Dr. Ali Shariati
Declaring your Intention Niyat
Before entering Miqat, which is the beginning of a great change and revolution, you must declare your intention. What does this encompass? It is the intention of a "transferral" from your house to the house of people, from life to love, from the self to Allah, from slavery to freedom, from racial discrimination to equality, sincerity and truth, from being clothed to being naked, from a daily life to an eternal life and from selfishness and aimlessness to devotion and responsibility. In summary, it is a transferral into the state of "Ihram" .
Therefore, your intention must be strongly asserted. You will grow out of your "shell" as do the seeds of dates. Being extremely conscious, you must have faith in your heart. Enlighten your heart with the flame of love; "shine" and "shine". Forget all about yourself! In the past, your life was characterized by "negligence" and "ignorance" You were helpless in all aspects of existence. Even in the realm of your job, you became a slave, working either as a habit or by force! Now, shed this pattern of life! Become genuinely "conscious" of Almighty Allah, the people and yourself! Choose a new job, a new direction and a new "self"!
Praying in Miqat
When at Miqat and ready to start the Hajj, you are aware of what must be done and why. In the Ihram attire you will perform the prayer of Ihram, presenting yourself to the Almighty Allah. Say - Oh Allah, I No More worship the idols, and No More am I the slave of Nimrod'.
Oh Allah, I am standing in front of you with the gesture of Ibrahim not as an oppressor (wolf), not as a cheater (fox), not as a hoarder (rat). Nay, I face you as a "man" wearing the same clothes that I will wear when I see you in the hereafter. This means that you willingly and consciously want to obey Allah and become His slave. You will rebel against anyone and anything beside Allah. Your readiness to exercise necessary duties is expressed. Such a position is not different from the regular prayer, but at this time it is like a more intimate talk to Allah. It is as if Allah's presence can be felt.
At Miqat in the white dress of the hereafter, each bow denies and asks forgiveness for the wrong deeds which were motivated by fear and greed. They were committed during your life. Each prostration asks forgiveness for those which were done in the Courts of Powers.
The prayer at Miqat is a promise to Allah that there will be no prostration nor bowing to anyone other than Him!
Peace be upon you Oh Mohammad, His slave and Messenger Peace by upon you and those obedient of Allah and the good doers. Peace be upon you ...
All these are phrases which refer to the "near ... not the far".
Allah, Ibrahim, Mohammad, people, heaven, the hereafter, salvation, freedom, love and etc. are all present at Miqat. Dressed in the colorless clothes of Ihram, you experience a new birth - a resurrection! No longer will Satan, who rejected Allah's command, cheat you. No longer will you feel like a stranger. Shameful and apologetic, you return to Allah. But now you are free and responsible!
Avoiding Certain Actions - Moharramat
There are certain things which you are expected to avoid while in the state of Ihram. These include any sort of reminders of your business, position, social class, or race. In essence, all worldly matters belonging to the life before Miqat, are tabooed. The following is a list of specific actions which must not be undertaken:
- Do not look in a mirror in order not to see your image. Therefore, forget the "self" temporarily. - Do not use nor smell perfume in order not to recall the enjoyable times of the past. You are now in an environment of spirituality. Therefore, smell love! - Do not give orders to anyone. Therefore, exercise a sense of brotherhood! - Do not harm animals or insects. Therefore, for a few days live as Jesus! - Do not break or uproot plants. Therefore, kill the tendencies of aggression by being peaceful toward nature! - Do not hunt. Therefore, be merciful to others! - Do not indulge in love making and intercourse, therefore, be inspired by real love! - Do not marry or participate in marriage ceremonies. - Do not use make up. Therefore, see yourself as you are! - Do not be dishonest, argumentative, curseful, (i.e. swear), or arrogant. - Do not sew your Ihram. Therefore, evade self - distinction! - Do not carry weapons, but if it is necessary place it under your Ihram. - Do not stay in the shade. Therefore, be exposed to the sun - Do not cover your head (males). - Do not cover your face (females). - Do not wear shoes or socks. Therefore, let your feet be bare! - Do not use ornaments. - Do not cut your hair. - Do not clip your nails. - Do not use creams. - Do not allow blood to flow (example cut yourself).
Hajj has begun; hurry toward Allah! In the state of Ihram Say: Labbaika! "God has called upon you. You are here to answer His invitation and be completely obedient to Him."
Praise, blessings, and the Kingdom, are for you. There is none like you.
Denying the dishonest, exploitative, and despotic super-powers of the world, the people shout: "Labbaika, Allahomma Labbaika". Everyone, everywhere is addressing Almighty Allah! Imagine, Oh man, you are like an iron particle in a magnetic field! It is as if you are among a million white birds flying above the sky on your way to the Miraj.
