In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Most Merciful

First sermon:

Ritual worships, including pilgrimage, are intended to establish a connection between man - the petty, perishable, limited, small creature - and the Creator - the Absolute, Eternal, Everlasting, One Who has created the whole existence. Through such connection man moves from the limits of his petty human being to the spaciousness of the huge universe, from the limits of his trivial power to the greatness of cosmic powers, and from the limits of his short-lived life to the endlessness of eternity that no one knows but Allah.

Such connection is not accomplished unless man complies with the devotional, behavioral and moral Divine System, as decreed by Allah, Most Gracious, between himself and his fellow humans. Moreover, this connection is the essence of Religion, whose main Pillar is prayer: whosoever establishes it, he establishes Religion; and whosoever disregards it, he demolishes Religion.

Prayer is a repeated obligation from which no Muslim can ever be exempted, and which includes all aspects of the religion of Islam, such as the testimony that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, which is the first Pillar of the religion of Islam. It also includes the Fast, because while in prayer, a person quits not only food and drink but also movement and speech. It includes Zakat (Almsgiving), i.e. expenditure of time and wealth for the sake of the Lord, Most Gracious, Who bestows His Blessings upon him. It also includes the Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca) because in prayer a person has to keep his face directed towards the Ka’bah, Allah’s Sacred House.

The fruits of connection between man and his Lord:

It purifies man from the factors of his decline and suffering. To this effect, the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), says,

“Prayer is purification”.

It provides man’s heart with a heavenly Divine Light that shows him reality of things, which safeguards him from any kind of deception or misguidance. To this effect, the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), says,

“Prayer is enlightenment.”

It provides man with happiness and contentment. A righteous scholar once said: “What can my enemies ever do to me?! My garden is within my heart. If they imprison me, my imprisonment is dervotional seclusion. If they banish me, my exile is tourism. If they kill me, my murder is martyrdom.”

A man who is connected with Allah is purified, enlightened and happy. Neither glittering gold nor sharp lashes can ever deprive him of such happiness. This connection is variant in quantity, quality, and period, from one type of worship to another.

In Prayer man is provided with spiritual enhancement that purifies and enlightens him and makes him happy until the next prayer. But Friday congregational sermon and prayer provide him with a greater and longer spiritual charge that is supposed to last until the next Friday Prayer.

As for the Fast, Allah, Mot Gracious, decreed it a whole month - thirty days during which a faster forsakes food and drink and is provided with a greater spiritual charge sufficient for a whole coming year.

Pilgrimage is a kind of worship which should be performed at least one time in man’s life. It is a ritual, financial, and physical kind of worship performed at certain defnite times and places. Therefore, it needs complete dedication and forsaking one’s homeland, family, children, work, as well as all barriers and obstacles which divert man from his Creator. Thus, a pilgrim has to take off his clothes, which symbolize his attachment to this present world, and quit most of the lawful things, which link him with this world, in order that he may be provided with a great spiritual charge that suffices him to comply with Allah’s Religion and work for the Hereafter until he encounters his Lord.

The greatest pillar of Pilgrimage is standing on the mountain of Arafat, as the Prophet (PBUH) said:

“Pilgrimage is Arafa”

Therefore, the day of Arafa is considered as the day of the greatest encounter between a repentant slave and his Forgiving Lord. It is a day of knowledge and forgiveness. On this day, Divine Mercies are showered upon slaves from Allah, Creator of the earth and the heavens. That is why it has been said that whosoever stands on the mountain of Arafat but does not feel certain that Allah has forgiven him his sins and misdeeds, his Pilgrimage is not accomplished.

