When the pilgrims return to their home countries after the journey of Haj, they return spiritually refreshed, forgiven of their sins, and ready to start life anew, with a clean slate.
Family and community members often prepare a celebration to welcome pilgrims home and congratulate them on completing the journey. Those who have performed the Haj are often called by an honorific title, “Haji,” (one who has performed the Haj).
According to the Qur’an, “…Pilgrimage to the House is a duty owed to Allah by all who can make their way to it…”(Aal ‘Imran, 3:97). According to a Hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The Umrah to the next Umrah is a kaffarah (expiation) of all sins one commits between them, and an accepted Haj (Al-Haj Al-Mabroor) is a supreme action, the reward for which is paradise.”
He also said, “Verily there shall be no reward for a Haj Mabroor (an accepted Haj) except Jannah (the Paradise).” (Bukhari, Muslim)
How fortunate are these souls who are blessed with the following words from the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Whoever performs Haj for the pleasure of Allah and therein utters no word of evil, nor commits any evil deed, shall return from it (free from sin) as the day on which his mother gave birth to him.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Mind you, there is a particular significance to each of the modes of worship in Islam. The significance of establishing Salah (prayers), for example, is to remember Allah Almighty. “…And establish Salah (prayers) to remember Me.” (Qur’an, 20:14) The significance of observing Siyam (fasting) is to cultivate Taqwa (God-consciousness) in oneself. “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be conscious of God” (Qur’an, 2:183). Likewise, the significance or essence of Haj is making sincere repentance to Allah Almighty and seeking His forgiveness. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates: “I heard the Prophet say, ‘Whoever performs Haj and does not commit any Rafath (obscenity) or Fusooq (transgression), he returns (free from sin) as the day his mother bore him’.”
It is unfortunate that there are some people who turn these modes of worship into mere rituals. Circumambulating the Kaaba for instance or running between the hillocks of Safa and Marwa or performing other rites and rituals of Haj do not have any deep meaning with such people. Consequently, the conditions of their lives do not change for the better even after their Haj. As for those pilgrims whose attitude, conduct, lifestyle, and relationship with their creator and His creation show a positive transformation after the pilgrimage, they are the ones inshaAllah, who are blessed with the rewards of an accepted Haj. Just as Salah (the daily prayer) prevents one from indecency and wrongdoing, and connects one to Allah, and Siyam (fasting) makes one more mindful of Allah the Almighty, so should Haj reconnect one with one’s creator. If these ends are not achieved through these modes of worship, then all the hardships endured in performing these acts of worship are in vain. Analogically, just as the efficacy of a medicine becomes known when a sick person is healed, likewise, an accepted Haj manifests itself in the change that takes place in the condition of the pilgrim to an extent that is pleasing to Allah the Almighty.
The pilgrims should focus their attention toward certain points, which are necessary and of utmost importance and which many pilgrims ignore because they are unaware of their significance.
First of which is his sincerity. Sincerity of intention should remain even after the performance of Haj. There should be no pomp or show. One should not wish to be called or recognized as a Haji.
Many people adopt the habit of talking frequently about their journey in order that people may come to know of their Haj. They talk about the expenses incurred in the way of Allah, their charity among the poor and the needy, their devotion and worship, their assisting the weak and old, etc.; and all is mentioned only with the intention of gaining fame. This is a deceit from Satan who ruins the devotion without the person even knowing it. It is therefore of great importance that the pilgrim does not talk about his Haj without necessity as it may lead to ‘Riyaa’ (show, insincerity). However, if necessity arises and one must talk about his Haj then he is at liberty to do so. But, he must not indulge in this type of conversation unnecessarily.
Secondly, repentance, revitalization of faith, and renewal of covenant are the three things that need to be done by all Muslims individually and collectively, and most especially the pilgrim in order to mend matters and emerge successful both in this life and the next. This is because Haj epitomizes all these three aspects beautifully.
How can one know whether one’s Haj is accepted or not?
The basic sign of a ‘Haj Mabroor’ or an ‘accepted Haj’ is that upon one’s return, his life changes from worst to good. He becomes totally punctual in fulfilling the commands of Allah Almighty. His love and inclination toward the Hereafter increases and love for the worldly pleasures decline. Therefore, it is essential that the pilgrim is watchful over his actions and should try his utmost to instil in himself good characters and refrain from all types of evil. He should try his best to fulfill the obligations laid down by Allah and avoid all the things forbidden by Him.