"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Notes on Quran - Sura 22

Sura 22 -- Al-Hajj

This sura begins with a warning about the judgment day when nursing mothers will neglect their babies and when pregnant women will miscarry and the "torment of God will be severe" (vs. 2). Thoughts of God's power follow with some rather picturesque verses about rain and how it makes everything swell and green (vs. 5).

12. Leaving God they pray to those who cannot harm or profit them. That is the limit of going astray.

This reminds me of a post I wrote last year on Jeremiah. In chapter 10 this is how false idols were discussed. Visualize this as you read it.

3 For the customs of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.

4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.

5 Like a scarecrow in a melon patch,
their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
they can do no harm
nor can they do any good."

15. He who thinks that God will not help him in this world and the next should stretch a rope to the sky then cut it off and see if his mind is relieved (of doubts) by this stratagem.

Is this rope in the sky thing a dare for God to show how He protects His own?

This sura discusses a bit of the hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca - which is one of the five pillars of Islam. All able-bodied Muslims who can afford the trip must go to Mecca at least once in his/her lifetime to perform a series of rituals. I understand it's truly a life-changing, awe-inspiring event to worship with so many fellow Muslims. I remember a couple of years ago when Samer's friends wanted to go to Mecca for hajj. Because there are so many Muslims who want to go, yet there are only a select number of "spots" the Saudi officials get to approve or disprove whether or not you are able to travel there. At one time I heard that older Muslims were given preferred status since they - by reason of age - didn't likely have as many years left to perform this important ritual. Samer recalled his father - as a nearly sixty year old man - desiring to go to Mecca because he knew he was dying and didn't have years left to fulfill this religious obligation. Unfortunately he was not one of the chosen, however, since intention is good enough in Islam, I'm sure the Saudis' refusal to allow him to come won't be held against him. On the other hand I was wondering why twenty-two year olds were trying to get spots when the older people were supposed to have first priority! And what really bothered me was that wasta - or who you know, connections - played such a huge role in who got chosen. Why do I feel that something as sacred as the hajj should NOT rely on something as unfair as who you know? It didn't sit right with me for some reason. I guess I don't appreciate the performance of religious duties boiling down to your acceptability by mere mortals.

This part of verse 37

37.  It is not their meat or blood that reaches God: It is the fealty of your heart that reaches him.

reminded me that God said in the Bible that He desired mercy and not sacrifice. Here in the Quran it says the faithfulness of your heart is what reaches Him. I think that's a great reminder that performing outward rituals isn't what really pleases God, but the inward attitude, the inner faithfulness and devotion to God.

47. That is how they ask you to hasten the punishment; but God does not go back on His promise. Verily a day with your Lord is equal by your reckoning to a thousand years.

This verse reminded me a bit of II Peter 3

8But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Verse 52 started discussing something that took my attention. Satan's ability to tamper with recitations, yet God abrogates what Satan adds and then God confirms His revelations.Then God says these additions by Satan were a test for hardened hearts (vs. 53). Apparently the believers know the difference so those who call God's revelations lies will be punished (vs. 57). So I was pondering Satan's ability to tamper with recitations and all this when I read

72. When Our clear messages are read out to them you can see denial on the faces of unbelievers. They can hardly restrain themselves from attacking those who recite Our revelations. Tell them: "Should I give you news of something worse than this?" -- Hell, which God has promised the infidels. How evil a destination!

about "clear messages" and wondered why there are clear messages and also not-tamper-resistant recitations. Are recitations and revelations different here? Could Muhammad get the recitation wrong because Satan could add something that Muhammad thought was truth from God when, in reality, it wasn't?

This was quite contradictory to earlier verses that declared no one could change God's Word and God guards His message. You remember all those verses from other suras that I quoted as proof to me that the Bible hadn't been corrupted. Yet now I read this about God allowing Satan to tamper with His recitations. Can anyone explain?

67. We have determined for each community a way of worship which they follow. So they should not contend with you in this matter; and you should go on calling them to your Lord. You are surely on the right path. 68. If they argue with you, tell them: "God knows well what you are doing.

