Labbayk Allahumma labbayk
(Here I am at your service! O Allah, here I am!)
Labbayk laa sharika laka labbayk
(Here I am! There’s no God except You, here I am!)
Inna-l hamda wan-ni’mata
(All praise, and all favors)
(Belong to You, and the Kingdom.)
Laa sharika laka
(There’s no God except you.)
The first time I experienced the essence of Talbiyah was actually a few days before Hajj. The agency that was arranging the Hajj trip for us had put together a short course on the details of Hajj, including its fiqh and practical aspects we were likely to experience.
The first lesson the teacher gave us was about the talbiyah.
He first explained the meaning of each phrase of the talbiyah, and then asked us to repeat them after him.
The conference room suddenly boomed with the voices of men reciting the talbiyah (the women recited it silently). It made me almost tearful, and that was only a demo.
After that, I’ve tasted the sweetness of the talbiyah many times during hajj that year – each time I said it while in anticipation of seeing the Ka’bah, each time I heard it on my journey in the voices of passing pilgrims.
What’s special about the talbiyah is that it’s a unique dua for a unique place and time – we say it only in Makkah and only during Hajj or Umrah. That gives talbiyah a unique flavor for those who’ve done either Hajj or Umrah. It brings back many feelings and invokes memories of our moments of obedience to Allah.
For those who had experienced the true taste of Iman some time in their lives, it awakens something like the first fervor of that experience, something in our souls that somehow got buried over time, buried under worldly distractions. It proves that the potential is still there inside us – all we need to do is find ways to awaken it.
Talbiyah is a confession, an acknowledgement of our complete submission to Allah and Allah alone. Nothing else matters. The only thing that really counts is Allah’s pleasure.
Because everything else exists because of Him. Everything else belongs to Him, including me and you. Every good that happens to us is because of Him. He deserves all praise and thanks. That’s why we respond to His call.
Talbiyah is, in fact, an answer – to a call proclaimed millennia ago by Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him).
And when We designated for Ibrahim the site of the House, [saying], ‘Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand [in prayer] and those who bow and prostrate. And proclaim to the people the Hajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel….’ (22:26-28)
Ibrahim is our role model for Islam. His life stories show us what true submission looks like.
Say, ‘Indeed, my Lord has guided me to a straight path – a correct religion – the way of Abraham, inclining toward truth. And he was not among those who associated others with Allah.’
Say, ‘Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah , Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first [among you] of the Muslims.’ (6:161-3)
True submission means just that: everything you do, every moment you live, every word you say, every breath you take – all of it is for Allah alone. Everything else in life is secondary and is only a means to that ultimate submission.
How in the world do we achieve that incredible feat? The theory is very sound, but how do we put it into practice? We can’t even concentrate properly in salah because we’re so concerned about worldly matters. We don’t get time to recite a page of the Quran. How do we make Allah’s pleasure the highest priority in our lives?
Think of how it works in Hajj. You’ll see people who barely pray five times daily come back from Hajj with a habit of praying tahajjud every night. How does that happen?
Hajj gives us the perfect recipe, the perfect mix of ingredients to awaken our faith. But does that mean it can’t be awakened otherwise?
Of course not.
The place is far away from us non-Hajjis; we are not in Makkah. But the Lord of Makkah is still with us, and we can ask for His forgiveness and mercy any time we want.
Hajj is not the only call from Allah. The talbiyah is not the only way to respond to Him. Allah says:
And when My servants ask you concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided. (Quran 2:186)
The place of Hajj is far away from us, but the time is right here. We’ve already entered the first ten days of the month of Dhul Hijjah – the most blessed days of the year. Utilize the barakah of these special days. The goal isn’t just to earn some extra rewards, but to change ourselves and our habits for the better, just like the Hajjis are doing at Hajj.
In the next article, I will insha’Allah highlight for you some insights that Hajj gives us which we can apply outside of Hajj too in increasing our faith.