Hajj message

Imam Khomeini's Hajj message and the philosophy behind it

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Imam Khomeini's Hajj message and the philosophy behind it

In an interview with Ayatollah Taskhiri, chairman of the International Forum for Proximity of Islamic Denominations, the hajj messages issued by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution were discussed. Due to the long day Iranian pilgrims had to endure on their way to Saudi Arabia, certain negotiations took place between the officials of the two countries in order to coordinate the times and delays. Ayatollah Taskhiri was a member of the Iranian delegation which was sent to Saudi Arabia to negotiate with Saudi officials.

Every year the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution issues a message to the great hajj congregation during the hajj season. This message contains important points for Muslims all over the world. In your opinion, what is the philosophy behind these messages?
There are a few points that I should mention before answering this question. First of all, hajj – which is an Islamic obligation – pursues great goals. Based on the Holy Quran, the biggest goal of hajj is to connect the Islamic ummah with the activities of the Prophets throughout history. That is to say, according to Sura al-Baqara, it began with the creation of Adam and Eve when angels prostrated in front of them, their experiences in paradise, their banishment to earth and finally their use of their heavenly experiences, including committing sins, repenting and complete submission to divine commands. In order to describe each of these stages, the Holy Quran uses the phrase “and when” to recount the story of all prophets until Prophet Ibrahim, when God says, “And when his Lord tried Ibrahim with certain words, he fulfilled them. He said: Surely I will make you an Imam of men. Ibrahim said: And of my offspring? My covenant does not include the unjust, said He.” [The Holy Quran, 2: 124]  The section of the verse which says, “My covenant does not include the unjust, said He”, refers to the leadership of God’s righteous servants. The issue of hajj is mentioned in the following verse: “And when We made the House a pilgrimage for men and a (place of) security, and: Appoint for yourselves a place of prayer on the standing-place of Ibrahim.” God brings up the issue of hajj in the middle of the story about the path His prophets took and it appears that Prophet Ibrahim is considered to be the one, who determined the path and the goals of hajj. One of the great goals of hajj is to connect the Islamic Ummah to the path of the prophets and the path of prophets is the same path that God has determined for humanity: the path of purity, submission to God, avoidance of sins and building a faithful society.
The second goal of Hajj is also been mentioned and that is: making human beings go back to their nature and to the natural path of surrendering to God. This goal is manifested in all the rituals of hajj. Therefore, hajj contains great goals and one of these goals is renouncing polytheists [bara’a] and Prophet Ibrahim was the most important display of renunciation of polytheism. Another goal is unity of the Islamic Ummah. During hajj all pilgrims wear the same clothes. They circle the Ka’ba with the same intentions and recite the same prayers. They engage in the same kind of worship. They come together in a small place. They even change the clothes that distinguish them from one another and they wear identical clothes. All these things show the unity of Muslims and the Islamic Ummah. These goals are realized during hajj. A manifestation of these goals is mentioned in every one of the messages issued by Imam Khomeini (r.a.) and the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution.
Reviving hajj means reviving the Islamic ummah and this is the philosophy behind the existence of these messages and the insistence of the Islamic Republic and the Supreme Leader on this issue. Implementing the hajj messages would initiate the movement of the Islamic ummah. According to Islamic narrations, “Hajj is the flag of Islam.” What does “flag of Islam” mean? As long as the flag of an army is up during a battle, it means the army has not been defeated and the battle continues. Therefore, reviving hajj is one of the great goals that the Islamic Republic pursues in order to bring about Islamic Awakening. In the messages which have been issued by Imam Khomeini (r.a.) and the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, these points have been frequently highlighted. In other words, they are a kind of manifesto – namely a comprehensive statement which defines the path of the Islamic ummah.

Considering the importance of this issue, it appears that there has been a lack of work regarding the hajj messages by the public relations sector.
Yes, unfortunately we have failed to understand the importance of the hajj messages. We have failed to make others realize the importance of these messages. We have also failed to convey these messages to those who are far from us. Our mass media, our pilgrims and others are making efforts in this regard, but these efforts are not enough considering the importance of these messages. In order to spread these messages, all media outlets, all cultural advisors, all public relations facilities and all media networks, that we have at our disposal, should try to convey these messages to different parts of the world. We need to work harder in this regard.