You are approaching the Kaaba. The closer you get, the more excited you become. As if it were a wounded wild animal trying to escape from its cage, your heart beats against the wall of your chest. You feel as if your skin is too tight for you!
As the whole atmosphere is full of spirit of Allah, you cannot restrain your tears. The glory of Allah is felt in your heart under your skin, in your mind, in your senses, in the face of each rock and particle of sand, in the valley, in the desert and in the vague horizon.
You see nobody but Allah! He is the only one who "exists"; others are like waves and foam. He is the only truth; all beside Him are unreal!
While pursuing the different aspects of Hajj, you feel a digression away from yourself and a movement toward Allah. In a mood of excitement, you feel forced to move in one direction only. You have no right to turn back. The world appears as a beating heart. Allah is seen everywhere.
Next, you will enter the vicinity of Mecca. There is a sign designating the Haram Area. You feel a sense of security as you arrive. No fighting, hunting, killing, or uprooting of plants is allowed in the Haram section. This regulation was set forth after the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) conquered Mecca (in order to free the Kabba from the idols). Since then, the tradition has been enforced whereby certain acts are prohibited in the area.
Upon entering the vicinity of the Haram, the shouts of "Labbaik" will stop immediately. Silence prevails everywhere; it signifies your arrival. Here is the Host (Allah) and this is His house. Everyone is quiet but each person's heart is ignited with love!
The city of Mecca resembles a huge bowl encircled on all sides by mountains. Every valley, street and alley faces the floor of this great house. Kaaba is in the center. You Will see a homogeneous crowd flooding downhill to the Masjid-ul-haram like a white river. Amidst all this, you will feel like a drop! The closer you get to Kaaba, the more glories you experience. Upon descending down the hills (toward Kaaba) you get closer to Allah. It is only through humility and obedience that you can approach glory and dignity, finally reaching eminence. In other words, you do not search for Allah in the sky nor through metaphysics, but rather, the search is conducted on this earth. He can be seen in the depth of matter and root in the stones.
Always remember that to see Him you must be on the right path. Therefore, you must train yourself to see the right way! This "scene" refers to the fate of mankind. It symbolizes his dissension deep into the earth (being buried) and his ascension toward Allah (rising for the hereafter).
Now you are still closer to Kaaba. The air is filled with silence, pensiveness and love. Each step you take with each moment endows you with more love and fear. The weight of Allah's presence seems to get heavier and heavier. Your eyes grow wider and wider and are focused on the Qibla. It becomes difficult to catch your breath. Your heart is filled with desires while your lips are full of silence. You wonder how weak shoulders and delicate heart membranes can endure the strain.
When descending the valley you may feel that you are going to collapse. But then, the Kaaba appears! The Kaaba, toward which Muslims face when praying, is the center of existence, faith, love and life. It is the direction in which the beds of patients in agony are placed. It is also the direction in which the dead are buried.
Made of dark rough stones laid in a very simple manner with white chalk filling the fissures, the Kaaba is an empty cube - nothing else. You cannot but shiver and wonder about what you see Here ... There is no one! There is nothing to view! An empty room (cube) is visible. Is that all?!! Is this the center of our faith, prayers, love, life and death?
Questions and doubts arise in your mind. Where am l? What is here? What you see is the antithesis of your visual imaginations of the Kaaba. You might have perceived it as an architectural beauty (like a palace) whose ceilings covered a spiritual silence. Another possible portrayal was that of a high tomb housing the grave of an important human being - a hero, genius, imam or prophet! No - instead it is an open square, an empty room. It reflects no architectural skill, beauty, art, inscription, nor quality; and no graves are found there. There is nothing and nobody there to whom you can direct your attention, feelings and memories.
You will realize that there is nothing and nobody there to disturb your thoughts and feelings about God. The Kaaba, which you want to fly over to come into contact with the "absolute" and "eternal", is the roof for your feelings. This is something you were unable to achieve in your world of fragmentation and relativity. You could only be philosophical, but now you can see the "absolute", the one who has no direction - Allah! He is every where.
How good it is to see the Kabba empty! It reminds you that your presence is for the sake of performing Hajj. It is not your destination. Moreover, it is a guide to show the direction.
Kaaba is only a cornerstone, a sign to show the road.
Having decided to move toward eternity, you begin the Hajj. It is an eternal movement toward Allah not toward the Kaaba. The Kaaba is the beginning and not the end - when no more can be done. It is the place where Allah, Ibrahim, Mohammed and people will meet. You will be present there only if your mind Is not preoccupied with self-centered thoughts. You must be one of the people! Everyone is dressed in special garments. Being Allah's chastity and family you are honored by him . He has more enthusiasm toward this family than any one else. However, the Kaaba, His property and His house is called the "house of people".
