In The Name Of God The Most Merciful, Most Compassionate

The journey of a lifetime!

by Abu Muhammed
Source: www.eislam.co.za

Filed under: Featured,Islam |

Up close by Al Jazeera English / Creative Commons

At this point in time if one were to look at an air traffic flow chart one would find that at an increasing rate there is a flow of traffic towards what scientists/geographers have confirmed is both the centre and naval of the earth. Yes, it is none other than Makkah Mukarramah and it is the season of Hajj. The next few weeks will witness the convergence of millions of Muslims of different races, nationalities, ethnicity and colours both male and female on the Haramain Sharifain (the two holiest places to Muslims-Makkah Mukarramah & Madinatul Munawwarah). The journey of Haj is a lifelong dream and ambition of each and every Muslim the world over. May Allah Ta’ala allow for its fulfillment for each and every one.

Having been afforded the great opportunity of performing the Hajj last year (having hope that Allah Ta’ala will accept it) it is with great envy that we witness the departure of the Hujaaj(those going for Hajj). An envy not desiring that those going, be deprived of this good fortune, but rather desiring that we too, could also be part of that delegation who enjoy the good fortune of being Duyoofur Rahman-The Guests of Allah Ta’ala and also having the good fortune of visiting Medinatur Rasool {The city of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him)}. In Shariah this is envy is termed Ghibtah (a desire of emulation) which is commendable in religious matters.

For most Hujaaj the beginning point of their Hajj is Medina Munawarrah. Listening to a poem sung while writing creates a sense of nostalgia that causes the tears to flow as the vivid memories of the tranquility of Medina Munawarrah create havoc in the mind and a pining in the heart. The poet says:

‘While sitting in the Masjid of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) I perceive the scent of Prophet-hood’

‘While sitting in the Masjid of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) I am taking short quick breadths (in excitement)’

‘This perception descends on me that I am sitting in the city of light….what rays of light are descending!’

There is no doubt in my mind that Medina Munawarrah is the most peaceful place in the whole world and every visitor to Medina will attest to this. There is a special affinity that every Muslim has with Medina Munawwarah.

It is an opportunity for one to make salaam with his Beloved (May peace be upon him), to have the good fortune of offering prayer and supplication in the portion of Jannah, walking on the very ground that the Beloved (May peace be upon him) walked on, take in the very air that the Beloved (May peace be upon him) breathed, feel the very same breeze that the Beloved (May peace be upon him) felt and feel the very same dust that the Beloved (May peace be upon him) felt.

It brings an overwhelming joy to the heart to know that this is where the Beloved (May peace be upon him) and his companions lived, feared, traded, prayed, played, planned, strategised and many eventually parted with, and sacrificed, this beloved city and the company of the Beloved (May peace be upon him) himself so that millions today could also have the good fortune of enjoying the shade and tranquility of Prophet-hood that still resides in Medina Munawarrah today and will remain until just before the end of time.

It is with awe, amazement, gratitude and teary eyes that one visits the plains of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq, paying homage to the martyrs of these battles that were instrumental in ensuring the spreading and proliferation of the rays of truth and guidance that has reached every part of the globe. The garden of Islam whose rich fragrance, radiance and beauty we enjoy today can rightfully be said to have been ‘watered’ with the blood, sweat and tears of the Beloved (May peace be upon him) and his illustrious companions (May Allah be pleased with them all)

The days spent in Medina pass by quickly and before long the Haaji is preparing for the next part of his/her journey, the fulfilment of a lifetime dream-witnessing and beholding the House of Allah, Jalla wa Aalaa,in Makkah Mukarramah. As the stay in Medina draws to a close the heart, which always had a special connection & yearning for Medina Munawarrah, now feels more intensely attached in the few ‘hours’ spent there. The pangs of separation begin to be felt and the tears flow profusely. A fear also overcomes the heart that it should not be, due to some error or shortcoming on our part, that we are deprived of coming back to this blessed place again. Praying the last salaah is almost heart wrenching as the reality dawns that this is now the last salaah in Masjidun Nabawi in Medina Munawwarah and we don’t know if we’ll be blessed with the good fortune and Divine favour of witnessing and beholding this beloved city again…even though this is the fervent Dua in the heart. The final salaams are offered with teary eyes.

