The objective of Islam is purification of the soul. Attainment of excellence
in this purification relies on a person’s relationship of servitude with the
Almighty. The stronger this relationship, the greater a person is able to
achieve purification both in his concepts and in his deeds. Love, fear,
sincerity, faithfulness and gratitude as an acknowledgement of His innumerable
favors and blessings are the inner manifestations of this relationship. In the
life of a person, this relationship manifests in the form of the following
three: worship, obedience and support. In the religion of the Prophets, worship
rituals are prescribed to serve as a reminder for this relationship. Prayer,
zakāh, ‘umrah and animal sacrifice are worship, the rituals of Fasting and
i‘tikāf are a symbolic expression for obedience, while the ritual of hajj is a
symbolic expression for offering support and help for the cause of Allah.
1. The Prayer
The most important worship ritual of Islam is the prayer. A little
deliberation shows that the essence of religion is comprehension of God and,
with emotions of fear and love, an expression of humility and meekness before
Him. The most prominent expression of this essence is worship. Invoking and
glorifying Him, praising and thanking Him and kneeling and prostrating before
Him are the practical manifestations of worship. The prayer is nothing but an
expression of these manifestations and, with graceful poise, combines all of
The prayer occupies extra-ordinary importance in religion. The status
monotheism occupies in beliefs is exactly the same as the prayer occupies in
deeds. It has been made mandatory to ingrain the remembrance of God in a person.
It is evident from the Qur’ān that the prayer is the foremost consequence of the
comprehension of Allah which one gets after being reminded by His revelations
and, as a result of this comprehension, of the emotions of love and gratitude
that appear for the Almighty or should appear in a person. It is the pillar of
Islam and is among the requisites for a person to be called a Muslim both in
this world and in the Hereafter. It is a means to remain steadfast on Islam, a
vehicle for countering hardships and wipes out sins. It is the identity of true
preaching, a means of perseverance on the truth and the nature of every object
of this universe and real life. When the comprehension of God, His remembrance
and memory and the feeling of His nearness reaches their pinnacle, it becomes
the prayer. All the sages of the world are unanimous that real life is the life
of the soul and this life is nothing but the remembrance of God, His cognizance
and the sense of nearness to Him. Only the prayer can furnish and afford such a
life to man.
i. History of the Prayer
The history of the prayer is as old as religion itself. The concept of prayer
is present in every religion and its rituals and timings are also identifiable
in these religions. The hymns sung by the Hindus, the chants of the
Zoroastrians, the invocations of the Christians and the psalms of the Jews are
all its remnants. The Qur’ān has informed us that all the Prophets of God have
directed their followers to offer it. It also occupies the most prominent
position in the religion of the Prophet Abraham (sws) which the Prophet Muhammad
(sws) revived in Arabia. When the Qur’ān directed people to pray, it was nothing
unknown to them. They were fully aware of its pre-requistes and etiquette,
rituals and utterances. Consequently, it was not required that the Qur’ān
mention its details. Just as it used to be offered as a practice of Abraham’s
religion, the Prophet (sws) at the behest of the Qur’ān promulgated it with
certain changes among his followers and they are offering it generation after
generation in the same manner.
ii. Pre-Requisites of the Prayer
Following are the
pre-requisites of the prayer:
a. A person must not be in
a state of inebriation.
c. A woman should not be in
the state of menstruation or puerperal discharge.
d. A person must have done
the ceremonial ablution (wudū) and in case of janābah
or menstruation or puerperal discharge must have taken the ceremonial bath.
e. In case of being on a
journey or being sick or in case of non-availability of water, a person can
offer the tayammum (dry ablution) if it becomes difficult for him to do the
ceremonial ablution and the ceremonial bath.
f. A person must face the
The method of doing wudū is
that first the face shall be washed and then hands up to the elbows shall be
washed and after that the whole of the head shall be wiped and after that the
feet shall be washed.
Once wudū is done, it
remains intact as long as something which terminates it is not encountered.
Consequently, the directive of wudū is for the state in which it no longer
remains intact except if a person does wudū in spite of being in the state of wudū for the sake of freshness.
Following are the things
which terminate wudū.
c. passing the wind whether
with sound or without it, and
d. pre-seminal discharge
and pre-ovular discharge.
If, in the case of a
journey, sickness or unavailability of water, wudū and the ceremonial bath
become difficult, the Almighty has allowed the believers to do tayammum (dry
ablution). It is done in the following way: hands should be rubbed on a clean
surface and wiped over the face and hands. It suffices for all type of
impurities. It can thus be done both after things that terminate the wudū and
after having sexual intercourse with the wife in place of the ceremonial bath.
Moreover, in case of being on a journey or being sick, tayammum can be done even
if water is available.
