Islam

Islam

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

IS GOD MERCIFUL? ISLAM’S RESPONSE TO EVIL & SUFFERING (PART 5 OF 5)

Detachment from the world

Is God Merciful part 5.jpgAccording to the Islamic tradition, God has created us so that we may worship and draw near to Him.  A fundamental principle concerning this is that we must detach ourselves from the ephemeral nature of the world.  Known as dunya, meaning low or lowly, the ephemeral world is the place of limitations, suffering, loss, desires, ego, excessiveness and evil.  Suffering shows us how truly low the dunya is, thereby facilitating our detachment from it.  Thus we are able to draw closer to God.
The Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, was reported to have said, "Love of the dunya is the root of all evil."[1]  The greatest evil according to Islam is denying and associating partners with God; therefore detachment from the dunya is necessary to reach the ultimate spiritual goal of nearness to God, and subsequently paradise.
The Quran makes it very clear that the dunya is ephemeral and a deceiving enjoyment: "Know that the life of this dunya is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children—like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris." (Qur’an 57:20)  
The concept of the dunya should not be confused with the positive aspects of creation, known in Arabic as alam and khlaq.  These concepts relate to the beauty and wonder of what God has created.  They are intended to encourage people to reflect and understand which serve as a means to conclude that there is a Divine power, mercy and wisdom behind them.

Suffering of innocent people is temporary

Even if there is a lot of greater good to be actualised, one may observe that some people still suffer without experiencing any relief.  This is why in Islam, God not only provides justifications for evil and suffering in this world but also recompenses them.  At the end, all believers who suffered and were innocent will be granted eternal bliss, and all the suffering they had—even if they suffered all of their life—will be forgotten forever.  The Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, said:
"… the person who had suffered the most affliction in the world of those destined for Paradise will be brought forth and merely dipped into Paradise for a moment.  Then he will be asked ‘O son of Adam, have you ever seen suffering? Have you ever experienced hardship in your life?’ He will reply ‘No my Lord, by God.  I have never undergone suffering.  I have never seen hardship.’"[2]

Spiritual perspectives

Under atheism, evil has no purpose.  It is one of the blind forces in the world that indiscriminately chooses its prey.  Those who are victims of suffering and evil have no emotional and rational perspectives to help alleviate their suffering or put their experiences into context.  Someone could have suffered all their lives and just ended up in the grave.  All of their suffering, sacrifice and pain would have absolutely no meaning whatsoever.  Evil is viewed to occur due to prior physical processes, and those who experience evil have no recourse.  They cannot attribute any type of will to it, whether human or Divine, because everything is just reduced to blind, random and non-rational physical occurrences.  Thus, the logical implications of atheism are quite depressing.
The Islamic tradition has a fountain of concepts, principles and ideas that facilitate the believer’s journey in life.  The Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, empowered the believers with hope and patience.  All of the suffering that we face is a means of spiritual purification, thereby facilitating paradise in which we will forget every suffering that we ever experienced:
"No calamity befalls a Muslim but that God expiates some of his sins because of it, even though it were the prick he receives from a thorn."[3]
"Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affair is good, and this is for no one except the believer.  If something of good/happiness befalls him he is grateful and that is good for him.  If something of harm befalls him he is patient and that is good for him."[4]
Even natural disasters and fatal illnesses are seen through the eyes of hope, mercy and forgiveness.  The Islamic perspective on illness is that it is a form of purification, which facilitates eternal bliss in paradise for the sick.  The Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, encouraged visiting the sick: "Feed the hungry, visit the sick, and free the captives."[5]  Those who take care of the sick are rewarded with mercy and forgiveness, and ultimately paradise.  There are many Prophetic traditions that elaborate on these points.  For example, the Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, said that if a believer dies of the plague or a stomach illness, they are considered as a martyr, and all martyrs[6] go to paradise.[7]  There are inspiring traditions of mercy, reward and blessings for those who visit and care for the sick; the Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, said that whoever visits a sick person "is plunging into mercy until he sits down, and when he sits down he is submerged in it."[8]  A moving and powerful narration from the Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, teaches us that those who visit the sick will find God with them:
"Verily, God, the Exalted and Glorious, will say on the Day of Judgement: ‘O Son of Adam! I fell ill, but you did not visit Me.’ The human will ask, ‘O my Sustainer! How could I visit You when You are the Sustainer of the Worlds? And how can You fall sick?’ He, the Almighty, will say, ‘Did you not know that such and such a servant of Mine was sick.  But you did not visit him.  Did you not know that, had you visited him, you would have found Me by his side?’"[9]
Even in the case of natural disasters like tsunamis, the believing victims would be considered people of paradise because death by drowning is considered martyrdom in the Islamic tradition.  The Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, said in this regard, "Anyone who drowns is a martyr."[10]  Islamic scholars conclude that if a believer died as a result of being crushed by a building during an earthquake (some even extend this to a plane or a car crash), then they are considered people of paradise.  The Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, said that one of the martyrs includes "the one who died in a collapsed (building)".[11]