I suppose this means God knows some places are Christian, some are Jewish, Buddhist, atheist and so forth yet He wants Muslims to continue calling people to Himself throughout the world.

77. O you who believe, bow in adoration, Worship your Lord and do what is good that you may find success.

I love this and the last part of verse 78 as well -- hold on firmly to God. He is your friend: How excellent a friend is He, how excellent a helper!

It's rather nice to think of God as a friend, isn't it? Is God your friend?

Concerning friends, Jesus said in John 15...

12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.

In case you missed it, the promised Paul post was published yesterday. :)


Suroor said...

Susanne, I don’t understand your question about verse 72; where is Satan mentioned there?

I understand verse 67 as: Every community worships differently so they shouldn’t tell you that you are wrong. You can invite them to your religion because you are right and if they tell you otherwise, tell them God knows everything.

I love verse 37! I always thought that animal sacrifice was very pagan. The whole concept of sacrifice needed to wash away your sins very pagan. Blood and burnt offerings laid out for God! I even told a former Jew (now Muslim) that and he is convinced that is what Allah wanted, but that He modified His want through the ages so what purified a soul (burnt offerings) in the past are not required now. I’m actually very happy with verse 37 because it openly declares that blood and flesh of animals don’t reach God so we can finally get rid of this obsession with blood :D

Susanne said...

Suroor, Satan isn't mentioned in vs. 72, but the verses above that where it says Satan tampered with the recitations. I just had that in mind when I came to vs. 72 about "clear recitations" and got a bit confused.

Thanks for the rest of your comment. Ha, ha..yeah, blood. :-P

Suroor said...

Oh you are referring to verses 52-54. They too refer to the episode of the Satanic Verses according to most interpreters!

It was apparently a very huge incident.

The verses offer support to Muhammad by telling him that all prophets were tested like that and Satan tried to dissuade every prophet.

Sarah said...

Re verse 52-53: that's a very good question. I wondered why I had never noticed this, and then I looked up the Asad version that I read, and realised it's really quite different:

"(52) Yet whenever We sent forth any apostle or prophet before thee, and he was hoping [that his warnings would be heeded], Satan would cast an asper­sion on his innermost aims: but God renders null and void whatever aspersion Satan may cast; and God makes His messages clear in and by themselves - for God is all-knowing, wise. (53) [And He allows doubts to arise] so that He might cause whatever aspersion Satan may cast [against His prophets] to become a trial for all in whose hearts is disease and all whose hearts are hardened: for, verily, all who are [thus] sinning [against themselves] are most deeply in the wrong."

An understandable choice of rendering since Asad doesn't believe in abrogation, and I guess doesn't believe in the Satanic verses incident, which apparently this verse refers to according to Tabari. I wonder what Muslims generally think of this and so I look forward to any responses you get!

Suroor said...

I don't like Asad's explanation here :D It seems that our tests and trails are greater than the prophets' since God helps them against Satan and seems to lead us astray if He so desires, and He accepts the repentance of prophets easily as well (remember David in the Quran?).

Asad is being unfair! LOL

Sarah said...

Yes, I'm not sure Asad really made it easier to swallow!

Anonymous said...

Hello Pretty!
I stopped reading because I got stuck on the hajj part. Just the thoughts of it bring me to rare form. I was totally floored when my husband said his brothers and Mother were going for hajj and he(my husband) was encouraged to go(by me) to do it with his family...to my surprise he declined and said he promised his Mother he would take her. Okay, so take her...and go..all of you, what an experience that would be right? But no, he has to take her alone...just him and her. She has been to hajj many times. She has 5boys and wants all of them to take her...now, I don't want to sound disrespectful but it was hard for me to digest this. Hajj is an obligation for able bodied people..and there are those in this world who will never be able to go due to their circumstances...then there are those who can go, but due to the cap put on each country from Saudi, they are not allowed..then you have people like this who go and go and want to go again and again. TO me, the is being incredibly selfish..but of course I couldn't tell him that. If I were so blessed, if I was able to go and I had sons who could afford, I would take more pleasure in giving up my spot to someone whom I know will never in this lifetime be able to afford hajj. Having already gone two or three or more times, I would think that someone would get more blessings for doing such a thing...BUT, who am I? Nobody...just my opinion for sure...but I am still upset about this and still so very upset that some people want to go and go and go when time, space, and money is so limited to so many. tsk tsk

May Allah forgive me for my feelings

Susanne said...