Narrated Jaber (May Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (PBUH) said:

“There are no days better with Allah than the ten days of Thul Hijja.” A man asked: “Are they better than ten days of Jihad for the sake of Allah?” He (PBUH) said: “They are better than ten days of Jihad for the sake of Allah. And there is no day better with Allah than the day of Arafa, (on which) Allah, the Almighty, descends to the lowest heaven and boasts of the people of the earth to the inhabitants of the heavens. He says: ‘Behold My slaves! They have come unto Me unkempt, dusty, and struck by the sun’s rays. They have come all the way seeking My Mercy although they have not seen My Punishment!’ There is no other day on which people are emancipated from the Fire more than the day of Arafa.”

Narrated Ibn Al-Mubarak narrated Soufian Ath-Thawri on authority of Az-Zubair Ibn ‘Adi: Anas Ibn Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) said:

The Prophet (PBUH) stood on (the mountain of) Arafa, when the sun was about to set, saying: “O Bilal! Let people listen to me!” So Bilal stood up and called out: “Listen to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH)!” So people listened. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “O people! Gabriel has already come to me, and he gave me my Lord’s Salam (Greeting). Then he said: ‘Allah, the Almighty, has forgiven the people of Arafa and the people of the Sacrosanct Place.’” Then, Omar Ibn Al-Khattab stood and said: “O Messenger of Allah! Is that only for us?” He (PBUH) said: “This is for you and for those who will come after you until the Day of Judgment.” So Omar exclaimed: “How Great and Abounding Allah’s Favors are!”

[1]

Narrated Imam Muslim on authority of ‘A’isha (May Allah be pleased with her): The Prophet (PBUH) said:

“There is no day on which Allah emancipates a slave (of His) from the Fire more than the day of Arafa. And Allah, the Almighty, truly comes near and boasts of them to the Angels, saying: ‘What do those (emigrant slaves) want?’”

Narrated Abu-d-Darda’: The Prophet (PBUH) said:

“Satan is never seen pettier, more defeated, or more furious on any day than that of Arafa. This is because he sees the sending down of (Allah’s) Mercy and His Forgiveness of great sins, except for that which he was made to see on the day of Badr.” They asked: “What did he see on the day of Badr?” He (PBUH) said: “He saw Gabriel leading the Angels (in support of believers in the fight against the infidels).”

[2]

Narrated Imam Ahmad And At-Termithi: The Prophet (PBUH) said:

“The best supplication is the supplication of the day of Arafa; and the best thing that the previous Prophets and I said is: ‘There is no god but Allah, Alone, with no partner; all Sovereignty belongs to Him; all Praise is to Him; and He has power over all things.”

[3]

It was narrated that Housain Al-Marwazi said: “I asked Soufian Ibn ‘Uyaina about the best supplication on the day of Arafa. He said: ‘There is no god but Allah, Alone, with no partner.’ Then I said: ‘This is a kind of praise and not supplication.’ He said: ‘Don’t you know the Hadith narrated by Malik Ibn Al-Harith? Such is its explanation.’ I said: ‘Tell me about it.’ He said: ‘Narrated Malik Ibn Al-Harith: Allah, All-High, says: ‘If My slave is preoccupied by extolling My Praises from beseeching Me, I give him better than that which I give to beseechers.’ He said: ‘Such is the interpretation of the Prophet’s Haith.’ Then Soufian said: ‘Don’t you know what Umayya Ibn Abi-s-Salt said when he came to Abdullah Ibn Jad’an asking him for a donation?’ I said: No!’ He said: ‘Umayya said:

Shall I mention my need, or your modesty is sufficient for me?

For your nature is modesty;

And your knowledge of rights and you are a branch,

Honor and praise are both yours;

If one should praise you one day,

It is sufficient for him to be granted honor by praising you.’

Then he said: ‘O Housain! Such is a creature; and it is sufficient to praise him instead of beseeching him. So what do you think of the Creator?!”

The story of the Prophet Yunus (Jonah), (PBUH), best confirms this meaning, for there is no disaster that is more grievous than that when one suddenly finds oneself in the darkness of a whale’s belly, in the darkness of the depth of the sea, and in the darkness of the night. There is no disaster more catastrophic and hopeless than this one. Yet Jonah (PBUH) called out to the Lord, All-Mighty, Most Merciful:

“There is no god but You! Glory to You! I was indeed of the wrong-doers!”