But God could create a world without suffering

Notwithstanding the discussion so far, a key objection that usually follows is "but God could create a world without suffering".  This contention is just a repackaging of the original argument; in other words, why has God allowed evil and suffering to exist? Therefore, the same answer applies; Divine wisdom.  The one who makes this objection does so because they cannot understand why there is evil and suffering in the first place, and they believe that a merciful and powerful God should prevent every evil and suffering.  Nevertheless, this has already been addressed in this essay.
The ‘problem’ of evil and suffering is not a problem for the believer, as evil and suffering are understood as functions of God’s profound wisdom, perfection and goodness.  The spiritual teachings of Islam create a sense of hope, patience and tranquillity.  The logical implications of atheism is that one is plunged into a hopeless state and does not have any answers to why evil and suffering exist.  This ignorance is mostly due to an egocentrism that makes them fail in their ability to see things from another perspective, just as I was when I thought my parents were malicious when they prevented me from drinking my grandfather’s whisky.
        Last updated 4 May 2017.  Taken and adapted from my book "The Divine Reality: God, Islam & The Mirage of Atheism".  - islamreligion.com


FOOTNOTES:
[1]Al-Bayhaqi’s Shuʿab al-Iman, traced back to Al-Hasan Al-Basri, who ascribes it to the Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him.  The scholars have graded this Prophetic tradition as hasan; its level of authenticity is good.
[2]Narrated by Muslim.
[3]Narrated by Saheeh Al-Bukhari.
[4]Narrated by Muslim.
[5]Narrated by Saheeh Al-Bukhari.
[6]Anyone that attempts suicide bombing or engages in terrorism and dies as a result is not considered a martyr.  These evil acts are forbidden in Islam.
[7]Narrated by Muslim.
[8]Narrated by Ahmad.
[9]Narrated by Muslim.
[10]Ibid.
[11]Ibid.


PARTS OF THIS ARTICLE

Friday, 16 August 2019

IS GOD MERCIFUL? ISLAM’S RESPONSE TO EVIL & SUFFERING (PART 4 OF 5)

Does God give us reasons for why He has allowed evil and suffering to exist?

Is-God-Merciful-part-4.jpgA sufficient response to the second assumption is to provide a strong argument that God has communicated some reasons to us about why He has allowed evil and suffering in the world.  The intellectual richness of Islamic thought provides us with many reasons.

Our purpose is worship

The primary purpose of the human being is not to enjoy a transitory sense of happiness; rather, it is to achieve a deep internal peace through knowing and worshipping God.  This fulfilment of the Divine purpose will result in everlasting bliss and true happiness.  So, if this is our primary purpose, other aspects of human experience are secondary.  The Quran states, "I did not create either jinn [spirit world] or man except to worship Me."(Quran 51:56)
Consider someone who has never experienced any suffering or pain, but experiences pleasure all the time.  This person, by virtue of his state of ease, has forgotten God and therefore failed to do what he was created to do.  Compare this person with someone whose experiences of hardship and pain have led him to God, and fulfilled his purpose in life.  From the perspective of the Islamic spiritual tradition, the one whose suffering has led him to God is better than the one who has never suffered and whose pleasures have led him away from God.