Tayammum, no doubt, does
not clean a person; however, a little deliberation shows that it serves as a
reminder of the real means of achieving cleanliness and as such has special
importance. The temperament of the sharī‘ah is that if a directive cannot be
followed in its original form or it becomes very difficult to follow it, then
lesser forms should be adopted to serve as its reminder. One big benefit of this
is that once circumstances return to normal, one becomes inclined to follow the
directive in its original form.
iii. Practices of the
are the practices of the prayer which are laid down in the sharī‘ah:
prayer should begin with raf‘ al-yadayn (raising high both hands);
(standing upright) should ensue;
be followed by the rukū‘ (kneeling down);
(standing up after the rukū‘) should then be done;
consecutive prostrations should then follow;
second and last rak‘at of each prayer, a person should do qa‘dah (to sit with
legs folded backwards);
person intends to end the prayer, he can do so by first turning his face to the
right and then to the left during this qa‘dah.
iv. Utterances of the
Following are the various
utterances of the prayer:
The prayer shall begin by
saying اللهُ أكْبَر (God is
Then Sūrah Fātihah shall be
recited during the qiyām, after which, according to one’s convenience, a portion
from the rest of the Qur’ān shall be recited;
While going into the rukū‘,
اللهُ أكْبَر shall be
While rising from the rukū‘,
سَمِعَ اللهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَهُ
(God heard him who expressed his gratitude to Him) shall be
While going for the
prostrations and rising from them, اللهُ أكْبَر
shall be pronounced;
While rising from the
qa‘dah for the qiyām, اللهُ أكْبَر
shall once again be pronounced;
At the end of the prayer,
السَّلاُمُ عَلَيكُمْ وَ رَحْمَتُ اللهِ
(peace and blessings of God be on you) shall be said while
facing towards the right and then the left;
اللهُ أكْبَر ,
سَمِعَ اللهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَهُ and السَّلاُمُ عَلَيكُمْ وَ رَحْمَتُ اللهِ
shall always be said loudly. In the first two rak‘āt of the
maghrib and ‘ishā prayers, and in both rak‘āt of the fajr, Friday and ‘īd
prayers, the recital shall be loud. The recital shall always be silent in the
third rak‘at of the maghrib and in the third and fourth of the ‘ishā prayer. In
the zuhr and ‘asr prayers, the recital shall be silent in all their four rak‘āt.
These are the utterances
prescribed by the sharī‘ah for the prayer. They are in Arabic, and besides
these, a person can express any utterance in his own language which state the
sovereignty of the Almighty, gratitude towards Him or is a supplication.
v. Prayer Timings
It is incumbent upon the Muslims to pray five times a day. The time of each
prayer is as follows:
fajr, zuhr, ‘asr, maghrib and ‘ishā.
When the whiteness of the dawn emerges from the darkness of the night, then
this is fajr.
When the sun starts to descend from midday, then this is zuhr.
When the sun descends below the line of sight, then this is ‘asr.
The time of sunset is maghrib.
When the redness of dusk disappears, this is ‘ishā.
The time of fajr remains till sunrise, the time of zuhr remains till ‘asr
begins, the time of ‘asr remains till maghrib, the time of maghrib remains till
‘ishā and the time of ‘ishā remains till midnight. The times of sunrise and
sunset are prohibited for praying since the sun used to be worshiped at these
times. These timings have remained the same during the era of other Prophets as
vi. Rak‘āt of the Prayer
The rak‘āt of the prayer
which have been fixed by the sharī‘ah are:
These are the obligatory
rak‘āt of each of these prayers, leaving which a person would be held
accountable on the Day of Judgement. Thus, they must necessarily be offered
except in cases when qasr has been permitted. All other rak‘āt apart from them
are optional; they earn great reward for a person but will not hold him
accountable on the Day of Judgement if he does not offer them.
vii. Concession in the
If the time of the prayer
arrives in dangerous, disturbing, or disorderly circumstances, the Almighty has
allowed a person to pray while on foot or riding in whatever way possible. In
these circumstances, it is evident that there shall be no congregational prayer,
facing the qiblah shall not be necessary, and, in some situations, it shall not
be possible to offer the prayer according to the prescribed method.
If such a situation arises during a journey, the Qur’ān
has further said that people can shorten the prayer. In religious parlance, this
is called qasr. The sunnah established by the Prophet (sws) in this regard is
that the four rak‘āt prayer shall be shortened to two. No reduction shall be
made in two and three rak‘āt prayers. Consequently, the fajr and the maghrib
prayers were offered in full in such circumstances. The reason is that while the
former already has two rak‘āt, the latter is considered as the witr of daytime,
and this status of the maghrib prayer cannot be changed.
From this concession
granted in the prayer, concession has also been deduced in the times it is
offered. Consequently, in such journeys the zuhr and the ‘asr prayers can be
combined and the maghrib and the ‘ishā can also be combined and offered
viii. The Congregational Prayer
Although the prayer can be offered alone, it is desirable
that it be offered in congregation and if possible in a place of worship. For
this very purpose, the Prophet (sws) built a mosque as soon as he reached
Madīnah and with this the practice of building mosques in all localities and
settlements of Muslims was initiated. Praying in a mosque and showing diligence
in praying in congregation is a highly rewarding practice earning the blessings
of the Almighty. Though women are exempted from this, men should not deprive
themselves of this without any valid reason.