Suroor, back to what you said earlier -- I thought about this while mowing the yard this evening. :)

"I even told a former Jew (now Muslim) that and he is convinced that is what Allah wanted, but that He modified His want through the ages so what purified a soul (burnt offerings) in the past are not required now."

I agree with your friend to an extent. I also believe it's what God wanted, but when Jesus died, HE fulfilled the Law and the need for offering sacrifices was over. So as Jewish-turned-Muslim friend said offering sacrifices are not required for purifying souls any more.

Oh, thanks for explaining about those verses re: Satan. I see.

Susanne said...

Sarah, thanks for sharing that. Very interesting that a translator doesn't believe in abrogation so his translation reflects that. Any time I see "God" admitting that Satan can tamper with recitations this puts them all as a bit suspect! :-/

Susanne said...

Shell, I totally get you and this was the point of what I said in a sense. I don't know why some Muslims are so selfish that they go over and over again when others NEED to go to fulfill their obligations and WANT to go, but are not able because the same people keep getting to go. I think if you've gone once, you should be disqualified from going again. I so relate to what you said and I'm glad you spoke up about it. I wonder how other Muslims feel. I'm sure it's a great experience, but why not let others go so they, too, can experience it? This is where Jesus' teaching of putting others ahead of yourself and being a servant should come into play. Too bad most Muslims don't take Jesus' teachings seriously!

Thank you all for your comments! Enjoyed 'em!

Sarira said...

Hey Susanne!

I’m so so behind on all of your notes. I”ll try to keep this one ‘short’ so that I can at least comment on the Believers one (btw, I did comment on the St. Paul :D)
First, I just wanted to point out that this surah most likely begins with the warning regarding the Day of Judgment because the Hajj completely reminds us of this day- how there are millions of people, each going 'to their Lord'. Also, while performing Hajj, the men wear what a non-Muslim might think of as 'two white towels'. Interestingly enough, this is very similar to what we are to be buried with when we die. Thus, when we wear it, it reminds us of death and of waking up from death and standing before Allah :) Just wanted to explain that (I heard it from some islamic da'ees, not that I came up with it :P)

Also, honestly, I hate the wholes system of wasta, especially as it it completely unIslamic. I mean how many verses do we have that tell us to be just and not favor someone just because he is rich/etc., if even against ourselves! For the record, though, Saudi Arabia has made it that a person cannot perform Hajj more than once every 5 years- so I did it last year, that means I can't even 'think' about doing it again until I'm 27. They also have a system in place where students from the Madinah Islamic University (and other volunteers) can volunteer to do Hajj for a person who was supposed to do it but didn’t do it- this is because we believe if you were capable of doing it and you didn't, it is a debt upon you that either you face Allah with or your family/someone helps you out, by performing it for ya ;) (so long as you have told them in your will/asked them to do it/ demonstrated that you understood that you should have done it/etc.)

About Allah being a Friend <3 You know (I think I'm always interrupting your posts with these :P) this is the invocation that it is Sunnah to say when we travel

Allah is the Most Great. Allah is the Most Great. Allah is the Most Great. Glory is to Him Who has provided this for us though we could never have had it by our efforts. Surely, unto our Lord we are returning. O Allah, we ask You on this our journey for goodness and piety, and for works that are pleasing to You . O Allah , lighten this journey for us and make its distance easy for us . O Allah, You are our Companion/Friend on the road and the One in Whose care we leave our family . O Allah , I seek refuge in You from this journey's hardships, and from the wicked sights in store and from finding our family and property in misfortune upon returning

Also, when the Prophet was on his death bed, the angel asked him if he would choose death or to remain alive among his people- he repeatedly said, "Bal Al Rafeeq Al 'Ala", which basically translates to, "The Friend Above!" If only we could all take Allah like that :)


Sarira said...