Life is a test

God also created us for a test, and part of this test is to experience trials with suffering and evil.  Passing the test facilitates our permanent abode of eternal bliss in paradise.  The Quran explains that God created death and life, "so that He may put you to test, to find out which of you is best in deeds: He is the The-Almighty, The-Forgiving." (Quran 67:2)
On a basic level, the atheist misunderstands the purpose of our existence on Earth.  The world is supposed to be an arena of trials and tribulations in order to test our conduct and for us to cultivate virtue.  For example, how can we cultivate patience if we do not experience things that test our patience? How can we become courageous if there are no dangers to be confronted? How can we be compassionate if no one is in need of it? Life being a test answers these questions.  We need them to ensure our moral and spiritual growth.  We are not here to party; that is the purpose of paradise.
So why is life a test? Since God is perfectly good, He wants every single one of us to believe and as a result to experience eternal bliss with Him in paradise.  God makes it clear that He prefers belief for us all: "And He does not approve for His servants disbelief." (Quran 39:7)
This clearly shows that God does not want anyone to go to hell.  However, if He were to enforce that and send everyone to paradise, then a gross violation of justice would take place; God would be treating Moses and the Pharaoh and Hitler and Jesus as the same.  A mechanism is needed to ensure that people who enter paradise do so based on merit.  This explains why life is a test.   Life is just a mechanism to see who among us are truly deserving of eternal happiness.  As such, life is filled with obstacles, which act as tests of our conduct.
In this regard, Islam is extremely empowering because it sees suffering, evil, harm, pain and problems as a test.  We can have fun, but we have been created with a purpose and that purpose is to worship God.  The empowering Islamic view is that tests are seen as sign of God’s love.  The Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, said, "When God loves a servant, He tests him."[1]
The reason God tests those whom He loves is because it is an avenue to achieve the eternal bliss of paradise—and entering paradise is a result of Divine love and mercy.  God points this out clearly in the Quran: "Do you suppose that you will enter the Garden without first having suffered like those before you? They were afflicted by misfortune and hardship, and they were so shaken that even [their] messenger and the believers with him cried, ‘When will God’s help arrive?’ Truly, God’s help is near." (Quran 2:214)
The beauty of the Islamic tradition is that God, who knows us better than we know ourselves, has already empowered us and tells us that we have what it takes to overcome these trials.  "God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear." (Quran 2:286)
However, if we cannot overcome these trials after having tried our best, God’s mercy and justice will ensure that we are recompensed in some way, either in this life or the eternal life that awaits us.

Knowing God

Having hardship and suffering enables us to realise and know God’s attributes, such as The-Protector and The-Healer.  For example, without the pain of illness we would not appreciate the attribute of God being The-Healer, or the one who gives us health.  Knowing God in the Islamic spiritual tradition is a greater good, and worth the experience of suffering or pain, as it will ensure the fulfilment of our primary purpose, which ultimately leads to paradise.

Greater good

Suffering and evil allow a greater good, also known as second-order good.  First-order good is physical pleasure and happiness, and first-order evil is physical pain and sadness.  Some examples of second-order goodness include courage, humility and patience.  However, in order to have a second-order good (like courage) there must be a first-order evil (like cowardice).  According to the Quran, elevated good such as courage and humility do not have the same value as evil: "Say Prophet, bad cannot be likened to good, though you may be dazzled by how abundant the bad is.  Be mindful of God, people of understanding, so that you may prosper." (Quran 5:100)

