Sunday, January 08, 2006

Journey of Discovery (part II)

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Part II of Vibes, taken from Na'eem Jeenah (a fellow blogger) and the late Shamima Shaikh's wonderful book: Journey of Discovery - A South African Hajj.

Vibes (part II )

There occurred only one interruption in my intense state; this was as the time for the wukuf ended, just before sunset. I was standing alone in my intense state of communion with my Creator when suddenly some 40 men surrounded me and began a communal supplication that shattered my private and peaceful hymns of praise. This act struck me as singularly inappropriate at a time when hujjaj were spending their last personal moments with The Lord in this unique place. And strangely, some of the men involved were clearly unfamiliar with Urdu - the language of the supplication. They committed the last moments they had left in this blessed place to listening to and acknowledging a strangers' prayers that they did not even understand.

The Third instance occurred on our last day in Makkah. The congregational Jumu'ah was to be my final prayer at the Haram and my farewell to the Ka'bah. Somehow, I reached the Haram a little later than I would have liked, and found that there was space available only on the roof. I was surprised that the roof was fairly empty, until a few minutes after I seated myself and felt the sun beating down on my head. Hats, scarves and umbrellas did not help the other hujjaj. Wearing a hat because I had been bald recently, I walked to the front, which was devoid of shade from pillars or walls. Since most people disliked this full sunlight, there were not many people in the front row and I had an unobstructed view of the the Ka'bah!

I sat there for the next hour and a half, through an Arabic sermon that I could barely make sense of, and after the prayer I lifted my hands to Allah. It was amazing that simply gazing on the Ka'bah could effect me so deeply. I forgot the desert sun and the people around me and - for the last time - filled my senses, my mind and my heart with the sight of this shrine to Allah. And Allah gave me brief access to His Grace, I pray I will again experience that feeling of closeness with my Creator.

In thinking back to these moments I remember - as I and Shamima did many times during the Hajj - one of the comments of Amina Wadud. "Don't have expectations about what you want to achieve from the Hajj,' Amina had said. 'If you do, you might find what you are searching for, but you may never find what Allah wants to show and give you.' These were wise words to those going for Hajj from one who has not made the journey.

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