AS for your other great question, my tafsir book offers a very long and detailed explanation but, hey, I"ll only put up the 'important parts:

The Arabic word tamanna has two meanings: "desire" and "to recite" something.

98If the first meaning is taken, it will imply: "Satan tried to prevent the fulfillment of his desire." If the second meaning is taken, it will imply: "When the Prophet recited the Revelations, Satan created different sorts of doubts about its truth and meanings in the minds of the people."

99If the first meaning is adopted, it will imply: "Allah fulfills the Prophet's desire and makes his Mission successful in spite of the obstacles of Satan and confirms the truth of His Revelations by fulfilling His promises to the Prophet". In case of the second meaning, it will imply: "Allah eradicates all the doubts and objections inspired by Satan in the hearts of the people and clarifies the confusion created about any verse of the Qur'an in subsequent Revelations

That is, "Allah lets Satan work such mischiefs to put to the test both the righteous and the wicked people". The people with a perverted mentality deduce wrong conclusions from these and deviate from the Right Way, while those, who think on the right lines, realize that all these things are the mischiefs of Satan and that the Message of the Prophet is based on the Truth. They conclude that the very fact that Satan has been so much agitated and become active against it is a clear proof of its being the Truth. It is very important to understand the real significance of this passage (vv. 52-54) for this has given rise to a grave misunderstanding .

If we consider it in the context in which it occurs, it becomes obvious that it was sent down to refute the wrong appraisal of the casual observers that the Prophet had "failed" to achieve his desired object. This was because he had striven for thirteen long years to persuade his people to accept his Message but the apparent result was that he had not only failed in this, but he and the small band of his followers had been forced to leave their homes. As this "exile" contradicted his claim that he was a Prophet of Allah and had His approval and succor with him, some people became skeptical about it. Moreover, they became doubtful about the truth of the Qur'an, because they were not being visited by the scourge, which was inflicted on those who treated the Prophet as false. His antagonists scoffed at him, saying, "Where is that succor of Allah and the scourge with which we were threatened?" The answer to these doubts of the disbelievers was given in the preceding passage, and in this passage the addressees were those who were influenced by this propaganda. Briefly the whole answer was to this effect:

"It is not a new thing that the people of a Messenger have treated him as an impostor for it has always been happening like this: You can see from the remnants of those peoples who treated their Messengers as impostors how they were punished for their mischief. You can learn a lesson from them, if you will. As regards the delay in the coming of scourge, the Qur'an never threatened the disbelievers with immediate punishment, nor is it the job of the Messenger to inflict punishments. The scourge is sent by Allah, but He is not hasty in sending His torment. He gives respite to the people to mend their ways as He is giving you now. Therefore, you should not be under any delusion that the threats of scourge are empty threats.
"It is also not a new thing that the desires and wishes of a Prophet meet with obstacles or that false propaganda is made against his Message for the same has already happened with regard to the Messages of the former Prophets. But ultimately Allah eradicated the mischief worked by Satan and made the Message successful. Therefore you should take a warning from the past history of Satan's mischiefs and their ultimate failure


Sarira said...

It is a pity that in spite of the above clear and simple meaning of the passage which fits in well with the context, a grave misunderstanding has arisen because of a so called "tradition.."

