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Awaiting My Turn

I am still waiting.  Each year goes by, and for some reason or other, I am forced to wait another year.  I pray for my turn to make the journey, my turn face the challenge, my turn to fulfill one of the duties of passage in life, my turn to walk and pray and worship on the sacred grounds of the pilgrimage.  I wait for my turn to go on Hajj.

While I wait, I strive to fulfill the duties of a believer from afar, longing for the moment when I will see the House of Allah.  Preparing for the day when I will fulfill this pillar of Islam, I read books and ask those who have been blessed by becoming a “hajji”. Intrigued by what might be superficially characterized as a very ritualistic series of actions, I strive to understand the significance of the stages of the pilgrimage.

 

I am bewildered by the intense concentration of the history of mankind in this place and the continuation of this opportunity to feel such a close connection with one who was not just the first Prophet, but also the father of mankind.

 

Possessing the intense belief that this order from my Creator and Sustainer has purpose and benefit in it for all whom submit to His command, I reflect on the elements of Hajj.  Certain in the love and mercy that He has for all creation, and especially for humankind, I strive to learn the steps and familiarize myself with the aspects from humanity’s spiritual history in which they are rooted.  Those who have made the journey tell me that this knowledge will help me to have a greater understanding of the value of each moment, allowing for a greater sense of comfort among all the difficulties associated, helping me to avoid the disorientation that might otherwise occur in the midst of such massive crowds and new surroundings.

Beginning with Adam, Allah established the Ka’bah as the first and primary center of worship on earth.  I am bewildered by the intense concentration of the history of mankind in this place and the continuation of this opportunity to feel such a close connection with one who was not just the first Prophet, but also the father of mankind.  It is priceless to be able to stand where Adam stood and, most importantly, to worship the One Who created us in the way He desires to be worshipped in the place He loves most in this world.  The very thought generates a sense of confidence in one’s faith that is strengthened by this bonding with one’s Lord.

The beauty of Hajj is that if just contemplating it has such a positive impact on me, I can’t imagine the powerful affect that the unification of the mental, physical, and spiritual elements of the Hajj will have on me.  And yet, I try to grasp what it will finally feel like to position my heart near the Ka’bah and orbit it as the earth orbits the sun, or to pray as the Seal of the Prophets (peace be upon him) prayed at the beloved Masjid, or to hurry between the hills of Safa and Marwa as Hagar, the mother of Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him), did in search of the help she was certain the Almighty would send, as she had come to this place on His command.  I struggle to comprehend what it will be like to stand for hours in the sacred precinct of Mount Arafat, praying for forgiveness, while visualizing Adam and Eve’s first day on earth and then the final gathering of humanity in their tribes and nations on the Day of Resurrection.  How humbling a task it must be to reflect upon one’s life with such detail as is done on that Day of Arafat.  What a great relief it must be to face one’s sins, seek forgiveness for them, and actually be able to have the great hope that all will be forgiven and one might leave that place purified, restored to one’s natural state.  Also, throwing stones at the stone pillars in a gesture that symbolizes driving Satan and his evil temptations from our life is a profound reminder of the need to be on guard against misguidance in our lives.  Finally, I muse over celebrating this glorious revitalization and strengthening the soul through the sacrifice made and shared with those whom have rights upon us.

 

I struggle to comprehend what it will be like to stand for hours in the sacred precinct of Mount Arafat, praying for forgiveness, while visualizing Adam and Eve’s first day on earth and then the final gathering of humanity in their tribes and nations on the Day of Resurrection.

 

From afar, I will wait again this year, fasting on the Day of Arafat, remembering my brothers and sisters standing on the sacred ground and those who are too poor to have the opportunity.  Here looking forward to my turn to travel to Allah’s House, Allah willing, I will select an animal, seek Allah’s acceptance of the sacrifice, and distribute the meat to the poor, my family, and neighbors.  Knowing I have no guarantee regarding next year, my heart aches as I watch another pilgrimage season approach and pass.  I pray Allah will give me life and opportunity to experience this spiritual necessity and complete this religious duty next year.

 

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