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Stoning the Devil

Stoning the Devil

By arriving to Minâ [An area close to Mecca on the road to ‘Arafah where pilgrims spend the Tashreeq days. It is the place of throwing pebbles at Jamarat and ritual slaughter of the sacrificial animal] the hajjis have fulfilled half the Hajj duty. The Hajj has two cornerstones without them it would never be complete and no expiations or whatever compensations are sanctioned to atone for them.

The first cornerstone is standing at ‘Arafât and the second is the Ifadah Tawâf [Pilgrims’ circumambulation of the Ka‘bah upon their return from Muzdalifah]. These are the two cornerstones of Hajj, in other than them it is permissible to make expiations and offer a sacrifice.

When proceeding onward from Al-Mash‘ar Al-Haram (the Sacred Monument) to Minâ for stoning the devil we must keep in mind an important issue: the story of Ibrâhîm (Abraham, peace be upon him) and his son Ismâ‘îl (Ishmael, peace be upon him). The story of manifest trial to which Allah subjected Ibrâhîm, who saw in a dream that Allah is commanding him to slaughter his son, Ismâ‘îl. A severe affliction fated by Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, but why? Because Ibrâhîm was an old man, while his son Ismâ‘îl was in the prime of youth. At an age when the father usually feels that his son is the continuation of his life and becomes proud of him, a son that lends a hand in the hardships of life. But over and above, his wife, Sarah (may Allah be pleased with her), was barren.

Which means the absence of causes to give Ibrâhîm another son, but surely the Originator of causes (The Causer Almighty Allah) is mightily able to give.

Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, commanded Ibrâhîm to slaughter his son Ismâ‘îl. If He commanded him to kill his son it would have been easier, because he could have assigned some people to kill Ismâ‘îl away from him. It was also possible to take his son Ismâ‘îl to a mountaintop then push him to see nothing.

But the command was to slaughter Ismâ‘îl, in plain words to seize the knife, take his son while looking at him, slaughter him with his own hands and the son sheds to death. A very painful experience even if he had many children. But how much harder would it be when having a lone son in the prime of youth on the one hand and being an old man with a barren wife on the other hand!! A deed not to be fulfilled except by someone whose love for Allah surpasses all that exists, a love higher than any kind of love. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

“None of you will have faith till I am dearer to him than his father, his children and all people.”

That is the trial of faith undergone by Ibrâhîm in this specific point, which proved that Allah is dearer to him than anything else. Not by words but by deeds.

Ibrâhîm took his son to slaughter him in fulfillment of the Command given by Allah. Ibrâhîm did not want to surprise Ismâ‘îl by taking him to the mount and shocking him by the knife and the slaughtering, but he wanted to tell him first.

The Noble Qur’an relates that story in the Perfect Divine Revelation saying (what means):

“And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: ‘O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offer you in sacrifice to Allâh), so look what you think!’” (As-Sâffât, 37: 102)

Ibrâhîm wanted to inform his son Ismâ‘îl about what would happen. But how did Ismâ‘îl, the Prophet, receive the Trial decreed by Allah? He replied as the Noble Qur’an narrates to us (what means):

“He said: ‘O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Inshâ' Allâh (if Allâh will), you shall find me of As-Sâbirin (the patient ones, etc.).’” (As-Sâffât, 37: 102)

Ismâ‘îl loved Allah more than his life and soul. So, the old man and the youth hastened with the knife, but will the devil leave the obedience of Allah be fulfilled without spoiling it? Of course not, his mission is to ruin the obedience shown to Allah on earth.

Satan came to Khalîl Allah (the close servant to Allah), Ibrâhîm, to ruin the summit of faith. He came to Ibrâhîm asking him: What do you intend to do to your son? What is the meaning of slaughtering him when you are an old man in need of him? How could you believe such a dream? It is a lie.

It is narrated that the devil was personified to one of the worshippers as a lad who served him for long. Once the old man went to perform the Fajr (Dawn) Prayer on a rainy day and muddy ground. The incarnate devil held the lamp for the old man while rising and falling in the mud. The people wondered how that old man tortured thus the lad who accompanied him on such a rainy muddy night. Whereas the pious man simply told them to leave him suffer for the One Who decreed sufferance upon him is Allah. As though Allah has cast in the soul of that old man that this boy is a devil.