Following is the prescribed way of offering the
a. Before this prayer, the adhān shall be called out so
that people are able to join the prayer after hearing this call. The words which
the Prophet (sws) has prescribed for the adhān are:
اللهُ اَكْبَر،ُ اَشْهَدُ اَنْ لاَ اِلهَ اِلاَّ اللهَُ ،
اَشْهَدُ اَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللهِ ، حَيَّ عَلَى الصَّلوةِ ، حَيَّ عَلَى
الْفَلَاحِ ، اللهُ اَكْبَرُ ؛
لاَ اِلهَ اِلاَّ اللهَُ
God is the greatest; I bear
witness that there is no god besides Him; I bear witness that Muhammad is God’s
messenger; Come towards the prayer; come towards salvation; God is the greatest;
there is no god besides Him.
b. If there is only one follower, he will stand adjacent
to the imām on his right side and if there are many followers they shall stand
behind him and he shall stand in the centre ahead of them.
c. The iqāmah shall be
called before the prayer begins. All the words of the adhān shall be uttered in
it; however, afterحَيَّ عَلَى الْفَلَاحِ
the words قَدْ قَامَتْ الَّصلَاة
(the prayer is ready to be offered) shall be said by
the person who says the iqāmah.
d. The words of the adhān can be repeated more than once
for the purpose they are said.
e. The words of the iqāmah also can similarly be repeated
if there is a need.
ix. Rectifying Mistakes in
In case a person makes a
mistake or thinks that he has made a mistake in the utterances and practices of
the prayer, the amendment prescribed as a sunnah is that if amends can be made
for the mistake, then they should be made and two prostrations should be offered
before ending the prayer, and if making amends is not possible, then only the
prostrations should be offered.
x. The Friday Prayer
On Fridays, it has been
made incumbent upon Muslims to pray in congregation at the time of the zuhr
prayer and in place of it. Following is the way prescribed for it:
a. There are two rak‘āt of
b. In contrast with the
zuhr prayer, the recital shall not be silent in both its rak‘āt.
c. The takbīr shall be said
before the prayer.
d. Before the prayer, the
imām shall deliver two sermons to remind and urge people about various teachings
of Islam. He shall deliver these sermons while standing. The imām shall sit for
a short while after he ends the first sermon and shall then stand up to deliver
the second one.
e. The adhān for the prayer
shall be recited when the imām reaches the place where he is to deliver the
f. As soon as the adhān is
said, it is incumbent upon all Muslim men to leave all their involvements and
come to the mosque if they have no excuse.
g. The sermon shall be
delivered and the prayer shall be led by the rulers of the Muslims and this
prayer shall only be offered at places which have been specified by them or
where a representative of theirs is present to lead the prayer.
xi. The Id Prayer
On the days of ‘īd al-adhā
and ‘īd al-fitr, it is essential for the Muslims that they arrange a collective
prayer like that of the Friday prayer. It should be offered between the time of
sunrise and the sun’s descent. Following is the prescribed way in which it
should be offered:
a. This prayer shall
consist of two rak‘āt.
b. In both rak‘āt, the
Qur’ān shall be recited loudly.
c. While standing in qiyām
some additional takbīrs shall be recited.
d. Neither will there be
any adhān for the prayer nor takbīr.
e. After the prayer, the
imām shall deliver two sermons to remind and urge people regarding the basic
message of Islam. Both these sermons shall be delivered with the imām standing.
He shall sit for a while in between the two.
f. Like the Friday prayer,
this prayer too shall be led and its sermon delivered by the rulers of the
Muslims and their representatives and it shall be offered only at those places
which have been specified by them, where either they or their representatives
are present to lead the prayer.
xii. The Funeral Prayer
In the religion of the
prophets, the prayer for a deceased is held obligatory.
Once the dead body of the
deceased is bathed and enshrouded, this prayer shall be offered in the following
People shall stand in rows
behind the imām while placing the dead body between themselves and the qiblah.
The prayer shall begin by
saying the takbīr and by raising hands.
Like the ‘īd prayer, some
additional takbīrs shall be said in this prayer.
The prayer shall end after
the salām is said while a person is standing once the takbīrs and the
supplications have been offered.
This refers to the minimum
obligatory worship related to the prayer. However, the Qur’ān says that he who
did some virtuous act out of his own desire, God will accept it. Similarly, it
is stated in the Qur’ān that help should be sought from perseverance and from
the prayer in times of hardship. Consequently, while complying with these
directives, Muslims, besides offering the obligatory prayers, show diligence and
vigilance in offering optional prayers. The details of such optional prayers
which the Prophet (sws) offered or urged others to offer can be looked up in
various Hadīth narratives.
