Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mina

Mina, seven kilometres east of the Masjid Haram is where Hajj pilgrims sleep overnight on the 8th, 11th, 12th (and some even on the 13th) of Dhul Hijjah. It contains the Jamarat, the three stone pillars which are pelted by pilgrims as part of the rituals of Hajj.

- Mina is referenced in Surah Baqarah of the Holy Quran:

“Carry out the Dhikr (remembrance) of Allah during the limited days (10th, 11th, 12th and 13th of Dhul Hijjah). There shall be no sin on the person who chooses to hasten (to leave Mina) during the two days (by leaving Mina on the 12th Dhul Hijjah), nor will there be any sin on him who wishes to delay (by leaving Mina on the 13th).(Forgiveness shall be) for him who possesses Taqwa (throughout the Hajj journey).” [2:203]

- The word Mina means ‘to flow’ as it is here that the blood of sacrificial animals flow during the day of Eidul Adha. During the Farewell Pilgrimage (Hajjat-ul-Wada) the Muslims had brought with them 100 camels to be sacrificed. On the 10th Dhul Hijjah the Prophet (s.a.w.) stoned the Jamarat and went back to his camp in Mina where he sacrificed 63 of the camels. Ali (r.a.) slaughtered the remaining 37 camels and the Prophet (s.a.w.) instructed that a part of each camel is cooked and served to him and his Companions.

- After the camels had been sacrificed, the Prophet (s.a.w.) called for a barber to shave his head. Abu Bakr (r.a.) remarked afterwards on the contrast between the Khalid bin Waleed before he embraced Islam (when he was a bitter enemy of the Muslims) and the Khalid who now said, “O Messenger of Allah, they forelock! Give it unto none but me, my father and my mother be thy ransom!” And when the Prophet (s.a.w.) gave it to him he pressed it reverently against his eyes and lips. It is reported that Khalid bin Waleed (r.a.) used to keep this hair in his headgear.

- There lies a cave in Mina known as the ‘Cave of Mursalaat’ as this was where the Prophet (s.a.w.) was when Surah Mursalaat was revealed to him.

Jamarat

- The Jamarat are three stone pillars which are pelted as a compulsory ritual of Hajj in emulation of the Prophet Ebrahim (a.s.). They represent the three locations where Ebrahim (a.s.) pelted the Shaitan (Satan) with stones when he tried to dissuade him from sacrificing his son Ismail (a.s.). The pillars are called ‘Jamarat-al-Ula’, ‘Jamarat-al-Wusta’ and ‘Jamarat-al-Aqaba’.

- One of the purposes of the Hajj is to recall, while in Mina, how a 94 year old father brought his 8 year old son here for sacrifice. Ebrahim (a.s.) had first left his wife and newborn son, Ismail (a.s.) in the desert upon Allah’s command. Then while returning after 8 years to them he saw a dream wherein a man told him that Allah (swt) wanted him to sacrifice his son. He saw the same dream for three consecutive nights and as he was a Prophet, his dreams were a form of Wahy (Divine Instruction). He realised that Allah (swt) wanted him to sacrifice his son for whom his heart was overfilled with love and emotions. He went to his wife and asked her to dress up Ismail (a.s.). Ismail (a.s.) was overjoyed that his father had come after such a long time and was now taking him out for a walk. When Hajra (a.s.) asked, “Where are you taking him?” He replied, “To meet a friend.”

- They then reached Mina. Here Ebrahim (a.s.) asked his son that your father has seen such a dream, what is your opinion about it? The reason for asking his opinion was not to ask his opinion in deciding whether to go ahead with the command or not. It was to assess whether his son will allow him to follow the command freely or will he have to forcibly carry out this order, in other words, he asked this to test the intensity of love for Allah in his son’s heart. The son replied, “My father, obey the command given by Allah. You will, Insha’Allah, find me steadfast. Give my shirt to my mother as it will be a source of comfort for her and wrap me in your own shirt. Put me face down so you can’t see my face, lest you hesitate in carrying out my slaughter.”

- The skies and the earth witnessed that Ebrahim (a.s.) tied his son and laid him down. Now this was very unacceptable to Shaitan so he first went to Hajra (a.s.) and asked her, “Do you know where Ebrahim has taken your son?” She replied,” To meet a friend.” He said, “By meet a friend he meant to meet Allah. He is going to sacrifice him!” She said, “How can a father sacrifice his son?” By mistake, Shaitan uttered, “It is Allah’s command.” On hearing this Hajra (a.s.) replied, “If this is Allah’s command, then even hundred Ismails can be sacrificed in this way.”