As the conveyance makes its way out of Medina Munawwarah to Zhul Hulaifa for the donning of the Ihram and the onward journey to the blessed city of Makkah Mukarramah, the final salawaat (salutations) begins and every now and again the teary gaze falls on the receding Haram (Masjid in Medina) and on the Green Dome beneath which lies our noble master(peace be upon him) and the tears begin to flow.

Together with that we beg Allah’s forgiveness for not having fulfilled the rights of the City of Medina Munawarrah, its people, Masjidun Nabawi and most importantly the rights of our Noble Master (May Allah’s peace be on him).

Onwards, towards Makkah Mukarramah…

As usual, the first sight of the Kaaba proves to be an emotional one, reducing one to tears even though the extensive television coverage of the Haramain Sharifain has desensitised us, and deprived us of the real spiritual ‘high’ that this experience in the past had to offer. It is at this moment that Scholars advise us to supplicate to our hearts content as it is a moment when supplications are surely accepted. In fact this journey of Hajj is, in the words of a Scholar:

Al Hajju minal bidaya ilan nihaya Ad Dua
‘The Hajj from the beginning to the end is about (the acceptance) of Supplications’

Supplications are accepted the moment a Haaji sets out on this epic journey, in the beloved city of Medinatur Rasool and its precincts, in the state of Ihram, at the first sight of the Ka’aba, in tawaaf, at the multazam (by the door of the Ka’ba), at the Maqame Ibrahim (the station of Abraham), in the Hateem (the low semi-circular wall on one side of the Ka’ba), at Rukne Yamaani (a side of the Ka’ba), between Rukne Yamaani and the Hajarul Aswad (Black Stone), after the two units of prayer of tawaaf, at the well of Zam Zam, while drinking Zam Zam, at Mount Safa, at Mount Marwa…

Besides this, the rewards for good actions performed in the Haram of Makkah Mukarramah are multiplied one hundred thousand times while those performed in Medina Munawwarah are multiplied fifty thousand times. The journey to the Haramain Sharifain can be likened to an ‘economic boom’ where little exertions fetch very high and hefty returns!

Every day that draws closer to the first day of Hajj sees multitudes of people converging on Makkah Mukarramah by their thousands. One of the miracles of this great journey is the sense of well wishing that prevails between black and white, rich and poor, Arab and non Arab-all unified by the universal declaration of faith of: Ash hadu al la’ilaha illallah- Ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasullullah (I testify that there is no deity except Allah-I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah)

Despite the congregating of so many people in such a confined space the entire spectacle of Hajj goes on fairly incident free. This is nothing other than the manifestation of Islamic brotherhood which, despite the breaking up of the Muslim world into Nation states along the lines of language, race, nationality and ethnicity, offers a glimpse of, and shows the latent potential and strength that the unity of the Muslim world possesses.

A person who comes to the House of Allah Ta’ala and is deprived of Hidaya (Guidance) is truly deprived of all good as this is the place of Hidaya. We all are well aware that both Makka Mukarrama & Medina Munawwarah are the places of an abundance of Barakah (Blessings) and we all make niyyah (intention) for Barakah but more importantly these are the places of Hidaya. As Allah, Jalla wa Aalaa,says in the holy Quraan,

The first house set up for the people is surely the one in Bakkah (Makkah) having blessings and guidance for all worlds‘ (3:96)

This is also the place of great sacrifices given for the establishment of the Tauhid (Monotheism or oneness) of Allah, Jalla wa Aalaa. It is in the very precincts of the Haram that, the Companions (May Allah be pleased with them) gave so much of sacrifice and blood. It was here that Abu Jahl ‘dumped’ the intestines & stomach contents of a camel on the Beloved of Allah (May peace be upon him) and also on another occasion tried to strangle him while he was engaged in salaah. It was here that Sumayya (May Allah be pleased with her) was martyred by the vile Abu Jahl who speared in her in a most gruesome manner. When walking on the marble at mid day the heat is literally unbearable to walk bare feet on and, yet Bilal (May Allah be pleased with him) was made to lie on the hot sands at mid day and at mid summer with a boulder upon his chest so that he could not move. We are quick to complain when there are some small inconveniences.

It is indeed a great honour to be the guest of Allah, Jalla wa Aalaa. Last year I met an elderly man from Pakistan. What caught my attention was that as I read Quran he, while sitting next to me, began to recite some poetry and he was addressing himself. I stopped my recitation and asked him for some advice. One could hear the reverence he had for the house of Allah in his heart. He kept on saying to me that very few of us realise where we have come and who our host is!