2. The Zakāh
After salāh (the prayer),
zakāh is the second important worship ritual in Islam. Among the various
mannerisms which man has generally adopted to worship deities, one is to present
before them a part of their wealth, livestock and produce. In the religion of
the prophets, this is the essence of zakāh, and on this very basis, it is has
been regarded as a ritual of worship. Names like sadaqah, niyādh, bhīnt and
nadhr are also used for it. Consequently, the Qur’ān has used the word sadaqah
for it in various verses, and has explained that it should be paid with
humility. The general custom about it is that once it has been presented, it is
taken from the place of worship and given to its custodians so that they are
able to serve the needs of the worshippers from this money. This practice has
now been discontinued. In its place, Muslims have been directed to give this
money to their rulers so that the needs of the state can be met; however, this
change does not affect the essence of zakāh. It is reserved for the Almighty and
when His servants pay it, the decision for accepting it also comes from Him.
i. History of Zakāh
The history of zakāh is the
same as that of the prayer. It is evident from the Qur’ān that like the prayer
its directive always existed in the sharī‘ah of the Prophets. When the Almighty
asked the Muslims to pay it, it was not something unknown to them. All the
followers of the religion of Abraham (sws) were fully aware of it. Thus it was a
pre-existing sunnah which the Prophet (sws), with necessary reformations, gave
currency among the Muslims at the behest of the Almighty.
ii. Objective of Zakāh
The objective of zakāh can be determined from its very
name. The root of the word zakāh in Arabic has two meanings: “purity” and
“growth”. It thus means the wealth given in the way of Allah to obtain purity of
heart. It is evident from this that the objective of zakāh is the same as that
of the whole of Islam. It cleanses the soul from the stains that can soil it
because of love for wealth, infuses blessings in the wealth and is instrumental
in increasing the purity of the human soul. Zakāh is the minimum financial
obligation on a person of spending his wealth in the way of God. A Muslim must
fulfil it at all costs; thus it does not win what spending in the way of God
beyond it wins; however, merely paying zakāh is enough to attach a person’s
heart with the Almighty and greatly does away with indifference to the Almighty
which so often comes in a person because of love for this world and its
iii. Sharī‘ah of Zakāh
The sharī‘ah of zakāh can be stated as follows:
a. Nothing except the means and tools of trade, business
and production, personal items of daily use and a fixed quantity called nisāb
are exempt from zakāh. It shall be collected annually on wealth of all sorts,
livestock of all types and produce of all forms of every Muslim citizen who is
liable to it.
b. Following are its rates:
(i) Wealth: 2 ½ % annually
(ii) Produce: (i) 5 %: on all items which are produced
primarily by the interaction of both labor and capital, (ii) 10 % on items which
are produced such that the basic factor in producing them is either labor or
capital and (iii) 20 % in items which are produced neither as a result of
capital nor labor but actually are a gift of God.
– From 5 to 24 (camels): one she-goat on every five camels
– From 25 to 35: one one-year old she-camel or in its
absence, one two-year old camel
– From 36 to 45: one two-year old she-camel
– From 46 to 60: one three-year old she-camel
– From 61 to 75: one four-year old she-camel
– From 76 to 90: two two-year old she-camels
– From 91 to 120: two three-year old she-camels
– Over 120: one two-year old she-camel on every forty
camels and one three-year old on every fifty camels
– one one-year old calf on every thirty cows and one
two-year old calf on every forty cows
– From 40 to 120: one she-goat
– From 121 to 200: two she-goats
– From 201 to 300: three she-goats
– Over 300: one she-goat on every hundred goats
c. The heads in which zakāh can be spent are stated in the
(i) The poor and the needy.
(ii) The salaries of all employees of the state.
(iii) All political expenditures in the interest of Islam
and the Muslims.
(iv) For liberation from slavery of all kinds.
(v) For helping people who are suffering economic losses,
or are burdened with a fine or a loan.
(vi) For serving Islam and for the welfare of the
(vii) For helping travellers and for the construction of
roads, bridges and rest houses for these travellers.
d. One form of zakāh is the sadqah of fitr. It is the food
of a person that he consumes in a day and is obligatory on every person whether
young or old, and is given at the end of Ramadān before the ‘īd prayer is
3. The Fast
After the prayer and zakāh, the fast is the next important worship ritual of
Islam. In the Arabic language, the word used for it is صَوْم
(sawm), which literally means “to abstain from something” and “to give up
something”. As a term of the Islamic sharī‘ah, it refers to the state of a
person in which he is required to abstain from eating and drinking and from
marital relations with certain limits and conditions. A person expresses himself
through deeds and practices; hence when his emotions of worship for the Almighty
relate to his deeds and practices then these emotions, besides manifesting in
worshipping Him, also manifest in obeying His commands. Fasts are a symbolic
expression of this obedience. While fasting, a person, at the behest of His
Lord, gives up things which are originally allowed to him to win His pleasure;
he thus becomes an embodiment of obedience and through his practice acknowledges
the fact that there is nothing greater than the command of God. So if the
Almighty forbids him things perfectly allowed by innate guidance, then it is
only befitting for a person who is the servant of his Creator to obey Him
without any hesitation whatsoever.
A little deliberation reveals that this state
of a person in which he experiences and acknowledges the power, magnificence and
exaltedness of the Almighty is also a true expression of gratitude from him. On
this very basis, the Qur’ān says that the fast glorifies the Almighty and is a
means through which gratitude can be shown to Him: The Qur’ān says that for this
very purpose the month of Ramadān was set apart because in this month the Qur’ān
was revealed as a guide for human intellect having clear arguments to
distinguish right from wrong so that people could glorify God and express their
gratitude to Him.