Therefore, Allah, Most Gracious, says:

“So We answered him, and delivered him from distress; and thus do We deliver those who have Faith.”

[XXI ; 87-88]

Contemplate Allah’s Words

“So We answered him”, which mean that Allah considered Jonah’s praise of Him as a supplication, and, therefore, He said: “So We answered him, and delivered him from distress”.

Even more, in order not that readers of the Holy Quran may think that this story is a non-repeated historical one that will never happen again, Allah, Most Merciful, made it as a Divine Law that applies to all places and times, saying:

“and thus do We deliver those who have Faith”,

as afore-mentioned. In other words, if any distressed believer beseeches Allah, Most Gracious, Allah, the Almighty, is sure to answer him, not according to the supplicant’s situation, but rather to Allah’s Mercy which encompasses all things. Hence, a true believer never despairs of Allah’s Mercy and Victory.

Therefore, when they leave Arafat after this great ecounter with their Lord, Allah, Most Merciful, through which they receive enlightenment and guidance as well as spiritual enhancement, and when they arrive at the Sancrosanct Place at Muzdalifah, pilgrims remember Allah’s Grace upon them, praise Allah for His Grace of guidance and intimacy, and express their eternal enmity with damned Satan by throwing the pebbles of Al-‘Aqaba, after having responded to the Lord’s Call and seen part of His Divine Glory, Perfection, and Generousity. Pilgrims cannot help extolling glorify of Allah for His Grace of guidance, acceptance, and intimacy. In this context, after having thrown the pebbles at Al-‘Aqabah and having his hair shaved off, the Prophet (PBUH) stopped At-Talbiah

(saying: Here I am at your service, O my Lord…) and began to glorify Allah, saying: “Allah is the Greatest! Allah is the Greatest! Allah is the Greatest! Glory to Allah! Praise to Allah! And there is no god but Allah!”

Such are “the good things that endure,” in Allah’s Words

“Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world; but the good things that endure are best in the sight of your Lord, for reward, and best for hope.”

[XIIX ; 46]

If one truly glorifies Allah, All-High, praises Him, professes His Oneness, and magnifies Him, this means that he knows Him. If he knows Him, he obeys Him; and if he obeys Him, he deserves His Paradise. Moreover, what is with Allah is far better and more enduring than the perishable pleasures and enjoyments of this ephemeral world.

The words “Allah is the Greatest” occur at the beginning and end of the Azan (the Call to prayer), in order that a Muslim feels, while being occupied with his work and business, that what is with Allah is far better and greater than everything with which he is occupied; and, therefore, he had better respond to Allah’s Call.

With the words “Allah is the Greatest” we start our prayer; and we repeat them more than 250 times a day in our five enjoined prayers. Some scholars rightly consider them as a prerequisite for prayer, which means that they should be repeated throughout the whole prayer. Therefore, while performing prayer one should constantly remember that Allah is Greater than everything which might distract him from being in humble reverence to his Lord, All-Mighty, Most Gracious.

We call out repeatedly: “Allah is the Greatest”, after we have defeated our sins and misdeeds, in the Lesser Bairam after the Fast of Ramadan and in the Greater Bairam after Pilgrimage. This is because calling out such words emphasizes our servitude to Allah, All-Mighty, and our Return to Him, Most Merciful.

If a slave of Allah turns to Him with repentance, it is called out in the heavens and the earth: “Congratulate so-and-so for he has been reconciliated with Allah!”

We also call out repeatedly “Allah is the Greatest” when we stand face to face with our enemies in battle-field and after having won victory over them, in order to feel that Allah is Greater than everything and that victory comes only from Allah. To this effect, Allah, All-Mighty, says:

“(In any case) there is no help (or victory) except from Allah; and Allah is Exalted in Power, All-Wise.”

