“Insya-Allah, next week we’ll be departing to mecca for hajj. We’ll ride with our friends in Jordan, on road. Whoever wants to join can give their names to Ustaz Ghazali.” Such is the decision reached in the meeting among the students organized by the Malaysian Syrian Association. Zul also gave his name.
It has been a part of the Syrian, Turkish and several surrounding countries custom to go and journeyed their way to perform hajj by bus. The journey from Damascus to Mecca took about a whole day and it is a new experience for Zul. Throughout his stay in Syria, Zul got the opportunity to perform hajj twice. His second hajj in the year 1996 was the journey that greatly helped in preparing him in facing a phase in his life.
“What changed? What happened to Zul?” Sarah asked incessantly.
“Do you want to know? Well, if you do, then first, you’ll have to treat me to some KFC…Hehehe.” Grandpa Aki teased his excited granddaughter. “No…That’s not fair grandpa. Well, then tonight I’ll treat you a drink and you’ll treat me some KFC. Any other suggestions are closed.” Sarah declared sneering as she looks straight at Grandpa Aki.
“Hehe… You can’t simply close any suggestions just like that. Zul went to Mecca and was appointed as the mutawwif (guide) for hajj pilgrims. The first time Zul went there by bus. But for the second time, he went there by aeroplane together with other Malaysian students from Damascus. He went there with his friend, Khairul Anuar who he called Mala…” Grandpa Aki begins his story.
“In a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah. The Prophet PBUH said:
الْحَجُّ الْمَبْرُورُ لَيْسَ لَهُ جَزَاءٌ إِلاَّ الْجَنَّةُ
“A hajj which is accepted will receive no less a reward than Paradise.” 
Lexically, the word mabrur originates from the word Barra which have several meanings such as paradise, truth, accepted, gift, widening in charity. Likewise, among the meanings of mabrur or al-Bir is ihsan with another meaning hall pilgrims will attain a mabrur hajj which is certainly performed with ihsan and good attributes.
In the book Lisan al-Arab, the word mabrur means rewarded. It also means not mixed with sin. As for the meaning of its terminology, there are several scholars’ opinions on this matter. Imam al-Syaukani in his book Nail al-Authar stated, Ibnu Khalawaih holds the opinion that a mabrur hajj is a maqbul hajj (hajj accepted by Allah SWT). Other scholars are of the opinion that the hajj (performance) is not besmirched by sins. This is the chosen opinion and this is strengthened by Imam al-Nawawi.
Al-Hasan al-Basri said that a mabrur hajj is when a hajj pilgrim returns to his homeland with a feeling of zuhud of this world and desiring the hereafter. When we study this further, actually, the opinions of scholars complete each other in terms of its meaning as stated by Imam al-Qurtubi. As a conclusion, a mabrur hajj is a hajj that fulfils all its rulings until it is performed perfectly as commanded.”
In the evening of Arafah, Zul was invited to the Malaysian students’ tent from the United Kingdom to give a sermon regarding hajj to them. There are approximately 20 students in the tent. The group of students came there through Syura Muslimun Committee. Zul chose the title mabrur hajj and how to attain it.
“I purposely chose the title mabrur hajj so that we will have a clear mission and vision throughout our short stay here. In a hadith recorded by Imam Ahmad from Jabir bin Abdullah, the Prophet PBUH was once asked about the effects of mabrur hajj. The Prophet PBUH said:
إِطْعَامُ الطَّعَامِ وَإِفْشَاءُ السَّلاَمِ
“(Mabrur hajj is) providing food and spreading salam.” 
This hadith is evaluated as weak by Syeikh Syu’aib al-Arnaut. The reason is in its sanad there is a munkar narrator named Muhammad bin Thabit. If the hadith is sahih, there is a possibility this is what is meant as mabrur hajj.
Syeikh Prof Dr Abdul Halim Mahmud, former Syeikh al-Azhar wrote that hajj is the symbol of spiritual beauty which moulds a Muslim when performed in the true form and methodology included under the Divine.
From Abu Hurairah, he said the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ حَجَّ هَذَا الْبَيْتَ فَلَمْ يَرْفُثْ وَلَمْ يَفْسُقْ رَجَعَ كَمَا وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ
“Whoever performs the pilgrimage to this House, and does not Yarfuth (utter any obscenity or commit sin), will go back as (on the day) his mother bore him.” 
In another narration it is stated:
كَيَوْمِ وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ
“…as sinless as a newly-born child. (Just delivered by his mother).” 