The excellence a person can attain in this ritual of worship is that while
fasting he imposes certain other restrictions on himself and confines himself to
a mosque for a few days to worship the Almighty as much as he can. In religious
terminology, this is called اِعْتِكَاف (i‘tikāf).
Though this worship ritual is not incumbent upon the believers like the fasts of
Ramadān, it occupies great importance viz-a-viz purification of the soul. The
cherished state which arises by combining the prayer and the fast with recitals
of the Qur’ān and the feeling of being solely devoted to the Almighty having no
one around helps achieve the objective of the fast in the very best way.
i. History of the Fast
Like the prayer, the fast is also an ancient
ritual of worship. The Qur’ān says that fasting has been made obligatory for the
Muslims, just as it was made so for earlier peoples. Consequently, this is a
reality that as a ritual of worship which trains and disciplines the soul, it
has existed in various forms in all religions.
ii. Objective of the fast
The objective of the fast as delineated by the
Qur’ān is that people adopt the taqwā of God. In the terminology of the Qur’ān,
taqwā means that a person should spend his life within the limits set by Allah
and should keep fearing Him from the depth of his heart that if ever he crosses
these limits, there will be no one except God to save him from its punishment.
iii. Sharī‘ah of the Fast
Following is the sharī‘ah of the fast:
a. The fast is abstention from eating and
drinking and from having sexual intercourse with the wife with the intention
that a person is going to fast.
b. This abstention is from fajr to nightfall;
hence eating and drinking and having sexual intercourse with the wife during the
night is permitted.
c. The month of Ramadān has been fixed for
fasting; hence it is obligatory for every person who is present in this month to
d. If owing to sickness, travel or any other
compelling reason a person is not able to keep all the fasts of Ramadān, it is
incumbent upon him to make up for this by keeping in other months an equal
number of the fasts missed.
e. Fasting during the menstrual and puerperal
cycles is forbidden. However, the fasts missed as a result must be kept later.
f. The pinnacle of the fast is the i‘tikāf. If
a person is given this opportunity by God, he should seclude himself from the
world for as many days as he can in a mosque to worship the Almighty and he
should not leave the mosque except because of some compelling human need.
g. During i‘tikāf, a person is permitted to
eat and drink during the night but he cannot have sexual intercourse with his
wife. This has been prohibited by the Almighty.
4. Hajj and ‘Umrah
In the religion of Abraham (sws), these two rituals are the pinnacle of
worship. Their history begins with the proclamation made by Abraham (sws) after
building the House of God that people should come here to ceremonially devote
themselves and revive their commitment to the belief of tawhīd.
This is the highest position a person can attain in his zeal for worshiping
the Almighty: he is ready to offer his life and wealth for Him when he is called
for this. Hajj and ‘umrah are symbolic manifestations of this offering. Both are
an embodiment of the same reality. The only difference is that the latter is
compact and the former more comprehensive in which the objective for which life
and wealth are offered becomes very evident.
The Almighty has informed us that Satan has declared war on the scheme
according to which He has created Adam in this world since the very first day.
Consequently, his servants are now at war with their foremost enemy till the Day
of Judgement. This is the very test on which this world has been made and our
future depends on success or failure in it. It is for this war that we dedicate
our life and devote our wealth. This war against Iblīs has been symbolized in
the ritual of hajj. The manner in which this symbolization has been done is as
At the behest of Allah, His servants take time out from the pleasures and
involvements of life and leave aside their goods and possessions.
They then proceed to the battlefield with the words
لَبَّيْك لَبَّيْك and just like warriors encamp in a valley.
The next day they reach an open field seeking the forgiveness of the
Almighty, praying and beseeching Him to grant them success in this war and
listening to the sermon of the imām.
Giving due consideration to the symbolism of waging war against Iblīs, they
shorten and combine their prayers and then after a short stay on the way back
reach their camps.
Afterwards they fling stones on Satan and symbolically offer themselves to
God by sacrificing animals. They then shave their heads and to offer the rounds
of vows come to the real place of worship and sacrifice.
Then they return to their camps again and in the next two or three days fling
stones on Satan in the manner they had done earlier.
Viewed thus, the ihrām worn in hajj and ‘umrah symbolizes the fact that a
believer has withdrawn from the amusement, attractions and involvements of this
world and like a monk wearing two unstitched robes, bare-headed and to some
extent bare-footed too has resolved to reach the presence of the Almighty.
The talbiyah is the answer to the call made by Abraham (sws) while standing
on a rock after he had re-built the House of God. This call has now reached the
nooks and corners of this world and the servants of God while acknowledging His
favours and affirming belief in His tawhīd respond to it by reciting out these
enchanting words: اَللّهُمَّ
The rounds of tawāf’ are the rounds of vow. This is an ancient tradition of
the Abrahamic religion. According to this tradition, animals which were to be
sacrificed or devoted to the place of worship were made to walk to and fro in
front of it or in front of the altar.
