بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
There are many things one can talk about regarding the Hajj, from its rules and regulations to the experiences once returning, but here I’d like to focus on my personal journey, both physically and spiritually to the sites where I was a guest of Ar Rahman.
From the Hajj and its many experiences, there are 3 points that really shone out for me personally and which I would like to write about here.
1. Oneness of this Ummah
وَأَذِّنْ فِي النَّاسِ بِالْحَجِّ يَأْتُوكَ رِجَالًا وَعَلَىٰ كُلِّ ضَامِرٍ يَأْتِينَ مِنْ كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ
“And proclaim among men the Hajj, they will come to you on foot and on every kind of camel, coming from every remote path.” [Al Hajj, 22:27]
Ibrahim عليه السلام was ordered to make the proclamation to Al Hajj after building the Ka’bah, in this once barren desert, that he should call and they will come, and subhanAllah, thousands of years later, they are still coming exactly as Allah سبحانه وتعالى mentioned.
On foot; for the many thousands that came illegally via the mountain paths, on every kind of camel, of the sailing kind in the form of boats, or the flying kind in the form of planes and from every remote path, from the Earth’s south eastern tip of Australia, to the opposite corner of Canada they came. All at the same time, for the same purpose, chanting the same talbiyah, coming to worship the one god, the essence of our deen and the purpose of our being.
Muslims from every corner of the globe, of every colour and every tongue. And when I saw them, what could explain when I saw the Muslims of China, who have died in their millions to worship the one god, or the Muslims from the ex-soviet republics, who under Communism were forced underground, or the Muslims of Gaza who came amid the ongoing catastrophe in their land. Whenever I saw them and gave my salam to them and spoke to them the above ayah kept ringing through my ears, how amazing, and only by his سبحانه وتعالى glory could this happen. In my many conversations with as many of the Ummah of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم as I could speak to, and just the witnessing of their presence it is clear to see that indeed this Ummah is one, and her desire is to be one as Allah سبحانه وتعالى said,
إِنَّ هَٰذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُونِ
“Indeed this Ummah of yours is one Ummah, and I am your Lord so worship me.” [Al-Anbiyya, 21:92]
How true and evident that is in this holiest of places, in these holiest of days. One Ummah, but how contradictory also that is in our world today, and equally evident it is in this most sacred of acts, in what should be the truest representation of it, all of us in our millions wearing the same two pieces of white cloth. It becomes evident the moment you arrive in the ‘mother of towns’, Makkah, when you see the Hujjaj adorning the multitude of flags that symbolise the tearing apart of this ummah on their bags, in the national flags of our broken lands that some are waving aloft and even on the pure white ihram that is to symbolise this unity, you see emblazoned on some of them the symbols of our weakness, the symbols or chains that were put upon us by the outgoing colonialists to ensure that we remain weak and broken. So as I did my Tawaf around the ancient house, under the throne of Allah ‘azza wa jal, I prayed that Allah unify our hearts, and unify our lands, under the flag of laa ilaha illa Allah.
2. The Ihram
الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَعْلُومَاتٌ ۚ فَمَنْ فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ فَلَا رَفَثَ وَلَا فُسُوقَ وَلَا جِدَالَ فِي الْحَجِّ
“The Hajj is in the well-known months; so whoever determines the performance of the Hajj therein, there shall be no sexual relations, and no evil doings and no quarrelling in the Hajj” [Al Baqara, 2:197]
The state of ihram for me was a scary state to be in, surprising though it may sound, as many things that are normally perfectly fine, are not so whilst in these two pure white pieces of cloth. Violating the sanctity of this state could mean fasting a number of days or giving of sadaqah. So for me, spending five days (as we were to spend two days in ihram prior to the actual Hajj) in this state felt very daunting, besides the fact those days had to be spent with no underwear! Once in ihram, it started to feel very much like when fasting, the constant cognisance of one’s actions and even thoughts, but to a higher degree, as you are visually in ihram for all to see, you cannot cover your head, nor your face, you can’t use scented products or remove hairs and many other restrictions which are perfectly fine normally, which made this cognisance ingrained in your psyche and spirit. You are also clearly not the only one in this state of being, in this holiest of places with the millions of your brethren from every plain of this globe, making this bond of brotherhood ever so much more present and real. With time, subhanallah, I actually started to enjoy this holy state I was in. The constant awareness and cautiousness of what I was doing, and more importantly why I was doing it, brought me to such a close relationship with my Lord who had invited me to his gathering. It was then really that I truly felt a guest of his, in the uniform that he had ordained to be in when visiting him, and the awareness of everything he ordered you to do and not do whilst at his sacred sites.
As the 5 days in this white garment (which was not so white anymore) was coming to an end, and we were walking back to our camp in Mina from Muzdalifah, I remember looking upon the simple attire I had grown very attached to, it was ragged, soiled with mountain dust and food stains, and probably didn’t smell so great, along with myself, not having showered for 5 days in the heat of the Arabian desert wearing the same clothes throughout. I remember looking at it and thinking, these are the best clothes I have ever worn, and the rough state I was in was the one that Allah had mentioned of his guests in the hadith of the beloved Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم when he said, “Allah, Most High, boasts before the angels about the pilgrims, saying, ‘Look at My servants; they came to Me, disheveled and dusty, from every deep ravine. I make you witness that I have indeed forgiven them.'” (Ibn Khayzamah)
I intentionally didn’t shower whilst in Ihram so that I could meet Allah on the plains of Arafat as he had described his guests, hoping also that I would be a recipient of the forgiveness he also mentioned.
3. The day of Arafah
“There is no day better in the sight of Allah than the Day of Arafah….Far more people are freed from the Hellfire on the Day of Arafah than on any other day.” [Ibn Hibban]
My entire Hajj trip was for 20 days, but it was the afternoon of the 9th of Dhul Hijjah until sunset that was the essence of my whole journey, and for every other guest of Ar Rahman. For it is here where the servant arrives, dressed in nothing but garments that symbolise the coverings we wear when we leave this earth, as we are placed in our graves, wearing them in the very place where we will be gathered once arisen from those graves for the Day of Accounts. A day where every atoms weight of action that we did whilst residing on earth will be uncovered, a day that our feet and arms will talk, and the Lord of that day, a day lasting for 50,000 of our years, will question and account us for each and every move we did. However on this day, in this place, at this time, the Judge of that day, Allah, glorified be he, is given us, his noble guests, to uncover these sins of ours to him, before he uncovers them to us when we return here in a similar state for the Day of Judgment. That we ask for his forgiveness and mercy for our actions now, rather than face his accounting for them on a day when every son of Adam will be in regret, when there is only one of two outcomes, either the wonders of Jannah, or the fire of Jahannam. So I found a mountain, next to the mountain called the mountain of Sa’d, as it is where Sa’d ibn Muadh (ra) climbed and stood to pray to Allah سبحانه وتعالى as I was to do now, I stood with closed eyes, and arms aloft and pleaded to the Lord of this Day who had descended with His angels to the first heaven to hear our pleas for forgiveness, and it was there that I felt my Lord as close as I have ever felt, that he was indeed there with me, listening to my prayers and the opening of my heart to him, the over-turner of hearts. This moment reminded me of when Musa عليه السلام was called to the mountain to meet his Lord, as indeed it felt to me, that I had been called here to meet that same Lord, and the Lord of all.