Part V: Pilgrimage (Al-Hajj)

Chapter 36

Sai of Safa and Marwah

         Sai literally means to struggle, to try one’s best, to make effort. As a term of Islamic Shariah, Sai implies running or walking at swift speed between mount Safa and Marwah which a pilgrim has to do as a part of Hajj and Umrah. These mountains Safa and Marwah are situated near Kaabah, Safa to the south of it and Marwah to the north of it. Today, Safa and Marwah are no longer mountains, they have been leveled down to the size of small hills, and two one-way roads have been made between them. These hills along with roads have been covered so that the pilgrims may perform Sai throughout day and night conveniently safe from the sun, rain or wind.

Historical back ground of Sai

         There is a long Hadith reported by Abdullah-bin-Abbas in which the Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH) has related the background of Sai. At the commandment of God, Prophet Ibrahim (called Abraham in Hebrew) left his wife Hajrah (called Hagar) and his infant son Ismail (called Ishmael) in the barren valley of Faran at a place where Kaabah was later on built and city of Makkah developed. At that time neither any water nor any habitation was there. Hajrah had only short supply of water and provisions which exhausted in few days. In order to protect her infant child from death on account of thirst and hunger, she started running here and there in search of water. First she went to mount Safa and then to Marwah so that she could find some caravan or some human being nearby to help her, but she could not find any. When tired, she came back and to her astonishment she found a spring near the feet of the child. Fearing that the spring may not inundate the place, she the water in her Hebrew language “Zamzam” which means to stop. So this spring came to be called with the name of Zamzam and it is still there and would continue, Insha Allah, uptil the Doomsday. It is in the memory of her running between Safa and Marwah in search of water that the Sai between these two hills has been made Wajib (essential) rite of Hajj and Umrah.

Commandment regarding Sai

         The Qur’an says: Verily, as-Safa and Al-Marwah are among the signs of Allah. It is, therefore, no sin for him who is on Hajj or Umrah to the House (of Allah) to make Tawaf of both of them (to make Sai or go between them)…… (2:158).

         According to some traditions, Marwah is the mountain on which Prophet Ibrahim had laid down his young son Ismail and had placed knife on his throat in order to sacrifice him at the command of Allah. It is also said that in the Days of Ignorance the polytheists of Makkah had built shrines of their gods on mountains of Safa and Marwah, that of Asaaf on Safa and Nailah on Marwah, and had started their Tawaf. It was on account of this that the Muslims had hesitated in the beginning to make Sai between these hills. But God revealed the above mentioned verse to remove their hesitation. Later on when the Prophet conquered Makkah, the shrines of the idols made by the polytheists on Safa and Marwah were destroyed.

         We have already studied in the lengthy Hadith of Jabar, which gives account of Prophet’s Farewell pilgrimage, that the Prophet made Tawaf of Kaabah and then performed Sai of Safa and Marwah after offering prayer at Muqaam Ibrahim and Istilam (kissing) of Hajr Aswad. The Prophet made seven circuits between these two hills.

         About status of Sai, our jurists have different opinions as usual. According to Imam Malik, Shafai and Ahmad, Sai is Fard (obligatory) rite of Hajj and Umrah, whereas Imam Abu Hanifa says that Sai is Wajib (essential) and not Fard and so if you miss it, you can make up the deficiency by offering a sacrifice. Some other jurists consider it as Sunnat.

How to perform Sai

         After making Tawaf of Kaabah and offering two Rakaah Nafl prayer at Muqaam Ibrahim, kiss or touch Hajr Aswad. Then go out for Sai to mount Safa through Bab-as Safa. Then climb the mount Safa and recite the verse : verily as Safa and al Marwah are among the signs of Allah (2:158). Then climb it till you can see Kaabah. Facing the Kaabah you should raise your hands in prayer saying Allahu Akbar three times and then recite the following supplication thrice:

La-Ilaha ill-Allahu wahdahu la sharika lahu la-hul mulku wa la hul hamdu wa huwa ala Kulli shai’in Qadir

There is no God but Allah Who is one. He has no partner. To Him belongs all sovereignty and all praise. And He has full power over everything.

         After this recite Darood on the Prophet and make supplications to Allah whatever you want.