The istilām of the hajar-i aswad symbolizes the revival of the pledge. In it,
a person while symbolizing this stone to be the hand of the Almighty, places his
own hand in His and in accordance with the ancient tradition about covenant and
pledges by kissing it revives his pledge with the Almighty that after accepting
Islam he has surrendered his life and wealth to Him in return for Paradise.
The sa‘ī is in fact the tawāf of the place where Ishmael (sws) was offered
for sacrifice. Abraham (sws) while standing on the hill of Safā had observed
this place of sacrifice and then to fulfill the command of Allah had briskly
walked towards the hill of marwah. Consequently, the tawāf of Safā and Marwah
are the rounds of vow which are first made before the Ka‘bah and then on the
place of worship.
‘Arafāt is a surrogate for the Ka‘bah where the warriors gather to battle
against Satan, seeking forgiveness for their sins and praying to God to grant
them success in this war.
Muzdalifah is the place where the army stops and spends the night and the
warriors once again pray and beseech the Lord when they get up in the morning on
their way to the battlefield.
The ramī symbolizes cursing Iblīs and waging war against him. This ritual is
undertaken with the determination that a believer would not be happy with
anything less than the defeat of Iblīs. It is known that this eternal enemy of
man is persistent in implanting evil suggestions in the minds of people.
However, if resistance is offered in return, his onslaught decreases gradually.
Doing the ramī for three days first at the bigger Jamarāt and then at the
smaller ones symbolizes this very resistance.
Animal sacrifice symbolizes that one is willing to sacrifice one’s life for
the Almighty and shaving the head symbolizes that the sacrifice has been
presented and a person with the mark of obedience and eternal servitude to the
Almighty can now return to his home.
It is evident from the foregoing details, how grand and exceptional the
ritual of hajj is. It has been made incumbent once in the life of a Muslim who
has the capacity to undertake it.
i. Objective of Hajj and Umrah
The objective of hajj and umrah is the same as its essence and reality viz.
acknowledgement of the blessings of the Almighty, affirmation of His tawhīd and
a reminder of the fact that after embracing Islam we have devoted and dedicated
ourselves to Him. It is these things whose comprehension and cognizance are
called the benefits (manāfi‘) of the places of hajj. This objective is very
nicely depicted in the utterances which have been specified for this ritual. It
is evident that these expressions have been selected so that this objective is
highlighted and fully implanted in the minds. Hence after wearing the ihrām,
these words flow from every person’s mouth:
اللَّهُمَّ لبيك لَبَّيْكَ لَا شَرِيْكَ لَكَ لَبَّيْكَ إِنَّ الحَمْدَ وَ
النِّعْمَةَ لَكَ وَ المُلْكَ لَا شَرِيْكَ لَكَ
I am in your presence; O Lord I am in Your presence; I am in Your presence;
no one is Your partner; I am in Your presence. Gratitude is for You and all
blessings are Yours and sovereignty is for You only and no one is Your partner.
ii. Days of Hajj and Umrah
No time has been fixed for ‘umrah. It can be offered throughout the year
whenever people want. However, the days of hajj have been fixed from 8th to 13th
Dhū al-Hajj and it can be offered in these days only.
iii. Methodology of Hajj and ‘Umrah
The methodology which has been fixed for hajj and ‘umrah by the sharī‘ah is
First the ihrām should be put on with the intention of doing ‘umrah: Those
coming from outside Makkah should put on the ihrām from their respective mīqāt;
locals whether they are Makkans or are temporarily staying in Makkah should put
it on from some nearby place located outside the limits of the Haram. And those
who live outside the limits of Haram but are located within the mīqāt their
mīqāt is their place of residence. They can put the ihrām from their homes and
begin reciting the talbiyah.
The recital of the talbiyah should continue till a pilgrim reaches the
Once he arrives there, he should offer the tawāf of the Baytullāh.
Then the sa‘ī should be offered between the Safā’ and the Marwah.
If the animals of hadī accompany a pilgrim, they should then be sacrificed.
After sacrifice, men should shave their heads or have a hair cut and women
should cut a small tuft from the end of their hair and then take off their
The ihrām is a religious term. It signifies that pilgrims will not indulge in
lewd talk; they will not use any adornments and not even use any perfume; they
will not cut their nails nor shave or cut any body hair; they will not even
remove any dirt or filth from them so much so they will not even kill any lice
of their body; they will not hunt preys nor wear stitched cloth; they will
expose their heads, faces and the upper part of their feet; they will wear one
sheet as loin cloth and enfold another around themselves.
Women, however, can wear stitched clothes and even cover their heads and
feet. They are only required to expose their hands and faces.
Certain places have been appointed before the limits of Haram begin which can
only be crossed in a state of ihrām by those who want to offer hajj and ‘umrah.
