Hajj Journey and Guide for a Deep Hajj
You are going there. You have waited all your life for this journey. Maybe you sent your life there with the people who went there; maybe you circumambulated the Kaaba imaginarily through your spirit.
You are going there. You have waited all your life for this journey. Maybe you sent your life there with the people who went there; maybe you circumambulated the Kaaba imaginarily through your spirit. Now, you have set out on your feet. Maybe you set out for long journeys before; maybe you went to hajj before. You should know that hajj journey is different from other journeys and it is directed towards a different direction. Now, you have faced towards the the qiblah that you face five times every day. Now you are flying towards oneness from multiplicity. Now you are walking in order to discover yourself. You will recognize and define yourself again in the place where you will go. Even if you went there before, you should have new excitements. Each hajj is unique, isn’t it? No matter how many times you went there before, the excitement of going to hajj is new and fresh; and you must be having the excitement of going there for the first time. Otherwise, why should you feel the need to go there again? This one may not be your first hajj, but what if it is your last hajj…
Now you are a traveler. The state of traveling is similar and close to the life we are leading. By the way, try watching your life and your environment through the eyes of a traveler. For instance, the earth’s ground slides away under your feet. You are moving away from the things that you are accustomed to in order to approach Him. Death is something like that, too! You assume the excitement of a frivolous butterfly and have transitory glances at everything you see. Everything is breaking off its stalk, is leaving its root, and is breaking open its pod; the daylight is withdrawing its color from the things. Streets and walls are thinning and wasting away. Your feet standing firm on the earth’s ground feel a gentle wind.
A traveler should have few belongings. Throw away whatever you are carrying for the world; leave behind the worldly things that are a burden for your heart. Besides, the ihram that you are going to put on soon makes it necessary for you to throw the extra things. When you are in a piece of white cloth as a plain and lonesome traveler, you should break away from your addictions; you should define your heart again. Taking off your clothes is not sufficient to put on ihram. Ihram necessitates a general taking off. Everything that you have appreciated so far in terms of your own values - rank, post, nationality, tribe, ancestry, class, and career – will hit the white face of the ihram and melt away. Now you can see more easily that you are a slave of only your Lord, away from everybody. What will make you valuable is your worshipping your Lord, worshipping and being a slave of only Him. Your colorless, patternless, badgeless and flagless ihram associates you with only your Lord. As you are clad in white, the roots of your fancies and desires withdraw from the earth’s ground. You are a surrendered man in ihram, unable to command, to pluck a hair, even unable to enjoy permissible pleasures.
Man cannot easily accept his departure. You set out in order to leave the world and the things that you loved in the name of the world as a frivolous water drop that forgot about its weight, with barefoot and uncovered head. Look, all of your bonds with everybody and everything are about to set loose. The clew of life that you continuously rolled has been scattered.
The intention of a fine and sharp journey should leave everything and everybody behind. That intention turns the place we live to a faded rose as soon as it falls into our heart. Everything around us becomes transitory, is released from the earth’s gravity field and starts to fly. Your bonds with places become weak and uncertain. As your bond with places get loose and the domination of time over you becomes heavier like a prisoner, you find the decree of ephemera wrapped around your neck. Not to be able to give an appointment for tomorrow adjoins the narrow walls of the moment you are in to your chest. The rusty sword of time touches your heart; the cold breath of death licks your face. You are going; you are bound to go; you are returning; you are bound to return.
Excitement of Being Close
Yes, you are going to the Kaaba. You are going towards the place that our bits of life become a lake. You are flying to the place where your slavery will be tested by sharp sirats (bridges). Thus, the direction of the Kaaba is on the same line as the Day of Judgment. You are going to the place where you turn to five times a day. Since going towards a place that you had been turning towards for a long time involves a return, man should experience a feeling of being close, not going away, in this journey. The wind that touches your forehead should smell homeland, not foreign land.
Fear of Being Distant
But no! Directing towards the Kaaba seems to be informing us about the horrendous fear of being distant. The question is not the distance of the Kaaba to the place we are in but our distance to the state of servanthood. This journey, this direction brings to light that dazzling precipice now. Remember how you easily and casually turned towards the qiblah as if you were turning towards any wall. Did it not necessitate abstaining from everything other than Him, everything that did not inform about Him to say, “I turned towards the qiblah” Even if the Kaaba was very far away! However, being far away from our Lord makes us far away from the reality of our qiblah, the Kaaba. That distance may not diminish even if one comes to the foot of the Kaaba; precipices appear between man and the Kaaba. That distance, that precipice makes us dizzy and makes our heart shiver. No matter where you go, you cannot move your foot away from that precipice.
I wish my Lord would make you and me close to Him. Your wish to be close to the Kaaba is no different from this prayer.
