The Hajj Pilgrimage from Imam Khomeini's Point of View
Revival of religious thought is regarded as one of the most important concerns of His Eminence Imam Khomeini (s) in the Islamic movement of the 1970's and prior to it. From the beginning of his intellectual, social and political life, he considered the primary objective to be the need to explain the true Islam and rid it of its trappings of ignorance, rigidity and superstition. He also reckoned transformation in people's beliefs and thoughts and their return to the original Islamic character to be the main factor of social and political action for changing the structure of totalitarian regime and laying the foundations of Islamic rule. Imam Khomeini (s) pursued the revival of religious thought - which he championed for years before the occurrence of the Islamic Revolution - as a sacred objective at the global level after the victory of the Islamic movement and founding the Islamic Republic system as well. He did not desist from pursuing it until the last days of his blessed life.
One of the dimensions and manifestations of Imam Khomeini's tireless effort and sacred struggle on the way to actualization of revival of religious thought was to revive 'the Hajj pilgrimage' by means of explaining and detailing its underlying philosophies, lessons, messages and societal and political effects.
A significant part of the Imam's messages and statements on the subject pertains to the revival of the Abrahamic and Mohammedan (PBUH) Hajj pilgrimage. Quite naturally, this overriding issue is actualized by explaining the Hajj pilgrimage's philosophy and its effects; by ridding this great worship ritual of its trimmings and superstitions and by defaming the colonial powers and their handpicked stooges in the Muslim-inhabited states. At this opportunity, we examine a section of Imam Khomeini's great message on the subject. This section consists of three distinct topics, which we undertake to reflect upon each of them.
1.Confusing Interpretations of the Hajj Pilgrimage's Philosophy
One of the major duties of Muslims is to find out what the reality of Hajj Pilgrimage is and why they must expend a part of their material and spiritual capacities to uphold it.
What the uninformed individuals or biased analysts have so far sketched as the philosophy of the Hajj pilgrimage is that it is a collective act of worship and a pilgrimage-cum-sightseeing journey. What has the Hajj pilgrimage got to do with how one must live and in what manner one must engage in sacred struggle and in what manner one must stand up to the world of capitalism and communism! What has the Hajj pilgrimage got to do with securing the rights of Muslims and the downtrodden from the oppressors! What has the Hajj pilgrimage got to do with finding solutions to the mental and physical pressures exerted on Muslims! What has the Hajj pilgrimage got to do with Muslims having to assert themselves as a great force and a third global power! Rather, the Hajj pilgrimage should remain solely a sightseeing trip for viewing the 'Kiblah' and the city of Medina!
One of the afflictions and dangers that have always threatened Islamic societies throughout history is the perceptions and interpretations that do not conform to the reality of the Hajj pilgrimage and its promotion and propagation among the mass of people. These same erroneous interpretations cause the realities, teachings and Gnostic knowledge of this act of worship to become mingled with ignorance, inertia and superstition and to lag behind in terms of fructification and ability to create change. It causes this act of worship that should gather all Muslims in the form of a massive Islamic congregation at a single location and realize worthy social and political outcomes to be regarded as a sightseeing trip. It is as if Islam requires that a huge number of people should make the Hajj pilgrimage every year in order to enjoy, entertain and amuse themselves, return to their respective countries with a hoard of sightings of buildings and people, and make purchases of desired goods!
In Imam Khomeini's view, these erroneous and incorrect interpretations have been put forward by two groups and continue to persist.
The First Group, the uninformed: These are uninformed Muslims in Islamic communities who because of lack of necessary understanding and knowledge, define and confine the hajj pilgrimage to affairs of sightseeing and pilgrimage. Lack of knowledge and ignorance of these individuals prevents them from understanding the Hajj pilgrimage's philosophy and its societal and political impact alongside its ideological and spiritual objectives.
The Second Group are biased analysts who attempt to practice the Hajj pilgrimage philosophy for reasons of economic, factional and political interests. Considering the fact that the righteous Hajj pilgrimage causes this group either to forsake its interests and aspirations or not to realize it in a desired and prolific manner, they interpret this great act of worship according to their own factional whims and fancies.
Today these analysts are trying to confuse public opinion in the name of religion and in the garb of Muslims. They are the same people who after the victory of the Islamic Revolution engaged in intellectual activities with the intent to oppose the societal and political effects of the Hajj pilgrimage. Today also, they are inimical to the sensitive subject and critical need of Muslim unity and proximity of Islamic sects and believe in the same individualistic and recreational aspect of the Hajj pilgrimage.
