The Internal Dimension of Hajj
The Internal Dimension of Hajj
The ultimate destination
You are the luckiest person in the world. Allah ﷻ has invited you personally to His House.
What is Hajj? Hajj in the Arabic language means aim, destination or purpose (qasd). The reason is clear: Hajj is the ultimate journey of loving submission ('ubudiyah) and conscious surrender (riq) to Allah ﷻ. Its ultimate destination is your encounter with the House of Allah (Bayt al-Allah) - the Ka`bah - with both your physical body and, more importantly, your heart (qalb).
Ibn al-Jawzi (rahimahullah) relates a story of an old, blind woman who was journeying to Hajj years ago with a caravan. Throughout the journey, she keeps asking: "Are we at the house of my Lord?" Time and again, she is told, "No, mother, we are not there yet." As the caravan nears Makkah, she is informed that they are almost there. Finally, they enter Masjid al-Haaram. She is led to the Ka'bah. Touching the Ka'bah, she cries, "Baytu Rabbi!" ("The House of my Lord!"). Weeping, she clings to the cloth of the Ka'bah - and dies.
The woman realized with her heart (qalb) the true significance of visiting the House of her Lord.
Allah has invited you to His House, which He has called the al-Bayt al-'Atiq - the ancient, liberated and liberating house. Your journey is one of freedom and liberation. For as your body leaves its material house to journey to Allah's House, your heart is meant to disengage from the lower self (nafs), the shaytan, and the world (dunya) and journey to Allah.
The ultimate reward for a Hajj mabrur is to return home with the purity of a newborn child. What could be a greater incentive? But beware, for Hajj is a selective process. Only a few will attain a Hajj mabrur, which is a Hajj performed correctly, without any disobedience to Allah and without indulging in any argumentation. Be prepared. Be vigilant. Be focused. This will be one of the greatest - and sweetest - struggles of your life.
May Alla allow our bodies and souls to journey to His House; may He permit our hearts to find Him, the Lord of the House. Ameen.
The most sacred space
You will be journeying from your earthly house to Makkah, your spiritual home, the most beloved place to Allah ﷻ in all of space and time. Allah himself has decreed it to be so since the beginning of creation. There is no place more blessed, more beautiful, more virtuous, more exalted than Makkah. Every inch and every corner of Makkah is a Haaram, a sanctuary made sacred by Allah. The more you revere Makkah, the more you will be ennobled by Allah. We must take the greatest of care to never think casually of our sojourn in Makkah or live within its precincts in disobedience or negligence.
Some reports teach that it was in Makkah that our father Adam ('alayhi al-salam) longed to go back to paradise and be in the presence of Allah. To console his loneliness, Allah commanded him to do tawaf around the space of the current Ka'bah. And Adam did, and felt whole again.
Other texts teach that Nuh ('alayhi al-salam), Ibrahim ('alayhi al-salam), and many Prophets before them ('alayhim al-salam), all did tawaf around Allah's sacred House. Their spiritual energy and legacy fills the air. You will be walking in the footsteps and the heart-steps of Rasulullah (Prophet Muhammad ﷺ) and his noble companions.
Shelter, solace and sight
Hajj and its rites are described in various and powerful ways by Allah ﷻ and his Rasul (Prophet Muhammad ﷺ). Through these descriptions, we gain insight into the deeper meanings of Hajj. The rites of hajj are described, for example, as manasik, masha'ir and mashahid.
Mansak (plural manasik), usually translated as ritual, connotes shelter (maskan) and tranquility (sukun). The rites of Hajj are residences of shelter and tranquility for the heart.
Mash'ar (plural masha'ir) connotes feeling and experience. The rites of Hajj cause the heart to feel and experience the sweetness of nearness to Allah.
Mashad (plural mashahid) is to witness with the heart the blessings of Allah ﷻ at every station - to see, with one's inner sight, Allah's will as the Decreer of decrees and the Causer of all causes.
Each word connotes a different inner dimension of Hajj, as the movement, not only of your body or limbs, but of your heart. For as your body journeys from one place to another, so too must your heart travel through various stations (maqamat), each of which will provide it with shelter, solace and inner sight.
Hajj is your chance to become an angel and to live with the delight of an angel.
In tawaf, you will be mirroring the worship of the angels, the mala'ikah, those heavenly creatures created of pure light and enveloped in the worship of Allah. Texts teach that the Ka'bah is connected in an imperceptible way to the Bayt al-Ma'mur, the heavenly Ka'bah of the angels, around which they are constantly in tawaf. Seventy thousand angels perform tawaf around this house and are replaced with others, and they never to return.
Around the Ka'bah, we are in a heavenly dimension. Near the Ka'bah are the Hajar Aswad, or black stone (a stone set into one of its corners), and the Maqam Ibrahim , both gems from Jannah. We are taught that the hajar was darkened by the sins and transgressions of man. Its heavenly light is now folded from us. The hajar will be rendered into a person in the afterlife by Allah ﷻ and will witness on behalf of those who approached it with truth and sincerity. The hajar can be said to take a picture recording of your heart as you stand before it. Kissing the hajar is the most profound renewal of your covenant with Allah and a pledge of love, dedicated obedience and soulful allegiance to Him.