May 1, 2007
It is Jumaah exactly one week before the Day of Arafaat, and Makkah-i-Mukkaramah is packing up with incoming Hajji’s by the hour. As far as the eye could see it’s a sight of white Ihrams, the masses differentiated only by towels of men and the long gowns of women, millions upon millions of them, pour into the city and rushing to gather around the Haraam Sharif. The sight is only as enormous as the human eye could perceive, but yet as magnificent as the mind can construe. As I rush out of the hotel after breakfast at around 10 a.m, I know I have to get into the Haraam Sharif early enough to get a good spot for Jumaah namaz. As I step onto the luminous white face of the Grand Masjid, my feet feel the cool relief before my mind. Going up the escalator, I head towards the roof since the first and second floors are already packed. Stepping out into the beautiful sunlight and clear skies reflecting onto the emblazoned whiteness of the roof grounds I shield my eyes from being blinded from the brilliant intensity. The roof thankfully is totally empty, and I’m relieved to have time to find myself a spot and I make my way to the balcony. The sight is incredibly spectacular, only 10 in the morning and tens of thousands of Hajji’s making their seven rounds of tawaf in the burning sunlight around the Kaabah Sharif. Taking in the phenomenal spectacle going on before me I can’t help but wonder at the creation of this magnificent Creator, and the beautiful depths of the spiritual strength of the moment. All I can do is bring myself to stand there and take the minutes in little by little, drop by drop. Emotions come to cross my heart and mind in wild commotions, from intense love to fear, astonishment to marvels, I don’t know how exactly to feel or what to think. All I can see is the tops of thousands of human heads, a mesh of white cloth moving slowly circularly around the majestic Black cube. I feel like I can feel every step every Hajji is taking at the exact moment, understand the depths of the love and fear felt for the Creator with every circle completed, and a questioning of how immense, how magnificent and how central a role our Allah (swt) plays in us human beings. The moment is far beyond incredible but simply inconceivable. I never imagined I could experience such a time in all my life, such emotions and thoughts; it was completely beyond human imagination.
I always wondered what would be the greatest heart-wrenching experience of my life, one that I could grow old and reflect on with immense sentiment and bliss, and yet, here I was, probably at the epitome of such a time. Coming to the realization that my environment of the moment is so pure of the filth of Dunya, so powerful in Imaan for the magnificent Lord, and every soul left utterly weak and fragile at the mercy of that Lord, the tears start flowing and time, as I know it has stopped ever so gracefully.
As the waters of life tread on by, the waves drifting in front of your eyes, as hard as you try you can’t seem to stop them from becoming what they are. In the same way, nothing can stop human beings from becoming who they are, truly feeling their Creator within their soul, as their living and breathing provider second by second, hour by hour. When light engages the heart, it causes an illumination of the path, a purification of the consciousness, an enlightenment of the intellect and an establishment of the foundations. Of Dhikr (remembrance of Allah (swt)) and Shukr (gratitude towards Allah (swt)), and of beautiful worship. Once this is fully acknowledged within the Ruh of the person, everything else is put at peace. Once the soul is illuminated and shroud with the love of Allah, the human mind has nothing to fear and nothing to desire but that love of his Creator. When there is fear of the Creator, fear of the creation simply ceases to exist. Your ultimate purpose amongst all of existence is finally put into grand perspective and all you can think of is to find a way to fulfill that purpose, and understand the universe in all of its’ brilliance and importance.
As the time for Jumaah prayer starts to near, I wake up from my daze of thoughts and find myself in between crowds of people, everyone trying to get a closer seat to the balcony. I slowly make my way through the maze of people and I happen to glance over to the entrance gates of the roof to see people pouring in just like bees swarming into a hive. The once lush white stone grounds are covered with sitting, standing and prostrating bodies, all pointed in one direction. How long did it take to fill up like this I wonder? It seemed like only moments ago I myself had climbed on. But a couple of hours had passed by and as far as I could see I could only look at the tops of heads. I finally find an empty spot by the women and prepare to sit down when three other women come to take the same spot. In the end, all four of us are sitting in a spot big enough for one. The crowd and heat are finally intensifying upon me as the noon sun is out and at its’ highest, not leaving space for any cool shade. As I sit there prepared for the next hour with only a book to keep me occupied, the sister next to me asks me something in Arabic. I speak no Arabic I say in English, but she persistently keeps talking. Eventually I figure out she’s determined to know where I am from, and so ‘America’ I say. Mash’Allah she answers, how nice. I return the question to her and with a proud smile on her face she exclaims Iraq. We exchange smiles for a moment, and in the next, the tides turn rapidly. At quite exactly the same second we both realize what we have just said. The relations between our two homelands and the differences in their states have been taken in; and I am left speechless. We both look at one another with all the sorrow and regret we are feeling. At which point my sister in Islaam starts crying and tries to hide it by opening her Qur’an to read. As my heart is filling up, I don’t know of anything else to do but sit there and cry with her. We don’t speak the same tongue, but yet the language we are speaking is deeper than any other. The language of the heart, as human beings connecting on a level far greater than any worldly creation, my sister and I are crying. Exchanging the delicate matters of the heart, crying for the sake of the Muslim Ummah, for the lost lands of Islam, and just for the mercy of Allah.
Looking back, I feel like I could fit my whole life, past, present and future as well as my entire psychology into those few moments. When I felt like I didn’t exist, but Allah existed within me, His warmth, His essence and His brilliance, something like an ounce of a drop of water of it had been gifted to me for those few seconds, and I look forward to living the rest of my years in gratefulness for those life-altering drops.