It is said that the one who performs Hajj, or the ritual pilgrimage, comes back free of sins. But are mere actions enough? This story illustrates what makes a true Hajj.
A man, whose life reflected no change after having performed Hajj, came to visit Imam Junaid al-Bagdadi.
Junaid asked him: “Where are you coming from?”
“Sir, I have returned after performing Hajj of the House of Allah,” was the reply.
“So, have you actually performed Hajj?”
“Yes, Sir, I have performed Hajj “, said the man.
“Did you pledge that you would give up sins when you left your home for Hajj?” asked Junaid.
“No, Sir, I never thought of that”, said the man.
“Then, in fact, you did not even step out for Hajj. While you were on the sacred journey and making halts at places during the nights, did you ever think of attaining nearness to Allah?”
“Sir, I had no such idea.”
“Then you did not at all travel to the Ka’bah, nor did ever visit it. When you put on the Ihram garments, and discarded your ordinary dress, did you make up your mind to abandon your evil ways and attitudes in life as well ?”
“No, Sir, I had no idea of that.”
“Then, you did not even don the Ihram garments!” said Junaid ruefully. Then he asked; “When you stood in the Plain of Arafat and were imploring Allah Almighty, did you have the feeling that you were standing in Divine Presence and having a vision of Him?”
“No, Sir, I had no such experience.
Junaid then became a liltle upset and asked: “Well, when you came to Muzdalifah, did you promise that you would give up vain desires of the flesh?”
“Sir, I paid no heed to this.”
“You did not then come to Muzdalifah at all.” Then he asked: “Tell me, did you happen to catch glimpses of Divine Beauty when you moved around the House of Allah?”
“No, Sir, I caught no such glimpses.”
“Then, you did not move around the Ka’bah at all.” Then he said: “When you made Sa’i (running) between the Safa and the Marwa, did you realize the wisdom, significance and objective of your effort?”
“Sir, I was not at all conscious of this.”
“Then you did not make any Sa’i!” Then he asked: “When you slaughtered an animal at the place of sacrifice, did you sacrifice your selfish desires as well in the way of Allah?”
“Sir, I failed to give any attention to that!”
“Then, in fact you offered no sacrifice whatever.”
“Then when you cast stones at the Jamarahs, did you make a resolve to get rid of your evil companions and friends and desires?”
“No, Sir, I didn’t do that.”
“Then, you did not cast stones at all”, remarked Junaid regretfully, and said:
“Go back and perform Hajj once again, giving due thought and attention to all the requirements, so that your Hajj may bear some resemblance with Prophet Ibrahim’s Hajj, whose faith and sincerity has been confirmed by the Qur’an :
“Ibrahim who carried out most faithfully the Commands (of his Lord).” (53:37)
With gratitude to the Islamic Studies Research Academy.