According to this tradition, the Holy Prophet had a strong longing and desire to this effect: "I wish some Revelations were sent down to tone down the abhorrence of the mushrik Quraish against Islam so as to bring them nearer to it, or at least the criticism against their creed may not be so severe as to arouse their enmity" .
While he was cherishing this desire, it so happened that one day when he was sitting in a big gathering of the Quraish, Surah An-Najm (LIII) was sent down and he began to recite it. When he came to vv. 19, 20: "Have you ever considered about this Lat and this `Uzza, and a third (goddess) Manat, "all of a sudden he recited, "These are exalted goddesses; indeed their intercession may be expected". After this he continued to recite Surah An-Najm up to the last verse and then fell down in prostration and all the Muslims and the mushriks of the Quraish also did the same, for the latter said, "Now we have no difference with Muhammad; we also profess that Allah is the Creator and the Provider and that these deities of ours are merely our intercessors with Him" . After this, when in the evening Angel Gabriel came, he said, "What have you done? I did not bring these two sentences". At this the Holy Prophet became very sad and Allah sent down vv. 73 75 of Surah Bani Isra`il (XVII): "O Muhammad! these people have left no stone unturned to tempt you away from that which We have revealed to you so that you might fabricate something in Our name. Had you done that, they would have made you their friend. It was just possible that you might have inclined a little towards them, if We had not given you strength. But if you had done so, We would have made you taste double chastisement in this world as well as in the Hereafter: then you would have found no helper against Us".
But in spite of this, he continued to be grieved till Allah sent down v. 52 of this Surah (Al-Hajj) in which Allah consoled him, saying that the same had been happening to the former Prophets.

Another thing that happened in the meantime was that the story reached the migrants to Habash that there had been a reconciliation between the Holy Prophet and the disbelievers of Makkah. Accordingly, many of them returned to Makkah only to learn that the news of reconciliation was wrong and the conflict between Islam and kufr was raging as furiously as before.
Now let us make a critical study of this story which has been cited by Ibn Jarir and many other commentators and is even contained in many collections of Traditions.
(1) None of its reporters, except Ibn `Abbas, is a Companion.
(2) There are many major discrepancies and variations in its details.
(3) The wording ascribed to the Holy Prophet in praise of the idols in each Tradition is different from that of others.
(4) The links (of the narrators) by which this Tradition has been related are either weak or "broken", except in one case
Moreover, these words have been attributed to different sources according to different Traditions: (a) These words were put in by Satan during the Revelation and the Holy Prophet imagined that they were revealed by Gabriel. (b) He himself uttered these words inadvertently, being urged by his own desire. (c) He was dozing when he uttered these words. (d) He intentionally uttered these words but in a manner as to question their veracity. (e) Satan interpolated these words into the Revelation, giving an impression that the Holy Prophet himself had recited them. (f) It was one of the mushriks who had recited these words.

(continued- on to the real story and whatnot)

Sarira said...

Ibn Kathir says, "All the links of this Tradition are unauthentic and I have found no correct version of this with continuous links".

Baihaqi says, "This story has not been proved to be correct by the rules of reporting". When Ibn Khuzaimah was asked about it, he said, "This story has been invented by heretics". Qazi `Ayad says, "The very fact that this Tradition is neither contained in any of the six authentic collections of Hadith nor has it been related in an authentic way by authentic reporters shows its weakness". Besides them, Imam Razi, Qazi Abu Bakr Ibn al-`Arabi, Alusi etc. have rejected it altogether

(Skipping to the end)

[So, let us really imagine what happened and why 'this story' was made.]

The Holy Prophet recited Surah An-Najm and performed prostration at the end of it. At this, all the hearers, both the Muslims and the mushriks, fell down in prostration. This was what really happened (lots of accounts on this)and there is nothing strange about-it. Let us depict the occasion: The Holy Prophet was reciting a forceful piece of the eloquent Qur'an in a very impressive manner. Naturally the occasion produced an emotional effect and all the listeners instinctively fell down in prostration along with him. (It was because of such ecstasies produced by the theProphet's recital of the Qur'an as this that the disbelievers dubbed him a "sorcerer".) Now, probably someone or other of them explained away their defeat (their prostrating to Allah), by making up a story, saying, "We ourselves heard Muhammad praising our deities. Therefore we also fell down in prostration along with him".

As regards the migrants to Habash, they returned to Makkah when they heard the concocted story that there had been a compromise between the Holy Prophet and the Quraish. It appears that some of those people who had seen the Muslims and the mushriks falling down together in prostration, presumed that peace had been made between them, so the story traveled to the migrants in Habash who had no means to verify it and thus thirty-three of them returned to Makkah.

