‘The House of Allah’
I could only see millions of lights around the Kaaba, but what I was feeling within me was beyond words. It was as if the light of faith connecting me to the source of divinity had unburdened me of my ego. And my identity was getting submerged in the sound of “Labbaek, Allahumma labbaek. Labbaek, la shrike laka, labbaeka. Inna hamda wa nemata laka wal mukkala sharika laka” — “O Allah, here I am. Here I am in thy presence. Thou hast no equal. Here I am. All praise for thee and from thee are all blessings. To thee belongs all power and rule thou art without parallel”.
Nothingness of being
In this prayer, I had got the answer to my question. This is what Allah ka ghar does to a person! It jolts you into the realisation of the supremacy of God and nothingness of your being. This was the spiritual journey I had dreamt of for years. I was living in hope but also feared that it might never materialise. There were innumerable impediments in the actualisation of this dream. Finally, it was a reality.
Awe and wonder
The drive from the airport was a unique experience. Wide, well-paved roads meandering through the heart of inhospitable mountains, a full moon sailing through a starless sky kept pace with our car. There was something ethereal and awe-inspiring about the entire setting.My first destination in Mecca was Masjid Al Haram where the Holy Kaaba is situated. The Kaaba has undergone a sea change since its inception. From a small area with no enclosure and with just houses and gates on all sides through which people entered, today the mosque is a huge, beautiful and well-looked after complex.One is expected to pray as soon as you cast your eyes on the Kaaba. It is said that whatever you ask of God here is always granted. But when I first set eyes on the holy edifice, I was too numb to pray. The majesty of the Holy Kaaba was overwhelming. A vast sea of humanity soaking in the divinity of the place — hands raised, praying to the Almighty — filled me with awe and reverence.
Picture of piety
Taking the tawaf or the seven rounds of the Kaaba simultaneously with millions of Muslims from around the world is a great example of discipline, restraint, patience and bonding. The single-minded devotion of the Hajis and their reflected goodness presents a unique picture of piety. Hundreds of thousands of people, all taking the rounds together without jostling or pushing, was just amazing. People put up with inconvenience with a smile; the camaraderie and the desire to make it comfortable for others was so heartening. The spirit imbibed during Haj is not to be forgotten after the pilgrimage, but ought to be a part of our daily interaction with others.I took a bus to Mina, a half-hour drive from Mecca. This is the place where pilgrims spend the night praying. It constitutes important components of Haj. Mina is full of white tents during Haj, but is almost deserted for the rest of the year. The Masjid Al Kaif is located in Mina. It is also the place where Allah sent the ram to Hazrat Ibrahim to be sacrified in place of his son.
Spending days in austerity in Mina — sleeping on the floor, eating the simplest of food and making do with bare necessities and bearing the hardship with patience — is the real essence of Haj.
It’s an exercise in co-existence, fortitude, patience and forgiveness. The experience initiates an inward journey, a sort of catscan where one comes face-to-face with all the good and bad deeds one has committed. It is a chance to repent, to ask for forgiveness, as well as to make amends.Early, the next morning, I took a bus for Arafat. Praying in Arafat is an essential part of Haj. Whoever misses standing and praying in Arafat misses the Haj because the Prophet said, “Haj is Arafat”. It was hot and humid in Arafat, but we were unmindful of the heat, so engrossed were we in the divine communion.
Test of endurance
By sunset, it was time to drive to Muzdalifa and spend the night out in the open on the plains of Arafat. It was a dark, starless night with occasional lightening. Standing ‘alone’amidst the silhouette of unfamiliar mountains and a multitude of unknown faces, in harsh weather and praying to the Almighty was a test of endurance. In these circumstances, the human will to survive comes to the fore. I thought to myself: Don’t we need the same strength and will when faced with hardships in life?
After stoning Satan at Jamaraat, the place where Satan accosted Prophet Ibrahim and performing tawaf ziyarat and tawafe alvida, the farewell tawaf, my Haj was complete. I was told that after the hectic schedule in Mecca, Medina Manawwara, where Prophet Muhammad’s grave is located, will be less tiring.
Once we were in Medina
Manawwara all tension just seemed to have disappeared. A veil of contentment and happiness enveloped my being. I had never experienced such calm in my life. It was magical and palpable, at the same time. Is this what we call divine blessing?
Read more: Allah ka ghar – The Times of India
Source: Times of India
7th Feb, 2011
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