- Then he went to distract Ebrahim (a.s.). When he appeared to him at the first Jamarat, Jibraeel (a.s.) said to Ebrahim (a.s.): “Pelt him!” so Ebrahim (a.s.) threw seven stones at him and he disappeared from him. Then he appeared to him at the second Jamarat. Jibraeel (a.s.) said to him: “Pelt him!” so he pelted him with seven stones and he disappeared from him. Then he appeared to him at the third Jamarat. Jibraeel (a.s.) again instructed him: “Pelt him!” so he pelted him again with seven small stones and Shaitan withdrew from him. This action is imitated by all Hujjaj, symbolising one’s acknowledgement that Shaitan is one’s enemy and ought to be repulsed.

- Ebrahim (a.s.) then laid Ismail (a.s.) down and put his knee on his neck so that he may not move. Then he faced the sky and called to Almighty Allah that, “Oh Allah! If you did not like the presence of love for Ismail in my heart, I seek your forgiveness.” Then he proclaimed Allah’s name and placed the knife on Ismail’s (a.s.) throat. He would rub the knife but it wouldn’t cut, Allah (swt) had taken the quality of cutting away from the knife.

- Allah (swt) was pleased with the sincerity of Ebrahim (a.s.) and sent a white, big-eyed sheep with horns in replacement of Ismail (a.s.) which Ebrahim (a.s.) sacrificed instead. This is the basis for the offering of sacrifice animals by the Hujjaj and by all other Muslims at the time of Eid-ul-Adha.

- Note that the views of the Jews and Christians greatly differ from Muslims with regards to who the sacrificial son was and where this incident took place. In order to enhance their prestige and honour they have attributed the sacrificial son to Ishaq (a.s.) who is the forefather of the Jews and Christians rather than Ismail (a.s.) who is the forefather of the Muslims. They have also placed the setting to be in Jerusalem rather than Mina. It is clear, by looking at scriptural evidence that the sacrificial son could only have been Ismail (a.s.). For example, in Genesis 22:2 Abraham is commanded to take his only son for sacrifice. As Ismail (a.s.) was 13 years older than Ishaq (a.s.) and both were alive at the time of their father’s death, logically Ishaq (a.s.) could never be his only son.

Masjid al-Khayf

This masjid is located at the foot of a mountain in the south of Mina, close to the smallest Jamaraat. It was at this spot that the Prophet (s.a.w.) and numerous other Prophets before him performed salah.

- Masjid al-Khayf is a masjid whose virtues are proven in some Hadith. According to a traceable Hadith of Ibn Abbas (r.a.), the Prophet (s.a.w.) said:

“Seventy Prophets prayed in Masjid al-Khayf.” [Majma‘uz-Zawahid]

- Yazeed bin Aswad (r.a.) says that when he performed Hajj with the Prophet (s.a.w.), it was at the Masjid Khayf that he performed the FaJr salah with the Prophet (s.a,w.).

- Abdur -Rahman bin Mu’adh (r.a.) reports that when the Prophet (s.a.w.) delivered a sermon in Mina, he instructed the Muhajireen to set up camp in front of the Masjid Khayf and the Ansaar to set up camp behind it. The rest of the Muslims were to camp behind them. [Abu Dawood]

- Abdullah bin Abbas (r.a.) narrates that it was in Masjid al-Khayf that the Prophet (s.a.w.) addressed them. After praising Allah as he said:

"Allah will set right the affairs of the person whose prime concern is the Aakhirah (Hereafter), Allah will also grant him self-sufficiency and the world will humble itself before him. As for the person whose prime concern is this world, Allah will scatter his affairs, place poverty in front of him and all he will get of this world will be what has been predestined for him.“ [Tabraani]

Masjid Biah/Uqbah

This Masjid, in Mina commemorates the spot where the Ansaar of Madinah pledged their allegiance to the Prophet (s.a.w.) in the year 621 A.H. The group included leaders of the Aws and Khazraj tribes of Madinah and were twelve in number. The second such pledge called the second Aqabah pledge (Bay’ah Aqaba Thaaniya) took place the following year, the thirteenth year after the Prophet (s.a.w.) proclaimed his Prophethood.

- The Prophet (s.a.w.) would make contact with various Arab tribes that came into Makkah for their festivals, trade fairs or pilgrimages and preach the truth of Islam to them. He would take the opportunity to call them towards worshipping only Allah (swt) and to believing in his Prophethood. His uncles Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab would often follow him, dissuading people from listening to his message. To avoid them, he would come out in the darkness of night to contact the caravans staying at a distance of several miles from the Ka’bah.

- One night, the Prophet (s.a.w.) heard some people talking at Aqabah. He came close and saw that they were six in number who had come from Yathrib (later to be known as Madinah) to perform pilgrimage at the Ka’bah. The Prophet (s.a.w.) preached Islam to them and recited some verses of the Holy Quran. They listened in awe and embraced Islam on the spot. They were neighbours of the Jews in Yathrib and had heard them mention of the coming of a grand Prophet in the near future and about his dominance over all others. The six new Muslims promised that they would invite their people to Islam upon returning to Yathrib and that they would meet the Prophet (s.a.w.) again during the next pilgrimage.

