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Hajj: Why Muslims converge on Arafat, throw pebbles

By Haroon Balogun
Islam is not a new religion. It preceeds the advent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the seventh century.

Indeed the coming of the last Prophet (Muhammad) was only a fanality, a total perfection of the religion designed by God.
The gathering at the mount Arafat took its root from the story of Adam and Eve.

Muslim pilgrims partake in the symbolic stoning of the devil at the Jamarat Bridge in Mina, near Mecca, which marks the final major rite of the Hajj on on August 21, 2018.
Muslims from across the world are gathering in Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam. / AFP PHOTO /

Adam and Eve met at Mount Arafat when the duo, sinned and cast from heaven to separate locations on Earth. They finally met on the 70 meter hill also called Jabal al-Rahmah or the Mount of Mercy and there was a reunion back to paradise.

The Kaaba itself was not an invention of Prophet Muhammad. The cubic building which remains the wonders of the world was built by Prophet Ibrahim on the orders of Allah. Holy Qur’ans says Say: “Allah spoken the Truth: follow the religion of Abraham, the sane in faith; he was not of the Pagans.”

The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakkat: Full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings. (Holy Qur’an 3:95-96) When Ibrahimaa was ordered by Allah to build the Kaaba, he uncovered the original foundations of the Kaaba built by Adam (p.b.u.h.). Ibrahim (p.b.u.h.) with the help of his son Ismael (p.b.u.h.) erected the new place of worship on the same foundations. which has today become a reference point in worship and prayers.

The Safa and Marwa also are two hills close to Kaaba in Makkah. Muslims who perform the Hajj must run between Safa and Marwa in memory of a mother’s sacrifice for her son.

The incident took place when she Hajar was searching for water for her baby in the valley of Makkah. The result was the ZamZam water which sprang from a mighty rock by Allah‘s permission. That water which purity is unmatched has continued to serve mankind from generation to generation without changing in colour, taste and quality. Another miracle of the world which some of the non-muslims have acknowledged.

In fact all the major rites of hajj have their roots in the begining and in history of mankind.
Stoning in Jamarat

The throwing of pebbles at jamarat, east of Makkah which many non muslims scorn and deride as a result of their unending hatred for Islam and lack of respect for the faith of others is only a reenactment of the incident between the Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and the Satan. It denotes complete obedience to the commandment of Allah.

Ibrahim (AS) was commanded by Allah Almighty to sacrifice his son Ismail (AS). On his way to carry out this commandment, Satan repeatedly tried to dissuade Ibrahim (AS) from following this order of Allah. Ibrahim (AS) was instructed by the Angel Gabriel (AS) to throw pebbles at Satan.

This incident as explained by various Islamic scholars including popular Muslim historian Al-Azraqi says:
Ibrahim (AS) was commanded to sacrifice his son and Satan tried to discourage Ibrahim (AS) from doing so, but Ibrahim (AS) demonstrated complete faith in Allah and followed His command without any questions or temptation. Satan tried to instill confusion in Ibrahim’s (AS) mind and tried to tempt him away from submitting to God’s will.

Ibrahim’s heroism is to be celebrated because Ibrahim (AS) was childless until the age of seventy, when Allah gave him his first son, Ismail (AS). In these circumstances, this was a very great sacrifice that was demanded of Ibrahim (AS). Satan tried to discourage Ibrahim (AS) by giving the argument of old age and who’s going to look after you in such an age. However, Ibrahim (AS) was strong in his faith and in order to drive Satan away, he threw pebbles at him. It was an act of casting aside his desires and wishes, something all Muslims are expected to do during Hajj and otherwise also.

Throwing pebbles at the Satan does not mean Satan is present at the place. It also does not indicate that the acursed satan is present at Jamarat in human form which millions of stones could cause him to die. Rather it is an exercise of faith; a testament that the believers are able to resist the thoughts and desires that Satan puts in the believer’s mind; and a resolve not to have relationship with it again. It is a mere symbolic act of devotion which spirituality is inexplicable.

Even though a pilgrim is throwing a pebble at one of the pillars of Jamarat, he or she is throwing them in the face of Satan as nothing annoys Satan more than a man following the command of Allah. Ibrahim (AS) followed the command of Allah and stoned the Satan, so Muslims all over the world follow the commands of Allah and throw pebbles at the Satan in the same way to show disdain towards this devil’s being.

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