Free will

God has given us free will, and free will includes choosing evil acts.  This explains personal evil, which is evil or suffering committed by a human being.   One can ask: why has God given us free will at all? In order for the tests in life to be meaningful, there must be free will.  An exam is pointless if the student is obligated or forced to answer correctly on each question.   Similarly, in the exam of life, human beings must be given adequate freedom to do as they please.
Good and evil lose their meaning if God were to always ensure we chose good.  Take the following example into consideration: someone points a loaded gun to your head and asks you to give charity.  You give the money, but does it have any moral value? It does not, for it only has value if a free agent chooses to do so. - islamreligion.com


FOOTNOTES:
[1]Tirmidhi

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

WHAT IS EID UL ADHA?

The twelfth month of the Islamic calendar is called Dhul Hijjah.  It is the month that contains one of the greatest pillars of Islam – Hajj or the major pilgrimage.  It also contains one of only two Islamic reoccurring festivals, Eid ul Adha.  These two special occasions, the Hajj and Eid ul Adha, are inextricably linked by one special man, Prophet Ibrahim, known in Jewish and Christian traditions as Prophet Abraham.
Making the pilgrimage is often called following in the footsteps of Ibrahim.  This is due to the fact that the rituals involved in the pilgrimage replicate many of the events in Prophet Ibrahim’s life.  Eid ul Adha commemorates a specific trial in the life of Ibrahim.  He was commanded by God to sacrifice, his son Ishmael.  Eid ul Adha occurs on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah, the day on which most of the Hajj rites have been preformed and the pilgrims slaughter an animal to honour Prophet Ibrahim’s obedience to God.
“Surely Ibrahim was an example, obedient to God, by nature upright, and he was not of the polytheists.  He was grateful for Our bounties.  We chose him and guided him unto a right path.  We gave him good in this world, and in the next he will most surely be among the righteous.” (Quran 16:120-121)
In a divinely inspired dream, Ibrahim saw himself sacrificing his son Ishmael.  All members of Ibrahim’s family demonstrated complete trust in God, therefore Ibrahim revealed the dream to Ishmael.  He readily agreed that his father must carry out the command of God.  Together they went to the place of sacrifice and offered Ishmael’s life to God.  Ibrahim prepared to sacrifice his beloved son.  At this point the shaytaan (satan) tempted Ibrahim trying to make him disobey God, but Ibrahim resisted and drove the shaytaan away.  Ibrahim looked down at his son for what he believed was the last time but as the blade came close to Ishmael’s neck God stayed his hand and revealed that there was no need for Ibrahim to continue.  His sacrifice had already been fulfilled.
Giving up something big for the sake of God, such as the life of your child, must seem like a huge and unimaginable sacrifice.  Today even going without something small, such as a cup of coffee, to donate the money to charity seems like a large sacrifice.  Try to imagine  how Ibrahim must have felt as he held the blade above his child’s neck.  In the last moment he was relieved of his duty to follow God’s commands.  Having complete trust in God, knowing with certainty that God knows and wants what is best for us is often difficult, but it should not be.
“…And whosoever fears God and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).  And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine….” (Quran 65:2-3)
God replaced Ishmael with a sheep and it is for this reason that Muslims sacrifice an animal on the celebration of Eid ul Adha; however it is more than a celebration, it is a reminder.  We are reminded of our own submission to the will of God.  Those Muslim’s who are not making the pilgrimage and who can afford it sacrifice an animal in remembrance of Prophet Ibrahim’s test.
“Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you….” (Quran 22:37)
The act of animal sacrifice is often misunderstood.  God has no need for the blood or the meat; in fact God has no need for any of our acts of worship.  However for our own benefit God commands us to turn to Him and obey Him.  God looks for our piety, our goodness and our charity.  The animal sacrificed is usually a sheep, a goat or a cow. 
Distributing the meat from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha strengthens many of our efforts to please God with our piety.  Usually, a portion is eaten by the immediate family and relatives, a portion is given away to friends and neighbours and a portion is donated to the poor.  The act symbolizes our willingness to give up our bounties to strengthen ties of kinship and friendship and our enthusiasm to give up things that are of benefit to us in order to help those who are in need.  In the sacrifice we recognize that all blessings come from God.
Eid ul Adha commences on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah.  For those who are not at the pilgrimage, it begins with an extra early morning prayer performed in congregation, called the Eid prayer. It is a time of celebration, a time to visit family and friends and thank God for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us.  It demands contact with relatives, kindness to family and neighbours, and empathy and compassion for the poor. Above all Eid ul Adha reminds us that God is great and that He is the source of all bounties.  Through the good times and the trying times God is the source of all comfort and all peace, and submission to Him brings the greatest benefits of all. -islamreligion.com