The devil never gives up a trifle he may steal through. Even more, he tries by any means to force man to sin. Therefore, the devil left no possible way with Ibrâhîm, Ismâ‘îl and Hâjar without pursuing it, perchance he might ruin one of the highest and most rewarding obedience shown to Allah, that of Summit Faith.

The moment Ibrâhîm and his son Ismâ‘îl (peace be upon them) left the house, the devil embarked on his mission murmuring to himself: It is a trial, a severe affliction and if I failed to seduce those people in such an adversity never will I be able to.

He came to Hâjar and said to her, ‘Know you whereto Ibrâhîm has went with your son?’ She replied, ‘To perform some errands.’ The devil said to her, ‘He took him not for some errands but took him to slaughter him.’ Hâjar asked, ‘Why slaughters him?’ The devil replied, ‘He claimed that his Lord commanded him to do so.’ Upon that she said, ‘Away from my face. As along as Allah has commanded, He must be obeyed.’

The devil withdrew away from her disgraced and hurried to overtake Ibrâhîm and his son. He started with Ibrâhîm struggling to deter him from fulfilling the Command of Allah. He said to him, ‘Who told you that this dream is from Allah? Perhaps it was jumbled false dreams (chimeras), for what Allah would gain from slaughtering your son? Disobey the order; otherwise you would live to regret it. If you slaughtered him, the face of your son while dying would be enshrined in your memory. His face would forever remain before your eyes torturing you for the rest of your life. You are an eighty-four years old man and would never be blessed with a son after him.’ And he kept tempting Ibrâhîm, but Ibrâhîm never listened to him.

When the devil despaired of Ibrâhîm he went to Ismâ‘îl and said to him, ‘Your father would slaughter you.’ But Ismâ‘îl replied, ‘If Allah commanded him to do so, let him do what Allah willed.’ Then, he tried to prevent Ibrâhîm and Ismâ‘îl from going to the place of slaughtering, known afterwards as Al-Kabsh Mount (The Ram Mount), for being the mount on which the sacrifice was sent down.

The devil strived to impede the progress of Ibrâhîm at the Jamrat Al-‘Aqabah [The closest stone pillar to Mecca, known as Large Jamrat] in Minâ in order to fulfill the Command of Allah; thereupon Ibrâhîm seized seven pebbles and stoned the devil. But the devil and his offspring despaired not and chased Ibrâhîm and Ismâ‘îl, perchance they could hinder them from honoring the Command of Allah. So, Ibrâhîm and Ismâ‘îl stoned them to drive them away.

This is the story of stoning, stoning the devil and we are commanded to stone the devil just as Ibrâhîm and Ismâ‘îl (peace be upon them) did.

The moral of stoning the devil

After standing at ‘Arafat and having our sins forgiven, Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, wants to instructs us by the story of Ibrâhîm and Ismâ‘îl with the devil to guard our penitence. We have to stone the devil within ourselves in a nonphysical sense, barring all his gateways to us. Whenever the devil attempts to approach us with his evil whispers we should not listen to him, but to stone him by our defiance to yield to his satanic temptations until he recedes and leaves us dispossessed of all power over us.

Just listening to the devil is the first step taken in disobedience. He wants to entice you into listening to him. Do not give him that chance. Do not listen to his temptations, but stone him at once by defiance.

Some people may wonder saying, ‘We are pelting a stone, so what is its connection with the devil? And does the devil exist in it?’

Some religious scholars say that the devils are imprisoned in these stones during the days of Minâ. To them we say, ‘Whether this is true or false, it constitutes, as aforesaid, a trial of the strength of faith within the hearts.’ For the purpose behind the principles of faith lies not in understanding them or grasping the wisdom behind. But the purpose lies in their being enjoined by Allah, all praise and glory be to Him; we kiss a stone (the Black Stone) and pelt another. The reason is that Allah, Blessed and Exalted be He, has commanded us and we must obey the Ordinance without trying to philosophize matters based on our limited weak minds. Since Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, has commanded, there must be a wisdom that we may or may not know, because there are many secrets in the universe we know nothing about.

Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, wants us to keep in mind that since we have completed the Hajj, which is paid for from lawful money and performed for the Sake of Allah and therefore is surely accepted and is Mabrûr [Hajj performed in accordance with the Prophet’s tradition and is accepted by Allah], the devil would never leave us in peace once our sins are forgiven. He would push us hard to err and sin anew. The moment we return from Hajj he would contrive to ruin our allegiance to Allah and cast disobedience within ourselves.

The Almighty wants us to learn that in the Hajj we have conquered the devil by forbearing from all what He has forbidden. Not only a forbearance that involves the constant prohibitions but it extended further to include some of the lawful acts. Thus, the forbiddance intensified, but despite that we won through and completed the Hajj rituals while engaged in the Remembrance of Allah and solely occupied with worship and supplication. Meaning, not only are we able to obey the doctrine but also are able to do higher and greater acts of obedience.

If we remember well this wisdom we will firmly adhere to the Fear of Allah after performing the Hajj rituals and inwardly we will realize that we are capable to show far more obedience and abide by it. Therefore, The Truth, all praise and glory be to Him, says (what means):

“So when you have accomplished your Manasik [(i.e. Ihrâm, Tawâf of the Ka'bah and As-Safâ and Al-Marwah), stay at 'Arafât, Muzdalifah and Mina, Ramy of J amarât, (stoning of the specified pillars in Mina) slaughtering of Hady (animal, etc.)]. Remember Allâh as you remember your forefathers or with a far more remembrance. But of mankind there are some who say: ‘Our Lord! Give us (Your Bounties) in this world!" and for such there will be no portion in the Hereafter.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 200)

In order not to go astray or err, Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, wants us to always remember Him as we remember our fathers when away from us. To remember Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, because that is the gathering where all desires and affiliations no longer exist.

The Truth, Blessed and Exalted be He, wants to approach to the minds of His creatures the concept that makes their movement work together and not against one another. Our Remembrance of Allah should be far more than that of our parents.

Because no matter how long they live in the end they will die. But Allah is Eternal, never to die. If parents are the immediate cause of our coming into existence, Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, is the One Who originated and created us from nothing. The creatures are ascribed to The Creator; we are mere causes. Thus, we must remember the Origin in coming to be, The One Who originated things out of nothing far more than just remembering the causes.

After the triumph of Ibrâhîm, Ismâ‘îl and Hâjar (peace be upon them) and their firm stand in the adversity, the sacrifice was offered as the Noble Qur’an relates (what means):

‘“And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (i.e. a ram); And We left for him (a goodly remembrance) among generations (to come) in later times. Salâmun (peace) be upon Ibrâhim (Abraham)!’ Thus indeed do We reward the Muhsinûn (good-doers - see V.2:112). Verily, he was one of Our believing slaves. And We gave him the glad tidings of Ishâque (Isaac, peace be upon him) a Prophet from the righteous.” (As-Sâffât, 37: 107-112)

When Allah ordered Ibrâhîm to slaughter his son he had no other children beside Ismâ‘îl, and then he was given the glad tidings of Ishâque (Isaac, peace be upon him). Despite the severity of the trial Ibrâhîm and Ismâ‘îl resigned themselves to Allah and they complied with His Order. Therefore, Ibrâhîm was described in the Noble Qur’an as forbearing and ever oft-returning in repentance to Allah.