*End of tafsir*

Anyways, I don't see it as a contradiction. Again, Allah is saying that Shaytan/humans/whatever, no one can tamper with the Qu'ran. You could take it as, "Even when they tried to", He 'put them in check'.

I do want to make it clear though, that I believe when the verses say that God's words cannot be tampered with, they mean that although the Bible and previous books were altered and people thought they could get away with it, erasing certain commandments, changing certain details, adding/removing what they wanted, they were gravely wrong and God was guarding the Final Scripture- the Qur'an. These words have never been changed and this was His ultimate Message all along.

Susanne said...

Sarira, I saw you commented on my Paul post. Thanks for that! I hope to reply to you there soon. That one had 14 new messages so sometimes I skip to ones like this which only have four new messages until I have more time. But thank you for taking time to write over there. :)

Thanks for explaining the hajj reminding you all of the Day of Judgment and the connection you made about the attire the men wear. I find all that pretty interesting!

I hate wasta too. Wow, I didn't know you did the hajj thing. Samer's dad never got to go and he died four years ago. Too bad the young people took all the spots, huh? Why would you even go again when there are millions of Muslims who have never gotten the chance? Doesn't this make you selfish? Or is there some spiritual benefit that you want for yourself and therefore are denying others the opportunity when you try to go again? You are only in your low twenties and you have been. MANY others haven't been at all so why would you even reapply to go?

" it is a debt upon you that either you face Allah with or your family/someone helps you out, by performing it for ya ;) (so long as you have told them in your will/asked them to do it/ demonstrated that you understood that you should have done it/etc.)"

I thought someone else couldn't atone for another's sins in Islam. That was your argument about Jesus not being capable of taking our sins for us, wasn't it? So how can you perform hajj for someone else when it was HIS or HER debt to pay ..not yours? This confuses me.

Thanks for the thorough explanation of those troublesome verses, the Tradition and why it doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Sarira to the rescue! :-D Great to read your reply! I appreciate your time in writing all that!

"and God was guarding the Final Scripture- the Qur'an. These words have never been changed and this was His ultimate Message all along."

Gotcha! Interesting how God favors Arabic, huh? He favored Jewish people and the Arabic language. Interesting mix! :)

Sarira said...

You are only in your low twenties and you have been. MANY others haven't been at all so why would you even reapply to go?

Susanne I didn’t mean that I would reapply. I am NOT for the very reason you are saying! I was just saying, by LAW, I am not allowed to, and this is something good that the Saudi government has put in place. Why they allow a person to ‘reapply’ is because not everyone performs Hajj properly the first time, etc.
Anyways, I want to address the thing about my low twenties and selfishness. While many people die in their 80's, that doesn't mean that we all do. I believe that NO day is guaranteed to me, no matter how young I am.

I had a friend whose brother was born on the very same day as I was. November 10 1987.

I met her in 2002 and probably in2003, she even mentioned she had once had a brother.

You see, he was dead. Every time my birthday comes now, I remember him and how he did not live to see another year.

Again, I am now turning 23, but he did not live past 12 years old (or so). This is the reality of the matter.

We do not believe that we will all live long lives. In our islamic tradition we have sayings where the Prophet advises the companions that if they have made it to 'sunset', not to expect to 'reach the next morning', and so forth. We shouldn't be expecting that life is promised to us.

Just like my crazy crazy laptop that shut down with no warning (while I'm writing comments and posts, hehe), death will come unexpectedly- it comes with no care to your age, your religoin, natoinality, etc.

For this reason, the minute I got my period and the Hajj became obligatory to me, it became a debt that I had to repay-just like an elderly person.

