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The Stoning: A Symbol of Complete Devotion

Adil Salahi

Arab News, 1/23/04

When we arrive in Mina, shortly after sunrise on the day of the sacrifice, after having spent the previous night at Muzdalifah following the day of Arafat, we have a very busy day ahead of us. Four duties of the pilgrimage become due. The recommended order is to begin by stoning at the grand Jamrah, then to offer the sacrifice, then to shave one’s head or trim one’s hair, and finally to do the tawaf of ifaadah at the Kaaba. The Hanafi school of thought considers this order a duty, the violation of which requires atonement in the form of sacrificing a sheep. The weightier opinion, which is agreed by all other schools of thought and the great majority of scholars, is that to follow this order is a Sunnah the omission of which does not require anything by way of compensation or atonement.

The facts speak for themselves. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stood in Mina at the end of the day of sacrifice when he offered the pilgrimage with over 100,000 of his companions. People asked him all sorts of questions about their pilgrimage. Many mentioned that they did not observe the same order he followed in doing the four duties. They reversed the order in all sorts of permutations. The Prophet approved all the permutations suggested without instructing anyone to make any compensation. Abdullah ibn Amr reports: “God’s messenger (peace be upon him) stood up in Mina in his farewell pilgrimage and people asked him questions. A man came forward and said: ‘Messenger of God, I unwittingly shaved before I offered my sacrifice.’ The Prophet said: ‘Offer your sacrifice, and no blame attaches to you.’ Another man said: ‘Messenger of God, I unwittingly slaughtered my sacrifice before I did the stoning.’ The Prophet said: ‘Do the stoning and no blame attaches to you.’ Every time the Prophet was asked about anything put forward or put back, he answered, ‘No matter, do what is left.’” (Related by Al-Bukhari).

Nowadays, with the pilgrimage attracting over two million people every year, to insist on following a particular order in performing these four duties will cause much hardship to many pilgrims. Therefore, it is much more preferable to adopt the weightier view and follow the easier option requiring no specific order.

When a pilgrim has done the stoning on the day of sacrifice and shaved his head, or shortened his hair, he gains his first release from ihraam, and all restrictions associated with the state of ihraam, or consecration, are over except for sexual intercourse with one’s wife. In other words, a pilgrim may put on his ordinary clothes, wear perfume and do everything normally except that he may not have sex with his wife until he has done the tawaf of ifaadah.

The stoning is done on three or four days of the pilgrimage. On the first day, i.e. the day of sacrifice, only the grand Jamrah is stoned with seven pebbles, preferably picked at Muzdalifah. On that day, the stoning may be done at any time from sunrise to sunset. On the following two days, all three Jamarahs are stoned with seven little pebbles each. The time for stoning on these days, however, begins at noon and ends at sunset. It is important that the stoning of the three Jamrahs is done in the right order, beginning with the first one, nearest to Mina, then the middle one, then the last one known as the Jamrah of Aqabah. It is recommended that as we throw every stone we say: Allah-u Akbar, or God is great.

Everyone who has done the pilgrimage realizes that there is a great rush at the Jamrahs to do the stoning. There is a great deal of pushing and scrambling. People are squeezed and, sometimes, trampled on if they fall. We have to remember that to cause any harm to another person is a grave sin. Let us always be mindful of others. We have to do our duties in a proper Islamic way, i.e. with calmness, patience and consideration to others. What is also very important is that women, whether young or old, should not be subjected to the hardship of that rush and squeeze. There are two perfectly acceptable ways of ensuring that. The first is to delay their stoning until night time. Although stoning at night is generally discouraged, it is acceptable for women in order to spare them that rush and hardship. Similarly, it is accepted for elderly or sick men. The other method is for a man to do the stoning on behalf of his women companions, whether they are his relatives or not. A person may do the stoning on behalf of any number of people who cannot do the stoning themselves. Many people think that when you do the stoning on behalf of another person, you have to do all three Jamrahs for yourself first, then go back to the first Jamrah and complete the three Jamrahs for each person on whose behalf you are stoning. In other words, you do the full circle of the three Jamrahs for one person before you do another full circle for the stoning on behalf of another. This is mistaken. You can do the stoning at each Jamrah for yourself first, then for every one you are acting on his or her behalf, before you move on to the next Jamrah. Thus you do one circle for all.