What does this mean? Al-Asqatalani said that the parable is like the similarity of a sinless person whether from major or minor sin.  Such is the greatness of mabrur hajj, my respected ikhwah.
This hadith shows that for those who successfully attained mabrur hajj, then his sins are forgiven by Allah SWT. This is the interpretation of scholars. It also shows how special is the worship of hajj.
Zul ends his sermon and gave several advice and suggestions for his audience. “To conclude, don’t taint ourselves by returning to our sins as soon as we finished performing our hajj. Consequently, we should protect the spirit and soul of worship to the highest level when we are performing it during our mukhayyam tarbawi which is our hajj worship which we are currently performing.”
The audience nodded in agreement and smiled satisfied with his explanation. They gathered around Zul and thanked and shook hands with him. All the pilgrims start to return to their places or tents to fill their remaining time on the day of Arafah with worship. Zul was invited by Husni to the corner of the tent to meet his friends.
“For your information Ustaz Zul, this is our ikhwah from Syura Muslimun Committee (MSM). From the left are Abdul Latif, Zairul, Abdul Wahid Omar. All of them are the leaders of MSM and doctors-to-be!” Husni introduces one by one the student council from the United Kingdom who were performing hajj in 1996 to Zul.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Zul, from Terengganu. I’m currently pursuing my Masters in Syria. I’m very happy to get to meet all of you. The amazing students from the UK.” Zul said to his new friends.
Abdul Latif quickly responded, “Eh, Ustaz! It’s us who are thankful to you for accepting our invitation to deliver a sermon regarding hajj to us Malaysian students from the UK. The Q&A session just now was also interesting. Today it’s a sermon in Arafah. If you’re willing, we want to invite you once again for a sharing session in Mina…”
“Sure, insya-Allah. I just want to ask, is the MSM session with Dr Abu Mu’az still on? Insya-Allah I’m supposed to be the translator.” Zul turned to Husni to get an answer. Ever since meeting Husni in Mecca, they have grown close. Whatever matters about invitations for MSM sermons for Zul during the hajj season is handled by Husni who acts as the mediator.
“It’s on, it’s on. We want to share the spirit from the knowledgeable haraki of this blessed land. For us, as supplies, as we return to the land of Fish and Chips! Hehe…” Abdul Wahid joked, interjecting the conversation of Husni and Zul. Everyone there burst into laughter hearing Abdul Wahid’s words.
“Syeikh, what should we do as soon as we return from hajj to be an istiqamah congregant in Islamic movement?” Abdul Latif asked Dr Abu Mu’az. Zul whispered to Dr Abu Mu’az the question as he translates it into Arabic.
Dr Abu Mu’az nodded, he understood the translated question and said, “Simply put, among the things hajj pilgrims who had just returned from the Holy land should continue to do are: increase his dhikrullah, increase his supplication, always go to the mosque and perform the prayer in congregation, become the agent of change in his community, always enliven the mosques, always gives to others in the form of infaq and waqaf and build a happy family.” Zul jotted down the main points and translated the answer.
Several students smiled. One of them raised his hand and asked, “Syeikh, how should one go about it, when he is yet to be married?” All the other students sniggered or laughed. The student asking the question is serious, although some found it funny.
Zul held back his laugh and shook his head. How could such a question be raised in a serious discussion about the preparation after hajj is beyond him? He whispered to Dr Abu Mu’az the question who also laughed with his audience.
“The first thing you have to do when you return to the UK is to get married! Then you’ll be able to follow all of my advice just now.” Dr Abu Mu’az said jokingly.
After Dr Abu Mu’az sermon is over, Zul sat under a tree together with Husni as he chewed on some dates. The warm breeze of Mina blew, burning their skin. Both talked about their lives and future.
Suddenly, Husni asked, “Since Dr Abu Mu’az just talked about marriage, I want to ask. Ustaz Zul, are you taken?”
“Your question is so out of the blue. Hehe…” Zul smiled sheepishly at Husni then looked down. Maybe he’s a bit embarrassed being asked a question he had never been asked before. “Honestly, not yet…” he said as he brushed his index finger on the sand.
Husni took out a photograph from inside his bag. “I have a suggestion for Ustaz, here are several of MSM’s akhawat. Maybe there’s someone you’re interested to marry. There are three candidates here. Is there anyone that you are drawn to?” Husni asked in a serious tone.
 Narrated by Ahmad, no. 7348.
 Narrated by Ahmad, no. 14706, al-Baihaqi, no. 3825.
 Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1819.
 Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1820.
 Irsyad al-Sari Syarh Sahih al-Bukhari, 3/290.