Life is so very different here. The city literally pauses five times a day, at the beautiful sound of the call to prayer. Everything closes down completely and the Holy mosque is the only place vibrating with life.
You’d be talking to someone all absorbed in an important conversation, and then suddenly you both stop, face the Qiblah, and start walking. As if we are spiritually hypnotized. I can talk about this Holy place forever, but someone just tapped me on the shoulder, inviting the whole Hajj group to the meeting room for instructions on the rites of Pilgrimage. I gotta go!
(Pssssstttttt one more thing! The mosque is surrounded with pigeons all day, and yet you NEVER see any bird droppings! Coincidence? I think not!!)
Okayyyyy I’m coming! Sorry guys, I really gotta go!
The leader quiets us down and then starts explaining. Of course you’re part of the group! You’re heart Hajjis this year, right? Come on.
“Attention people! Listen up!
Starting the 9th of Dhul Hajjah, you barely have time to breathe! The rites of Hajj will commence one after the other so fast it will make your head spin! And yes, say goodbye to sleep! (Yeah, Hajj is a form of Jihad. What did you guys except?)
But don’t panic. Please take your seats while I explain the process briefly. There are snacks and refreshments in the hall on your way in, so please help yourselves…
Okay so here it goes:
Step one: Begin Ihram and head off to Makkah
A bird inside the prophet’s mosque.
I often wondered why we walk around the Ka’bah seven times in an anti-clock wise motion. But this year, being your Hajj representative and all, it was time to get some answers!
Do you ever walk into a place, like a green park or a white room, take a deep breath, and say “wow I feel so peaceful here”
Okay, multiply that by a gazillion times and you’ll understand what’s it like to be near the Ka’bah. The House of God is located on a blessed spot, in the zero magnetism zone. Once you circumambulate around it anti clock wise, the same direction the entire universe rotates, your whole system is charged with positive energy.
The layers of earth are seven, so are the heavens. And just like each key has a different number of ridges to open a certain door, I personally believe, rotating around the Ka’bah seven times opens the doors to a blessed life on earth and an eternal abode in Paradise…
Sa`i: Walk The Walk
Next, comes the seven walks or the ” Sa`i ” between mount Safa and mount Marwa, another rite of unmrah and hajj. It is to honor lady Hajjar, who walked the seven walks hoping to find water for her thirsty baby, and then behold! The eternal blessed spring of Zamzam erupts.
The word “saei” roughly translates to: the effort exerted to attain something great. Is that perhaps a reflection of our lives too? We do ” Sa`i ” every day, working hard to do good deeds and avoid sins. Life is just an attempted effort to reach our version of “divine water in the middle of the desert”. We walk the walk in life, knowing that one day, we will be rewarded too… With eternal paradise Insha’Allah
Once you’re done both sets of walks, you go drench your heart and soul with Zamzam water and pray two rak’as then prepare for Arafat, the best day in the history of days…
Take a minute to listen to the sound of the surreal silence of this “overcrowded with millions of people” Holy mosque…
Stare at the Ka’bah…Quench this thirst in your soul you never knew existed till this moment.
The feeling you have now, seeing it up close and personal can never be described in human words…
It’s a mix of awe, shock, serenity, security, and detachment from the world. You feel your soul is being slowly disconnected from your body and tied with an eternal bliss to this beautiful velvet covered House of God.
The rush of emotions in this place is overpowering…
And it makes me wonder… If a place on earth is so heavenly to the point that you wouldn’t wanna blink and miss a second of its view… If the reality of being near the Ka’bah is more enchanting and captivating than any dream… I wonder…what is paradise like…?
Your Hajj Representative
Lilly S. Mohsen
First published in September 2015.