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Islam and Spiritualism ( 4 Nov 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Lessons of Life What Hajj Taught Me


By Sami Saayer

November 5, 2011

Before:

A friend and I were shopping for my sneakers. I told him that I could not walk without Caterpillar shoes. “I can run but cannot walk without feeling pain. It’s probably a varicose vein.” My friend suggested I try Adidas. We decided that I could get them whenever I went to Dubai.

After:

I was walking – in simple slippers and even barefoot. I walked 1.5 kilometers to the train station every day, two kilometers in Jamrat (ritual of stoning the Satan) thrice in three days and similar distances in Arafat. Longer distances in three Tawafs (circumambulating the Holy Kaabah) and saee… almost 12 kilometers in six hours in one of Tawaf. There were no Caterpillar shoes or sneakers. There was no varicose vein. I felt no pain. There is no pain when you set your feet in the path of Allah. This is what Hajj taught me.

Before:

My wife and I were furniture shopping for our new home. I told her that I wanted an eight-inch mattress for the bed. “Not foam. Spring is better.” We had extensive discussions on the kind of bed, sofas, coffee tables and chairs we wanted. Only the best would do.

After:

I was lying on the ground of Muzdalfa looking at the star filled sky. There was no furniture, no mattress and no pillow. Next to me, my wife and daughter were sleeping soundly as if they were at a comfortable five-star hotel. But what five-star hotel could be better than the sacred dry sand of Muzdalifa? It’s a place where everyone is the same. There is no difference between a marketing manager, a lawyer, a beggar or a taxi driver. Everyone has to spend the night out in the open with millions of other fellow Muslims. There are no tents, no beds, no one to look after your belongings when you sleep and yet, everyone sleeps peacefully as if there are no worries in the world. Human needs are much more basic than we have made them in our own greed. This is what Hajj taught me.

Before:

When a friend texted me “Meet me at Banana Republic,” I had told myself that I would have to stop myself from impulse shopping as I had been on quite a shopping spree lately. Hopping between Massimo Dutti, Giordano, Milano, Paul Smith and Zara, eyeing the stitching, fall and crease of every item carefully before making my final choice. After all, nice clothes make you stand out in a crowd.

After:

I was wearing two unstitched pieces of cloth just like millions around me. There were no brand names in Mina. When the upper cloth of my Ihram fell from my shoulders to my chest, I was least bothered about it. By the end of my pilgrimage my Ihram became filthy because of dust and even mud. Lying on the ground in Arafat mud made it black. Nobody cared. We were all the same. Wearing the same brand called Islam. This is what Hajj taught me.

Before:

At a bonfire with friends at Fujairah beach I rattled off the names my favorite fragrances: Kenzo, Escada Sentiment and Armani Mania are my favorite fragrances. My friend Ehtisham playfully joked, “Have you even used these perfumes or you have just memorized the names?”  “I like perfume,” was my answer.

After:

I was standing in Arafat drenched in sweat under the scorching heat of the desert. It was the biggest moment of the entire Hajj process. The biggest moment of my life probably. Several others around me were standing the same way as I was following the ritual of Wuqoof-e-Arafa (standing in Arafat). The pilgrims stand in Arafat and pray to Allah between Zuhar (noon) and Maghrib (sunset). I had not touched a bar of soap for the last five days let alone perfumes. Everyone stank of sweat and lack of bath and cleanliness. Nobody cared. Millions were praying to Allah and secretly asking for their wishes to come true. Worldly cleanliness means nothing when you are on a journey to cleanse your soul and conscience. This is what Hajj taught me.

Before:

“My hair is the longest I have had in the last decade or so,” I said showing my hair to my wife on Skype. “I want to grow it. I am quite sick of these spikes and I need a change. I need to sport a different look. I will probably go to a stylist when it’s long enough.”

After:

I was sitting a few meters away from my tent in Mina. A careless man, who I am sure, was only a part-time barber was running a razor across my head. In just a few minutes’ my head was shaved. My Ihram was full of the long hair that I had grown in four months.  Several other men were walking around me, they looked like I did; without any hair on their head. I smiled as I walked back to the tent to take my Hajj completion shower. What seems important to us in our day to day lives, like being good looking and impressing others with the way we look, is actually a very petty thing. One needs to get over the petty things and look at the bigger picture. This is what Hajj taught me.

There is a lot more one learns from Hajj which nobody can explain. I learned how to give and not react if something goes against my will. It taught me how to endure pain and still keep a smiling face. It taught me how to respect the others who go through what I don’t. It taught me that in the eyes of Allah, those who have paid thousands of dollars for a VIP Hajj are similar to the ones sleeping on the mountains without any cover.

There is one side of Hajj which people might overlook; it is a very romantic event. At least to me it was. There has never been a feeling of higher degree of romance before than walking in circles around the Kaaba holding your beloved in your arms. Standing on the top floor of Haram at night, feeling the cold November breeze on your face, holding each other’s hands and praying to Allah for an eternal relationship of trust and togetherness is a touching experience. There is nothing more romantic than a cup of tea in Muzdalifa watching the moon and stars before the carefree sleep on one small sheet.

Many would disagree when I say that even non-Muslims should experience Hajj. It’s a universal process of understanding the human needs, the importance of being humane, the feeling of being ordinary and nothing special and the longing for being together. It’s a much higher level of spiritual journeys than most will ever see and experience.

Source: The Express Tribune

URL: https://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-spiritualism/the-lessons-of-life-what-hajj-taught-me/d/5843


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