“We have come to the House of Allah and we are HIS guests. How is it possible that in His House we talk of worldly things and are oblivious of Him!”

Listening to him was very inspirational. Most people coming from the subcontinent for Hajj are old and in many cases poor. They probably get this opportunity only once! I remember one night a group of elderly people from Bangladesh forming a human chain, before proceeding for their tawaaf, were being led by their guide, gazes lowered, towards the Ka’ba. When reaching a good vantage point of the Kaaba he asked them to lift their gazes they ALL broke down and sobbed like children.

As the month of Zhul Qa’adah draws to a close one can feel the increasing intensity of the days of Hajj drawing closer. The air is punctuated with excitement and anticipation. The eve of the 8th of Zhul Hijjah marks the beginning of the apex and climax of this wonderful journey that has witnessed the vast diversity of this Ummah who, on the morning of the 8th Zhul Hijjah, will unite towards one unified goal of achieving Allah Ta’ala’s Mercy and Forgiveness.

Sadly, as is the nature of everything that reaches its climax, it also marks the culmination and end of a journey of a lifetime.

The morning of the 8th witnesses millions dressed in simple attire converging on Mina, the air reverberating with the cries of ‘Labbaik…Allahumma Labbaik‘… (Here I am, at Thy service, O my Lord, here I am…)

And then on to Arafah, with dishevelled hair, and dusty clothes beseeching, and begging Allah’s, Jalla wa Aalaa,forgiveness, mercy, and grace under the hot Arabian sun.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that, ‘Hajj is Arafah

One will understand this only when one is in Arafah. There is just something special about Arafah. The heart seems to be so in tune and the tears flow in abundance.

In terms of amenities Arafah has a lot less than Mina. The Wuqoof (stop-over) at Arafah starts after mid-day. As the Wuqoof sets in, silence falls on Arafah as people turn to Allah, Jalla wa Aalaa,in earnestness.

People come out of their tents and stand for long periods in the sun supplicating to Allah, Jalla wa Aalaa. Arafah is essentially a day about begging Allah’s Jalla wa Aalaa forgiveness and also re-establishing that bond with, and commitment to Allah, Jalla wa Aalaa. After Asar as the sun begins to set on Arafah and it’s a bit cooler, people emerge from their tents in their multitudes, individually and in groups, making the most of the last few moments, knowing not whether this opportunity will present itself again.

Thereafter the faithful, in their droves, on foot and on every perceivable means of conveyance move towards Muzdalifah. The walk to Muzdalifah really opens up the magnitude of Hajj! That night the exhausted Haaji rests under the star lit sky of Muzdalifah.

At sunrise the mass movement is towards Mina for the symbolic pelting and casting off of the devil, the spilling of blood of the sacrificial animal as an offering of gratitude, the shaving and cutting off of the hair, and the emergence from the Ihram having hope that together with it the emergence from sins.

Thereafter the Tawaaf of Ifaadha, circumambulating the House of Allah Ta’ala, while the Angels tap the Haaji between the shoulder blades saying, “Go forth from here now…you have been forgiven.”

And then the Haaji, has hope in Allah, Jalla wa Aalaa,that the final rite of the Saee, when on Marwa he/she ends, that he/she has received the certification of Divine Forgiveness and Jannah. Aameen.

With the Tawaaful Wida (Farewell Tawaf) the Haaji sadly bids farewell to the House of Allah, Jalla wa Aalaa,leaving with heavy heart and a burning desire of a swift and frequent return to the House of Allah, Jalla wa Aalaa,that Abraham (peace be upon him) built. As the Haajis disperse throughout the length and breadth of the globe carrying with them, and spreading the Blessings of the House and the Favour of the Owner of the House.

In times gone by, the returning Hujjaaj were a means of spreading the Deen. Every valley, gulley and mountain path that the Haaji passed witnessed the Nur (Divine Radiance) that the Haaji carried and no town, city, village or individual that the Haaji passed through or met remained unaffected with the legacy of the blessed Haramain Sharifain. The legacy of Makkah Mukarramah being the Tauhidof Allah, Jalla wa Aalaa,and that of Medina Munawwarah, being that of Nubuwah (Prophethood) and Khatme Nubuwah (the seal of Prophethood). Today unfortunately we have understood Hajj only to be that of individual Ibaadah(worship).

Hajj was that occasion when a person was made to understand his responsibility as a human being and also as an Ummati (follower) of the noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him).

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