In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Piety: Spirit of Deed and Reason of Ascent
Islam is made up of certain pillars and concepts, which without these concepts is nothing but a name. Hajj is one of these pillars. It is so important that Allah (SWT) has said, "Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah, for those who can afford the journey; but if any disbelieve (and ignore the journey has put a loss for himself), Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures (1)."
Hajj is a remembrance of Ibrahim (Abraham) (PBUH) and an inheritance of all prophets. It is a complete set of actions that must be performed in a specific order and time. Hajj rituals were revealed and taught to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) by Gabriel, the trustworthy angel of revelations. Angel Gabriel had taught the same Hajj rituals to Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH).
Once Pilgrims have performed Ramye Jamareh (2) they must sacrifice a lamb or a cow before they do Taqsir (3). This unique and holy tradition of sacrifice in Hajj brings about a special proximity to Allah (SWT), which cannot be easily found in other worships and prayers.
In the pre-Islamic era the act of sacrificing was intermixed with polytheism. Their "Labaik" slogan and prayers were intermixed with polytheism: "I answer to you O Lord, I answer you! O Lord, I accept your invitation; you have no partner except the partner that you are in charge of him and in charge of what he owns"(4). And their prayer beside the Ka’ba was none other than clapping and whistling (5). The sacrifice of the polytheists was not much different either. Once they sacrificed an animal, they would wipe the blood of that animal to the walls of the Ka’ba and would hang a piece of its meat to the wall, so that it would be accepted by God! (6)
However, Islam views sacrifice differently. After expressing the necessity to respect holy rituals, (7) Allah (SWT) argues on the ignorant traditions of pre-Islamic period in the Holy Quran: "It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him…" (8). Hence, Allah (SWT) clearly declares a closeness which is obtained through sacrificing for Him. Nevertheless, this verse cleans up the Ka’ba from the ignorant traditions of pre-Islamic era and answers this doubt that "since Allah is needless from the world, then it is not required for the pilgrim to sacrifice an animal." The verse proves that an actual sacrifice is indeed necessary; however, Allah (SWT) is needless of it. According to the verse, the meat and blood is worthless to Almighty Allah (SWT), but what is valuable to Him is the spirit and soul of that action which is piety. Therefore, what is accepted by Allah (SWT) is the essence of the act. The sacrifice, just like other worships, has a true entity called piety: "it is your piety that reaches Him."
Imam Sajjad (PBUH), in regards to sacrificing an animal, metaphorically says that a pilgrim must use the fear of Almighty Allah (SWT) to kill and slaughter the beast of greediness (9). Perhaps, it is due to the promised piety in sacrifice that Eid al-Ad'ha is called "The Greater Hajj (10)."
Another sensitive topic remains in these verses and narrations that can be of use even to non-pilgrims. In general, any act that is done for the intention of getting closer to Allah (SWT) is a sacrifice (Qurban) (11). The following narration confirms the previous claim: "Alms and prayers are the sacrifice of Muslims (12)." Therefore, every single action that is performed for the sake of reaching proximity of Allah (SWT) is considered a sacrifice; and Allah (SWT) only accepts deeds with piety (13).
(Selected from "Sahbaye Hajj", by Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli, with minor changes)
Congratulations to all servants of Allah (SWT) upon the arrival of Eid al-Ad'ha, the celebration of neglecting the desires, and paying attention the satisfaction of the beloved.
Roshd Islamic Shia Website
1- The Holy Quran, 3:97
2- An action in which the pilgrim throws stones to a column resembling the Satan.
3- One of the last deeds in Hajj that pilgrim should cut/shave her/his hair of head.
4- al-Kafi, vol. 4, p. 542
5- The Holy Quran, 8:35
6- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 67, p.275
7- The Holy Quran, 5:2
8- The Holy Quran, 22:37
9- Mustadrak al-Wasa'il, Vol. 10, p. 166 – Hadith Shabli
10- Wasa’il al-Shia, Vol. 10, pp. 86-88
11- Majma’ al-Bahrain
12- Nahj al-Balaghah (Peak of Eloquence), Sermon 199, section 7
13- The Holy Quran, 5:27