Ummrah completed, I spent the eve of the solar new year in the Haram.
I could neither see nor feel the presence of the Kaaba in the remote part of the masjed al Haram where I was performing nafila salah. It was the extreme corner of the haram that is also destined for the wrecker ball.
In the large hall, a section was enclosed for women by surrounding it with chest high heavy brass bookcases. I felt secure and isolated enough from the distractions of people and the foot traffic back and fro to concentrate on my salah.
A three-year-old Malaysian child sat near the bookcases while his mother prayed rakah after rakah, without disturbance or attention seeking by her child. He was still, no nervous or hyperactive movements were noted as he concentrated on playing on his his large plastic covered play computer. My prayers went out to the mother who had raised a mindful child.
It never fails that when we are praying Sunnah or nawafil, not a single baby cries. Yet the minute the iqamah is called the babies start crying whether they are held by their mothers or not.
It almost feels that the individual assistants of Shaytaan are on stand by and go around pinching the babies as the iqama is called and stop as soon as the Salah is finished.
We are told in the Quran of the dua that Mary AS ‘s mother made for her: As she dedicated her unborn child to Allah’s service:
[3:35] Yusuf Ali
Behold! a woman of ‘Imran said: “O my Lord! I do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: So accept this of me: For Thou hearest and knowest all things.”
She asked that neither the unborn child nor its future generations ever be touched by Shaytaan. It is said that Jesus AS is the only baby ever born who did not scream at birth. Shaytaan did not touch him by the protection placed over him by Allah at the request of his mother and grandmother.
[3:36] Yusuf Ali
When she was delivered, she said: “O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!”- and Allah knew best what she brought forth- “And no wise is the male Like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from the Evil One, the Rejected.”
I too stand there and search for the words to place such a protection over my grandson. I have a fleeting regret of my ghafala (ignorance) for when my own children were born and grew up without my having knowledge of this extremely potent dua.
In a flash I have a vision of my life while standing in the Haram. How different it would be if I had also dedicated my children to the service of Allah and how they would be protected from the slightest touch of Shaytaan…….
The pull to go to the Kaaba and stand in front of it is intense; I finally succumb to the call and walk towards the parapet that overlooks the Kaaba. The presence of the Kaaba is cut up visually with the ring around it, the construction and the cranes.
Far away there is a highway that crosses from right to left. Surrounded by the dense old buildings of Makkah is a flat surface with nothing built on it.
My friend points out to it “that is where the people of Makkah are buried” she says. “That may also come under the wrecker ball”. The people of old Makkah and the Muslims of the world have not yet embraced the nonchalance that comes with secular life, where a price is placed on everything and all that is intangible is sacrificed in the name of the tangible.
Here in Makkah where the Kaaba is located and elsewhere in the Muslim world, which holds 95% of the Muslims of the world the sentiment, is quite different.The reverence of the Prophet is first and foremost and dictates most of their actions out of love, fear or faith.
I visualize the sahabis, the ta’abieen and the taba tabaeen, the ulemas, the common people and the innocent children, buried in that flat spot.
How would it affect the spiritual world of Makkah by disturbing the dead, especially the revered dead who belong to the upper echelons of the Muslim companions of the Prophet? There is no answer as the rat-a-tat of the piercing machines promise further breakage…
Walking around the Haram is like walking around a building or a home where it has been cut in half. The other half has disappeared under the wrecker ball.
I watch the tawaf, packed to the gills, people unaware of the destruction around them, or the wails of the flying bits of dust that carry the dust of the footsteps of our beloved Prophet pbuh.
I am saddened, stunned and stumped; I am saddened because of the desecration of the hills and homes of old Makkah where our Prophet pbuh walked with his companion.
I am stunned because of the lack of sensitivity of how it is being done without thought of continuity of the present or preservation of the past.
I am stumped because I do not have the architectural or construction background or funds to buy specialists to propound how history could be honored and yet accommodation made for the burgeoning Ummah that yearns to visit the House of Allah.
I return to the Musallah. I had noticed that the carpets in the haram are now green. I ask my friend “what happened to the red carpets?”
“They were changed to green last year and no one knows what happened to the red carpets” she replies.
I think of the millions of sajdas and tears of the grieved soaked into on the red carpets and think how I would love to have a piece in my home.
“If they would auction them at Sotheby’s “ she continues “they would bring in enough to cover the entire renovation”
I think of the auction block at Sotheby’s auctioning off the sajdas of the crying aching grieving Ummah that laid their heads in complete submission on those carpets. I am violated at the thought. Can one sell sajdas of the oppressed to the highest bidder?
