Haj is one of the five components of Islam and is a 5- days process of give and take between Allah swt and His human creation. Haj is to show Muslim unity, submission to Allah’s Will, and tolerance. It also causes strange detachment from personal, professional and social life. A pilgrim automatically becomes numb for his loved ones for the sake of love for Allah. All global pilgrims connect, learn, appreciate and get strength from each other. Strangely the gender differences finishes during Haj and all individual religious practices become co-practices with no social issues created. On 8th Zilhaj pilgrims have to wear Ahram with strict terms and conditions and on breaking the rules, penalty is to be given.
This year about 2.5 million people performed Haj which started with a collective movement of pilgrims on 8th Zilhaj from Makkah to Mina camps for five nights stay. Imagine this mammoth crowd moving excitedly and happily only and only for the Love of Allah. On 9th the same crowd moves from Mina to Arafat around midnight to perform the most important ritual called Waqoof and to experience Allah, because He comes closer to earth like HE does in Lailatul Qadar. This special reward is only and only for those present in Arafat and HIS presence is from noon to sunset. HE facilitates pilgrims by some special instructions like they have to offer Zohar and Asar together in Arafat and Maghrib and Isha together late after reaching Muzdalfa. Muslims can’t skip their prayers but during Arafat this rule breaks and more time is given for getting connection to Allah. We offered our Zohar and Asar at 12.30 pmand then that time starts when we were supposed to connect to Allah according to our capacity. Arafat is only place where dua or meditation continues for almost six hours. Almost every one feels, hears or visualises something which confirms the presence of Allah during Waqoof Arafat.
That is the time when every one cries explosively and feels Allah as his or her best friend whom we wanted to say sorry, pray for forgiveness, beg for HIS mercy, and our stability to stay on the right path. I was blessed to be part of those highly spiritual moments and I loved that sight of secret conversation, embarrassment, begging, and seeking forgiveness, between a shattered bunda and Allah. I believe level of connection to Allah in Arafat is highly dependent on the amount of purity we carry in our hearts. In my Haj group there were about 6-7 doctors and we were trying to understand scientifically the metaphysical phenomenon going on in Arafat. It was beyond our scientific understanding but most of us felt vibrations, sensation, automatic outburst of tears and goose bumbs which are signs of presence of a mega voltage energy. My heart felt that Allah is happy about the sacrifices pilgrims were going through especially bearing scorching temperatures of 45-50C. Waqoof Arafat makes us feel that objective of Haj is fulfilled. Now again 2.5 millions have to leave Arafat before sunset to reach Muzdalfa, everyone felt special breeze and cloud rumbling around Maghrib prayer.
Overnight stay in Muzdalfa is another test of love for Allah because you have to lie on pebbles or sand under open sky and can’t cover your face (condition of ahram) to hide your embarrassment. Can you ever think of lying on a road or ground under open sky with so many half naked men and fully covered unknown women lying around you. Initially I felt pain of those spiky pebbles or crush but spread a sheet to lie down and I slept for few hours in deep sleep. I still did not understand how I slept under those non favourable factors, probably I was detached from worldly superficiality and wanted to please Allah.
As a Lifestyle Medicine Specialist, I can comment that five days of Haj in fact do an intensive lifestyle modification in our eating habits, sleep routine, too much exercise and carry high stress for the will and love of Allah. Intermittent recitation of rhythmic Lubaik Allah huma labaik, gives energy and reminder for the purpose of Haj or we mark ourselves present in Divine roll call register. Now pilgrims have started getting dirtier, emit various offensive body odours and get tanned skins. Though Allah wants cleanliness in a Muslim but during Haj HE wants us to stay dirty. It is proven to us that how dirty we are internally which we hide by expensive clothing, makeup, hairstyles and expensive perfume. Despite all these difficulties drained and exhausted pilgrims are satisfied, console each other and carry on with the remaining rituals. 10th Zilhaj comes to allow pilgrims to do rammi, goat sacrifice, cutting of hair and then can take shower. That is the Eid day for pilgrims and all feel relieved of performing rukne azam or Waqoof. Next two days pilgrims perform tawaf ziarat and rammi. Rammi or throwing stones on satan is an act of rejecting him holistically.
Tawaf haram is in remembrance of Prophet Ibrahim’s act which He has done after completing construction of Kaaba. In tawaf ziarat you have to do Sae, which is in remembrance of Bibi Hajira’s strenuous act of looking for food for her baby Hazrat Ismail. Let us revise this beautiful religious ritual and what it is teaching us.
Under Allah’s orders Prophet Ibrahim left Hazrat Hajira and Hazrat Ismail in Makkah mountains. One day Hazrat Hajira wanted water for her baby but there were no signs of water. When she got desperate, she started walking and running between Safa and Marva mountains. Due to her maternal instinct she was guarding her child by repeatedly looking at the baby Ismail. This pain, struggle, patience, helplessness, and mother’s love was appreciated by Allah and became an important component of Haj and Umra. All mothers can partially understand Her pain but men can’t, therefore all men are also suppose to respect and follow this religious act to complete their Haj/Umra. You can feel the hardness of that act even while walking between airconditioned Safa and Marva. We can understand how Allah loves maternal efforts for her children and compares Himself to a 70 times mother’s love. Hazrat Ismail was blessed with healing, miracle water called Zam Zam.
After completing Haj pilgrims go to Madina, to offer Darood o Salam to Allah’s beloved Prophet Muhammad Mustafa PBUH. Quran asks us to love, respect and offer Darood o Salam to Prophet Muhammad PBUH, and we have learnt from Quran that Allah wouldn’t have created Universe without creating the Noor Muhammad. One new misconception is intentionally being spread in Madina, that muslims come only for the sake of Masjid, may Allah protect us from this new fitna. Ishq e Muhammad has transformed Madina into a modern city, within the boundaries of Masjid Nabvi you have to speak in low voice, police cars can’t blow their horns even ambulance can’t blow sirens in order to show respect to Prophet Muhammad as per instructions by Allah given in Quran. We all went there only and only for the sake of Prophet Muhammad PBUH and His mosque, luckily we have this clarity in our mind. Our Haj journey completed in Madina and from Jeddah we flew back to Pakistan.