In religious terminology, they are called mīqāt and are five in number. For
those coming from Madīnah, the mīqāt is Dhū al-Hulayfah, for those coming from
Yemen, it is Yalamlam, for those coming from Syria and Egypt, it is Juhfah, for
those coming from Najd, it is Qaran and for those arriving from the East, it is
The talbiyah implies the constant recital of these words:
اللَّهُمَّ لبيك لَبَّيْكَ لَا شَرِيْكَ لَكَ لَبَّيْكَ إِنَّ الحَمْدَ وَ
النِّعْمَةَ لَكَ وَ المُلْكَ لَا شَرِيْكَ لَكَ
It begins right after putting on the ihrām and continues till a pilgrim
reaches the Baytullāh. This is the only recital which the Almighty has fixed for
hajj and ‘umrah.
The tawāf refers to the seven rounds which are made around the Baytullāh in a
state of cleanliness. Each of these rounds begins with the hajar-i aswad
and ends with it and the istilām of the hajar-i aswad is done at the beginning
of each round. It means kissing the hajar-i aswad or touching it with the hands
and then kissing the hands. If the place is crowded, a pilgrim can just raise
his hands in its direction or even point a stick or something similar towards
The sa‘ī refers to the tawāf of the Safā and Marwah. This also consists of
seven rounds which begin with Safā. A complete round extends from Safā to
Marwah. The last round ends on Marwah.
Like animal sacrifice, the sa‘ī between the Safā and Marwah is optional. It
is not an essential part of the ‘umrah.
The hadī refers to the animals which have been specifically reserved to be
sacrificed in the Haram. In order to make them distinct from other animals their
bodies are marked and collars are tied around their necks.
Like the ‘umrah, the hajj too begins with the ihrām. Consequently, the first
thing that a pilgrim must do is to put on the ihrām with the intention of
offering hajj. Those coming from outside Makkah should put on the ihrām from
their respective mīqāt; locals whether they are Makkans or are temporarily
staying in Makkah or live outside the limits of the Haram but are located within
the mīqāt should put it on at their place of residence. This is their mīqāt.
They can put the ihrām from their homes and begin reciting the talbiyah.
Pilgrims should go to Minā on the eighth of Dhū al-Hajj and reside there.
They should go to ‘Arafāt on the ninth of Dhū al-Hajj. At ‘Arafāt, the imām
will deliver the sermon before the zuhr prayer and the prayers of zuhr and ‘asr
shall be offered by combining and shortening them.
After the prayer, pilgrims should celebrate the glory of their Lord and
express their gratitude to Him, declare His exaltedness and oneness and invoke
and beseech Him as much as they can.
They should set off for Muzdalifah after sunset.
After arriving at Muzdalifah, the pilgrims should offer the prayers of
maghrib and ‘ishā by combining and shortening them.
The night must be spent in the field of Muzdalifah.
After the fajr prayer, the pilgrims for some time should celebrate the glory
of their Lord and express their gratitude to Him, express His exaltedness and
oneness and invoke and beseech Him – just as they did at ‘Arafāt.
Then they should leave for Minā and once they reach the Jamrāh ‘Uqabah they
should stop reciting the talbiyah and pelt this Jamrah with seven stones.
If the pilgrims have brought forth the hadī or if it has become incumbent
upon them to sacrifice animals which have been devoted or which are a means of
atonement, then these should be sacrificed.
After sacrifice, men should shave their heads or have a hair cut and women
should cut a small tuft from the end of their hair and then take off their
After that, the pilgrims should set off for the Baytullāh and offer the
With this, all restrictions which the ihrām entails shall be lifted. After
that, if a pilgrim wants, he can offer the sa‘ī of the Safā and the Marwah –
though this is optional.
Then they should go back to Minā and stay there for two or three days and
then everyday pelt first the first Jamrah, then the middle one and then the last
one with seven stones each.
Ever since the times of Abraham (sws), these are the rites (manāsik) of hajj
and ‘umrah. The Qur’ān has made no change in them; it has only explained certain
issues which arose – issues about which there was no clear directive given
The first of them is that showing reverence to whatever has been declared
sacred by the Almighty regarding hajj and ‘umrah is a requirement of faith. This
should be expressed and followed at all costs. If some other group violates this
sanctity, Muslims too have the right to retaliate on equal footings. The reason
is that keeping intact the sanctities ordained by the Almighty is a two way
practice. One member of the pact cannot just maintain it on its own.
The second issue is that in spite of the permission for war, Muslims cannot
take any initiative in violating the sanctities. These are the sanctities
ordained by God and taking the initiative in violating them is a grave sin. In
no circumstances should this happen.
The third issue is that the prohibition of hunting while a pilgrim is wearing
the ihrām is only for animals of the land. Hunting sea animals or eating sea
animals which have been hunted by others is allowed. However, this permission
does not mean that people wrongfully benefit from it. The prey hunted on land is
prohibited in all circumstances. So if a person deliberately commits such a sin,
he must atone for it.
There are three ways for this atonement:
A similar household quadruped animal to that which has been hunted should be
sent to the Baytullāh for sacrifice.
If this is not possible then the price of such an animal should be calculated
and the amount spent to feed the poor.
