The Significance Of Hajj Practices In Islam
Muslims engage in a wide variety of practises that display their devotion to God and have been influential in many aspects of daily life. The essential practice of Hajj fulfills one of the five pillars of Islam and encompasses the beliefs and practises of Islam.Through the expression of Hajj, the Islamic community preserves the Islamic belief system and address the concerns of contemporary environmental issues such as water ethics, animal ethics and sustainability.
Adherents are reminded of the significance of water and under the belief of Tawhid influence the way they use it. As said in the Quran (4:126) “To God belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth”. This means that God is the creator and owner of everything in the universe. Tawhid is expressed through Hajj in the practise of Ihram, whereby adherents perform cleansing rituals. Because everyone uses water in the cleansing ritual, it reminds adherents that Allah has “made from water every living thing” (Quran 21:30) meaning that water is an essential resource that should be accessible to every individual regardless of wealth, ethnicity, and gender and therefore should not be wasted in any circumstance. This acknowledgement influences adherents as a collective to address the importance of saving water as it is becoming a scarce for populations. Adherents implement water saving strategies such as shorter showers and water saving accessories. Furthermore, as stated in Quran (2:38) “Worship no one but good, and be good to… orphans and the needy… observe your devotional obligations and give zakat.” With regard to water ethics under the pillar of Zakat, Muslims must donate or volunteer to charities. For example the program called WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) held by Islam Help, provides communities with hand pumps, wells and water stations and is active in 6 countries and has helped 7.5 million people around the world.
Muslims are required to be aware of the actions that are undertaken in regards to animal slaughter and treatment under the belief of Malaikah and Akhira.
The prayers of Wuquf during Hajj reinforce the belief that angels such as Al-Kiran and Al-Katibun record all good and bad actions. These records will determine the level of existence after death on the Day of Judgement (Akhira) and therefore clarify Al-Qudr-Allah (fate) that they have chosen. Through the belief of Malaikah and Akhira which is reinforced in Waquf, and the Quran, muslisms are influenced to avoid physical or physiological harm and hunting of animals if unnecessary, or provide the most humane process of execution of the animal. As said by Prophet Muhammad “there is an heavanly reward for evey act of kindness done to a living animal.” Meaning that if you treat an animal with respect and kindness it will be recorded and have a positive effect on Akhira. In regards to the use of animals as scientific experiments it is accepted for the greater good of humanity if there are no alternative processes however should strive for minimal pain and provide appropriate care. Adherents are also encouraged to avoid zoos, support animal charities, purchase products that are prepared according to Islamic Law such as Bega Cheese which is certified by The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils and avoid animal associated products with unknown origin. Additionally animal ethics is seen on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah (final month of the Islamic calendar) whereby adherents sacrifice an animal to God. Given that over 2 million animals are expected to be sacrificed during Hajj and under the belief that nothing should be wasted, it would be seen as an unethical practice. Therefore as an alternative, adherents pay companies such as Islamic Relief Australia to ethically sacrifice an animal and distribute it for use. As a result Islamic Relief in 2018 provided over 3 million people that are unable to access food with Qurban meat.
Adherents are not forbidden to use earth's resources, however are to use resources sustainably under the belief of Rusul and the pillar of Salat which are evident in the practise is Tawaf and Sa’y. In Tawaf adherents circle the Kaaba while reciting prayer which honors their belief in prophets as the Ka’aba was constructed by Abhraham and his son Ismail. As said in (Sura 3.95, Quran) “Allah has spoken the Truth, therefore follow the creed of Ibrahim, a man of pure faith and no idolater”. This expresses the submission to Allah. After Tawaf adherents drink from the Well of Zamzam and then walk between the hills of Safa and Marwah. By completing Sa’y adherents are following the actions of Hajar and Ishmael, prophets of Allah (Rusul), as they also walked this route and provided water from Zamam. Adherents recognise the importance of the prophets and the journeys they took and henceforth feel a stronger connection to them as ancestors and messengers of Allah. This action also will provide adherents with the realization that Allah provided everything for survival however it is the responsibility of adherents to use resources in sustainably. As said in the Quran 25:63 “The servants of the Lord of Mercy are those who walk gently upon the earth…”. This influences Muslims to act as responsible and kind stewards of the earth. It teaches adherents to use resources in moderation, and avoid wastage. Adherents generally avoid working in industries that perform unsustainable practises such as chemical manufacturing, mining, and forest logging. Additionally organisations such as Greenmuslims.org created ways to live sustainably during Ramadan such as preparing meals with local produce, creating gardens, avoiding high meat consumption, spending time in nature and appreciating God Creations.
It is clear that the significant practices of Hajj encompasses the princapal beleifs of Islam, however may not directly address contemporary issues such as water ethics, animal ethics and environmental sustainability. Adherents however can draw influence from writings from the Quran and for the love of Allah and selflessness act responsibility as an adherent to address these issues whether it be within the household or as a community.