[IIX ; 10]

A true believer who is rightly guided to Allah repeats “Allah is the Greatest”, which means for him that whenever a part of Allah’s Greatness, Power, Mercy, and Generousity is unveiled to him, Allah is Greater than what he has been made to see. In this context, Imam Ash-shafi’i said: “The more I am increased in knowledge, the more I realize how ignorant I am.”

To wrap up, no matter how great a believer’s knowledge of his Lord might be, He, All-Mighty, is far greater and more Sublime. What is important is not repeating the word “Allah is the Greatest”, but to realize its denotation that is affirmed and determined by the believer’s behaviour.

The Prophet (PBUH) is the best human who realizes the denotation of the words “Allah is the Greatest”. People of Quraish sent ‘Utbah Ibn Rabi’a to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) in order to tell him: “You have brought a great thing to your people. Listen to me! I am here to offer you many things that you may accept some of them. If you seek through this matter wealth or property, we shall collect for you from ours as much as shall make you the richest one among us. If you seek a high rank, we shall make you our master, and we shall not do anything without your acceptance. And if you seek sovereignty, we shall make you our sovereign.” But his attempt was in vain. Then people of Quraish tried, through his uncle Abu Talib, to prevent him from proceeding in his Call. So Abu Talib said to him:

“O my nephew! Preserve yourself and me, and do not overburden me with more than my ability.” But the Prophet (PBUH) said his famous words: “O my uncle! Even if they put the sun in my right hand, and the moon in my left hand in order to leave this matter, I would never leave it until Allah causes it to dominate or else I die for it.”

When the Prophet’s Companions said “Allah is the Greatest” by their tongues, their hearts were filled with it, and their deeds affirmed it. So they accomplished, although they were only a few, what we can not accomplish the tenth thereof although we are a great many. This is because he who says it and his deeds affirm it is equal to one thousand men; whereas a thousand of those who say it but fail to affirm it by their deeds equal nothing.

When Sa’id Ibn ‘Amer’s wife wanted to prevent him from spending money for the Cause of Allah, he addressed her: “I have companions who preceded me to Allah, and I do not like to deviate from their way, even if all the present world is for me.” When she tried to boast of her beauty, he addressed her: “You know that there are marvelous Houris in the Paradise, if one of them looms upon the earth, the light of her face overwhelms the light of the sun and the moon. So it is worthier to sacrifice you for their sake than to sacrifice them for your sake.” By such words whereby he addressed his wife this great Companion said “Allah is the Greatest” by his tongue, his heart was filled with it, and his deeds affirmed it.

Omar Ibn Al-Khattab once said to a shepherd whom he wanted to try: “Sell me this sheep and take its price!” He said: “It does not belong to me.” Omar said: “Tell its owner that it has died or that a wolf has eaten it, and take its price!” the man said: “I swear by Allah that I am in urgent need of its price; and if I said to its owner that it has died or a wolf has eaten it, he would believe me; but where is Allah…?!!”

This shepherd said “Allah is the Greatest” by his tongue, his heart was filled with it, and his deeds affirmed it.

If man obeys a creature, whoever it might be, and disobeys his Creator, this means that he has never said “Allah is the Greatest” even if he keeps repeating it by his tongue one thousand times, because his action belies his words when he obeys the one whom he wrongly thinks is more powerful than Allah.

If man cheats in order to gain more money, this means that he has never said “Allah is the Greatest” even if he keeps repeating it by his tongue one thousand times, because he wrongly thinks that this money is greater than obeying Allah and His Messenger.

If, in an attempt to please his wife and children, man fails to practice teachings of Islam in his family, this means that he has never said “Allah is the Greatest” even if he keeps repeating it by his tongue one thousand times, because he thinks that pleasing his family is greater than pleasing his Lord.

