The Inner Dimensions of Hajj

Bismillahi ar-Rahmani al-Raheem

In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, Beneficent.

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; prayer and peace be upon Muhammad, the Chosen One, the Beloved, the Messenger of Allah.

The two eids, the occasions for Muslim happiness are celebrated around the world in pomp and grandeur. As these are the occasions of happiness let me first convey you my Salaam and Eid Mubarak, and hope and pray that we all may be counted among the recipients of all the numerous blessings for such occasions, Allah shower his blessings on ummah and grant peace and happiness to His creation.

by Motiur Rahman

Amidst all the celebrations we should not miss out the central message of Eid and all its spiritual blessings. For this reason I have mentioned the following from the books of Iman Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali and Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani (may Allah have mercy upon them) to remind us what our pious predecessors have recorded about these festive seasons, and how they have observed it.

Definitions of Eid

According to al-Ghazzali, in his Mukashafat al-Qulub[1]

“This day which is the first day of Shawwal and the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah is named eid because the believers returned (from the Arabic word ‘aud) from the obedience of Allah which entailed the fulfilment of the compulsory fasts and the hajj to the obedience of the Messnger of Allah which entails the six fasts of Shawwal and the preparation to visit the Messenger of Allah [in Medina]. It is also referred to eid because it returns year after year. It is also referred to eid because of the numerous benefits (from the Arabic word ‘awai’d) of the kindness which Allah confers on this day. It is also referred to as eid because of the return of happiness whenever this day returns.

The first eid which the Messenger of Allah performed was the eid-al-fitr in the second year of emigration. He did not leave it out thereafter. It is therefore an emphasised Sunnah of his.

Wahb ibn Munabbih (rah) also relates that Allah created Paradise on the day of eid-al-fitr and planted the Tuba tree on the day of eid al-fitr. He appointed Jibrail (aws) for the conveying of revelation on the day of eid al-fitr. He accepted the repentance of the magicians of Pharaoh on the day of eid al-fitr.

The Messenger of Allah said, ‘he who spends the night of eid in worship of Allah expecting reward, his heart will not die on the day when hearts will die [i.e. the day of resurrection].

It is related on the morning of the day of eid al-fitr, Allah despatches the angels. They descend to the earth and stand at the entrances of the streets and alleys. They announce in a voice that all the creations of Allah except the jinn hear. They say: ‘O ummah of Muhammad! Go out towards as generous Sustainer who gives abundant rewards and forgives serious sins.’ Then when they appear at their place of salah (prayer), Allah says to the angels: ‘What is the reward for the labourer when he has completed his task?’ They reply: ‘His reward is that he should be paid his wage in full.’ Allah says: ‘I make you witness to the fact that I have made My pleasure and forgiveness their reward.”

Virtues of the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah

In the same book al-Ghazzali relates[2]:

“Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (ra) narrates that the Messenger of Allah said: ‘There are no days that are more beloved in the sight of Allah and more superior than these then days.’ He was asked: ‘Not even the like thereof in the cause of Allah?’ He replied: ‘Not even the like thereof in the cause of Allah except the person who breaks the leg of his horse and soils his face in the cause of Allah’.

Aysha (ra) narrates that there was a youngster who, when he saw the new moon for the month of Dhul-Hijjah, would start fasting. When the Messenger of Allah heard of this, he called for him and asked him: ‘What makes you fast in these days?’ He replied: ‘May my parents be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of Allah! These are the days for the ceremonies of Hajj and they are the days of Hajj. Perhaps Allah will include me in the supplications of the pilgrims.’ The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Surely for each fast that you keep, you shall receive the reward for freeing 100 slaves, and 100 camels and 100 horses which are taken in the cause of Allah. When it is the 8th of Dhul Hijjah, you will receive the reward of freeing 1000 slaves, and 1000 camels and 1000 horses which are taken in the cause of Allah. when it is the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, you will receive the reward of freeing 2000 slaves, and 2000 camels and 2000 horses which are taken in the cause of Allah.’

The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Fasting on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah is equal to fasting fro two years. Fasting on the 10th of Muharram is equal to fasting for one year.

Ibn Masud (ra) relates that Allah chose four days, four months, four women, four who will enter paradise first, and four people whom Paradise is desirous of… The Prophet (s.a.w) said: ‘When it is the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, Allah spreads out His mercy. There is no other day on which such a large number of people are freed. He who asks Allah for any need of this world and the hereafter on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, Allah will fulfil it for him. Fasting on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah atones for the previous year and the following year.’

The wisdom behind this – and Allah knows best – is that it is between two eids, and both these days are days of joy for the believers. And there is no joy that is greater than the forgiveness of their sins. The tenth of muharram comes after the two eids. It is the atonement for the sins of one year. This day is for Musa (a.s) while the 9th of Dhul Hijjah is for our Prophet (s.a.w). His honour superseded that of all others.”

The Inner Aspects of Hajj[3]

“Pilgrimage according to the religious precepts is the visitation of the Qaba in the city of Makka. There are certain requirements connected with this pilgrimage: to wear the pilgrim’s garb – two wrappers of seamless white cloth which represents the leaving of all worly ties; to arrive at Makka in a state of ablution; to perform the seven circumambulations around the Qaba – a sign of complete surrender; to run seven times between the Safa and the Marwa; to go the plain of Arafat and stand waiting until sunset; to spend the night in Muzdalifa; to make a sacrifice at Mina; to make another seven circumambulations around the Qaba; to drink from the well of Zamzam; and to make two cycles of prayer near the place where the Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) stood near the Qaba. When these are done, the Hajj is complete and its reward granted, and if anything is lacking in this ritual its reward is cancelled.