By offering inadvisable inferences and interpretations, these two groups aim to prove the claim that there is no relationship at all between the Hajj pilgrimage and engaging in social and political affairs. It is not necessary to engage in sacred struggle against the arrogant powers or attempt to revive the rights of the downtrodden in order to attain global power for Muslims. In their view, opposition and fighting with the handpicked stooges of colonialism in Islamic countries is an incorrect idea and - in one word - all the duties and responsibilities of the Hajj pilgrimage is confined to individualist, spiritual and moral affairs!
2. Realities hidden in the true Hajj pilgrimage
Immediately after warning of the dangers of incorrect interpretations of the Hajj pilgrimage with the following words, Imam Khomeini considers the true Hajj pilgrimage to be in conflict and opposed to the invalid interpretations offered about this great act of worship:
"...whereas the Hajj pilgrimage is for human beings to get closer and connect to the Owner of the House...and the Hajj pilgrimage is not simply a series of actions, applications and words. A person does not reach to God with words, phrases and rigid movement. The Hajj pilgrimage is at the heart of Divine teachings from which one must seek the content of Islam's policy in all aspects of living. The Hajj pilgrimage is the harbinger and builder of a society removed from material and spiritual vices. The Hajj pilgrimage is manifestation and repetition of all love-creating scenes of a person's and a perfected society's life in the world. And the Hajj pilgrimage rituals are rituals of living...and considering that the society of the Islamic nation 'Ummah' from any race and nation must become Abrahimic in order to link to the congregation of the "Ummah" nation of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and to unite and become a singular force, the Hajj pilgrimage regulates, rehearses and establishes this monotheistic living. The hajj pilgrimage is the scene of reflection of the material and spiritual potentials and capabilities of Muslims; the hajj pilgrimage is the blessed Qur'an from which all stand to benefit but if the thinkers and scholars of religion and those familiar with the afflictions of the Islamic nation "Ummah" dive into the sea of its teachings and not be afraid of proximity and immersion in its societal tenets and policies, they shall harvest a larger number of gems of guidance, development, wisdom and freedom from the oysters of this sea and shall be quenched by the clear waters of its wisdom and knowledge until eternity.
In these interpretations, Imam Khomeini describes the philosophy and effects of the Hajj pilgrimage and by means of short, profound and audible phrases speaks of this great Divine act of worship and the enormity of its effects and harvests.
3. After explaining the true and genuine Hajj pilgrimage Imam Khomeini (s) immediately expresses his displeasure as to how this great act of worship with its enormous social and political effects has been consigned to memory and the dust of obsolescence allowed to settle on it.
"But what should be done and to where should we take this great sorrow that the Hajj pilgrimage like the glorious Qur'an has been estranged...and to the same extent that that Book of living, perfection and splendor has been concealed in our self-made veils and this treasure-trove of the mystery of creation buried and concealed under mounds of soil of our crooked thinking...and the language of its guidance, living and life-building philosophy reduced to the language of horror, death and grave, the Hajj pilgrimage has been made to suffer the same fate - a fate that millions of Muslims go to Mecca every year and set foot on the footprints of the holy Prophet of Islam Prophet Abraham Prophet Ishmael and lady Hagar. However, nobody asks himself who was Abraham and who was Mohammad (peace be upon them) and what had they accomplished; what was their aim and objective; what do they expect from us? It seems as if this is the only thing, which they do not think about it. Certainly, a Hajj pilgrimage without soul, without motion and uprising, without disavowal; a hajj pilgrimage without unity and a Hajj pilgrimage, which does not call for the destruction of infidelity and polytheism, is not a real Hajj pilgrimage. In brief, all Muslims must strive to revive Hajj and the Glorious Qur'an and to restore these two in the sphere of their living. By presenting correct and true interpretations of the Hajj pilgrimage's philosophy, Islam's researchers must get rid of all superstitious findings and distortions of the self-styled religious scholars affiliated to royalty.
In this part of Imam Khomeini's message, there is talk of a great pain and sorrow, which is the estrangement of the Hajj Pilgrimage and the consignment to oblivion of the great societal and political philosophies, effects and values of this great act of devotion. This estrangement is so enormous that it challenges the estrangement of the Qur'an in the minds for in Islamic countries the great Book of the Truth with the universality of its teachings and life-building canons has been transformed into a book of recitation for the souls of the departed and reminder of the death of individuals and the rites of their burial. Whereas the Qur'an is a Book of Life and not of death and that too not only a guidance for individual living rather, it is a guide for social and political living with canons and tenets that watch over all aspects of life and fields and scenes of culture, economics and politics.