Hajj – The High Maintenance Journey

Several years back when I was privileged to respond to the call for the Hajj, I realize, I was caught more in the torrent of emotions to touch, feel and live the holy sites (ziyarat) than to perform the fifth Article of Islam. Swept on to a precipitate reaction, perhaps while deciding to perform the pilgrimage I had perceived only part of the situation. Without much knowledge, thought and application of mind when I was required to acquaint myself with the real essence (‘whys’ and the ‘wherefores’) of the Hajj, the emphasis was laid mainly on performance of Manasik-e-hajj. I returned home, with the title but not with the key as ‘to how to emerge cleansed of sins’ and ‘live life hereafter innocent of devilish tendencies’.

Years after performing the Hajj pilgrimage my bubbling enthusiasm and attendant excitement have since run out of steam. I do say Salah (nimaz) five times. In fact, I recite Koran as well and perform most of other Haqooq-ullah regularly. My performance and dealings with the people (Haqooq-ul-ibad) have however largely failed me to save my Hajj.

With all the razzamatazz of excitement and publicity, the emotionally charged Hajjis as usual are set to proceed for the holy journey. Do these future Hajjis understand that living life (during and after pilgrimage) is not a cakewalk? Do they realize that it calls for toil, sacrifice, and that Taqwa and not the thanday thanday deen – reading Nowfals, reciting Koran and Darood—alone will help them save their Hajj? In the following paragraphs I have penned down my experience about the essence of the Hajj pilgrimage, perceptions, misconceptions and the reasons why many of us fail to save our Hajj.

The artistry of a wordsmith fails to describe the choked passion of the Hajj pilgrims. Best of the writers would find it difficult to narrate the “drenched -in-devotion” and “drowned-in-supplication”. There is no emotion, for a Muslim, to equal the first sight of the Kaa’ba.

There is also no feeling close to the sense of complete submission that overtakes him when his forehead touches the ground, as he prays to the Almighty Allah. Desire to touch, feel, and live the holy places: walk: and live where Prophet Mohammad (pbh) and his followers once lived and the place that witnessed several great Islamic events is overpowering.

Performance of the Hajj is the story of monotheism and strict obedience to Allah. It is the journey of love, rituals and a prayer aimed at tracing the saga of Prophet Ibrahim (pbh) and is personal one. While Purity, prayer, humility and faith are implied in the pilgrimage, the pilgrims are supposed to dedicate themselves to worship and prayer as also the denial of worldly vanities and the rejection of evil in thought, word and deed.

During the journey, the pilgrims are expected to decide to purify themselves and throw stones symbolically on all the devilish tendencies. The thought being directed from physical to spiritual the best of the provisions required for journey is right conduct, which is the same as the ‘Fear of Allah’ or in other words ‘Taqwa’.

They shall now on live life free of devilish tendencies and ensure that their dealing in terms of Haqooq-ullah as well as Haqooq-ul-ibad are in tune with the Quran and Hadith. As it involves high maintenance, the question is, ‘are they able to save Hajj?’

Obsessed by the passion to own a jazzy high label parker pen (based on inadequate knowledge) when the nine – something (brat) grows blind to arguments, he digs heels not to take denials. His papa has sufficient knowledge and comprehension about the fate of the buy. Therefore he proposes cost effective alternatives.

The hapless father soon finds himself dragged down to bed rock by thousands and odd rupees. The passion of the little darling ebbs away soon. He soon chucks out the pen as junk, nib broken. Buying decision with inadequate idea and poor knowledge/comprehension invariably ends in fiasco.

In the days preceding the Hajj they as the kindled passions run very high, drenched in devotion and drowned in supplication, the prospective Hajjis embody all the feelings of penitence and remorse for their sins.

The guilt of unprepared-ness / undeserved-ness is overwhelmingly high suggestive thereof as if the piety and devotion are greater during the pre – Hajj days than in the aftermath of performing the Hajj. For the first few days of their stay in the holy land most of the pilgrims remain drenched in devotion so much so that they may even conjure visions of dying (the privileged) death in the holy places.

To them their passion of touching, feeling and living the holy places and clinging to the Kaa’ba, performing countless tawafs, kissing Hajre – Aswad, closeting themselves in Riyaz – ul-Janat at Medina, saying Nowfals and reciting holy Quran and so on has come true.

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