- The next year, five of the six returned to meet the Prophet (s.a.w.) again at Aqabah and they brought with them another seven converts. These twelve persons pledged their allegiance to Islam at the hand of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and this became known as the ‘First pledge of Aqabah’. They pledged that they would not associate partners with Allah, commit theft, fornicate, kill their children, defame others, nor disobey the Prophet (s.a.w.) when he instructed them to do good.

- The Prophet (s.a.w.) deputed Mus’ab bin Umair to go with them to teach Islam and preach to others. He remained busy all the time in teaching the Quran and other Islamic practices to the people. He stayed with As’ad bin Zararah (r.a.) and was known as Muqraee (the teacher). During this period many people from

- The following year Mus’ab bin Umair (r.a.) set out from Yathrib for Makkah with a caravan of 72 men and 2 women which comprised of Muslims and pagans. The Muslims wanted to meet the Prophet (s.a.w) and to invite him to come to Yathrib. They had been dismayed at the harassment, abuse and fear that overshadowed the Prophet (s.a.w.) and the other Muslims and had resolved to offer them their loyal protection if they moved there. A secret meeting with the Prophet (s.a.w.) was arranged one late night at Aqabah.

- The Prophet (s.a.w.) met them accompanied by his uncle Abbas who at that point was not a Muslim. He talked to the group, recited the Quran, prayed to Allah and encouraged people to embrace Islam. Then he said, “I ask for your allegiance on the basis that you protect me as you would protect your wives and children.” They pledged their allegiance to him and this became known as the ‘Second pledge of Aqabah’. They asked him to promise that he would not leave them and return to his people. The Prophet (s.a.w.) gave his promise, “I am from you and you are from me. I will fight those you fight and will be at peace with those with whom you are at peace.” Twelve men were then chosen to be responsible for the affairs of the community, these included Sa’d bin Ubadah, Abdullah bin Rawahah and Ubadah bin Samit (r.a.).

- Satan was watching and listening from the top of Aqabah, and when he could contain himself no longer he cried out in the loudest voice possible and spoke the name Mudhammam (Reprobate). The Prophet (s.a.w.) knew who it was and answered him saying, “O enemy of Allah. I will give thee no respite.”

Waadi Muhassar

Waadi Muhassar is a place between Mina and Muzdalifah; it is here that Allah (swt) destroyed Abraha and his army of elephants. This incident in mentioned in Surah Feel. It is sunnah for Hujjaj (pilgrims) to walk briskly pass this area as the Prophet (saw) did as it was a place of punishment from Allah (swt).

- Abraha al-Ashram was the viceroy of Negus, the King of Abyssinia. He was a Christian who ruled over the Yemen, building an imposing cathedral in San’a of marble and gold plated wood and naming it ‘al-Qulays’. He intended to divert the Arab pilgrimage to San’a. As a Christian, he was jealous that the Ka’bah should be the place where pilgrims gathered and he wanted this position for his church.

- In the meantime, a man from the Banu Kinana tribe entered the church and defecated in it. This threw Abraha into a towering rage and he made the fatal error of deciding to march with his army to the Ka’bah in order to demolish it.

- He set out for Makkah with a strong force that included elephants. When the army reached Waadi Muhassar, the largest of the elephants, whose name was Mehmud, sat down and refused to move further. The more it was pulled towards the Ka’bah, the more it moved backwards Strangely enough, when it was turned in any other direction (away from the Ka’bah), it ran in that direction. It was while they were here that Allah (swt) sent little birds with pebbles in their beaks. As they flew over the army, the birds released their stones, which devastated the army, causing all they struck to fall down dead. Some of them collapsed just witnessing the sight and they then made off back to Sana. Abraha’s fate was much worse. As he proceeded back to Sa’na, his flesh started wasting away and rotting. By the time he reached Sa’naa, his fingers had already fallen off and his body was no more than a skeleton. It was there that his heart eventually collapsed and he died. This incident took place shortly before the blessed birth of the Prophet (s.a.w.). Referring to this episode, Allah (swt) says in Surah Feel:

“Have you not seen how your Rabb dealt with the people of the elephants? Did He not lay their plans to waste and send against them flights of the birds who pelted them with clay pebbles, making them look (destroyed) like eaten fodder?” [105:1-5]

- After this miraculous incident , the fame of the Ka’bah spread gar and wide, and Arabs came from all parts of the peninsula to visit the Sacred House. It was the year 571 CE., it was of such importance to the Arabs that they called it ‘The Year of the Elephant’.

- The Prophet (s.a.w.) was born 52-55 days after this event.

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