Saturday, 10 August 2019

How do Muslims perform Hajj?

When is Hajj? When does it start and end? A look at some of the more interesting rituals and rites that Muslims perform during the annual pilgrimage of Hajj in Saudi Arabia
An aerial view of the Kaaba during the Hajj (AFP)

Hajj is an annual Muslim pilgrimage that takes place in Saudi Arabia.
It is a religious obligation on all Muslims who are healthy, financially able, of sound mind and of age to perform this pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.
It is one of the largest gatherings of humans in the world with more than two million people expected to take part this year from around 188 countries. Hajj season for 2019 falls between 9 and 14 August.
The pilgrimage rituals take place over a period of several days and culminates in Eid al-Adha, a day of celebration enjoyed by Muslims around the globe whether or not they took part in the Hajj itself. Eid al-Adha falls on Sunday 11 August in 2019.
One of the philosophies of the Hajj is that of spirituality and unity. All Muslims perform the same rites and are encouraged to share in a spirit of equality. 
All pilgrims are to remain in a state of purity and simplicity during the Hajj as much as possible. This includes wearing simple clothes, which for men includes two pieces of white unsewn cloth. Women are not restricted to a specific colour but are also encouraged to wear non-elaborate clothing.

Mina

Having arrived in Mecca, on day one pilgrims leave the city and head to an area called Mina where they spend the day in prayer. Here over 100,000 tents have been set up as temporary shelter and accommodation for the pilgrims in what looks like a huge tent city.
An aerial view of some of the pilgrim tents in Mina (AFP)

Arafat

On the Day of Arafat, pilgrims spend the entire day on, or near, a hill known as Mount Arafat - the Mount of Mercy. This is considered to be a great day of forgiveness and the day is spent repenting for past sins.
Muslims believe that if you spend this day in a state of true repentance, all past sins will be forgiven.
Muslims around the world who cannot physically take part in the Hajj also spend this day engaged in prayer, fasting and supplication.
Pilgrims converge on the Mount of Arafat (AFP)

Muzdalifa

Pilgrims spend a night in an area called Muzdalifa, which is part way between Arafat and Mina.
Pilgrims spend their time here in prayer and also gather pebbles to be used in a ritual the next day called the Jamarat.
Pilgrims in Muzdalifa gather small pebbles to be used in a ritual the following day (AFP)

Jamarat

The Jamarat is a ritual and symbolic stoning of the devil. Three pillars - small, medium and large - are stoned by pilgrims with the pebbles they collected on their route from Muzdalifa the night before.
The story associated with the stoning of the devil relates to the devil's attempt to dissuade Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) from obeying Allah's commands.
Jamarat is the ritual and symbolic stoning of the devil in which pilgrims throw pebbles at three walls (AFP)
In past years, so many people gathered to take part in this ritual that people were crushed and trampled. That has led to the Saudi authorities attempting to modernise the walkways and access points to the area to make it safer for pilgrims.
Pilgrims on their way to perform the Jamarat ritual (AFP)