Do leaders of other countries also issue hajj messages?
Not like this. Only the King of Saudi Arabia issues a message for public relations purposes. Basically issuing hajj messages was first originated by Imam Khomeini (r.a.).

These messages are made public on the Day of Bara’a (Day of Dissociation). Has this been the case since the beginning?
No, at first, these messages were not made public on the Day of Bara’a. It was Imam Khomeini who used to determine the time. But after the conflicts that took place – which was the reason why Iranians did not go on hajj pilgrimage for a few years – certain agreements were made. I was a member of the delegation which was sent to Saudi Arabia for negotiations. The two sides agreed that Iranian pilgrims should not come together in Mecca and that they could only do so on the day of A’rafa to listen to the message of their Leader.

Did you also agree to recite Dua Kumail in Medina during the same negotiations?
No, the agreement to recite Dua Kumail in Medina was reached in other negotiations. This agreement was a separate issue, which was settled after a lot of conflicts and groundwork.

We claim that the hajj messages are conveyed to Muslim nations. What effects have these messages produced so far?
Many pilgrims from different countries take part in hajj ceremonies. These messages are handed out during hajj. They are translated into around ten languages and are handed out in Mina and other places during the hajj season. These messages are distributed among all hajj pilgrims as the message of the Islamic Revolution. These messages are also broadcast in different languages by some of our media and it seems they have had a good effect on the hearts of Muslims. However the world arrogance (i.e. Western powers) as well as Arab and Islamic governments try to stifle these messages. One of these messages was once published in a newspaper in England. This resulted in the entire network of global Zionism protesting against that newspaper and creating problems for it.

When did this happen?
I do not remember the exact date, but it was in the 70s. The Zionists try to prevent the messages from being published.  Not only does the government of Saudi Arabia refuse to help in this regard, but it sometimes tries to prevent these messages from being published. It even makes many arrests sometimes. Of course in the past few years there have been few cases of such arrests, but they try to stifle these messages in Saudi Arabia. Sometimes we try to publish the messages in foreign newspapers and we pay the money, but they do not publish them. Many newspapers do not allow this or they are prohibited from publishing these messages.

Is this is in European countries?
In European and even Islamic countries. They strongly refuse to publish these messages. But as I said, we have been negligent too.

What is the nature of these messages? Are they like political messages that are issued to the people by statesmen?
No, they are the message of a leader to his people; they are the message of a spiritual leader and a marj’a taqlid, who is also in charge of leading the Islamic Revolution, to the entire Islamic ummah. During hajj the pilgrims are representatives of the entire Islamic ummah, and the congregation that is formed, is in fact the congregation of the representatives of the Islamic Ummah. That is to say, it is the congregation of the entire Islamic ummah, who have a united purpose of getting closer to God. The pilgrims are trained with slogans, songs and identical rituals. And the training is not limited to learning slogans, they receive practical training. Hajj pilgrims should restrain their eyes. They should restrain their hands and feet. They should restrain their mouth and tongue. The things that should be avoided during ihram, as they are prohibited, act as a kind of training for hajj pilgrims.
 The messages that are issued by the Leader are in line with this. I have extracted the themes of the messages issued by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution over the past few years and I can share the result with you if you like.