The act emphasizes that if we receive every Decree of Allah with contentment we will win the reward of obeying the Command of Allah. At the same time, Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, arrests fate, and that is exactly what happened with Ibrâhîm and Ismâ‘îl (peace be upon them). Allah, be ever gloried His Majesty and Might, says (what means):

“Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allâh), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering).” (As-Sâffât, 37: 107-112)

Meaning, Ibrâhîm actually began the execution and seized the knife to slaughter his son. But the knife slaughtered not, because a knife does not cut voluntarily but by the Command of Allah. Just as Allah, Blessed and Exalted be He, commanded the fire into which Ibrâhîm was cast by saying (what means):

“We (Allâh) said: ‘O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Ibrâhim (Abraham)!’” (Al-Anbiyâ’, 21: 69)

And the fire complied and did not burn him. Similarly, Allah ordered the knife not to slaughter and it complied. At the moment of fulfilling the Command, Almighty Allah called Ibrâhîm as narrates the Noble Qur’an (what means):

“And We called out to him: ‘O Abraham! You have fulfilled the dream (vision)!’” (As-Sâffât, 37: 104-105)

Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, wants His creatures to believe in the wisdom of His Commands and proceed to their fulfillment with contentment. If you proceed to execute the Command with contentment, Allah raises His Decree. Therefore, memorize well this noble Qur’anic verse and remember it while in Minâ to realize that in all life incidents man lives through, Allah only raises His Decree when the afflicted person is contented with it. If you see a doom that lasted on an afflicted person, as a cureless disease in spite of all the applied remedies, or a hardship experienced either in children or property, and he was not freed from it despite the passage of a long time learn that the sufferer is not contented with the Fate of Allah and is complaining. The moment he feels contented and accepts the wisdom of Fate, he will be relieved from it.

Ibrâhîm fulfilled the vision and since he fulfilled it out of absolute contentment, willingness and submissiveness to the Wisdom of Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, in what He commanded, the doom was arrested and it was said to him, ‘Do not kill your son.’ Then a ram offered as a sacrifice descended from heaven. As if Allah, Blessed and Exalted be He, Himself ransomed Ismâ‘îl with that ram. Not only that, but instead of taking Ibrâhîm’s sole son, Ismâ‘îl, Almighty Allah gave him the glad tidings of a second son, Ishâque.

As a rule, anyone who proceeds to fulfill the Divine Commands, still within the veils of the Unseen, though blind to their wisdom but out of trusting the Divine Omniscience, will surely receive a great reward. The further steps the Decree beyond the power of imagination, the stronger the faith enclosed in the hearts. There are people who refuse to abide by the prohibitions set by The Creator for missing the wisdom behind, when the wisdom is unveiled and the harm that befalls man because of them becomes evident, they start to forbear. But their forbearance does not arise from belief in the Command of Allah, but out of belief in medicine, science or others.

We have to know that there is a difference between the duty man assigns to another and the duty The Creator enjoins upon His creatures. In the former, we have to know the wisdom behind it to fulfill it, but in the latter we fulfill it out of belief in the absolute Wisdom of Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, in whatever He legislated. Everything judged by Allah and our minds stand powerless to understand, we fulfill out of belief in the Omniscience of The Legislator.

When Imam ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) discussed wiping over footwear (when performing ablution), he said, ‘If the matter submits to reasoning power, wiping the underside of the foot would be more deserving than its outside. Because the underside of the foot is the part subjected to dirt. But the way lies in adapting the soul to approach A Lord Who wants you to approach Him with obedience, and never dare allow yourself to come near Allah with whatever sort of argument. For Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, cannot be questioned as to what He does or commands.’

When you come to stone the devil, you actually want to block the gateways through which he may steal into your soul, whether to attack the acme of your faith thus you stone the supreme devil, or the branches of your faith thus you stone the subservient devils. You stone the devil seven times. All is a physical matter that agrees with your corporality. But there is wisdom behind the Command that should not pass unnoticed; Allah, all praise and glory be to Him, wants us after performing the Hajj rituals to fully accept His Ordained Destiny with contentment no matter how it seemed to us. To be certain that whatever Allah has judged is surely the best.

Obedience and reasoning

During the Hajj the dialogue exchanged between the mind and obedience is continuous. Acts of obedience that bend the heads in mediation while performing the Hajj rituals as Tawâf [The devotional act of circumambulating (i.e. walking around) the Ka‘bah seven times while reciting prayers and supplication. Tawâf should begin and end at the Black Stone], Sa‘y [The devotional act of walking seven times between the knolls of As-Safâ and Al-Marwah which are located some distance from the Ka‘bah inside Al-Masjidul-Haram], kissing the Black Stone and stoning another, beside other rites.

