By October 11, 2014 Read More →

Meaning of Hajj – Part 2

Recap: It is understood that Hajj is performed by those people who have the financial means and/or are physically fit to go. One should also consider their traveling conditions. However, we should not reduce performing Hajj to just fulfilling our religious ritual. The verse man istata’a elaihi sabeelan (3:97) means whoever is able to go should go. We really have to ponder on whether we are ready to go on Hajj or not. (What are we going to do there? Why are we going there? What does Hajj mean to me?)

Hajj occurs once in one’s life. It occurs in the form of a second chance/opportunity in one’s life. The first chance occurred when we were born in this life. As a baby, someone was taking care of us and we were not fully aware of what was going on in the universe. Then we grew up and up until now, we have made a lot of mistakes in our lives. Thus, we end up with wishful thinking such as “if only I had another chance, I would not take this path or I would do this…” Well, there is another chance to be reborn again.

  • That is what Hajj means–an opportunity for us to go back to factory settings.

According to the regulations of the Islamic jurisprudence, everyone has to perform Hajj once in their lives. This means that if you feel the need of going back to your factory settings or your natural self (fitrah), then you should consider going on a pilgrimage. If you have decided to renovate your life, then you have to bear in mind that you will have to undergo a process. This is similar to mentally preparing yourself before undergoing a surgery. And so, you have to pay attention to the different units of Hajj.

Hajj does not change you. You have to change yourself through Hajj by your determination
This means that I am firm that I am not going to waste my human abilities again or I am not going to waste my time… This determination is the essence of Hajj.

How can I have my sins forgiven?
Do not expect your sins to be forgiven as a result of going to Hajj. Sins are forgiven through repentance and if you happen to perform Hajj according to the requirements of the Hajj, then you will be cleansed.
-Repentance is not constrained to setting up resolutions only. For example: Forgive me God for missing my prayers. After coming back from Hajj, I will not miss any prayers.
-Repentance is the requirement to rebuild your relationship with your prayer, which leads to an analysis of why did you miss your prayers. Were you not absolutely sure of, your existence let alone a Creator?

We have to focus on the kernel of Hajj–we should not reduce Hajj to outward performance only, we need to go to the core of the ritual to make the performance perfect.

  • Performing Hajj does not energize you but your decision to change energizes you.

What is the real meaning of Hajj?
-Hajj in Arabic means struggling with evidence, bringing evidence (hujjah) against all your shortcomings (weakness, mistakes, laziness…) that prevent you from being a perfect human being. Evidence is what prompts you to decide to go on Hajj. For example: If you are not regular with your prayers (salaat) and after gathering your own evidence, you are convinced that missing prayers is a really bad act on your part, then going through the process of Hajj will definitely help you become a “new person”.

  • Hajj means practicing your evidence because you have come to the realization that your previous way of life was wrong or meaningless.

Why does Hajj happen in 3-4 days?
-The notion of pilgrimage is as old as the human race. Hajj is not only limited to Islamic tradition; there is a presence of pilgrimage in almost every religion/culture.
Hajj in Islam means going to Arafat and standing there. The word Arafat comes from the word ma’arifa which means knowledge, acknowledgment and awareness.
-When somebody makes an intention to go to Hajj, his direction/aim is towards Ka’ba. We go there because Ka’ba symbolizes Oneness of God. In order to establish the Oneness of God into our lives, we have to have this ultimate aim.

  • The ultimate aim is to reach Oneness of God in our life.

– Arafat is the destination to settle down because it was the destination of Prophet Adam. “I am Adam.” When Adam was sent from Paradise to Earth, this means that I was sent from Paradise to Earth. None of us were expelled from Paradise; we were taken away from Paradise. When we reach the age of puberty/maturity, we become aware of ourselves including our private parts. They become mahram for us.
-Since I am on Earth now, I should start contemplating on: “Who am I? Why do I exist?” When we come out of our innocence, we are responsible for our free choice. Now, whatever we do as adults, we must do it with the utmost consciousness.

  • Arafat represents the awareness of our human reality.

Mikaat is the place where you make a firm decision to renew yourself. It is the place where you take off all your artificial identities and wear the Ihraam i.e. I have become a person that is no different than any other person. I am a drop in the ocean. These are the pre-requisites to get into the area which is called Haraam.

What is prohibited for you now?
-You cannot act on your desires. For example: A fly comes landing on your nose, you cannot scratch your nose. Similarly, a lizard passes in your vicinity; you cannot repel it with insecticide.
-You have to respect everything as they are created.
-You have to watch out for your unconscious habits.
-You have to regain your consciousness. For example: If you have a tendency to unpluck a leaf from a tree to just play around with it, you have to ask yourself why is it that you do this? If you do pay attention to your unconscious actions, it should definitely make you aware that you have developed many uncontrolled habits.