If Muslims knew the real meaning of “Allah is the Greatest”, and, hence, repeated it by their tongue, their hearts were filled with it, and their deeds affirmed it, they would be in a far better position with Allah and other fellow humans.

Let us repeat “Allah is the Greatest” by our tongues and understand its meanings; and let our deeds affirm it, in order to deserve Allah’s Mercy and Victory.

Immolation is one of the rituals of the Greater Bairam. The Prophet (PBUH) said:

“Whosoever is able to immolate, but he does not immolate, then let him not approach our mosque.”

[4]

From the above Hadith Imam Abu Hanifa deduced that Immolation is obligatory, while sh3er hold that it is an affirmed Prophetic tradition.

Immolation is enjoined once a year upon every free, adult, sane, resident, and wealthy Muslim.

Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (PBUH) immolated two horny healthy male-sheep; and I saw him put his feet on their sides then pronounce the Name of Allah, glorify Him, and slaughter them by his holy hands.”

The wisdom behind Immolation is that a wealthy Muslim expresses thereby his gratitude and thankfulness to Allah for His Innumerous Divine Favors and Blessings: guidance, survival from one year to another, for “the best one from among you is he whose life is long and his deeds are good.”, safety, good health and being well-off.

Moreover, Immolation is meant to be an expiation of sins, and charity to the immolator’s family, kinship, friends, neighbours, and other poor Muslims.

One of its prerequisites is wealth; and a wealthy person is someone who possesses the minimum amount of property liable to payment of Zakah tax more than his essential needs, someone who is not in need of the cost of an immolation on the days of the Bairam, or someone who is not in need of the cost of an immolation during the whole year. This is based on the difference among scholars about the meaning of “wealthy”.

An immolated animal must be healthy and free from any defects that make it inedible or unfit for human consumption. Therefore, it is unacceptable that a Muslim immolates a sick, one-eyed, lean, or mangy animal. It is recommended that an immolated animal should be fat and healthy, for the Prophet (PBUH) used to immolate healthy horny white rams.

The time of Immolation is after the prayer of the Greater Bairam until shortly before the sunset of the third day of the Bairam. But the best time is on the first day after performing the prayer and before the sunset. It is not recommended to perform Immolation at night.

Immolation is conditioned to be of camels, cows, sheep, or goats. Some scolars hold that a sheep shoud be at least six months old, and a goat should be one year old.

It is acceptable that a Muslim immolates one sheep for himself and his family who live with him and whom he spends upon; and they all have a share in the Good Reward from Allah.

Some recommendations concerning Immolation are as follows: An immolator should turn towards the Ka’ba. He should perform the slaughtering by himself, if he can, and says: “By the Name of Allah, and Allah is the Greatest. O Allah! This is from You and for You, O Allah! Accept it from me and from my family.” He can also have his animal immolated for him, in which case it is recommended that he witnesses his Immolation.

It is also recommended that he divides it into three parts: one for himself and his family, another one for his kinship, friends, and neighbours, and the third for the poor and needy. Allah, Most Gracious, says:

“Eat you thereof, and feed the poor and needy.”

[XXII ; 36]

He also says:

“The sacrificial camels We have made for you as among the Symbols from Allah; in them is (much) Good for you. Therefore, pronounce the Name of Allah over them as they are down on their sides (to be slaughtered), eat you thereof, and feed the poor and needy; thus have We made animals subjected to you that you may be grateful. It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is your piety that reaches Him. He has thus made them subjected to you, that you may glorify Allah for His Guidance to you. And proclaim the good news to the good-doers!”

[XXII ; 36-37]

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[1] - It was mentioned in “At-targhib wat-Tarhib” by al-Moundhiri.

[2] - It was narrated by Imam Malik and Al-Hakim.

[3] - It was narrated by At-Termidhi (1837).

[4] - It was narrated by Imam Ahmad and Ibn Majah after Abu Houraira (May Allah be pleased with him).

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of Creations