In fact whether you reach hajj or not, I should say that, you are not very far away from the Kaaba. Do we not turn towards the Kaaba five times a day and promise our Lord that we will be His servants? That is a journey to the Kaaba actually. We do not cover distances in this journey. Only one intention takes us to the destination; the intention of being a servant of Allah. That intention makes us a traveler of a way that is more distant than unending distances, more winding than the roads on steep mountains, that cannot be compared to deserts and mountains. The intention to be a servant is a long and sharp journey containing the most general departures.
Turning towards Him, only Him, takes us away from so many things! Turning towards the qiblah means turning away from everything except the things that show the evidence about Him. Then, is there anything that does not indicate Him in this universe? Since everything mentions His name and each atom glorifies Him, what can we turn away from? What thing does not mention Him? No, there is nothing that does not indicate Him. There may be someone that does not see the things indicating Him. To direct towards Him means to look at everything with the intention of seeing Him.
However, a person who thinks he is free to do anything he wants, thinks that things are free too. He does not see things as mirrors showing somebody else. With this blind intention, mirrors as many as filling the universe are broken; suns filling the heavens are set. The glance of man absorbs the enlightening news coming from the universe to his soul like a black hole and pushes everything into darkness. The only thing that does not indicate Him, the only black hole, is our ego attached to our self. Then, turning towards the Kaaba makes it necessary for us to throw away the black hole that does not show Him and that rusts the mirror of everything, that is our ego. Only the person who abandons the thing which he is in can reach the Kaaba. When you find that black hole, that is the Kaaba, in front of you, a black hole, that is your ego, will be left behind. When you go out of the thing which you are in, you will find your Kaaba.
Arriving at the Kaaba and turning towards the qiblah necessitates going out of our egocentric orbit and entering a circumambulation in the circle of our Lord’s content. Circumambulation should make a person abandon feeling free to do anything he wants and abandon turning round your fancies and desires like a luna moth. Otherwise, it is easy to arrive at the Kaaba and to turn round the Kaaba. Arriving at the Kaaba means overcoming your ego and reaching the state of servanthood, and breaking off multiplicity and reaching oneness. Your journey starts by abandoning your country now; when you reach the Kaaba, you will abandon yourself. You will be a white dust on the collar of a black flower and float. And the journey will never end.
Now you are running between Safa and Marwa seven times. Who are you running away from? Who are you running towards? You are running away from Him but you are running towards Him again. In fact, you are running away from His wrath and you are running towards His grace. We should run away from His justice, which regards us as worthy of burning in the fire, towards His grace that grants us Paradise although we do not deserve it.
Now it is time to depart from the Kaaba, which people come in groups and accumulate around. In fact, even the Kaaba is not enough for ultimate union. When you arrived at the brink of surrendering yourself to Him in circumambulation, when you reached the peak of the freedom to run away from Him to Him in sa’y, you discovered your duality. You knew about your part that surrendered and the part that remained free. Now it is time to know Him. Arafa is the time to know Him and Arafat is the place to know Him and for Him to know you. When they asked Rabia about her desire of Paradise, she said, “I do not need a house; I need a neighbor”. It is time you stopped turning around the ‘house’ and started to know the ‘neighbor’. You are being whispered in your heart, “Depart from the Kaaba; now you are closer to Me than the Kaaba. Say, “And the destination is to Allah”. (See. An-Noor 42 and Fatir 18). Abandon the Kaaba, approach the One that made the Kaaba sacred! Turn your back on the Kaaba; face the One that made the Kaaba holy. And understand that, “Everything (that exists) will perish except His own face.” (See. Al-Qasas 88). The Kaaba, Makkah and you all can be liberated from perishing and nihility as long as you turn to His face. Then, run to Arafat. “Run to Allah!”
When the sun disappears from Arafat towards the sunset, try to lose the false light of your ego in the black part of your heart. Take your body, clad in white, with you and join the slaves that “rush from Arafat”. “Flow” towards Mash’ar”… Forget yourself and “remember only Allah”. As He did not forget you in the streams of nihility, took you to the plain of existence and guided you from the darkness of aberration to the light of guidance, remember Him like that. “And verily, you could have been forgotten or could have been, before, of those who were astray.” (See. Al-Baqara 198).
You reach Mash’ar (Muzdalifa) when it gets dark; you wait there all night. You had stayed all day in Arafat. As knowing each other in Arafat necessitates the day and light, gaining the consciousness in Arafat demands the night and darkness. You become plain and alone all night. The night makes it easier for you to withdraw your sight from the objects and outside and to turn your eye towards the subject and inside. The sun is missing in the sky but the stars and the moon reach towards you by tearing the darkness. However, the test is not over yet. You dip your hand into the ground and the soil when your face is in the sky and your eye is in your heart. You will collect the pebbles from the ground of Mash’ar. Using your own hands! Just like it is on “the day when neither wealth nor sons will avail. Then, you lie into the bosom of the night with your white ihram like a shroud.
