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Siqayat al-Hajj

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Siqāyat al-ḥājj (Arabic: سِقایَة الحاجّ) or providing water for pilgrims of hajj, was a task during hajj during the early years of Islam. Water was provided for pilgrims from Zamzam and other sources of water. Before the Conquest of Mecca, wine was also served. 'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, the Prophet (s)'s uncle, was in charge of providing water for pilgrims of hajj. After the Conquest, the Prophet (s) retained him in charge of the task.

According to the Qur'an 9:19, faith and jihad are superior to the position of providing water for pilgrims of hajj.

Introduction

Siqayat al-hajj consisted in providing drinking water for pilgrims of hajj. Since there was water scarcity in Mecca, the task was deemed very significant, and the person in charge of the task was highly regarded.

Water for pilgrims of hajj was not only supplied from Zamzam. According to some sources, the location of Zamzam was unknown for a while. 'Abd al-Muttalib was eventually guided to its location in his dreams and the spring was then revived.

Prior to the Conquest of Mecca, siqayat al-hajj involved the supply of wine as well.

Those in Charge of Siqayat al-Hajj

Hashim b. 'Abd Manaf was in charge of providing water for hajj pilgrims. He was succeeded by his brother, Muttalib b. 'Abd Manaf, followed by 'Abd al-Muttalib, his son Zubayr, and then Abu Talib. When Abu Talib faced a financial problem in discharging the task, he was replaced by his brother 'Abbas, the Prophet's (s) uncle. However, some people believe that 'Abbas was assigned the task immediately after 'Abd al-Muttalib.

'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib was in charge of siqayat al-hajj during the Conquest of Mecca. After the Conquest, the Prophet (s) closed all official positions, except those of holding the Ka'ba's keys and siqayat al-hajj, which were reassigned to those who were already in charge.

Superiority of Faith over Siqayat al-Hajj

According to the Qur'an 9:19, the faith and jihad are superior to the position of siqayat al-hajj.[1] According to exegetes of the Qur'an, the verse does not mean to diminish the importance of siqaya. It means to say that although siqaya is valuable and virtuous in itself, its value pales in comparison to the faith and jihad. According to some exegetical sources, the verse was revealed to characterize Imam 'Ali (a)'s faith.

Notes

  1. Do you regard the providing of water to Hajj pilgrims and the maintenance of the Holy Mosque as similar [in worth] to someone who has faith in Allah and [believes in] the Last Day and wages jihad in the way of Allah? They are not equal with Allah, and Allah does not guide the wrongdoing lot.

References