Ihraam means becoming aware of your habits, weak points, uncontrolled language…We have to get rid of our nationalist and racialist views that have made us into “obsessed” individuals. We are here on Hajj to renew ourselves. While wearing the ihraam, you cannot hurt anybody (including an insect); you cannot give yourself a new appearance either.

-In 3 to 4 days, you will relive the whole human history starting from Adam (when you were born) to the end (right now in your life). Here is how: We were baby, our soul was pure and by now we polluted it. It is still pure because our original nature (fitrah) never changes. Just as a clean mirror that reflects light needs to be wiped when it becomes dirty, we need to wipe out all our bad habits and shortcomings when we go on pilgrimage.
-By wiping out all the dirt from the mirror, we will relive the whole humanity.

What does Arafat signify?
-Historically, it is narrated as the place where Prophet Adam (PBUH) was sent. Although, it may look as if we do nothing while standing in Arafat, it actually signifies the first acknowledgement of being on Earth. Spirit is created with the capacity to know who my Lord is i.e. the source of existence of the Absolute. However, after coming on Earth, we lose our Lord and thus we need to re-evaluate our own history and seek Him.
-We are in a body and this body is in contact with the physical world. Now that our spirit is in the body, as a person we have to think of our reality of being on Earth i.e. what am I going to do here on Earth? What is expected from me?

  • How can I connect with the physical world around me so that I can preserve my soul’s pristine form?
  • Standing up in prayers (salaat) signifies the same concept (an awareness of my humanity) if and only if I am aware of it.

Why am I here now?
-We need to make a real analysis of our being in this physical world i.e. what is my purpose of being in this world? For example: Am I here to take care of my children? I will die, they will die as well.
-Do not go to Arafat to bargain with God or get stuck in cause and effect relationships. For example: God, please grant my son a good job. That is not the spirit of being in Arafat because you are not realizing your own position in this world.
-Arafat is the place where I decide that I have to protect my original form. I have to keep my soul clean by drawing its attention to the real owner of the things, rather than the physical thing itself.

How can I make my physical world such that it doesn’t harm or pollute my soul?
-Soul has the ability to acknowledge God. You cannot acknowledge God more than what your soul is given the ability to acknowledge. Our duty is not to spoil the soul.
-Soul is like a mirror facing the sun, receiving sunlight perfectly. But we crack it, dirty it or damage it by turning it around, following our desires and then making justifications. For example: When you are hungry, you eat. While eating, you can consolidate what the soul is expected to do i.e. acknowledge the Source. Similarly, if you have the responsibility of taking care of your family, do it. But do not do it in your own name or in order to satisfy your ego. You should do it as a means of connecting with Him.

  • You have to acknowledge the Absolute Source in any action.

Do I rather be in Paradise or on Earth?
-Soul represents our potentiality. For example: Let’s say you have the potentiality of speaking 150 languages, but you can only speak the ones that you learned. If you did not learn the languages that you cannot speak, that potentiality would mean nothing to you as far as your responsibility is concerned. Potentiality is similar to a seed. In order to grow a seed into a tree, the seed needs to be there. When a seed does not grow into a tree, it rots.

-Our potentialities are already created for us. They are not our acquisitions. For example: The sense of compassion towards the needy is in our potentiality. We cannot be proud of it, we accepted to refer it to its Creator.
-Our physical condition (i.e. being on Earth) is given to us in order to improve this potentiality and transform it into a human capacity. So that when we go back to where we come from (Paradise), we will only experience whatever potentialities we developed here and transformed it into a human capacity.
-For example: I study Biology or some other discipline. While I am learning that discipline, if I am acknowledging God’s power and His other qualities as they manifest themselves in that discipline, then through that acknowledgment I will be communicating with God in that discipline. This is what I am experiencing here. When I go back to Paradise, I can also see the manifestation of God’s power in Paradise because I developed it here on Earth. I can then say: “my God is a Just God, I experienced it while in the physical world!”

