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Haj 2012: If your name didn't show up in draw of lots...

Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood

As per India's Central Haj Committee, 3,07,000 applications were received from the entire country for the upcoming Haj scheduled for October 2012. However, as per international norms, only 1,25,000 persons can perform Haj through the CHC. Approximately, another 45,000 Indians would be able to undertake the sacred journey using regular international passport. Still, the remaining number of 1,37,000 Indian Muslims will not be able to go for Haj in 2012 each of whom currently possesses Rs 1,65,000 or Rs 1,34,000, depending upon their chosen distance of accommodation in the two holy cities from the Grand Mosques. Thus, at present, merely these 1,37,000 Indian Muslims staying back at home own an accumulated stagnant wealth of Rs 2,055 crore or 20.55 billion rupees that is not required for their immediate personal use. If we take into account another chunk of Muslims who did not apply for Haj so far - though they have been saving for many years for the blessed journey - then the quantum of wealth so hoarded by our community will multiply several fold. This violates God's injunction in Surah Tauba, verses 34-35, prohibiting the hoarding of wealth.

On the other hand, the Sachar Committee has authentically documented that the average weight of Muslim babies in India is less than other babies, on account of under-nourishment. If long queues of Muslims are to be seen anywhere these are as patients in the hospitals. Muslims are lagging behind in literacy and education and they are more widely unemployed than others. Hence, the Ummah is obliged to support such Muslims, hordes of whom are found all over the country. And, if one wishes to readily meet hundreds of thousands of such hapless people in one monolithic group, then do visit Kokrajhar in Assam. God says in the holy Quran (2.19): “Give in charity whatever is beyond your need.” The Prophet (S) said: Each prophet's community has been tested through a specific object of trial, and the object of my community's trial is it's wealth. As per verse 56 of Surah Maidah: “Those who befriend God, His Messenger, and the believers, they are the army of God, and they shall dominate.”

When the companions of the Prophet asked him as to how much should they give in charity, in addition to the obligatory Zakat, he said, “Give in charity whatever you have after providing for the family expenses.” Once Hazrat Ali came to know that his domestic servant had accumulated some money which he was in no need of spending soon, he got terribly disgusted. Noticing the the boss' displeasure, the servant rushed out and distributed the money among the needy. God clarifies in Surah Hashr, verse 9: Wealth should not remain confined among the moneyed of the community. Hanna Kassis says in his Concordance of the Qur’an, that the word daulat is derived from doolah which means a commodity that keeps moving from one hand to another.

At the risk of repetition, I must recapitulate here that on the day of Arafat, a pilgrim wondered, "Out of these teeming millions, whose Haj was most liked by God !". A seemingly supernatural voice whispered in his ear, Ali Hajveri. Back home, Ali was discovered to be a poor cobbler living in a tattered hut on the outskirts of the town. He profusely greeted Ali for his spiritually best Haj. With a heavy heart, Ali confessed: I am a poor cobbler and had planned to perform Haj this year for which I had enough savings out of my life-long cobbling. But on the eve of my departure, my wife said, “I can smell the neighbor roasting meat; alas, we too could have fed our children likewise.” Ali re-counted his money to discover that fulfilling her desire would jeopardize his journey. He went to the neighbor and requested for some roasted meat. The latter cried in pathos, “This meat is Halal for us but Haram for you. For three days my children have been famishing with hunger. I went out looking for some means of earning, found an animal corpse, cut the flesh, roasted and am feeding my children. Therefore, this meat is lawful for us but unlawful for you.” Overwhelmed with tears, Ali cursed himself, “Fie upon you ! Your neighbor is forced to eat dead animal, and you are going for Haj ?" He immediately handed over all his savings to the neighbor, spread his prayer rug and solicited divine forgiveness, “O God, Ali could only firm up his sincere intention for pilgrimage. Bestow Your acceptance upon his intention.”

Let us learn a lesson. Those among us who have money enough for Haj but they cannot do so this year, should spend that money to help the community's deprived sections. That is the spirit of true religion. God says to the Prophet (Al-Hajrat, v 88), “Lower your wings for the believers" i.e. be compassionate and gracious towards them. In Al-Baqarah, v 261, He adds, “The parable of those who spend their substance to please God is that of a grain of corn: it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. God gives manifold increase to whom He pleases.” We would be able to do Haj later again, despite spending our current savings to further His cause. On the other hand, God says in Al-Imran, v 92, “You will never be able to attain the level of perfect piety unless you spend for God what is loved by you.”

Human beings can cherish their riches, respect, power, time, love, influence etc. Yet, we would be able to reach the zenith of perfect piety only when we sacrifice our valuable treasure to invoke God's pleasure.