Amidst the symbols of Allah Taa'la
 *AMIDST THE SYMBOLS OF ALLAH TA`ALA.*
The prescriptions of shariah are of different importance and status. There are five major obligations(farzs) of Islam: Creed, Salaah, Zakaat, Fasting Ramadhaan and Hajj. After them are the wajibs or obligations that are equal in practice to farzs, but still lower in status than farzs. Both Farzs and wajibs needs replacement when missed. Below wajibs are the sunnah. The sunnahs are the beloved practices of the prophet SAW to be imitated and adopted by one and all. They need no replacement after time elapsed, if missed, but continuous avoidance of sunnah is sinful. Below the sunnahs are the recommendations and mustahabs. They are appreciated and laudable actions and initiatives, but there are no sins by neglecting them.  
There are prescriptions that their status are above faraizs and wajibs. They are Shara-ir or Symbols of Islam. They are emblematic major injunctions of Islam and they include Hajj rites or tangibles that are distinctive feature of Islam. The order of the Shara-ir may be sunnah or wajib, but neglecting it implies very sinful. Its blasphemy is Kufr .
Examples of a Shara-ir are the borders of Haram, the animal to be sacrificed for Eid ul Adhaa, the 4 sacred months, Jum`ah, Azaan and circumcision for men,etc. I wish to highlight those that the Qur-aan directly mentions some Shara-ir  and as well as those that the prophet SAW highlighted. I wish to talk about it now because we are already amidst them.
First of all, we are amongst the 4 sacred months. Ending of Zul Qa`dah and starting of the Zul Hijjah. Note that both solar and lunar calendars have 12 months, but our lunar calendar is distinct from solar with the feature of having 4 months. Read about it in details on the 4 sacred months: http://islam-qna.org/Articles.asp?QID=464&LN=.
Then our Hajis are leaving the country to cross the border of Haram. Allah Ta`ala reminds the muslims in the Qur-aan to respect the attributes of Ihraam, people going for Hajj and Umrah, the animals for Hajj sacrifice, Miqaat, Haram boundaries and the rites around them.
‘‘O you who believe, do not violate(the sanctity) of the Marks(Shara-ir) of Allah, nor the sacred months, nor the sacrificial animal, nor of the garlands(rope ring around animals of Hajj), nor those proceeding to the sacred House, seeking the grace of their Lord and Pleasure.’’(5:2)
So all the movements going to sacred land including animals also are the emblems and symbols of Islam. The Shara-ir should be respected, promoted and implemented in us. The Qur-aan gives us ingredient of growing piety from the heart by respecting the Symbols of Islam:  
‘‘If one observes the sanctity of the symbol of Allah, then such things emanate from the piety of the hearts.’’(22:32)
 
Allah Ta`ala denotes the rites and the tangibles around the rites as the Marks and Symbols of Allah Ta`ala;
‘‘Certainly Safa and Marwa are from the Symbols of Allah’’.(2:158)
Ka`bah, Maqame Ibrahim, Mataf, Masjid al Haram, Mina, Arafah, Muzdalifah and Safa Marwa are all the symbols emblematic to Islam. Allah Ta`ala mentions a place in Muzdalifah as Mash`arul Haram:
‘‘Later, when you flow down from Arafah, then remember Allah when passing by Mashrarul Haraam(A hill in Muzdalifah, now stand a masjid on that name)’’.(2:198)
Although some have taken Qurbani or the sacrifice of Eid ul Adhaa for granted but the Qur-aan describe even the animal of Qurbani as a Mark of Allah. Allah Ta`ala says: ‘‘And we have made the animal for sacrifice from the Symbol of Allah.’’(22:36) That is why it is important that we take care to bring at least a sheep at home so as to emulate the Symbol of Allah. Qurbani is wajib only on those who have nisaab liquidity or assets above and surplus of necessities.
All this to tell you that you should not send all your Shares of Qurbani abroad, but do keep at least a share at home to bring esteem and value the Symbol of Allah. Qurbani has not the main objective to alleviate poverty, but rather to revive the Symbol of Allah. And also to emulate the spirit of sacrifice that Ibrahim a.s. had. We can emulate it only when actually slaughter with our hands.  
Furthermore, do keep miswaak stick with you all the times and a topi or scarf on your head. These are distinctive to muslims.  Because when it is difficult to recognize bodies after death, then these distinctive clues will lead us to Masjids and janazah rites. Else we may end up to non muslim rites after death-Al iyazou billah.  
 
Mufti Mackoojee
 
 
     
 
 
 
 
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