You are not allowed to enter this sacred house if you are still self attached, that is, thinking of yourself.
Mecca is called "Baite-Atiq". Atiq represents being free! Mecca belongs to nobody. It is free from the reign of rulers and oppressors; therefore, no one controls it. Allah is the owner of Mecca while the people are its residents.
Under the provisions of, the Muslim is allowed to shorten his prayers if traveling at least forty miles away from his home. But at Mecca, regardless of where you are from or how far you have traveled, your prayer is complete. It is your land, your community and you are safe. You are not a visitor, But you are at home.
Before coming to Mecca, you were a stranger, exiled in your own land. But now, you are invited to join Allah's family. Mankind, the dearest family of the world, is invited to this house. If you as an individual are "self centered", you will feel like a homeless stranger lost with no shelter and no relatives. Therefore, shed the self distinctive tendencies. You are now prepared to enter the house and join this family. You will be welcomed as a friend and close relative of Allah's family.
The Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) who was the oldest and most rebellious man of history, may be visualized. Denying all the idols on earth, he greatly loved and obeyed Allah alone. With his own hands, he built the Kaaba. This structure symbolizes Allah in the world.
The building is very simple. Black rocks of "Ajoon" are laid on top of each other. There is no design or decoration involved. Its name, Kaabah, means a "cube" in terms of architectural design - but why a "cube"?
Why is it so simple lacking color and ornamentation? It is because Almighty Allah has no "shape", no color and none is similar to Him. No pattern or visualization of Allah that man imagines can represent Him. Being omnipotent and omnipresent, Allah is "absolute".
Although Kaaba has no direction (because of its cubic shape), by facing Kaaba when performing the prayers, you choose Allah's direction and face Him. Kaaba's absence of direction may seem difficult to comprehend. However, universality and absoluteness prevails. Having six sides, the appropriate structure is a cube! It encompasses all directions and simultaneously their sum symbolizes no direction! The original symbol of this is the Kaaba!
When praying outside of Kaaba you must face it. Any structure except Kaaba directs north, south, east, west, up or down. Kaaba, an exception, is facing all directions while it is facing none. Truly a symbol of Allah, it has many directions yet it has no particular direction.
Toward the west of Kaaba there is a semi-circular short wall which faces Kaaba. It is called Ismail's Hajar. Hajar signifies lap or skirt. The semi lunar wall resembles a skirt.
Sarah, the wife of Ibrahim had a black maid (Ethiopian) called Hajar. She was extremely poor and humbled to the degree that Sarah did not object to her becoming a bed-mate of her husband, Ibrahim, in order to bear him a child. Here was a woman who was not honored enough to become a second wife to Ibrahim yet Allah connected the symbol of Hajar's skirt to His symbol, Kaaba.
The skirt of Hajar was the area in which Ismail was raised. The house of Hajar is there. Her grave is near the third column of Kaaba.
What a surprise since no one, not even prophets, is supposed to be buried in mosques but in this case, the house of a black maid is located next to Allah's house! Hajar, the mother of Ismail is buried there. Kaaba extends toward her grave. As a result, Allah's house is directed toward her skirt!
There is a narrow passage between the wall (Hajar's skirt) and Kaaba. When circumambulating around Kaaba, Allah commanded that you must go around the wall (not through the passage) otherwise your Hajj will not be accepted.
Those who believe in monotheism and those who have accepted Allah's invitation to go to Hajj must touch this skirt when circumambulating the Kaaba. The grave of a black African maid and a good mother is now a part of Kaaba; it will be circumambulated by man forever!
Allah, the Almighty, in His great and glorious Divinity is all alone by Himself. He needs nobody and nothing. Nevertheless, among all His countless and eternal creatures, He has chosen one, mankind, the noblest of them.
From among all humanity: a woman, From among all women: a slave, And from among all slaves: a black maid!
The weakest and most humiliated one of His creatures was given a place at His side and a room in His house. He has come to her house and become her neighbor and roommate. So now, there are two, Allah and Hajar, under the ceiling of this "house"!
In the Islamic Community, the "Unknown Soldier" is so Elected!
The rituals of Hajj are a memory of Hajar. The word Higrah (migration) has its root in her name as does the word Mohajir (immigrant). "The ideal immigrant is the one who behaved like Hajar." Mohammad (PBUH)
Higrah is what Hajar did. It is also a transition from savagery to becoming civilized and from Kofr to Islam.
In Hajar-s mother language her name means "the city". Even the name of this black Ethiopian slave is symbolic of civilization. Furthermore, any migration like hers is a move toward civilization!
