Fruits for the Week

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The pilgrimage has its economic benefits for Muslims. They come from various walks of life; some are traders or industrialists, others are capitalists or farmers. They can discuss the economic problems of their mutual benefits; exchange of technical know-how or skill, or exchange of goods and machinery between them.

The rich countries can think of the ways to give financial aids or loads to the poor or underdeveloped Muslim countries. The poor countries can discuss their economic problems with their brother pilgrims from the rich countries.

They can determine the nature and qualities of their imports and exports from each other on this occasion. They can formulate the basic principles of their economic measures for the next year in consultation with each other.

Thus the pilgrimage can provide a forum for discussion for the formation of common economic policies for mutual benefits and for the establishment of a common market for the Muslim world.

It is a great occasion and opportunity for discussing the day to day economic problems that face Muslim countries in the world of today. Many Muslim countries may find it difficult or impossible, owing to financial weakness or lack of technical and scientific knowledge, to launch better industrial or agricultural schemes to improve their economic position.

The pilgrimage provides such countries with an opportunity to seek financial as well as technical aid from their sister Muslim countries who have the necessary skills, technical knowledge and capital for this purpose.

It is a great economic blessing in disguise. Muslims perform an act of ibadah and devotion and, at the same time, they make profit by trading in goods with their fellow Muslims from other countries. In Islam, ibadah is not divorced from worldly business as it is in other religions.

Every act of a believer, whether prayer or business transaction, is considered an act of ibadah if it is performed in obedience of God. So long as a believer is

obeying the law of God, his every action is an act of ibadah:” It is not objectionable for you to seek the bounty of your Lord during the pilgrimage.” (Qur’an 2: 198). Trade is allowed during the pilgrimage in the interest of both, the trader, to meet his own journey expenses, and of other pilgrims in general, who would otherwise be put to great hardship and inconvenience for lack of the necessities of life.

Thus the pilgrimage is beneficial to the individual trader and to all other pilgrims in providing both for individual needs and economic interests of the entire Muslim world.

All the Muslims gather together at one centre, Mecca, for the pilgrimage. They can discuss the current subject of their common interest can formulate in general a common policy to be followed by all Muslim countries in the United Nation organizations and the Security Council.

They assemble on this holy and pious occasion every year, which gives them great chance of agreeing on many topics of common interest. This annual gathering certainly helps to bring them closer to each other.

Above all these benefits lies the higher spiritual experience which is made possible by this unparalleled gathering of men and women from all parts of the world. It is the experience of coming closer and closer to God until a pilgrim feels that all the barriers between him and his Lord are removed and nothing stands between them. He feels he is standing in the presence of his Lord, and in excitement and ecstasy he cries, ‘ Labbaika Allahumma labbaika’ (Here am I, O God! Here am I in Your Presence)

In the valley of Arafat, on this great occasion, hundred and thousands of people are assembling, all of them in groups shouting “Here we are, O God! Here we are, in Your Presence!” This experience of a pilgrim cannot be described in words; it can only be felt by one who has gone through such an experience himself.

(to be continued)

By Afzalur Rahman

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