Islam is the religion of actions and good work (‘amal), imbued with the spiritual certainty (iman). This combination is called comprehensive excellence (ihsan or itqan) and is the hallmark of Islam as the complete way of life.
At the same time, Islam is the religion of quality rather than quantity, and of spiritual profundity rather than material showiness.
Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Indeed, We have made that which is on the earth adornment for it that We may test them (as to) which of them is best in deed” (al-Kahf, 18:7).
“Those are the ones from whom We will accept the best of what they did and overlook their misdeeds, (their being) among the companions of Paradise. (That is) the promise of truth which they had been promised” (al-Ahqaf, 46:16).
The Qur’an repeatedly puts emphasis on the fact that Allah only accepts the deeds of those who are righteous; that is, those who are pious and fear Allah alone. Accordingly, ritualism and deliberate mediocrity are incompatible with the Islamic holistic spirit. Yet, they are un-Islamic and sinful, which means that insincere persons and their soulless actions under no circumstances can gain currency in Islam.
The Importance of Ihsan in Islam
The relationship between form and purposeful function in Islam and its civilizational trajectory is very clear. There is no aspect of form or of any religious ceremony that reaches Allah; it is only people’s faith, righteousness and God-consciousness that do. The former plays second fiddle to and is in full service to the latter. As the Qur’an points out in the context of the sacrifice ritual (qurban):
“Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them (sacrificial animals) to you that you may glorify Allah for that (to) which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good” (al-Hajj, 22:37).
Moreover, according to a hadith or tradition of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) excellence (ihsan), as the highest level of functional quality, is to worship Allah as if one sees Him, and if one cannot achieve this state of devotion, then (he should take for granted that) Allah sees him. (1)
The Prophet also said that Allah is Good (Tayyib) and accepts only that which is good (sincere, truthful, reverent, outstanding and beautiful). (2) When it comes to the quality of good work, furthermore, the Prophet said that Allah loves when a person does something to perfect it. (3)
Writing this book was inspired by this remarkable life-force of Islam. The book deals with the spirituality and spiritual secrets of the major components of Hajj or the pilgrimage. The subjects of ihram, talbiyah, tawaf, sa’y, ‘Arafah, Muzdalifah, Mina and the city of Madinah as a holy city and the city of the Prophet, are covered. The subjects are organized in seven chapters which are interrelated and, as such, make up an edifying aggregate.
The Fifth Pillar of Islam
As the final pillar of the edifice of Islam, Hajj denotes the attainment of one’s religious (spiritual) journey. It is its apex. It is likewise a manifestation, as well as affirmation, of one’s self-fulfilment.
Hajj, in addition, is the proof of the efficacy of all the other pillars of Islam. Demonstrating how the physical realities of life are but an echo of, and the overture to, the metaphysical ones, Hajj is also an ultimate proof on its own. Analysing the above-mentioned subjects – and dimensions – of Hajj shows why and how such is the case.
The objectives of the book are twofold: to contribute to the education of pilgrims and to help them penetrate, as well as experience, the deepest spiritual secrets of Hajj; and to contribute to the promotion and spread of the true message of Islam, in the process removing some of the many misconceptions about it.
Hajj is a fabulous opportunity for Muslims to up the ante and work up the courage, for Hajj as a spiritual revolution in our world today is progressively attracting global attention. In its capacity as one of the largest concentrated and recurring religious festivals in the world, Hajj does not pass unnoticed. People are as much curious as they are fascinated and intrigued. Questions are asked and an increase both in the academic and popular demand is created. The ball is in Muslims’ court.
In a certain sense, this book signifies a response, and is a humble step in the outlined direction. It follows especially the examples of Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali’s “The Book on the Secrets of Pilgrimage (Hajj)”, representing the Islamic classical culture, and Ali Shariati’s “Hajj: Reflections on Its Rituals”, representing contemporary times.
The book invites other researchers to build on its content, and to thus contribute to the field of the roles of Hajj in remodelling the Muslim present-day consciousness and in reviving Islamic civilization.
(To be continued…)
 Al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 65, Hadith No. 299.
 Al-Tabrizi, Mishkat al-Masabih, Book 11, Hadith No. 2.
 Narrated by al-Tabarani and Abu Ya’la al-Musali, https://sharh-alhadith.com, accessed on March 26, 2022.