I didn't do it to 'steal someone else's spot'. I firmly believe the message the Prophet came with: "Not one of you is a believer until he loves for himself, what he loves for his brother", which is why I ‘argued’ with many people on the idea of performing Hajj more than once (if they had already gone and just to go it again). Like you are saying!
And also, while I did the Hajj, I asked Allah to bless all those who had wanted to come, with Hajj soon. I asked Him, in the holiest place, to grant Him this amazing blessing to visit Mecca, the mountain Arafat, etc.
The fact of the matter is this- the opportunity presented itself to me. You said it, yourself, that millions of people have not gotten to do it. Why would I turn down an opportunity that God brought to me? See, this year, literally 3 weeks before the Hajj period, we moved to Saudi Arabia (yup, I’m living here right now). In saudi Arabia, most people have performed it, since it’s close to them, and so I wasn’t really denying an ‘elderly person’ a spot or anything (the whole ‘cap thing in countries’). Plus, you need to realize that I went with my my mom (whose first Hajj it was- and who is pretty much 50), and my dad. I saw how my mom, after getting married and having kids, never could consider the Hajj until 'she got much older'. I learned from her not to 'dismiss it for later".

So, I seized the opportunity.

You see, the Hajj isn't easy. The older people who were with us, at some point, had tears in their eyes. That is not an easy thing to see. I heard a few, actually I was walking with one, holding her hand (supporting her), who regretted that she hadn't tried to come earlier- or taken it that seriously.

To me, it's like this- if you actually want to spiritually feel the Hajj, you have to realize that it physically requires great effort. If you can't 'exert that effort', you will find it very difficult and painful, rather than exhilarating.

However, do I realize that some have made it their life long dream and have taken it seriously? Do I feel sorry for the people who did not get a CHANCE to perform the Hajj like your friend's grandparents? Of course!!

Sarira said...

But as you said, their intention is more than enough. Because they sincerely wanted to go- they will be rewarded, inshaAllah. Llater on, I may post up a very interesting story in our traditions of a man who set out with a group of 40 to do Hajj, but ended up doing something much different and still being rewarded for it!

I thought someone else couldn't atone for another's sins in Islam. That was your argument about Jesus not being capable of taking our sins for us, wasn't it? So how can you perform hajj for someone else when it was HIS or HER debt to pay ..not yours? This confuses me.

Great question! But notice the condition I wrote: "So long as you have told them in your will/asked them to do it/ demonstrated that you understood that you should have done it/etc.)"

What does this mean? If a parent on his death bed tells his children, "kids, I had the money and the physical ability to do Hajj, but I kept delaying it, please, one of you go and perform Hajj for me", and the kid says, "okay", then that is alright.

The question is this- before Jesus went and “supposedly atoned for our sins”, did I ask him to do that? Did I demonstrate that I realized just how sinful I had been? How did I atone if he did it before I even asked? That’s the point, you see what I am saying? Or is it not clear?

Sarah said...

As I understand it, you DO have to ask Jesus to be your saviour in order to become a Christian. And the fact that it was in the past makes no difference to God as God is outside time.

It's a really interesting question! I never thought about it as substitutionary atonement, but I can definitely see where you're coming from. In the Mormons documentary I learnt about how they baptise by proxy for dead people, which I guess is another level of this - they've apparently baptised for 100 million dead people - wow.

Louai said...

Susanne, what ever i do i cant make it to read all the comments...but i love love it!

yet, actually i have to leave something regarding your words about the 22 years: "And what really bothered me was that wasta - or who you know, connections" why its bothered you?? those people actually paid extra extra money to run this thing! Susanne i know that this is a religious thing but do you imagine managing 5 millions in tiny spot is an easy thing?? i am living near Fulham stadium and, by the way, its a new team so its fans nothing more than 20 thousands and they need hundreds of crowds control and all paid by this team! compare it with 5 millions during the Hajj season in addition to people who originally living there plus people who serve it! and above all most of the rituals practised in the desert so you need extra services for temp hospitals and catering... all these stuff for approximately free!! do you think people who depends on pension scheme are able to pay this additional cost?? they need some rich people who like to attend it at least to pay this extra cost to run the entire thing! in old ages (before declaring Saudi Arabia as a country) they used to have special tribes to serve it! imagine a tribe to serve the pilgrimage with water, another for food... and so on so forth but these days you know the idea about tribes and civil service still existing but in a different way under the government control which basically need some supports from rich young people!