We say that such matters are beyond the bounds of reason, for having to do with discipline in obeying Allah and accustoming the human soul to yield to the highest Command. For Allah, glory be to Him, did not just enjoin duties immoderately but based on Perfect Wisdom.

While stoning the devil you have to remember that he never leaves a question of faith without striving to ruin it. The devil pursued our master Ibrâhîm (peace be upon him), and every time Ibrâhîm drove him away he returned to him once again. By casting the stones we first obey the Command of Allah and revive the tradition of our father Ibrâhîm, out of faithfulness to the one who fulfilled all and named us Muslims before the revelation of the Noble Qur’an, about whom Allah, Blessed and Exalted be He, said in His Noble Qur’an (what means):

“And of Ibrâhim (Abraham) who fulfilled (or conveyed) all that (what Allâh ordered him to do or convey).” (An-Najm, 53: 37)

When we stone Iblis (the devil) in the Hajj we should be resolute not to obey him after returning home and we must feel that we have conquered him. That victory must subsist after the Hajj, because despite his conspiracies and evil insinuations to make us disbelieve we believed in Allah. Despite his struggles to make us join others in worship with Allah, we joined none. Then, we came to the Hajj and performed the rituals and thus transcended in obedience.

Stoning here symbolizes our victory over the devil on a day of damnation and manifest loss to the devils. The devil is accursed by Almighty Allah, the angels and the believers. The Curse of Allah on him is unseen to us but it exits and is continuous. Also, the angels’ curse on him is unseen to us but it exits and is continuous.

As for us we curse him in a physical sense; that is casting stones at him in Minâ. On that day the devil is seen in his most abject and contemptible state.

It is the day of revenge and retaliation against the devil that tempted you. It is the day of victory over your bitterest enemy, who must remain your archenemy. At the same time you have been taught a lesson to avail you in the rest of your life. Never lose sight of the devil nor give him the chance to conquer you ever again. Accept the Commands of Allah and His Prohibitions with love and be contented with His Ordained Destiny. If you seal all the devil’s passes, he will have no power over you. Not any trial Allah inflicts on you means an incurred anger because you do not see what Allah hides in His Decreed Fate. Perhaps, The Almighty has tried you because He wants you to earn a greater reward for your obedience and a higher compensation for not falling into sin, or to exalt you in Paradisal degrees. Surely, Allah, The All-Knower, knows the sincerity of your sought path and your heartily contentment with whatever destinies bring, so as to grant you the best of rewards for your sincerity and contentment.

After casting the pebbles of the Jamrat Al-‘Aqabah or Al-Jamrah Al-Kubrâ [The closest stone pillar to Mecca, known as the Large Jamrah or Jamrah of the supreme devil], you perform the Minor Ending of Ihrâm [This comes after concluding two of the three following rituals: Throwing the pebbles, Ifâdah Circumambulation or having one’s hair cut or shortened] then you must head for Mecca to perform the Ifâdah Tawâf [Pilgrims’ circumambulation of the Ka‘bah upon their return from Muzdalifah], which is the last cornerstone of Hajj. Afterwards, comes the Major Ending of Ihrâm [This comes after concluding three rituals: Throwing the pebbles, Ifâdah Circumambulation and having one’s hair cut or shortened. Then a pilgrim may act freely even to have conjugal relations], which sanctions to you the performance of all the acts that were forbidden during the Hajj.

If you have performed the Sa‘y between the knolls of As-Safâ and Al-Marwah during the Tawâf of Hajj you do not have to perform it in the Ifâdah Tawâf. But if you have not performed it yet, perform Sa‘y after the Ifâdah Tawâf.

There is voluntary Tawâf and Sa‘y to whoever craved a higher reward and compensation. Truly, nothing is dearer to Almighty Allah than performing additional acts like those He enjoined upon us: as offering Voluntary Prayers, fasting, giving charity or sacrificing animals. Because such deeds betoken that we not only perform what Allah has enjoined upon us but also perform beyond them voluntary acts, as a warm expression and a deep love of our servility to Allah, Whose Majesty reigns supreme.


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