A JOURNEY OF INTENT

Written by root. Posted in BEST OF BRUNEI

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Published on July 01, 2016 with No Comments

The spiritual journey that is the Hajj.

Words ANIS RAMLI
Images RAJA MOHD FIRDAUS BIN RAJA ALJUNID

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White is not necessarily the colour made obligatory for all performing their Hajj to wear. But perhaps because it denotes purity, or that it’s symbolic of a person’s intentions to start life on a clean slate. After all, Hajj is the spiritual highlight of a Muslim’s life. During Hajj season, Brunei’s airport turns busy with pilgrims and their families as they are sent off.

The scene changes little at every Hajj season.

The pilgrims would soon board specially chartered flights bound for Jeddah. From there, they will be processed and await their turn to be bussed over to Madina. The waiting at the special Hajj terminal can be tiring – anywhere between one to 12 hours. But for many pilgrims who arrive here from around the world, the waiting is only a test of their patience; a minor jihad (struggle) upon oneself as the Guest of Allah, a term bestowed upon those who make the pilgrimage.

The Hajj draws millions of worshippers each year. Hajj, the fifth and last pillar of Islam, is a duty upon every Muslim once in their lifetime, only if they are able – both physically and financially. Like Muslims everywhere, Bruneians consider this journey the most significant manifestation of their faith. Financial ability is given emphasis as a Muslim’s foremost responsibility is the caring of the family. Anyone leaving for Hajj has to ensure that the family they leave behind would be left with sufficient means in their absence.

Unlike the Umrah, the minor pilgrimage, Hajj is performed during a five-day period from the ninth through 13th of Zulhijjah, the 12th month of the Muslim lunar calendar (Hajj this year will fall on 9-14 September, 2016 corresponding with the Muslim lunar calendar). During those five days, pilgrims gather in Makkah to perform specific rituals, unchanged since the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) undertook his Hajj over 1,400 years ago. Imagine this: Muslims from around the world who speak different languages and come from varied backgrounds are united in the same rituals and perform them as one.

The Government of Saudi Arabia today sets quotas for the number of citizens from each country who can go for Hajj every year (400 for Brunei). This is to ensure safer conditions for pilgrims, for during Hajj season, there could be approximately 2 million worshippers entering Makkah alone. It is due to this quota system that, when a Bruneian discovers that he or she is shortlisted for Hajj, the decision is received with much blessing and thankfulness.

Bruneian Hajj pilgrims are also granted a special audience with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, and Her Majesty Duli Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha at Istana Nurul Iman. It has been a tradition for His Majesty to present the pilgrims with a kurnia (personal gift), the Hajj cloth sheets for the males, prayer attire for the females and offer parting advice to the pilgrims.

As for the term “Guest of Allah”, it is reported in an authentic saying (hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by Ibn Umar: “The one who fights for the sake of Allah and the pilgrim who goes for Hajj or Umrah are all guests of Allah. He called them and they responded; they ask of Him and He will give them.” (Ibn Maajah, 2893)

As every Bruneian descends upon Makkah, they will be chanting:

Labbaikallahumma Labbaik
Labbaika La Syarika laka Labbaik
Innal hamda wanni’mata
Laka wal mulk La syarika lak

Here I am at your service, O Allah, here I am
You have no partner, here I am
Truly, the praise and the favour are yours, and the dominion
You have no partner

We wish all pilgrims Hajj mabrur (an accepted pilgrimage). Ameen.

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