I was asked to share my Hajj experience at a Haji dinner at our mosque, so here are my thoughts, sharing them with you:
Claiming to share my Hajj experience with you is sort of like this:
You wake up and find that you are lost in the middle of the desert, at night, without food or drink, and without a single soul in sight or one who knows your plight. No cell phone Internet or any other form of communication to ask for help, you are despondent except for the mercy of Allah and you call Him.
Suddenly the light comes on, you get food and drink, your internet connection boots up in the car you suddenly find, and your ipod and your iphone is being juiced in it. You enjoy the food, you enjoy the drink you slip the headphones on and turn on Mishary Alafasy’s sweet recitation of Surah Al Insaan. You consult your GPS and turn your car towards the path to Jannah.
How does that feel? What I feel and what you will feel with the above experience is elation but to what degree will be unique.
That is how Hajj is…………. It is unique to each person. Allah Subhananawataala walks you through experiences that can become the roots of your personal growth if you recognize the essence of what is being shown to you.
I can tell you how I felt when I was deprived, and I can tell you how I felt when I got it and I can also share with you which path I am shown………….but the question is DO YOU GET IT? CAN YOU FEEL IT? CAN YOU EXPERIENCE WHAT I AM EXPERIENCING?
Hajj is an extremely personal experience, some things I can share with you, some I cannot even voice to myself, some I do not want to as it would be breach of etiquette and some are in the spiritual realm…….only to be experienced by each individual.
Having said this what can I share with you? I can share pictures. The number of Muslims in Tawaf and streaming out of the Jamaaraat may scare you, or empower you depending on which station of life you are at.
I can share the logistics of what to do and what not to do when preparing for Hajj and in Hajj.
I can tell you what prayers to read and what surahs to recite and what duas to make when you stand in front of the Kaaba.
I am a planner, when I travel I plan to the last detail, I even lift my suitcase to make sure that I can carry it incase there is no help available.
Thus I somewhere on the Internet I read instructions regarding duas in Hajj. It said that I should write several pages at least 16 of the personal duas I want to make for myself…….and thus I started.
However let me tell you or remind you that Allah Subhanawataala is the best planner. So plan something that you can do without depending on others and circumstances and do not plan something that is beyond your control, which is everything, isn’t it?
The best advice I got from my spiritual friends and colleagues who are and remain on the spiritual path was the following:
- Keep the focus; know why and where you are going. You are going as the guest of Allah, thus prepare and behave as such. This was great advice, it stopped me from complaining about how much money I had paid and how they only served Arab Qahwah and not Pakistani tea with milk etc etc etc. menial things that you would never voice to your gracious host even here in your hometown. Would you?
- Travel light: This was not only in your suitcase but also your heart, do not carry ill will, anger, greed, desire for acquisition of material goods, other desires, arrogance or presumptions. Shed all the things, values, habits, predetermined ideas about Deen, dunya and Akirah and lay yourself open to what your host is going to put in your heart as you stand at His door. If your heart is already full of ipods, cameras with pictures, desires of keeping what you have or acquiring more, anger and ill will, your heart and my heart will already be full……..where will He Subhanawataala put anything when you stand there and ask for yet more?
- Do not write your prayers, or designate specific prayers or duas written by other people for the first shaut of Tawaf or the second, the third and so on nor read from a book………………. The best advice I got was from a friend who said “Empty your mind and heart before you arrive in Makkah and then begin with what comes to it in the blessed environs of Makkah, Medinah, Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa. Open your heart when you are there and let it flow into your heart, from your lips, your eyes, and your limbs. Then your asking will be genuine, not fake or contrived from a book or an Internet article. He Subhanawataala who is closer than our jugular vein recognizes what is genuine, whether it is a thought or a prayer.
These were three pieces of advice that changed my Hajj into an effortless Hajj where my body, my heart and my psyche were in sync.
I will add one more piece and that is : Consider every moment of your Hajj as a journey of being IN Hajj.
Hajj is not just the manasek you do of the Ihraam, the tawaafs, the Saee, Mina, standing in Arafaat, resting in Muzdalifa and the Tawaf e Ifada.
Every moment that you and I are in Hajj if we keep the eyes of our heart open there are things happening to you and me and to other people around us, which are life lessons, being modeled by example. Viewing an event may have a unique personalized lesson for me, which may hold a uniquely different aspect for each of the Hajjis there. Thus though we are all Hajjis in Makkah but for each of us our experience both physical and spiritual is unique and irreproducible.
I end with a quote from our Maulana who led us through most of the manasek: He pointed at the flood of people streaming out of the Jamaraat filling every space in the valley of Mina:
“ Do not think that Allah needs you to come and perform the Hajj or to do his ebadah. Look out there is there any dearth of people who want to come for Hajj or to worship Him? There are millions more waiting in line to come for Hajj. He does not need our prayers.”
“If He has selected you to be His guest, know that you are being honored”