Please go ahead.
If you study the Supreme Leader’s messages, you will see that the first point that is raised in these messages is the role of hajj in structuring the Islamic ummah. This is also the goal of the Supreme Leader’s hajj messages. For example, one point that is raised in these messages is the role of hajj in eliminating the weak points of the Islamic ummah. The Supreme Leader has pointed out in these messages that we have certain weak points within the Islamic ummah and that certain other weak points have been imposed on us from outside. The hajj messages deal with these points by strengthening piety and self-purification and by warning against lack of vigilance.
The next point concerning the role of hajj is that these messages stress the fact that hajj is the flag of Islam. In one of his messages, the Supreme Leader pointed out that hajj is a manifestation of the movement of the Islamic ummah and that it defines the role of political Islam.
One pillar of hajj is circling around the House of God. That is to say, the entire ummah is supposed to revolve around and adhere to the guidance of Allah the Exalted. The stoning of the jamarat is another pillar of hajj, a ceremony in which members of the Islamic ummah throw stones at the symbols of taghut [government not sanctioned by God] and spiritual revolt [against God].
Another theme that has been mentioned by the Supreme Leader in his hajj messages is, the mobilization of the entire Islamic ummah in order to stand up against the challenges faced by Islam. In sum, the first pivot that is mentioned in these messages is the role of hajj in the civilizational course of the Islamic ummah.
The second issue is the role of hajj in the moral education of individuals and society. This is a theme that is present in all of the hajj messages. The issue of self-purification and appreciating the opportunity one is given in the holy places, are definitely mentioned somewhere in the messages.
Showing the greatness of Islam and its messages is the third theme that is mentioned in these messages. They highlight the greatness of Islamic solutions to the problems of humanity.
Highlighting the issue of Muslim unity is another subject that is highlighted in these messages. In the messages of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Islamic Awakening is considered as the most important way to bring about Muslim unity. Islamic Awakening is the most beautiful phenomenon that has been mentioned in these messages. These messages have tried to deepen and spread Islamic Awakening. Certain manifestations of this unity are also mentioned in these messages: for example, pilgrims wear identical clothes, follow the same path, chant the same slogans, adopt the same positions, do tawaf around the same center and other such things. In last year’s message, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution pointed out that the Ka’ba represents monotheism and that it is the symbol of moving towards Muslim unity.
These messages also explain the great facilities of the Islamic ummah – its material and spiritual resources and its geographic and cultural capacities. These messages remind the Islamic ummah of its great resources, which are unfortunately being plundered by the enemies.
Disclosing the plots of the arrogant powers is another theme in these messages. In all these messages, the Supreme Leader mentions the evil plots of the arrogant powers to annihilate the Islamic ummah, and the reasons of these crimes are also explained. The messages explain the crimes that are being committed as well as the most important issues and developments in Islamic territories, ranging from the distortion of Islamic truths to enmities, ethnocentric seditions, spread of corruption, numerous killings and the propaganda against the Islamic ummah. All these threats – which have increased after 9/11 – have been mentioned by the Supreme Leader in his messages. Because the plots of the enemies to occupy the world of Islam were foiled by the Revolution and Islamic Awakening, Westerners started to divide the Islamic ummah and spread corruption. Therefore, in his messages the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution says that the arrogant powers are enemies of the oppressed people and human rights, supporters of terrorism and promoters of hegemony and hypocrisy in the Muslim world.
Of course disclosing the role of the mercenary regimes in the region is another important theme. These regimes try to fulfill the goals of colonialism and take away the essence of hajj and this has also been mentioned in the messages.
Introducing the Islamic Republic as a successful model, which has stood up against the arrogant powers, implemented Islam in all aspects of life, pioneered Muslim unity, promoted solidarity between the leadership and the people and represented religious democracy and support for the oppressed, is another theme in these messages. Normally, all the messages which are issued by the Supreme Leader mention one or more of these themes.

In what ways has stressing these themes affected other countries? Has it received any feedback from the prominent figures and politicians of Muslim and Arab countries?
Everybody is speaking about how invigorating, effective and enlightening these messages have been. Whenever we travel to other countries and take part in different conferences, everybody mentions these points and praises these messages. We travel to around 50 countries every year and we speak to different Muslim individuals, groups and leaders, particularly political leaders and activists of different Islamic countries. That is to say, in spite of our weaknesses in making these messages publicly available, they have had an invigorating effect wherever they have been published.

Currently, public diplomacy is being discussed in the world. That is to say, leaders of countries are addressing the people rather than governments. Can we think of these hajj messages as one of the pillars of public diplomacy of the Islamic Republic and as a means to spread the Revolution?
There is no doubt in this regard. One of the beautiful ways of spreading the message of the Revolution is through the statements issued by Imam Khomeini and the Supreme Leader. Issuing these statements is one way of invigorating the hajj congregation, opposing the movements, which try to take away the essence of hajj, and highlighting the role of hajj in the life of Muslims. I am of the view that these messages have had their effects although – as I said – we have not worked hard enough in making them available to everybody.

Any final comments?
I pray that God helps Muslims understand Islamic observances and the messages [that they entail]. The problem is that many hajj pilgrims travel a long distance and go through a lot of hardships, but they fail to understand the message of hajj. According to Islamic narrations, “The light of hajj does not dim on the pilgrims unless they sin.” That is to say, hajj pilgrims return with the light of hajj and this light shows itself both in their human nature and their activities in society until they commit a sin, which gradually destroys the light. I hope hajj pilgrims will make efforts to receive the light of hajj and to preserve the message of hajj so that hajj can educate the Islamic ummah.