When you have done the stoning at the first and second Jamrahs, you are recommended to stand aside after each one and pray to God as you wish and for any purpose. It is preferable to face the qiblah when you do this prayer and to lift your hands. After the grand Jamrah, which is the third, you move on directly without stopping to pray.

In total, you throw 49 or 70 pebbles, depending on whether you stay in Mina for two or three days after the day of sacrifice. On the day of sacrifice you do the stoning only at the grand Jamrah of Aqabah, while on each of the following days you do the stoning at all three Jamrahs, with seven pebbles each.

The stoning is a symbolic act which demonstrates our total submission to God and complete devotion to Him. It is done in commemoration of what Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) did when Satan tried to dissuade him from fulfilling his purpose as he went about his pilgrimage. First, Satan appeared to him at the Jamrah of Aqabah, and Abraham stoned him seven times, and Satan sank into the ground. He reappeared at the middle Jamrah and Abraham stoned him again. Satan reappeared for the third time at the first of the Jamrahs and again Abraham stoned him. For this reason, Ibn Abbas explains that when you do the stoning, “you stone the devil, and you follow the doctrines of your father.”

Speaking on the symbolism of the stoning, the great Muslim scholar, Al-Ghazali, comments: “By stoning, let the pilgrims intend to fulfill God’s order and demonstrate his servitude to God, and his willingness to do as he is told without questioning. Let him also intend to follow in the footsteps of Abraham (peace be upon him) when the devil appeared to him at that spot to mar his pilgrimage or to tempt him with a sinful act. God ordered him to stone the devil as an expression of rejecting his suggestions. Should the thought that Satan was stoned by Abraham when he saw him with his own eyes, while you do not see Satan occur to you, then you must realize that this thought is inspired by the devil. He hopes to make you think that the stoning is useless, and nothing more than a child’s play. You must realize that by throwing the pebbles into the Jamrah you are actually hitting Satan in the face and breaking his back. Satan’s face is rubbed in the dust by your fulfillment of God’s order in total obedience, without any question.”

Stoning is a duty, the omission of which is compensated for by sacrificing a sheep. While the stoning must be done on the day of sacrifice at the grand Jamrah only, the other duties may be delayed. It is permissible to do the sacrifice on any of the three days following the day of sacrifice. If it is delayed further, it remains outstanding and it should be done as soon as possible. The sacrifice may be done only within the Haram area.

The tawaf of ifaadah is a personal duty of pilgrimage which must be done and cannot be compensated for, if omitted, in any way. It may be done at any time in the four days following the day of Arafat, starting at midnight. According to the Hanafi school of thought, if it is delayed further than these four days, a compensation by sacrificing a sheep is required. Imam Malik extends its time range to the end of the month of Dul Hijjah, while Al-Shafie and Hanbali schools of thought do not specify an end for its proper time. It must be remembered, however, that sex with one’s wife is not allowed until the tawaf of ifaadah has been done. The same requirements and recommendations which we have discussed for tawaf apply to this tawaf as well.

When we have done these four duties, what remains of the pilgrimage is to do the stoning on the two or three days following the day of sacrifice, and to stay in Mina for two or three nights. By staying in Mina is meant spending more than half the night, each night, within the borders of the valley of Mina. If we decide to stay only two days, we must leave Mina before sunset on the second day after the day of sacrifice, i.e. 12 Dul Hijjah. If we are in Mina when the sun sets, then we must spend that night again in Mina and do the stoning after midday on the following day. Violation of either of these two duties of stoning and staying in Mina may be atoned for by sacrificing a sheep. However, the Hanbali school of thought considers staying in Mina to be a Sunnah, which means that if one does not stay there on those two nights, he has done badly but no compensation is required.

The final duty of the pilgrimage is the tawaf of farewell, which is an ordinary tawaf done just before we depart from Makkah. If we do this tawaf and then our departure is delayed for several hours, then we must do it again. Its omission requires the compensation of slaughtering a sheep. The tawaf of farewell is a duty required of all pilgrims except those who reside in Makkah and the Haram area. Many people who live in Jeddah think that it is not required of them because they live in the Hil area, but this is a mistake. It is required of them as well as all pilgrims who come from beyond that area.

When we slaughter a sheep in compensation for violating or omitting any of the duties of the pilgrimage, then we cannot partake of the meat of that sheep or give it to our immediate relatives. This is unlike the sacrifice given in gratitude to God for enabling us to do the Umrah and the pilgrimage in one year. Of that we can eat and give to our immediate relatives.


Earth, a planet hungry for peace


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

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