as a type of jihad (holy struggle) although he said so about women, who are exempted from the religious duty of jihad. In this regard, al-Bukhari has reported that ‘A'ishah said to the Holy Prophet (S), “We, the women, see jihad as the best of all deeds. Nonetheless, we are exempted from practicing this deed.”


He answered her, “This is true, but the best jihad is to perform an accepted Hajj.”4


Referring to the same tradition, al-Nasa'i reports the Holy Prophet (S) as saying, “The best and most comprehensive kind of jihad is to make a pilgrimage to the Holy House.”5


Thus, al-Nasa'i generalizes this ruling to include the old, the children, the weak, and women.


In this connection, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have given a broader view to the ritual Hajj from this angle that it includes all the individuals of the virtuous community who may face exceptional circumstances that prevent them from carrying out the duty of jihad for legal and moral reasons. This view stems from the Ahl al-Bayt’s attempt to maintain the idea and spirit of jihad and to declare the necessity of practicing this sort of devotional act under all conditions. Of course, this concept is founded on the understanding of the Ahl al-Bayt of the Holy Prophet’s situation and content of this devotional duty.


The partisans of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and the individuals of the virtuous community came under exceptional political circumstances because the tyrannical rulers would wage unjustified campaigns against people for no reason other than gaining a dominant influence over them, making more profit, and levying more financial taxes. This matter reached its climax when some rulers of the Umayyad dynasty refused to accept the conversion to Islam of some Christians so as not to be deprived of the tributes those people would pay as long as they were non-Muslims.6


Declaring their religion-based attitude to such practices, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) disallowed the individuals of the virtuous community to participate in such campaigns even though this attitude had a negative spiritual influence on the virtuous community since it deprived them of gaining the moral outcomes of carrying out the religious duty of jihad (struggle for the sake of Almighty Allah).


As a substitute, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) advised their followers to go for Hajj as frequently as possible because the practice of Hajj would compensate for the spiritual, educational, and ethical fruits of jihad of which they were deprived because of the political circumstances of those days. Of course, this concept is also founded on their understanding of the Holy Prophet’s tradition.


In the beginning of our discussion of Hajj, we have referred to the validly reported tradition of Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) who quotes the Holy Prophet (S) as saying:


Hajj is one of the two jihads. It is the jihad of the weak.


Commenting on this saying, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said:


We are the weak.7


According to another tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has said:


Our Shi’ah and we are the weak.


These two texts may shed some light on this special situation and understanding of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) with regard to the relationship between jihad and Hajj—an understanding that can be made clearer through the following texts:


1. Ja’far ibn Muhammad ibn Qawlawayh has reported Imam al-Baqir (‘a) as saying:


When its time comes, jihad is the best of all things save the ritual prayers. However, no jihad is permissible except under the pennon (or the command) of an Imam.8


2. Al-Kulayni and others have reported through a valid chain of authority that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said:


‘Abbad al-Basri, on his way to Makkah, met Imam ‘Ali Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) and said, “O ‘Ali, you have left jihad, escaping its difficulty, and come to Hajj and its easiness. Almighty Allah says, “Surely, Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have Paradise. They fight in Allah's way, so they slay and are slain—a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah, the Gospel, and the Qur'an. And who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Rejoice therefore in the pledge, which you have made. And that is the mighty achievement. (9:111)”


Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) commented, “You may recite what comes next.”


So, the man recited, “They who turn to Allah, who serve Him, who praise Him, who fast, who bow down, who prostrate themselves, who enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and who keep the limits of Allah. And give good news to the believers. (9:112)”


The Imam (‘a) thus commented, “If we find persons enjoying these characteristics, we will definitely leave Hajj and practice jihad with them because it will then be better than Hajj.”9


According to another form of the tradition, Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) said, “If such people appear, we will never prefer anything to jihad.”10


A reference to this situation of the Holy Imams (‘a) has been previously made within the discussion of jihad.


3. Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is validly reported to have quoted Imam‘Ali (‘a) as saying:


A Muslim must not participate in jihad with one who cannot be regarded as a just ruler and who does not apply the laws of Almighty Allah to the spoils of war. If one violates this order and then dies in that place, he will definitely be determined as having supported our enemies in confiscating our dues and shedding our blood. Thus, he will die the same death of those who have not accepted Islam.11


1. - Hashim Ma`ruf al-Hasani, Usul al-Tashayyu`, pp. 39.

2. - Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 10:252, H. 1; Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 4:549, H. 1.

3. - This topic has been discussed with further details in Book III of this series under the title: The General System of the Virtuous Community.

4. - Mansur `Ali Nasif, al-Taj al-Jami` lil-Usul 2:106-107.

5. -Mansur `Ali Nasif, al-Taj al-Jami` lil-Usul 2:106-107.

6. - This subject is a critical historical issue that should be discussed on other occasions.

7. - Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 8:77, H. 2 as quoted from Shaykh al-Kulayni, Furu` al-Kafi.

8. - Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 8:83, H. 17.

9. - Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah11:32, H. 3.

10. - Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah11:34, H. 6.

11. - Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah11:34, H. 8.

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