By Harun Rasaq
Sabaka night is usually a party organized by some so-called Hujaj in Nigeria after returning from the holy land.
Religious scholars has condemned the practice and declared it harram stressing that it is alien to Islam because it involves great sins such as riya (showing off), israaf (extravagance), singing, dancing accompany with alcoholism etc.
No doubt, it is the worst mode of Hajj celebration that was introduced in recent time by some ignorant Muslims in Nigeria. Alhaji Moshud Olanrewaju Adepoju (formal Ewi King and now eminent Islamic scholar in Nigeria) claimed that sabaka night was introduced by Alhaji Abdul Jabar (a.k.a Oko Osho Oko Aje). Prominent in Sabaka night celebration are musicians, actors and actresses, area boys and other so-called Muslims.
Some Muslims erroneously claim that the art of celebrating the return from Hajj is the practice of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). This claim lack authentic evidence from shariah. Although, it is good for that the hujaj expresses gratitude to Allah through: Nafila Shukur (two raka’ats of thanking Allah), Sujud Shukur (prostration of thanking Allah), Azkar (words for thanking Allah) etc.
Also, it is permissible to just gather to welcome a pilgrim when he returns, to walk with him, to visit him and say Salam to him, to congratulate him, ask him to supplicate on one’s behalf and it is recommended to prepare a feast as an act of being grateful to Allah. Indeed, the scholars mentioned the food that a returnee prepares for his guests.
Unfortunately, after the Salaf, a lot of customs and rites have been attached to the practice which lack evidence from Qur’an and Sunnah.
It is nothing but sheer ignorance. This practice varies culturally and socially from place to place and country to country. For example in Egypt Edward William writes around 1833 that “Egyptians would decorate the entrance to the home of Hajj three days before his return.
The door and the stone around it are painted in red and white camels and are drawn in green, black or red. The Hajj in question may write to his relatives in advance to commission the paintings. On the night following the his return, he usually throws a party for his friends, called the Nazla:
Furthermore, the habit of celebrating the return of pilgrims is contrary to the dictates of Shariah. But as said earlier, Sabaka night is the worst mode of it in Nigeria.
The act of rejoicing is innate but Islam has laid down how it should be done. Therefore Al-Hujaj are expected to increase in righteous acts and move away from what Allah has forbidden except if they chose to be of those who answer the call of Shaetan.