Ideological vitality at the Hajj Seminar — Crescent

Article in Crescent International (1-15 September, 1982) reporting on the Muslim Institute Hajj Seminar, August 1982. Reprinted in Issues in the Islamic movement, vol. 3, 1982-83 (1402-03), pp. 62-66. (This article was not written by Dr Kalim Siddiqui.)

Ideological vitality at the Hajj Seminar

The International Hajj Seminar held in London from August 4-7, 1982, (Shawwal 13-16, 1402) attracted scholars, journalists and workers in the Islamic movement from all parts of the world. The seminar, held by the Muslim Institute of London, represented the geographical diversity of the Ummah as well as the many Schools of Thought in Islam.

The seminar produced papers and discussions on all aspects of Hajj and on the current situation, future imperatives and problems of the Ummah as a whole. Since the seminar was held in a free and non-governmental framework, it provided a unique opportunity for Muslims of all shades of opinion to express and exchange views on all topics of relevance to the Muslim Ummah. At the end of four days of discussion. the seminar produced a set of unanimously agreed recommendations which include such potentially controversial issues as the control and defence of the Haramain, the rights of free access, and the freedom of thought and expression of the hujjaj.

The papers were presented under four major themes: the Hajj in the Qur’an, the History and Practice of the Hajj, the Hajj and the Islamic movement, and the Future, one on each day. Each group of papers was followed by a discussion, with the speakers of the day forming a panel. It was these sessions that proved the most successful, as they allowed a discussion of all major issues facing the Ummah.

In his address of welcome, Dr Kalim Siddiqui, director of the Muslim Institute, called for Hajj to be restored to its dynamic role in the affairs of the Ummah and the Islamic movement. He added that since the Islamic Revolution in Iran had ‘catapulted’ Islamic history into a post-Revolutionary phase, there was a need for a partnership between the global Islamic movement and the Islamic State of lran. The Islamic movement and the Islamic State now had to evolve a strategy for the physical consolidation and institutionalization of the Ummah. The Hajj would have to be at the centre of any such strategy. He also proposed that the present plethora of Muslim nation-States must be replaced by four Islamic States to realize the unity of the Ummah – one in the Far East, one stretching from Pakistan to the Arabian peninsula, one in North Africa, and one in central and sub-Saharan Africa.

Mr Fateh Muhammad Sandeela of Pakistan pointed out the specifically political and constitutional aspects of man’s pledge to the sovereignty of Allah as highlighted during the Hajj. Dr Syed Mahdi Al Sani’i of Iran, whose paper was presented in his absence, also stressed the political role of Hajj, pointing out the success with which the Algerians had presented their cause to the Ummah during Hajj in such a way that the entire Muslim world had rallied to their cause.

Dr Ahmad Ghorab, from Egypt, said the Muslims today had lost political power because they were no longer just and their communities were unable to provide security to their members, especially to the weak. Professor Nasim Ahmad Usmani from Pakistan, presenting his paper on the ‘Last Hajj of the Prophet’, stressed the integration of the spiritual and the material in Islam and reminded the audience that the Prophet, peace be upon him, had directed that the Muslims follow no culture other than the one instituted by him. A paper on the Prophet’s khutbah during the Hajjat ul-Wida’ (10 AH) was presented by Zafarul-lslam Khan of the Muslim Institute.

Ahmad Mohammad Kani, from Sudan, read a paper on the West African experience. He showed that the desire for going to Hajj resulted in frequent travels by African Muslims, spreading Islam and starting the Jihad movement in the area. Fehmi Koru of Turkey presented a paper on the management of Hajj in history, with special reference to the Uthmaniyyah State.

Dr Al-Husaini of lraq talked of the ‘Philosophical Dimensions of Hajj’, but perhaps the best demonstration of the philosophy of Hajj came from Maulana Waheeduddin Khan, the well-known scholar from lndia, who put the Hajj in the context of the call to Islam. He pointed out that the basic task of most prophets was the communication of the faith: but to the Prophet Ibrahim was assigned the special task of establishing the supremacy of religion, and to the Prophet Muhammad that of establishing its dominance. He explained that the divine scheme for universal guidance was divided into two stages: an initial one in Palestine and a final one in the Hejaz. The Ka’aba is thus the centre of the Islamic message and the Hajj is the annual gathering of those committed to its dissemination.

Muhammad Salahuddin of Pakistan presented a study of the ‘Political Role of Hajj’ and concluded that the entire background of the Hajj is basically political, in which the real issue is the sovereignty of Allah versus the sovereignty of man. Through hijrah, he maintained, the Prophet lbrahim left the place of shirk and established the first State based on the concept of tawheed. Every system of worship in Islam is closely and deeply connected to the political system, he added, so that the real message of Hajj is to establish the sovereignty of Allah through the Islamic State.

The proposition that the Hajj as an institution had lost the aims and goals Allah had determined for it in the Qur’an, presented by Abdullah Deedat from South Africa, was widely echoed in all papers and discussions. So when Dr Muhammad Ali Adharshah of Iran explained the ideas of Imam Khomeini on the subject, he was greeted by cries of Allah-u Akbar from the audience. Imam Khomeini is of the opinion that Islam must be adopted in its totality and Muslims must rely on the Ummah as a whole, using mosques and the Hajj for that purpose. The Hajj equips the Muslims with the tools for establishing Allah’s rule on earth.

Mr Ahmad Youssef, from Egypt gave a very informative and comprehensive account of the architectural history of the Haramam, and perhaps provided a perfect expression of the importance of the Ka’aba in Islam by saying ‘the Ka’aba in Makkah is the ‘axis mundi’ of Islamic cosmology’.

Apart from the 200 persons who attended the academic seminar, another 1,000 attended the three-hour public session on the final day. The seminar was accompanied by an exhibition of photographs, sketches and drawings from old books and manuscripts, as well as an extensive book exhibition on the topics of the Halj, the Haramain and Islam. Films and slide shows were also included and the exhibition attracted about 3,000 people, including many non-Muslims. On the final day the seminar adopted a number of recommendations. It took the view that the Haramain in the Hejaz and their immediate environs are a common heritage of the entire Ummah, and that authority over them must eventually pass to such institutions as may by consensus of all schools of thought be created for this purpose.

The seminar took note of Zionist maps showing Medina al Munawwara as a part of ‘Greater Israel’. There was thus a grave potential threat to the Haramain and, to ensure their defence, institutional arrangements have to be developed to allow for the emergence of agreed political, administrative, and military frameworks for the effective defence of the Hejaz.

The seminar called for free and unhindered access to the Haramain for all Muslims, recommended the abolition of all visa and other restrictions, and the reinstitution 0f Makkah and Medina as centres of Islamic learning. It also called for the utilization of meat of the sacrificial animals, for the creation of a ‘Hajj economy’ which was more in line with the levels of income of the Ummah, and for the preservation of the monuments and buildings that remain. Lastly, it called for the control of commercialism and the creation of an appropriate environment around the Haramain.

That the Muslim Institute was able to bring so many Muslims together, from so many different backgrounds and theological persuasions, reflects both the diversity within the essential unity of the Ummah and the ability of the Muslim Institute to mould this diversity into wahdah. The recommendations adopted were unanimous, and all Muslims agreed on the central role of Hajj in the affairs of the Ummah. the integration of the material and the spiritual, and the status of Iran as the only Islamic State of our time. The attendance at the seminar was a tribute to the independence of the Muslim Institute and its worldwide recognition.

Crescent International, September 16-30, 1982

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