Eid

Pilgrims return to Mina for the first day of Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice. This is the second of the two annual Islamic holidays.
Muslims throughout the world celebrate Eid on this day. In remembrance of the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to make any sacrifice commanded of him by God, Muslims on this day sacrifice an animal - usually a sheep - and distribute a portion of that meat to the poor.
On this day pilgrims also cut their hair. While men may shave their heads or cut their hair short, women are only required to cut a lock of hair.
Vendors sell balloons to children as Indonesian Muslims gather to take part in special Eid prayers (AFP/Sonny Tumelaka)

Farewell tawaf

Pilgrims return to Mecca for the final tawaf - circling of the Kaaba. The Kaaba is an ancient stone structure in Mecca towards which all Muslims around the world face to pray five times a day.
Muslims believe that the Kaaba was the first place of worship built on Earth and that it was originally built by the Prophet Adam, the first man created by God.
Pilgrims walk around, or circumambulate, it seven times in a counter-clockwise direction.
The Kaaba is an ancient stone structure in Mecca which pilgrims circumambulate (AFP)
Although not a part of the Hajj itself, many people round off the pilgrimage with a visit to Medina and the site of the grave of the Prophet Muhammad since, for most, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime journey. - middleeasteye.net

Thursday, 8 August 2019

The Prophet’s treatment of the people during Hajj



The manner in which the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) treated his people during the Hajj is indeed astonishingly magnanimous. He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) educated and led the masses simultaneously. It is needless to say that his deeds always measured up to his teachings. Every thing he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) did was an indication of his greatness and nobility. Here are some examples:
1.    Educating Muslims
Allah sent the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) as an educator who would made people's lives and acts of worship easier. He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) undoubtedly, excelled in his mission. People bore witness that they had never experienced any type of education better than his. He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) publicly announced his intention to perform the Hajj, in order to give those who wished to accompany him the opportunity to prepare themselves for the journey. The crowds flocked to Madeenah, hoping to learn from the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) and to follow in his footsteps. [Muslim] Throughout the Hajj, he mingled with the pilgrims and appeared for the public all the times. [Muslim] Nobody was beaten or turned away from him [Ibn Majah]. No one was mistreated or got hurt in his presence. [Muslim]
Having been keen on delivering the message in full, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) used various methods of discourse and education. He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) reasoned with his people, urged them to learn, and made them listen to what he said and focus on what he did. He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )ordered Muslims to learn the Hajj rituals from him as he made it clear that it probably could be the last time he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) performed Hajj. [Al-Bukhari] He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) asked the people to bear witness that he had delivered the message fully. On many occasions he would ask them: "Have I conveyed the message to you?" [Muslim] "We bear witness," they would reply, "that you have delivered the message, turned in the trust, and given exhortation." [Abu Dawood]
 2.    Iftaa’ (giving a religious verdict)
Iftaa’ was one of the important tasks performed by the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) in his Hajj. He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )gave religious verdicts concerning issues on which he was asked. One famous fatwa (verdict) of his was given to a woman from Khath'am tribe who asked him if she could perform Hajj on behalf of her aging father. "He cannot ride his camel," she said. "Perform Hajj on his behalf," the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) replied. [Al-Bukhari] Furthermore, the answer he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) gave to anyone who asked about postponing or bringing forward the rituals due on Slaughter Day was "Do it, no problem." [Al-Bukhari]
3.    Preaching
Allah sent Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) to simultaneously warn people and to give them good tidings. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) excelled in preaching and in showing his followers the righteous path. He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) urged them to do good and prohibited them from doing wrong.
The Hajj offered ample opportunity for preaching. Time and again he would remind the Muslims of some important rules. [Ahmad] He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) tackled a number of vital subjects in his preaching. Here are some important examples:
He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) ordered people to observe righteousness and to be religious. He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )explained to them the deeds they should do in order to enter Paradise. "Obey your Lord," he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said in one of his sermons, "Offer your five prayers, observe the fast in the month of Ramadan, give Zakah (alms) due on your wealth, and obey your rulers so that you may enter Paradise." [Ibn Majah]