And the Gathering (Mahshar) morning… Resurrection. You resurrect from your loneness with the poking of the first light of the day and join the crowd of the Gathering Place. The inward journey of Mash’ar turns outward. The devotees of Mash’ar night are preparing to become the mujahids of Mina day. Only the one who “turns the night to the day”, “makes the sun rotate” and “makes the sun go after the moon” can pull down the unseen wall between Mash’ar and Mina. Nobody from that unique crowd, which is about to exceed its limit, dares to pass that imaginary line and leave Mash’ar unless the sunlight touches his body. The great crowd that reaches the imaginary light and returns reflects the unique freedom of obeying only Allah. You should break the chains of the earth that fasten you like the stones that you broke off the sands of the desert. And the order comes with the touch of the first daylight… It is the morning of Eid. What travels over the tired faces, and falls onto the declined shoulders is the hot touch of the sun. As you see, the sun is making hajj too. It rises in the Arafat and waits. It passes Mash’ar and enters Mina before you. Now you entered Mina and reached “security”! You can be sure that you passed the test. How do you think you obtained the privilege of stoning the devil?
Stoning the Devil
Do not think that what you throw is a stone. Remember how you collected those stones. You picked them by turning your face towards the earth and by making your hands dirty. Now the tiny things in your palm are the evils that you committed by turning away from and being unaware of the sky and revelation. While throwing the stones at the devil, you should also throw off the ignorance, heedlessness, evil, sins and the devil in you. Drive away the ignorance and heedlessness and throw off the evil like you throw the stones so that your closeness to Him will increase, your sacrificial animal will be an opportunity of closeness to Him.
And the sacrifice and the Eid! Although you were not allowed to pluck even one hair, to pick even one grass, now you are ordered to slaughter an animal. What a contradiction, isn’t it? So, no matter what you do; if you do it upon His order, it becomes goodness. How deadly it is not to kill by not heeding His order! And how reviving it is to kill upon His order! It is not left to man’s arbitrariness to determine bad and good, to discriminate between the ugly and the beautiful, to determine the goodness and evil. Do not forget that the thing that you slaughter or have it slaughtered is not a camel nor a cow nor a sheep. You should slaughter your lust, fancy, desire and will, and you should make them disappear in His content! On the day of Eid, in the morning of Sacrifice, your distance from Him will disappear; you will be close to Him! Eid will walk into your heart like that...
There exists ‘no return from Hajj’. The direction of hajj journey is exactly towards the direction where our life flows. Hajj makes us approach to the moment of death when our life becomes crystallized by taking our spirit from multiplicity to oneness, from periphery to the center. Our feet touch the sharp sirats (bridges) in this journey. Thus, the neighborhood of the Kaaba is located on the way to the Day of Judgment. Even if we want, there exists ‘no return from the way’.
We memorize the place that we turn towards five times a day in hajj. The Kaaba makes oneness tangible and visible. We straighten our qiblah straightforwardly. From now on, there exists ‘no return from the qiblah’.
On the one hand, our hand is prohibited from picking grass and plucking hair; on the other hand, it is ordered to slaughter an animal. We understand that our hand is not in our hands and our will is in His hands. Thus, we remember the promise we made in the past eternity. From now on, there exists ‘no return from our promise’.
With the hands we throw stones at the devil, we pray in the mosque of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH). We hate the devil as much as the amount of the stones we threw and rebel our soul and fancies; we increase our love of Muhammad (PBUH) and renew our pledge. Then, there exists ‘no return from the pledge’.
By arriving at the location we have been craving, we experience a feeling of approaching not going away. The direction we turn towards when we prostrate should make the winds smelling homeland touch our foreheads not foreign land. Once a person arrives in his homeland, there exists ‘no return to foreign land’.
And definitely, there exists ‘no return from hajj’...
- What are the frequent questions about hajj?
- Bara bin Ma’rur (r.a.)
- Farewell Sermon
- What needs to be done before traveling in Islam? Is it a sunnah to choose one of the travelers as the head before setting off?
- Did the Muslims in Madinah perform prayers by turning toward Masjid al-Aqsa (before the Kaaba) based on revelation other than the Quran?
- Since the world is round, do we not turn toward the Kaaba no matter where we turn?
- 5. Hajj (Pilgrimage) and Sacrifice
- Migration to Abyssinia
- Will you give information about the life of Hz. Ismail (Ishmael) (pbuh)?
- What were the items of the boycott applied by the polytheists in order to frustrate the Muslims? How was the boycott lifted?