Susanne said...

Sarira, I greatly appreciate your coming back to address my questions! I apologize for sounding scolding. :) I was perhaps wrongly under the impression that OLDER people were supposed to go first, but I totally agree that no one is promised another day so it makes sense to go at least once when you can. Great point.

" which is why I ‘argued’ with many people on the idea of performing Hajj more than once (if they had already gone and just to go it again). "

Ah, I told my dad JUST TODAY before I even read these comments from you that you were such a super-sweet person! Ha, ha...yeah, can you believe I was telling my dad about some of my blogging friends and I mentioned "this really nice young Muslim girl who is so sweet." :)

I apologize for being mean about it. I should stop judging why people do what they do. It's fantastic that you were able to go with your parents. I bet that was special. :)

"Llater on, I may post up a very interesting story in our traditions of a man who set out with a group of 40 to do Hajj, but ended up doing something much different and still being rewarded for it!"

I will look forward to reading that!

"The question is this- before Jesus went and “supposedly atoned for our sins”, did I ask him to do that? Did I demonstrate that I realized just how sinful I had been? How did I atone if he did it before I even asked? "

I'm not positive I understand your question, but, yes, we do realize we are sinners and then we realize our need for the cleansing of our sins in order to come into the presences of a holy, perfect God. We realize we are sinners who cannot clean ourselves so we ask God for help. We put our faith in what Jesus did for us...this is the saving faith or belief that is necessary for salvation. So sorry if I am misunderstanding. But I did understand what you meant in re: to performing hajj for another.

Thank you for all that you shared! I am sorry about your friend's brother dying at such a young age. :(

Susanne said...

Sarah, yes, substitutionary atonement. It's like in the OT when the lamb or goat substituted and took the sins of another. It was a foreshadowing of the Perfect Lamb of God (Jesus) who would pay the price once and for all. Interesting about the Mormons baptizing for the dead. Hmmm. I think you need to investigate that religion next so you can teach us again on your blog. You do such a good job of it! :)

Susanne said...

Louai, great to see you again and thank you for your comment. I can't tell if you were being serious or not as I know you like to tease. Well, I just think that system favors the rich getting to go on hajj. If you can pay for the opportunity then you discriminate against the poor, don't you? That's how I see it. But I guess I shouldn't let it bother me. Not my religion or my people or my event so if those people like it, who am I to complain for them? :) I enjoyed reading your perspective. Have you been to hajj yet?

Durriyyah said...

I agree that who you know in Saudi gets you into Hajj is not right. It's sad, really.

22:37 - I love this verse. :) It truly shows that intention is what fills the outward deed, otherwise the deed is empty and void of any real substance.

22:47 - This is also a verse that points people to bridging science (the world is billions of years old) to the creation story (some say the world is 6,000 years old).

22:52 - Satan is tampering with one's desires, not the recitation from God, in this verse. So, Satan may whisper to a prophet that they would be better off using this "fame" to get money, power, etc. and to abandon their cause. This happens to us as well… that we are confronted with questions on what we want to spend our time on. Some people's hearts are hardened and they do not want to listen to revelation, but instead continue living however they have been. Pharaoh is a perfect example of such a person.

22:72 - I think my comment on 52 touches on what you are asking. If not, can you rephrase it? As for the Bible being tampered with or not, one thing to keep in mind is that from an Islamic viewpoint, the Bible is a compilation of many hadiths from many, many sources. The fact that the original book (Torah, Psalms, and Gospel) is not used today, proved simply by the multiplicity of authors, shows that outside books are used, and thus changed over time. The absolute original book, in written or verbal form, does not exist today.

22:67 - Hmm, I always understood this as secular rites and ceremonies, and that even given that, we should inform others about Islam. Interesting your translates it as worship.

Susanne said...

Durriyyah, thank you for taking time to explain your understanding of many of those verses. I really enjoyed them so much! Thanks for explaining the Islamic POV re: the Bible - very interesting and makes me understand a bit better! :)

I hope you keep commenting on other posts as time allows. :)