He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) made it clear that we are each responsible for our own deeds on individual basis before Allah. He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: "Nobody is held responsible for somebody else's sins. No father is held accountable for the sins of his child, and no child is held accountable for the sins of his father." [Al-Bukhari]
He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) urged people to avoid disobedience and wrongdoing when performing their rituals. He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) asked them to occupy themselves with only that which is useful. "He who performs the Hajj without any wrong doing," the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said, "will return free of all sins, like the day he was born." [Al-Bukhari]
4.    Unifying Muslims and warning them against trials and disunity
Despite all the feelings and emotions it represents for Muslims, the Hajj is a unique opportunity to unify and to warn the nation against trials and afflictions. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) gave great attention to this point. For instance:
He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) declared that all Muslims are equal, and that Taqwa (fear of Allah) is the only basis for discrimination among them. "Your Lord is One," the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said, "Your father is one. No Arab is superior to a non-Arab, and no black person is superior to a red person, or a red person to a black person except in the way of fearing Allah." [Muslim]
He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) ordered complete obedience to the righteous ruler who adheres to the Book of Allah and to the Muslim congregation. In one of his sermons, he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) exhorted the nation "If a black slave were made your ruler," he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said, "you should owe him allegiance and obedience provided that he adheres to the rulings of Allah's Book." [Muslim]
At the same time, he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) warned against the intrigues of Satan saying "Satan has despaired of being worshipped by those who offer the prayer in the Arabian Peninsula but not of scheming against them." [Ibn Majah]
He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) also warned against introducing heresies into the religion. He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: "I am going to save people, and will be called upon to save people; I will say, ‘O Lord how about my companions?’ and He (Almighty) will reply: ‘You have no knowledge of what they introduced after your death.’” [Al-Bukhari]
Further, he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) warned against all that may cause trials and dissention in Muslim society, such as fighting among Muslims. Having asked pilgrims to keep quiet, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: "Never revert to disbelief after my death, killing each other." [Al-Bukhari]
He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) warned people against indifference for Muslim's blood, possessions and other sanctities. In his sermons on the days of 'Arafah, Nahr (slaughter) and on the second day of Tashreeq, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) warned: "Your blood, your possessions and your sanctities are all as sacred as this day of yours, as this month of yours, and as this land of yours."[Ahmad]
5.    Preaching submission to Allah and unifying the sources
Islam means total submission and humility to Allah Alone on the one hand, and observance of the teachings of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) on the other. Being a true Muslim requires undisputed submission to the divine revelation. The Hajj represents submission par excellence. It is a school of surrender to the will of Allah. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) told his companions  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them to unite in following his example and emphasized the necessity for adhering to his teachings. "The Prophet is with us," Jaabir  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him reported, "and the divine inspiration is being revealed to him. He knows best how to interpret it, and whatever he does, we will follow in his foot-steps." [Muslim] The outcome of this excellent education was enormously successful and blessed by Allah, Almighty.
On many occasions, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) ordered his companions to follow his example when he mentioned that it might well be the last time he performed Hajj. "Learn your rituals from me," he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said:"I'm not sure that I will perform Hajj again." [Muslim]
In his sermon delivered on the Day of 'Arafah, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) urged the pilgrims to hold on to the Quran and its teachings as the only way to deliverance from sins. "I have left you with the Quran," he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: "you will never go astray if you adhere to it." [Ibn Majah]
The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) warned against following personal whims and introducing heresies into the religion. Addressing the pilgrims from the back of his she-camel at 'Arafah, he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: "I will beat you to the Hawdh (water fountain), and with your numbers I will compete with other nations. Do not let me down; I will be saving people, and will be called upon to save people. I will say ‘O Lord, what about my companions?’ Allah (Almighty) will reply, ‘You have no knowledge of what they introduced after your death.’" [Mukhtasar As-Seerah] - islamweb.net