The reward for Hajj is announced by Allah:

‘And whoever enters it is safe, and the Pilgrimage to the house is a duty that men owe to Allah, whoever can find a way to it.’ [Surah-Imran 96]

Whoever can perform the Pilgrimage will find safety from hellfire. That is his reward.

The inner Pilgrimage necessitates a great deal of preparation and gathering of provisions prior to the undertaking of the voyage. The first thing is to find a guide, a teacher, whom one loves and respects, on whom one depends and whom one obeys. It is he who will furnish the pilgrim with what he needs.

Then one must prepare one’s heart. To wake it up one recites the sacred phrase La ilaha illa Llah – there is no god but Allah – and remembers Allah in contemplating the meaning of that phrase. With this the heart wakens, becomes alive. It also remembers Allah, and keeps remembering Allah until the whole inner being is cleansed and purified of all else but Him.

After the inner purification, one must recite the Names of the attributes of Allah, which will kindle the light of Allah’s beauty and grace. It is in that light that one hopes to see the Qaba of the secret essence. Allah ordered His prophets Ibrahim and Ishmail to this purification in saying:

Associate not anything to Me, and purify My House for those who circumambulate it. [Surah-Hajj, 26]

Indeed the material Qaba in the City of Makka is kept clean for the pilgrims. How much cleaner should one keep the inner Qaba upon which the truth will gaze!

After the preparations the inner pilgrim wraps himself in the light of the holy spirit, transforming his material shape into the inner essence, and circumambulates the Qaba of the heart, inwardly reciting the second divine Name – Allah, the proper name of God. He moves in circles because the path of the essence is not straight but circular. Its end is its beginning. Then he goes to the Arafat of the heart, the inner place of supplication, that place where one hopes to know the secret of ‘There is no god but He, Who is One and Who has no partners’. Then stands reciting the third Name, Hu – not alone, but with Him, for Allah says:

‘And He is with you wherever you are.’ [Surah-Hadid, 4]

Then he recites the fourth Name – Haqq, the Truth, the name of the light of Allah’s essence – and then the fifth Name, Hayy – the divine life, eternal, from which all temporal life derives. Then he joins the divine Name of the Everlasting with the sixth Name – Qayyum, the Self-existing One upon whom all existence depends. This brings him into the Muzdalifa of the centre of the heart.

Then he is brought to the Mina of the sacred secret, the essence, where he recites the seventh Name – Qahhar, He Who overwhelms all, the All-Compeller. With the power of that Name the self and selfishness is sacrificed. The veils of disbelief are blown away and the gates of the void fly open…

Reciting the eighth divine Name, Wahhab – the Donor of All, without limits, without conditions – he enters the sacred area of the Essence. There he recites the ninth Name – Fattah, the Opener of all things that are closed.

Entering the pace of assiduousness where he stays in retreat close to Allah, in intimacy with Him and away from everything else, re recites the tenth Name, Wahid – Allah the One Who has no equal, none like Him. There He begins to see the manifestations of Allah’s attribute Samad, – the Source. He sees the beginning of this inexhaustible treasure. It is a sight without form or shape, resembling nothing.

Then the last circumambulation starts: seven circuits during which he recites the last six Names and adds the eleventh Name, Ahad – the Unique One, the Only One. Then he drinks from the hand of the intimacy of Allah.

And their Lord makes them drink a pure drink. [Surah-Insan, 21]

In drinking from this Source one sees all the veils lifting from the eternal face. One looks upon It with the light coming from It. The world has no likeness, no shape, no form. It is indescribable, unassociable, that world ‘which no eyes have seen, no ears have heard its description, that no man’s heart remembers.’ The words of Allah are not heard by sound nor seen as the written word. The delight that no man’s heart can taste is the delight in seeing the truth of Allah Most High, and hearing Him speak.

After the pilgrimage all wrongs turn into right. During the pilgrimage all that is unlawful turns into lawful things, and all this is within the now attained unity, which is continuous. Allah says:

He who repents and believes and does righteous deeds, for him Allah will change his evil deeds to good. [Surah-Furqan, 70]

Then the pilgrim will be freed of all actions that are from himself and freed from all the fear and grief. Allah says:

Now surely the friends of Allah, they have no fear, nor do they grieve. [Surah-Yunus, 62]

Finally the farewell circumambulation is performed with the recitation of all the divine Names.

Then the pilgrim returns home, to the home of his origin, that holy land where Allah created man in the best and most beautiful pattern. In returning he recites the twelfth divine Name, Samad – the Source, the treasure from which the needs of all creation are satisfied. That is the world of Allah’s proximity, that is where the home of the inner pilgrim is, and that is where he returns.”

[1] Al-Ghazzali, Mukashafat al-Qulub (An Exposition of the Hearts), pp.603-604, Darul Ishaat, Karachi, 2007.

[2] Al-Ghazzali, Mukashafat al-Qulub (An Exposition of the Hearts), pp.605-607, Darul Ishaat, Karachi, 2007.

[3] Shaykh abdul Qadir al-Jilani, The Secret of Secrets, pp.84-87, The Islamic Text Society, Cambridge, 1992

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