On 6th Dhul Hijjah after the Jumu'ah Salāh, we arrived at Dhul Hulayfah, outside Madīnah, and made preparations to enter into ihrām. Dhul Hulayfah was chosen because it was where Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam and his companions radhiyallāhu 'anhum had entered the state of ihrām. It was our desire to begin the hajj by observing this sunnah of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam. The thought persisted in my mind that the beloved of Allāh performed only one Hajj during his lifetime, and Allāh had chosen this place for him to enter into ihrām. There could not have been a better place for this act.
After making all the preparations, attired in only two sheets, we performed two rak'āt, made the intention for Hajj and recited the talbiyah:
Here I am at Your service, O Rabb, here I am. Here I am, no partner do You have, here I am. Truly, the Praise and the Favour is Yours, and the Sovereignty. No partner do You have.
It is impossible to express how I felt at that moment. Tears trickled down my cheeks wetting my beard. In my mind echoed the thought: 'You are so careless in regard to the Dīn of Allāh ta'ālā. You are not worthy of being invited by Allāh ta'ālā to His Blessed House. How Merciful and Kind is your Creator that despite all your negligence and shortcomings He has listed you amongst the hujjāj of 1426.'
We were now in the state of ihrām and many things became prohibited, including the use of 'itr (perfume) and covering the head, both of which at other times are sunnah.
On 8th Dhul Hijjah, we arrived in Minā. According to the sunnah practice, we were to spend the whole day and perform all our salāh there. On this day, being present in the Haram for us pilgrims was less rewarding than remaining in Minā.
On the next day, 9th Dhul Hijjah, we moved to 'Arafah. Those who performed the Zuhr Salāh in Masjid-un-Namirah behind the Imām of Hajj combined the 'Asr Salāh with it before its prescribed time. We remained in 'Arafah until sunset, after which we left, delaying Maghrib Salāh until we combined it with 'Ishā salāh in Muzdalifah.
I came across hundreds of hujjāj from all walks of life, young and old, men and women, and māshā'allāh, not a single person questioned any of the above. Each individual carried out what had been commanded without raising any objection whatsoever. No one was concerned that covering the head and applying perfume, both Prophetic practices, were forbidden. No remarks were to be heard regarding the reward of salāh in the Haram during the stay in Minā. The performance of 'Asr Salāh in 'Arafah before its appointed time did not raise any questions, nor did delaying the Maghrib salāh. Every single hājī was an embodiment of Islām, submitting his/her will to the Will of the Creator, unquestioningly carrying out all the Commands of Allāh ta'ālā.
Alhamdulillāh, throughout my journey, amidst the thousands of hujjāj who had come from all corners of the world, I witnessed nothing but Islām i.e. submission to the Will and Command of Allāh. This made me think that the greatest lesson of hajj is that Allāh ta'ālā is telling His bondsmen: "If you are able to submit totally to my commands without any hesitation during these five days, surely you have the ability to do the same after Hajj too. Islām is not difficult, as long as you resolve to follow it."
Once this lesson has been learnt, the hājī resolves to submit himself to his Creator. By pelting the Jamarāt and sacrificing an animal he practically begins his battle against those two things that prevent a person from fully submitting to Allāh: Shaytān and the nafs. The act of pelting is an open declaration of enmity with Shaytān, whilst sacrificing an animal is a vow to sacrifice the desires of the nafs. Once these two, Shaytān and the nafs, are under control, submission is no longer difficult. Allāh ta'ālā and His Rasūl sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam have warned us against both these obstacles:
O believers, enter into Islām completely and do not follow the footsteps of Shaytān; surely, he is your open enemy. (2:208)
As for the one who feared to stand before his Rabb and restrained his nafs from [evil] desire, Jannah will be his abode. (79:40-41)
Intelligent is he who subjugates his nafs and works for what is to come after death... (At-Tirmidhī)
If the hājī returns with a resolution to submit wholeheartedly to his Creator then definitely his life will change. And the change is a sign that he has performed al-Hajj al-Mabrūr and the reward for al-Hajj al-Mabrūr is nothing short of Jannah.
Courtesy: Riyādul Jannah Vol 15 No 03