Has pilgrimage to Makkah truly come to an end?
“And proclaim (the Hajj) pilgrimage; they will come to you walking or riding on various exhausted (means of transportation); they will come from the farthest locations. (Quran 22: 27)”
Is it true that the Hajj is over? Yes. The hajj is done with. The practical rites of Hajj, the gathering of the greatest number of Muslims, over two million of them, is over. The gathering of Muslims around the Kaabah, the most sacred and holiest space in Muslim Weltanschauung is over. The “invasion” of Muslims of the precincts of Makkah, like they always do during the first nine days of the month of Dhul Hijjah, is done with. Makkah remains the city of magic. It remains the city of attraction. The desert-like and rocky landscape of the city of Makkah continues to play its role as the bastion of Islamic spirituality. For the pilgrims, its departure time from Makkah; and yet for other Muslims, it is arrival time into Makkah.
Dear Hajji, remember your stay in Makkah. The Ihram you wore. The Ihram you wore was a signifier. The signified being the ephemerality of your status here on it; the impermanence of your station and location in this world. Remember your Ihram. The loose white garments you wore for your Umra and thereafter for you Hajj rites. The loose white garments you wore on the day of arrival, your arrival to the city of Makkah. Remember the loose white garment you shall wear; the loose white garments you shall wear on the day of your departure; your departure from this world.
Remember dear new Hajji. Remember the first time you stepped into the Kaaba. Remember the statement of obeisance you uttered: “I have come, O! My Lord! I have come”. Remember that by “coming to your Lord”, by coming to His presence, there can be no departure from His presence, thereafter, not any more. To tell your Creator you have answered His call, is to enter into a covenant with Him not to answer any other call, not to listen to other principalities and authorities beside Him. “Labbayka Allahuma Labayka…”.
Remember dear new Hajja. Remember your circumambulation around the Kaaba. Remember the Kaaba. The “Kaaba” is the first house ever built for His worship. It is the first sacred house on earth. Remember the Kaaba. Remember how you joined the multitude; remember how you began the circumambulation from right to the left, anti-clock-wise. You moved round the Kaaba the same way blood circulate round your body. Before then, you were the big man in the neighbourhood. But once you joined your fellow pilgrims, you immediately lost your identity. Rather, your identity became instantly meshed into others. The Excellency became non-excellent; he became a dot in the diagram of the Kaaba; she became a page in the book of travellers on the pathway to the divine; they became pebbles in the sand of time. No matter where you are presently, where you would be is more important; where you would end up is most important. “Hell or paradise?”: the choice is yours.
Dear new Hajji, remember your stay in Makkah, in the Kaaba. Remember those runs (the Sa’yy) you did between the hills of Safa and Marwa. You ran between the two hills the same way Hajar ran in search of water for his baby, Ismail. Hajar became seized by motherly compassion. She could not bear the pain her baby was going through. In the wilderness of lack, in the desert-land of want, she searched in complete conviction that she would eventually find. She believed that somewhere in the hot precincts of the Kaaba, she would find sustenance for herself and her son. Dear pilgrim, your runs between the two hills was therefore not for fun. It is meant to remind you that you can only run to Him, your Creator, not away from Him. The hills of Safa and Marwa are therefore metaphors for the hills of life.
Life is full of hills and mountains; of want and deprivations; of desires and cravings. But in between these stations of life usually lies the wonders of life. From beneath the feet of the baby Ismail, water gushed out in obeisance to the commands of the Almighty. The desert became a forest; the hill became an oasis, the problem became a solution. Zamzam has been flowing non-stop since that time till today; there can be no stoppage to the blessings of the Almighty once it is time for it to flow your way.
Remember the above and more. Remember your standing on the plains of Arafat on the ninth day of Dhul Hijjah. Remember this and more. Remember that Arafah is an appetizer. It is a signifier. It is meant to remind you and me of the imminence of resurrection- the day you and me shall rise for judgment in His presence. Remember this more.
But has the Hajj really come to an end? I say no. The experience of Hajj can only come to end for those who never performed the hajj. The circumambulation round the “Kaaba” cannot come to an end for those in whose heart there is the Almighty.
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