Monday, 27 June 2011




So, you have made your plans and preparations to perform the haj, eh?

Your reservations for travel and accommodation have already been made and confirmed. You have either paid off your debts or come to some amicable agreement with your debtors, which frees you for the haj. You have had all the necessary vaccinations, and so now all the necessary paper work has been completed for your safe and smooth journey.

You have even either purchased or selected from your closet the clothing that you will need. Perhaps even your bags are already packed. And you have also put away a nice little bundle of money for your provisions and other needs along the way.

And you have even studied in books as a review on how to proceed through the haj, or perhaps you have attended lectures or some sort of classes of tutoring to prepare you for the haj.

And so, you are ready. But…are you REALLY ready?

This is a gathering of people from literally ever crack and corner of the world, uniting in this one spot, on this one day (namely-Arafat), for one purpose-to worship and humbly dedicate themselves to the One and Only God.

For even the most sage haji's, who have attended the haj many times over and are accustomed to this scene, it is still a tremendously emotional and impressively flabbergasting moment.

If you come by air, most likely your first glimpse of the haj atmosphere will greet you at the specially allocated haj terminal in Jeddah. The Saudi authorities have wisely set up this separate terminal building to help them more efficiently process the hundreds of thousands of hajis. This has helped them to free up the regular terminal somewhat for those traveling at this time for reasons other than the haj.

Then, as you first enter Makkah, you will notice the influx of the tens of thousands of pilgrims homing in on the Grand Mosque for prayer and the ceremonial circumambulation of the Kaaba as honey bees are attracted towards and held in magnetic connection to their queen and the hive.

Another beautiful site developing and increasing in recent years is something that I affectionately call 'Rainbos of the Haj'. This is the growing tendancy of the various separate groups coming for the haj, in particular those from non-arab lands, of assigning a one-color scheme of head-dress (hijab) for all of their female participants to don. It is not uncommon nowadays to look out onto the sea of humans in the Grand Mosque, and find a group of 20+ women donned in, for example, yellow scarves, followed by yet another group of purple, and yet another group of green, and so on and so forth, literally covering their heads with any and every color of the rainbow and all shades in between. This manner helps their own groups-helping to prevent losses from their groups in aiding them to identify one another.

As you progress towards Mina, the tent-city camp site where most of your stay will be, you will notice now more and more of the men donned in the traditional simple garb of two pieces of un-sewn white cloth. Here, at this point, (only one or two days before the haj of Arafat), the only men dressed in regular clothing are those not intending haj for themselves.

The days preceding the haj have come and gone. You have done your first visit of the Grand Mosque, performed some prayers and completed the circumambulation due upon your arrival. You have checked into your assigned tent in Mina, acquiring 'your space' for your stay.

Now the truly Big Day has arrived. The Day of Arafat. The Day of the Bigger Haj (al-Haj Al-Akbar), as it is so names by Allah in the Quran.

This is truly the Day of the Haj-for without attending to it in it's proper place, in proper manner, and in proper time, it does not count with Allah as Haj for that person, even if they may attend to all the other rites and rituals of the Haj. And as for all the other rites and rituals of the Haj-if you miss out on them in any way, there is expiation for that. But there is no form of expiation for missing the presence at Arafat-within it's set boundaries, and during the daylight hours up until sunset.

This most excellent day of the year is a day for prayers and supplication-seeking for His Mery and Forgiveness. So take the fullest advantage of this truly one-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This is the Day in which Allah tells His angels that He indeed forgives those who have presented themselves to Him at this time and at this spot. So do not lose the spirit of the moment by worldly cares and worries.

For those who have the chance to participate in and witness for themselves the gathering of the pilgrims-all at one spot, all at one time, all facing one direction, all dressed the same, all for the same reason-humbling themselves to worship and serve the One and Only God-it is a fantastically overwhelming experience indeed.

Over 2 million, perhaps closer to 3 million, pilgrims-all worshipping the One God at one time! People from all over the globe-countless backgrounds, countless languages, countless professions and levels in society-all standing literally side by side, bowing all at one time, prostrating all at one time, in perfect unison and obedience behind one leader, all seeking the Mercy of their Creator and Sustainer.

It is a sight which is, perhaps, even chillingly predictive of the Day of Resurrection. A Day when all will be raised in a fashion of facing their Lord and Accounter.

But it is different still. For on this day, we are yet in this life, and we yet have the chance for repentance and redemption. We have this hane yet to hopefully wipe our slates clean.

For as Allah has promised us, for those who commit no sin nor debauchery in the haj, they will return after the haj as a new born babe, with a clean slate! Literally a new start! A second chance at a new life-with all past sins wiped off the slate!

It is truly overwhelming indeed-to the point where you may very well in fat find yourself at a loss of words or manner of how to ask what you most desperately need or want from your Lord. So do not let this sensation of overwhelm consume you to that extent. Rather, continue to remember Allah much in the simplest fashion.

Repeat the shahada over and over. This statement itself is truly the essence of Islam. So, repeat it often. It is something truly loved by Allah. Another phrase to frequently moisten your tongue with is: 'subhan-Allah wa bi hamdihi, subhan Allahul-adhim'. As recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, this phrase is dearly beloved by the Most Merciful, light on the tongue, and heavy in the scales (of reward). So, repeat it often. And don't become forgetful or mindless of seeking Allah's forgiveness. Two great benefits of this is that one: it is a door-opener to having your other prayers answered; and, two: it is a method of attaining Allah's protection from His anger and punishment, as He Himself has promised us. And Allah never relinquishes on anything He promises.

Take the fullest advantage of the Day of the Haj. Humble yourself to Allah in seeking His Mercy and His Forgiveness. Reap the rih benefit to be had from the Haj. Take your belief to another higher and more encompassing level. Find the true brotherhood of Islam. Take care to help and be kind to your fellow pilgrims. Have much patience.

It is truly an out-of-this-world experience, if you will open yourself for it. Prepare yourself-leave the world and all of your worldly cares behind you for that short time. And sincerely give of yourself to Allah.

He has beckoned unto you, commanding His slave Ibrahim (AS) to proclaim the Haj when it's time comes. He has spoken-the Haj is now upon us. And you, my brothers and sisters, are answering His call: 'Labaik Allahumma labaik'. Pilgrims coming from literally every crack and corner of the world-to gather in answer to His all.

So reap the benefits of this time, and be of those who are sincere with they say: 'Laa ilaha illa Allah, Mohammedan rasool Allah.'

May Allah grant you the greatest benefit of this haj-to be forgiven of your sins, and to be granted entrance to His Paradise. And may He protect you to return to your loved ones in excellent form.


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