By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
“Surely Abraham was an exemplar, obedient to God and upright; and he was not of the polytheists.” (Holy Qur’an 16:120)
“Indeed, there is for you an excellent exemplar in Abraham and those with him when they said to their people: surely we are clear of what you serve besides Allah, and enmity and hatred have appeared between us and you forever until you believe in Allah.” (Holy Qur’an 60:4)
As is clear the Words of God are self-explanatory concerning the monotheistic stature of Prophet Abraham (AS), and the annual Hajj pilgrimage that reaches its climax amidst the celebration of Eid al-Azha or Eid Qorban, the Feast of the Sacrifice.
The Hajj is undoubtedly the glorious manifestation of Towheed (monotheism), universalized by Abraham (AS) on God’s command after he and his firstborn son, Prophet Ishmael (AS), were ordered to rebuild the ancient edifice of Adam, the Holy Ka’ba, which was in a state of ruin in the wilderness of Mecca following the great deluge of the days of Prophet Noah (AS).
When God asked him to proclaim the pilgrimage for mankind he wondered who will come to the remote wilderness of Mecca, but was told that people will come from all over the earth, from every beaten track, on various means of transport.
In response, every year people from around had been coming to Mecca to perform the annual Hajj.
Unfortunately, because of the Coronavirus pandemic, last year saw a drastic reduction in the number of Hajj pilgrims to a few thousand from the peak of 2.5 million in 2019. The same is the case this year as well.
At any rate, the pilgrims, whatever their number, ritually stone the symbolic satans at Mena and sacrifice a sheep, a goat, a cow or a camel, on the 10th of Zi’l-Hijja in commemoration of Abraham’s sacrifice of Ishmael that was miraculously substituted by the command of God with a ram before the anxious father’s knife could reach the patient son’s throat.
“And We ransomed him with the Great Sacrifice (Zibhin Azeem).” (Holy Qur’an 37:107
This is how God Almighty informs us of an important event of antiquity with everlasting effects for all humanity; hence the use of the words Zibhin Azeem which definitely cannot be a mere ram, but the Greatest-ever Sacrifice in the full limelight of history.
This occurred on the Day of Ashura (10th Muharram) in the year 61 AH (680) when Imam Husain (AS), the Grandson of the Last and Greatest Messenger with the universal message of Islam to all mankind, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), in order to salvage all humanitarian values, attained martyrdom in Karbala after witnessing the tragic death of his two sons, the youth Ali Akbar (AS) and the infant Ali Asghar (AS), at the hands of the forces of evil.
Now we better understand the concept of the Hajj pilgrimage, the endeavours of Prophet Abraham, the Eid al-Azha, and the significance of the Day of Arafa or the 9th of Zi’l-Hijja on the Plain of Arafaat where pilgrims spent in prayers to arouse in themselves the proper cognition of monotheism and Islam.
Here are cited some passages from the famous supplication of Imam Husain (AS) for this day which he recited on the Plain of Arafaat:
“You are verily Originator and Reproducer (of the creation) and worthy of all praise and full of all glory. Holy be Your Names as Your bounties are so immeasurable. Which of Your favors, O my God, can I count in numbers and examples? Or which of Your gifts can I thank properly?
“They are, O my Lord, too numerous to be counted by counters or to be realized by memorizers. Moreover, that which You have warded off and repelled,
“O Allah, from (the various kinds of) harm and mischief is more than that which came to me from wellbeing and joy. And I bear witness, O my God, with my true belief, and the fortitude of the determinations of my conviction and the purity of my open belief in Your Oneness and the essence of the secret of my conscience, and the ties of the canals of the light of my sight, and the lines of my forehead and the hallows of the courses of my breath, and the (nasal) cavities of my nose, and the courses of the meatus of my hearing, and whatever my two lips hide and cover up, and the motions of the vocalization of my tongue, and the socket of the palate of my mouth and jaw, and the matrices of my dents, and the tasting of my food and my drink, and the carrier of my skill, and the tube of the tissues of my neck and what is included by the cloak of my chest, and the carriers of the cord of my aorta, and the cords of the pericardium of my heart, and the pieces of the retinues of my liver, and that which is included by the cartilages of my ribs, and the cavities of my joints, and the interacting of my organisms, and the extremes of my fingertips, and my flesh, and my blood, and my hair, and my skin, and my nerve, and my sinews, and my bones, and my brain, and my veins, and all of my organs, and that which was pieced together during the days of my suckling, and whatever of my body that the ground carries, and my sleeping, and my wakefulness, and my motionlessness, and the movements of my bowing and prostration; (by all that I bear witness) that if I try my best and strive throughout all ages and all times, if I live them, to thank properly only one of Your favors, I will not be able to do that, except through a favor of You, which also requires me to thank You for it, once again with new thanking and with praise that is newly acquired and newly prepared.”
Imam Husain (AS), as the Heir of the Prophets Abraham and Ishmael, thus reminds the faithful that monotheism becomes perfect only with adherence to the path of the Blessed Ahl al-Bayt, as was specified on this same Plain of Arafaat in the year 10 AH by his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), who after delivering a memorable sermon from atop Jabal ar-Rahma (Mount Mercy) to emphasize the equality of all mankind, irrespective of the superficial differences of ethnicity, languages spoken, colour of skin, and place of birth, had presented the formula of faith and unity to Muslims by stressing devotion to the Thaqalayn or the two Weighty Things, with the words:
“I am leaving behind amongst you the Thaqalayn, the Book of God (the holy Qur’an) and my progeny the Ahl al-Bayt. Hold fast to them and you will never go astray for the two never separate with each other even when they meet me at the Fountain (of Kowthar on Resurrection Day).”