If even this is not possible then a person should fast; the number of these
fasts should be equivalent to the number of poor a person has become liable to
As far as the decision is concerned regarding the type of animal to be
sacrificed in return, or if this is not possible then the determination of the
price of such an animal or the number of poor which should be fed or the number
of fasts which should be kept, shall be made by two trustworthy Muslims so that
no chance remains for the sinner to succumb to a wrong judgement.
The fourth issue is that if the pilgrims are not able to reach the Sacred
House and are stranded somewhere they can sacrifice a camel, cow or a goat and
after shaving their heads they can take off their ihrām. This will complete
their hajj and ‘umrah. However, this much should remain clear that whether the
sacrifice is offered on such compelling occasions or in Makkah or Minā, shaving
the head is not permissible before it. The only exception to this is if a person
is sick or he has some ailment in his head and he is forced to shave his head
before animal sacrifice. The Qur’ān has allowed the pilgrims to do so in such
circumstances but they should atone for this in the form of keeping fasts, or
spending in the way of God or sacrificing an animal(s). The amounts of these
acts of atonement are left to their own discretion.
The fifth issue is that if those who have come from outside want to combine
the hajj with the ‘umrah in one journey, they can do so. The way to do this is
that they should first take off the ihrām after offering the ‘umrah. Then they
should again put it on the eighth of Dhū al-Hajj and then offer hajj. This is a
mere concession which the Almighty has provided the pilgrims to save themselves
of the bother of two journeys. Thus they will atone for benefiting from this
lenience. There are two ways for this:
They should offer the sacrifice of whatever animal is available to them from
a camel, cow or goat.
If this is not possible, then they should fast for ten days: three during
their hajj stay and seven when they return.
It is evident from the above explanation that what is pleasing in the sight
of God is that one should make separate journeys for hajj and ‘umrah. Thus the
Qur’ān has clarified that this lenience is not for those whose houses are near
the Sacred Mosque.
The sixth issue is that pilgrims can return from Minā on the 12th of Dhū
al-Hajj and can also stay on till the 13th. The Almighty has said that both
cases will incur no sin. The reason for this is that the extent of stay does not
hold real significance; what does hold real significance is whether the time of
stay however much it be was spent in the remembrance of God or not.
5. Animal Sacrifice
In all ancient religions of the world, the ritual of animal sacrifice has
remained a great means of attaining the nearness of the Almighty. Its essence is
the same as that of the zakāh, but it should not be regarded as analogous to
wealth; it is essentially a vow of pledging one’s life and is fulfilled by the
animal we sacrifice on behalf of our life.
i. History of Animal Sacrifice
The history of sacrifice begins with Adam (sws). According to the Qur’ān,
when two of his sons, Abel and Cain, presented their offerings to the Almighty,
one of them was accepted and the other was not. It is explicitly mentioned in
the Bible that Abel on this occasion had offered the sacrifice of some first
born of his flock of goats and sheep.
This practice quite evidently must have continued later also. Consequently,
there exist signs and remnants in all ancient religions which corroborate this
fact. However, the way this worship ritual has increased in its importance,
grandeur and scope after the sacrifice of Abraham (sws), it has become
unprecedented. When he was asked to sacrifice an animal in place of his son, the
Almighty said that He ransomed Ishmael (sws) by sacrificing an animal. This
meant that the sacrifice offered by Abraham (sws) had been accepted and in order
to commemorate this incident the ritual of sacrifice was instituted as a great
tradition to be carried out generation after generation. It is this optional
worship of sacrifice which we offer with fervour and enthusiasm on the occasions
of hajj and ‘umrah and on ‘i%d of al-adhā.
ii. Objective of Animal Sacrifice
The objective of sacrifice is to express gratitude to the Almighty. When we
offer our life symbolically to the Almighty by offering the sacrifice of an
animal, we are in fact expressing our gratitude on the guidance of submission
which was expressed by Abraham (sws) by sacrificing his only son. On this
occasion, the words uttered to declare the exaltedness and oneness of the
Almighty are done so for this very objective.
Viewed thus, animal sacrifice is the pinnacle of worship. When we make an
animal stand or bow down in the direction of the Baytullāh and also direct our
own face towards the House of God and present the sacrificed animal as an
offering to God by saying: بِسْمِ اللهِ وَ اللهُ اَكْبَرْ,
we are actually offering our ownselves to God.
iii. The Sharī‘ah of Animal Sacrifice
The sharī‘ah regarding animal sacrifice can be stated thus:
a. All four legged animals which are cattle can be sacrificed.
b. Sacrificial animals should not be flawed and should be of appropriate age.
c. The time of animal sacrifice begins after offering the ‘īd prayer on the
10th of Dhū al-Hajj (yawm al-nahr).
d. The days fixed for animal sacrifice are the same as have been appointed
for the stay at Minā once the pilgrims return from Muzdalifah. In religious
parlance, they are called “the days of tashrīq”. Besides animal sacrifice in
these days, the Sunnah has been instituted that takbīrs should be declared at
the end of each congregational prayer. Being an absolute directive, the words of
the takbīr have not been fixed.
5. The meat of sacrificial animals can also be eaten without any hesitation
by those who have had them slaughtered and can also be used to feed others.