By Sheikh Mokhtar Maghraqui
12 August 2016
Haj in the Arabic language means aim, destination or purpose (Qasd). The reason is clear: Haj is the ultimate journey of loving submission (Ubudiyyah) and conscious surrender (Riq) to Allah. Its ultimate destination is your encounter with the House of Allah (Bayt Al-Allah) — the Kaaba — with both your physical body and, more importantly, your heart (Qalb).
Ibn Al-Jawzi (may Allah bless him) relates a story of an old, blind woman who was journeying to Haj years ago with a caravan. Throughout the journey, she keeps asking: “Are we at the house of my Lord?” Time and again, she is told, “No, mother, we are not there yet.” As the caravan nears Makkah, she is informed that they are almost there. Finally, they enter Masjid Al-Haram. She is led to the Kaaba. Touching the Kaaba, she cries, “Baytu rabbi? The House of my Lord?” Weeping, she clings to the cloth of the Kaaba — and dies.
The woman realized with her heart the true significance of visiting the House of her Lord.
Allah has invited you to His House, which He has called the Al-Bayt Al-Atiq — the ancient, liberated and liberating house. Your journey is one of freedom and liberation. For as your body leaves its material house to journey to Allah’s House, your heart is meant to disengage from the lower self (Nafs), the Shaytan, and the world and journey to Allah.
The ultimate reward for a Haj Mabrur is to return home with the purity of a newborn child. What could be a greater incentive! But beware, for Haj is a selective process. Only a few will attain a Haj Mabrur, which is a Haj performed correctly, without any disobedience to Allah and without indulging in any argumentation. Be prepared. Be vigilant. Be focused. This will be one of the greatest — and sweetest — struggles of your life. And though you will long and dream for the rest of your life to come back, you may never return again.
May Allah allow our bodies to journey to His House; may He permit our hearts to find Him, the Lord of the House. Ameen.
The Most Sacred Space
You will be journeying from your earthly house to Makkah, your spiritual home, the most beloved place to Allah in all of space and time. Allah himself has decreed it to be so since the beginning of creation. There is no place more blessed, more beautiful, more virtuous, and more exalted than Makkah. Every inch and every corner of Makkah is a Haram, a sanctuary made sacred by Allah.
The more you revere Makkah, the more you will be ennobled by Allah. We must take the greatest of care to never think casually of our sojourn in Makkah or live within its precincts in disobedience or negligence.
Some reports teach that it was in Makkah that our father Adam (peace be upon him) longed to go back to paradise and be in the presence of Allah. To console his loneliness, Allah Almighty commanded him to do Tawaaf around the space of the current Kaaba. And Adam did, and felt whole again.
Other texts teach that Nuh, Ibrahim and many Prophets before them (peace be upon them) did Tawaaf around Allah’s sacred House. Their spiritual energy and legacy fills the air. You will be walking in the footsteps and the heart-steps of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his noble companions.
Shelter, Solace and Sight
Haj and its rites are described in various and powerful ways by Allah Almighty and his Prophet (peace be upon him). Through these descriptions, we gain insight into the deeper meanings of Haj. The rites of Haj are described, for example, as Manasik, Mashair and Mashahid.
Mansak (plural Manasik), usually translated as ritual, connotes shelter (Maskan) and tranquillity. The rites of Haj are residences of shelter and tranquillity for the heart.
Mashair connotes feeling and experience. The rites of Haj cause the heart to feel and experience the sweetness of nearness to Allah.
Mashahid is to witness with the heart the blessings of Allah at every station — to see, with one’s inner sight, Allah’s will as the Decreer of decrees and the Causer of causes.
Each word connotes a different inner dimension of Haj, as the movement, not only of your body or limbs, but of your heart. For as your body journeys from one place to another, so too must your heart travel through various stations), each of which will provide it with shelter, solace and inner sight.
Angels are the heavenly creatures created of pure light and enveloped in the worship of Allah. Texts teach that the Kaaba is connected in an imperceptible way to the Bayt Al-Mamur, the heavenly Kaaba of the angels, around which they are constantly in Tawaaf. At least 70,000 angels perform Tawaaf around this house and are replaced with others, never to return.
Around the Kaaba, we are in a heavenly dimension. Near the Kaaba are the Hajr Aswad, or black stone, and the Maqam Ibrahim, both gems from the Paradise.
We are taught that the stoner was darkened by the sins and transgressions of man. Its heavenly light is now folded from us. The stone will be rendered into a person in the afterlife by Allah and will witness on behalf of those who approached it with truth and sincerity.
The stone can be said to take a picture recording of your heart as you stand before it. Kissing the stone is the most profound renewal of your covenant with Allah and a pledge of love, dedicated obedience and soulful allegiance to Him.
To be continued