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‘Thoughts on Haj’

November 30, 2012

THIS is apropos of the article ‘Thoughts on Haj’ by Nikhat Sattar (Nov 23).

Haj demonstrates the reality in Islam that all roads lead to Allah. There is a subtle difference between being ‘at’ the Haj and being ‘in’ the Haj.

A person who is ‘at’ the Haj participates passively in various rites without realising its spiritual significance. A person who is ‘in’ the Haj appreciates its true inward dimensions.

Perhaps the most comprehensive statement about this is by Junayd Baghdadi. His remarks, paraphrased below, deserve deep thought:

When you put on your ‘ihram’ at the ‘miqat’, did you discard the attributes of selfhood as you took off your ordinary clothes? When you did ‘tawaf’ of the Ka'aba, did you witness the beauty of Allah in the abode of purification?

When you performed “sa’y” between Safa and Marwa, you reach the rank of ‘safa’ (purity) and ‘muruwwa’ (virtue). When you go out to Mina, did your ‘muna’ (desires) cease? When you stand on ‘Arafa’, do you experience even a single moment of “ma’rifa” (direct knowledge) of Allah?

\When you stayed the night at Muzdalifa, did you renounce your love of this world? When you stoned the ‘Jamra’, did you cast away from yourself everything that stands between you and your Lord? When you made your sacrifice, did you offer up your lower self to Allah?

The famous ‘Letter from Haj’ by Malcom X is also worth reading and I quote:

“Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practised by people of all colours and races here in this ancient Holy Land… I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see… by people of all colours … from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood.”

So intending Hajis do not worry about ‘single-minded ferocity of crowds’, ‘bruised arms’ ‘failed trips to Riaz al Jannah’.

Concentrate on self-purification rather than on overcrowding.

These are sweet pains. Haj is a symbolic journey to Allah and the objective is to return with a body free from the filth of sins, and a soul free from the darkness that used to engulf it — you are a newly-born person.