|The Prophet's pilgrimage|
Adil Salahi, Arab News
All pilgrims endure some hard times because of the huge numbers doing the same tasks over a very short period of time. Hence, people of thought entertain some ideas on ways to simplify the pilgrimage with easier ways for people to do their tasks and rituals, such as the tawaf, the stoning at the Jamrahs, etc. (S. Abd Al-Rahim)
When the Prophet did certain things that are directly related to religion and worship, or refrained from doing certain practices making clear that they are incompatible with Islam, his guidance must be followed. One example that makes this absolutely clear is his statement: "Pray as you have seen me offering my prayers." We know for certain how he prayed, offering the five daily prayers during the time range allowed for each, and performing every raka'ah with two prostrations before standing up again for a new raka'ah. Therefore, it is not possible for anyone to question the manner of Islamic prayer. No argument can be entertained to modify the way we pray. If we allow an open door for such arguments, the very way of prayers may be totally changed over the passage of time. Someone may suggest that the Prophet did the prostration on the floor because people at the time always sat on rugs, or cushions placed on the floor.
Therefore, it was necessary to put one's forehead on the floor to indicate our humility before God. Today when we use chairs and comfortable seating, we can equally indicate that with a bow, without the need to go down placing our knees on the floor. Such an argument is totally inadmissible. We follow the Prophet's guidance, because God wants us to worship Him in the way shown to us by the Prophet.
The pilgrimage is an act of worship that essentially reflects submission to God and the discarding of everything that discriminates between people on any basis whatsoever. They stand on equal footing before God, dedicating their worship to Him, seeking nothing but His acceptance and making clear that their highest prize is to earn His pleasure. Every act in pilgrimage promotes this notion; every phrase we say emphasizes submission and dedication to Him alone. Hence, it was necessary for the Prophet to show us the way to offer the pilgrimage, fulfilling its requirements that have been outlined in the Qur'an. He showed us every part of the pilgrimage, indicating the way it should be done, its time range and its order within the list of duties and recommended actions of pilgrimage. Right at the beginning he said to all those traveling with him, numbering around 100,000: "Learn from me your rituals". He did not only demonstrate how each act of worship during the pilgrimage should be done; he also corrected any misconceptions or wrong timings. Furthermore, he approved any variation that is permissible in the conduct of the pilgrimage duties. Thus, when one of his companions wanted to offer Maghreb prayer at Arafat, after the sun had set, the Prophet told him: "This prayer is to be prayed further ahead". He indicated in this statement that although Maghreb was due, as far as its time was concerned, it must not be offered at Arafat, but somewhere else on the journey back.
There is no doubt that most pilgrims find the pilgrimage hard to conduct. They suffer due to the great numbers of pilgrims moving around in confined areas. Hence, people are always asking: "Could certain difficulties be removed, or eased out, or modified?" Three points have to be borne in mind when trying to answer this question. They may sound to bear an element of contradiction, but in fact they are consistent. These are: 1) the pilgrimage is meant to be demanding so that only a person who is eager to do it will undertake the journey; 2) an essential element of the nature of this act of worship is to make things easier; 3) all parts of the pilgrimage have to be done at the times and in the manner shown by the Prophet. When we discuss the points raised by readers, all three points will appear to work in the same direction.