         Them come down from Safa and start towards Marwah reciting the following Dua”:

Rabbighfir wa arham innaka anta a’azzu-l-akram.

“My Lord! Grant me forgiveness, and have mercy upon me: Thou art most Mighty and most Honourable.”

         On the way you would find two green pillars (called milayn akhdarayn) between which you are obliged to run or walk on swift pace. However, a woman is not required to run.

         When you reach the top of Marwah, you would recite the same supplications which you have already recited at Safa. Then come down from Marwah and go to Safa reciting the same supplication which you had recited on your way to Marwah and also increase your speed between green pillars as you had already done.

         In the above mentioned procedure you have to make seven circuits between Safa and Marwah. Going from one hill to other hill would be counted one circle and coming back from second hill to the first would be counted another circuit. Thus your 7th circuit would be completed on Marwah.

         After completing your Sai at Marwah you would clip or shave your hair of the head and put off your Ihram if you have come to perform Umrah or Hajj Tamattu.

Some important injunctions regarding Sai

1-            Sai is performed after making Tawaf of Kaabah and not before that.

2-            Sai is to be started from Safa and completed at Marwah.

3-            Seven circuits are to be made to complete the Sai.

4-            Making Sai continuously is sunnat, not obligatory. For some genuine reason you can complete it after interval.

5-            One must be in state of purity in Sai. However, a woman is allowed to perform it in Haidh or in Nifaas as the Prophet prohibited the women to perform Tawaf of Kaabah in Haidh and not Sai.

6-            For Sai one must come out of Bab-as-Safa as it is sunnat.

7-            One must perform Sai just after Tawaf as it is sunnat.

8-            It is sunnat to climb Safa and Marwah

9-            To recite supplications at Safa and Marwah facing Kaabah is the sunnat of the Prophet.

10-         Sai is to be made on foot. However, it is allowed riding a conveyance if one has reason to do so.

11-         You can talk during Sai. However, unnecessary talking or talking shop is to be evaded.

12-         A man should run between the two green pillars, but a woman is not required to do so.

Shaving or clipping of hair (Halq or Taqseer)

         Halq means to get one’s head shaved and Taqseer means to clipp the hair of one’s head. There is mention of it in the Qur’an as well. In verse 27 of Surah 48, the Qur’an says: “…… If Allah wills, you will surely enter the Sacred Mosque in security, and you will have your heads shaved and the hair cut, without fear……”

            Shaving or clipping the hair of head is one of the rites or acts of Umrah and Hajj. It is infact a way prescribed by Shariah for putting off Ihram garment and coming out of restrictions imposed by Ihram. However, according to the jurists, shaving or cutting the hairs of head is not Fard (obligatory) but wajib. If one does not do it, one can offer sacrifice of an animal to makeup the deficiency.

         It has been reported by Abdullah-bin-Umar that the Prophet and the companions got their heads shaved and some got the hair clipped on the Day of Sacrifice. (Bukhari, Muslim).

         Some of the important injunctions (regulations) about shaving or clipping are as under:

1)            It is essential to shave or clip the hair of the head at mount Marwah after performing Sai for those who perform Umrah; and it is essential to shave or clip the hair at Mina on 10th Zil-Hajjah after Rami of Jamarah al-Aqba and animal sacrifice for those who perform Hajj.

2)            For men, shaving or clipping, both are allowed. But for women, only clipping or cutting of few hair is allowed. The women are required to clip at least a lock of their hair. For them, shaving the head is forbidden.

3)            For men, shaving of the head is better than clipping the hair in terms of reward. It is reported by Abu Hurairah that the Prophet prayed twice for the forgiveness of those who have their heads shaved and only once for those who have the hair clipped (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad).

4)            In case of clipping, a man should have his hair shortened by a finger’s length from all over his head, while a woman may have a few hair clipped from her plait.

5)            If a person’s head is entirely bald, he should have just a razor passed over his head.

6)            After Halq or Taqseer, cutting or trimming the hair of beard and moustaches is desirable. One must also clip his nails.

7)            In ancient times when one was made a slave his head was shaved. Since Hajj and Umrah are considered as acknowledgement of one’s slavery to Allah, so shaving was maintained as sign of slavery.


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