Why do I have to go all the way to Arafat to reflect then?
-That is the historical place where human history has been summarized. You can go anywhere to reflect but you cannot physically experience the “Arafat” like experience. That has something to do with belief or understanding the Messengership.
-The first human was a Messenger, Prophet Adam (PBUH). The first Messenger came there and practiced this experience that you are now practicing. All the messengers throughout human history practiced there, including the last Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that you are now following. You are following that historical event.
-All the Prophets rejuvenated their lives here, so you join them in rejuvenating your life. You cannot just take pictures of a place that look similar to Arafat instead of actually going there. We are on Earth and so we need the physical experience to be in the moment. Physical experience of the Prophetic lineage all experienced a kind of Arafat in their lives, although their place and time may be different.
-For example: When we form a congregational event, it seems simple that somebody is the imam and we line up behind him in the row. When the imam recites a verse, alhmdolillahi rabbil alameen…, this imam is actually repeating what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) recited and so you can connect and relate your presence to Muhammad (PBUH). Although, it may seem as if we are just listening to the imam, but in reality we must transform that experience into an imaginary form where the Prophet must be present. In this day and age, Muhammad must be our imam practicing, showing us how to train our spirit within the conditions of this physical world.
-Physical practice is very important. You have to make a decision according to your real purpose of existence.

  • Your real purpose can only be realized when you turn yourself to your ultimate aim i.e. tawhid, Oneness of God.

-Without the Prophets you cannot live your physical life in this world, you can live your belief in God in the ideology form i.e. as a monotheist. But it will not be practiced within the conditions of this physical world because it is just an ideal.
In order to practice your ideals, you have to have a practical example for you. That’s why we go to Arafat, to practice what our imam (The Prophet) in the physical world experienced.
-In the spirit world, you are directly with God and you don’t have to follow anyone because your spirit acknowledges Him. However, in the physical world I need instructions to train my potentialities in a way for them to achieve their optimum capacity level. The Prophets exemplify that.
-Physical body is under control of the soul through your free choice. In the scriptures, we hear that wherever you turn, you turn to God. God is the Creator of everywhere, the Lord of East and West.
-I will turn to the place where my ultimate aim is expressed, symbolized or practiced by the Prophets.

What are the Prophets for us now?
-Prophets are the instructors (examples for us) who teach us how to connect with my God while I am on Earth. I practice belief in God by praying, fasting, choosing…
-Prophets in reality are the means to teach us how to connect our physical world to the soul i.e. reach our aim. My aim is to maintain my soul in its original form.
-Prophets are necessary in our existence; otherwise we would not know how to grow our seeds into trees. The seed itself has the potentiality to grow but you need to take some kind of training from farmers.
The narrations of the Prophets say that Hajj means Arafat.
– Hajj is dense because it needs perseverance. Whatever the rest of the world does, I should not care about it. Without developing your potentialities into capacities (i.e. educating/training yourself), you cannot communicate with the rest of the world.
-Hajj is the place where you concentrate on yourself. You develop your own abilities. Only then you can be helpful to others. If you do not improve yourself, how can you help others? You cannot learn something by looking at others but you can get the determination to learn. For example: Yes, I can do that. Adam did it.
-We need teachers to instruct us so that we may develop ourselves. We are not in the spirit world; we are in the physical world. Instructors are the Prophets. That’s why we have to get Prophetic heritage in our lives in order to feel it. Muhammad was there to renew his covenant with God. From now on, I will renew my covenant as well.

The pilgrimage processes (continuation):

4/ Muzdalifah: It is also called Mash’ar al Haram. Mash’ar means absolute consciousness, which should always be with us. It should not be mistaken for knowledge.
In Muzdalifah, we have to take refuge in our consciousness and we collect pebbles. Pebbles represent bones or rockets to hit enemy. Who is the enemy?
-For example: You decide to implement something but there are roadblocks (ideas, concerns…) that hinder the implementation process. Roadblock is similar to a distraction. You intend on destroying these roadblocks and so you collect certain amount of pebbles to stone Satan (as it is traditionally known). Pebbles represent acknowledging your roadblocks and your firm conviction to overcome them.
-By the time you come to Muzdalifah, you are aware of your weaknesses and distractions because you have already listed all your shortcomings. For each distraction, you take one pebble and say: I am going to throw this pebble at the source of this distraction.
-For example: Let’s say your friend invites you somewhere and if you do not go, you will feel that you are disassociating yourself from the society. Well, what is your purpose in this world? Not to be distracted. So, take one pebble to not be distracted by this weak point again.
-We have to be careful while picking pebbles; they do not have to be big. We do not need big pebbles to hit our distractions. That is the Sunnah of the Prophet. What matters is my realization of that which distracts me and my determination of eradicating it from my thought process.
That’s why we hear in the prophetic narration that the Prophet (PBUH) advised people to hurry to Muzdalifah, even at the expense of performing the maghrib prayer and joining it with Isha prayer. Fulfilling the consciousness you have realized in Arafat is a must.

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