I think of the ten days of Itiqaaf in Ramadan that I spent on the red carpet, eating, sleeping, and praying twenty-four seven. They were my musallah the flying carpet that took me to the upper most heaven to commute with Allah, They were my bed and gave cushioned me for rest when my fasting body gave out of exhaustion, hunger and thirst. They were my protection from the harsh marble floor always welcoming me when I returned after my ghusl each day. They were my silent companions listening to my rants and rave, my grief and my joys, my secrets that I whispered into them in my sajdas, and my entreaties to my lord. They were all embedded in the fibers and the memory banks of the red carpets of the Haram.
The thought of them being auctioned off gave me violent shivers. It reminded me of the auctioning off of prize mares from the racehorses in Kentucky who could no longer run but had such a historical status that to own them would be a status symbol by itself. The mystery remains, what happened to the red carpets of the Haram?
I return late to my hotel and I have the good fortune to have a window that overlooks the Haram and the Kaaba. While preparing to go back I pause at the window and watch the Muslims: men, women and children in continuous tawaf, Salah and ebadah. It is such an empowering scene and it gives me such a rush that I am part of this Ummah, part and parcel, bound together with the faith of submission. Even if I do not know their name and they do not know mine, I am irreversibly bound to them in a relationship of love that surpasses all levels of relationships in this world.
My kinship with them crosses all boundaries of countries, races, families, trades and blood relationships. I fall into bed from exhaustion promising myself a quiet tawaf with full concentration at 2 am inshallah. I wake up and look out of the window and the tawaf is almost as full at 2 am as it was at midnight. The Muslim Ummah never sleeps! It is true that somewhere on Allah s earth the adhan is being called every moment………….as the globe rotates and night changes into day and back into night, the muezzin calls the believers to Salah to falah (Through submission in Salah to goodness, to security, to betterment).
Salah……………just before I left for mecca I was brushing up on my Salah and I realized three things from my review of the Salah literature and talks.
- Salah teaches us organization and prioritization: I f we organize our life to fit between Salah and prioritize our projects in order of importance so the significant ones get done first, it removes all stress from our lives. Incase Salah time comes and we have successfully prioritized our work, we will be left with the least important items, which can be put off for afterwards.
- Salah teaches us Tarteeb (order of doing things): The order in which things should be done is best illustrated in the steps of approaching the preparation of Salah. The intention of making wudus, (removes external connections and worries) followed by each of the steps of wudu, the change in focus from dunya to akhirah and then the takbeer at the initiation of Salah closing out the outside world. In Salah performing each step in order, as designated and assigned. If we led life in this way our lives would be stress free, wouldn’t it?
- Salah teaches us to “remain in the present” this teaching is by default. If we are not present in the Salah, it becomes null and void and becomes a callisthenic exercise of going up and down with some mutterings of Arabic words whose meaning we do not understand.
People have written dissertations on Khushwa and the 40 steps to concentrate during Salah, and yet none of them work. Every single person struggles with this issue.
Being in the present allows us to be in Salah when we are in it and truly in the presence of Allah. It allows us being present outside Salah when we are outside it.
The past is gone and cannot be changed and mistakes can be repented when we are doing istighfaar after Salah instead of reminiscing over the past event during our presence in front of Allah during Salah.
The present is the only relevance we have in our life and what is in the present moment is all that matters. The future has yet to come and while we can plan for it we have no control over it and it has no control over us.
Using our present to lament the past and worry about our future robs us of the present moment, which is the only moment we have.
Especially when it is the only moment we have with Allah when we stand in front of him. He knows if we are with him or planning our next job or party for tomorrow. He knows if we are in the present with him, in his presence as Salah is titled magnificently as Mairaaj e Momin…………..Only if we are present in the now with HIM.
It is soon time to go, I have promised myself 40 Salah in the Masjid e Nabvi, lots of Nawafi for the Qada e Daireena. I have plans for recitation of the Quran in the Masjed of our Beloved Prophet. In other words: “Dhikran Katheera”.
Upon completing that I plan to come back to Mecca to perform my goodbye Ummrah…………..
I have no concept of what I carry within me from Old Makkah and what will happen to me in Medina.
I enter the car that has to take me to Jeddah and join the long line of travelers who have traversed this road, the most significant being the first immigrant Muslims who were forced to leave their homes in Makkah because of their faith and to travel to the red sea to catch a boat to asylum………….)
(To be continued……………
For part three click here…..