Hajar's grave is in the midst of man's circumambulation of Kaaba. You, the mohajir (immigrant), who has divorced himself from everything and accepted Allah's invitation to go to Hajj, you will circumambulate Hajar's grave and the Kaaba of Allah simultaneously.
What is being said in these paragraphs? It is difficult to realize. But for those who think they live in freedom and defend humanism, the significance of these incidents transgresses the scope of their understanding!
Like a roaring river circling around a stone, Kaaba is surrounded by a crowd of highly excited people. It is like a sun in the center while the people are like stars traveling in their orbit of the solar system. Centrally positioned, the people move around it in a circular pattern. Kaaba symbolizes the constancy and eternity of Allah. The moving circle represents the continuous activity and transition of His creatures.
This is an equation of the whole world. It is an example of a system based on the idea of monotheism which encompasses the orientation of a particle (man). Allah is the center of existence; He is the focus of this ephemeral world. In contrast, you are a moving particle changing your position from what you are to what you ought to be. Yet in all positions and during all times, maintain a constant distance with "Kaaba" or with Allah! The distance depends upon the path that you have chosen in this system.
You do not touch Kaaba nor do your stop there. Everyone encircles Kaaba collectively. The movement is as one unit, one group of people. There is no individual identification, that is, as being a man or woman, nor black or white! It is the transformation of one person into the totality of a "people". All of the "I's" join and become a "We", establishing the "Umma" with the aim of approaching Allah.
Allah's way is the way of the people. In other words, to approach Allah you must first approach DeoDle. How is this done? To achieve righteousness you should genuinely become involved in the problems of people, not as a monk who isolates himself in a monastery but by becoming actively involved in the "field". This includes practicing generosity, devotion, and self-denial, suffering in captivity and exile, enduring torture pains and facing various types of danger. This is how you are with the people and where you may approach Allah. The Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said: "Every religion has its monastic way of life. In Islam, it is JIHAD.
During Tawaf (circumambulating) you cannot enter the Kaaba nor stop anywhere around it. You must enter into and disappear from the crowd. You must be drawn into the roaring river of people who are circumambulating. This is how you will become a Hajj. This is the collective invitation to whoever wants to come to this house. What can be seen? Kaaba is steadfast in the center while the white, roaring river goes around it. Everyone is dressed in one color and pattern. There is no distinction nor personal promotion; true totality and universality is demonstrated.
Outside of Kaaba each person has his own ways and rights. "Totality" is only a theoretical concept. "Humanity" is only an idea, a logical and theoretical concept. Away from Kaaba people are identified by their names, nationality or race, but at Kaaba these characteristics are replaced by the concept of totality and universality which serves to identify them. Therefore, it is "people" representing "mankind" who are making Tawaf!
If you remain in the state of self-centeredness, you are not really a part of the Tawaf circle. You will be like a visitor standing at the bank of a river, but not in it. Those who are detached from themselves are alive and moving collectively. Those who are not separated from themselves are stagnant and dead. They are like wandering particles in the air of its systemic orbit. Furthermore, at Kaaba you are taught to prove yourself, to demonstrate your existence and to become eternal. You must reject self-centeredness.
By exercising generosity, kindness to others, and devotion to the community (ummah), you will attain self-discovery and envision the reality. When you give up your life in the way of Allah, in your warm blood you will approach Shahadat' and be called a Shaheed. Shahadat is being present, alive, palpable and visible. A Shaheed is an everlasting witness and visitor; he exemplifies an "eternal living".
Because the way of Allah is the way of people, it should be pursued collectively not individually. But what about prayers which are performed individually? They are done in order to train you to practice devotion, demonstrate maximum generosity, deny self-centeredness, and sacrifice for the sake of others.
The ultimate goal is to become the ideal man/woman. Man is the representative of Allah. His representative and trustee (Adam) will exist as long as Allah desires. A person will live eternally if he dies as a "man" because one (the individual) is perishable but "man" is eternal! A drop of water which is not part of a river or does not flow into a sea is like dew. It lasts overnight only, and will disappear with the early smile of sunshine. Oh man, join the river to flow, to meet the sea and to become eternal! Oh dew, why are you waiting near the bank of the river which reminds you of the harmony of creation? Go ahead and join the people! But before coming together you must be fully conscious of what you are doing and why. You must admit it is for Allah, not for yourself and for the facts, not for the politics! Here every act has an important meaning. This eternal movement is governed by accurate discipline. It reflects the organization of the world.
Allegiance and the Black Stone - Hajar-ul-Aswad
Circumambulation must begin at the point where the BLACK STONE is located. This is where you enter the universe's system. You join the other people And assimilate among them as a drop entering the ocean. This is the way to survival, the way to find your "orbit"! If you do not join the people, you will not be able to pursue the orbit nor approach Almighty Allah. Firstly, with your right hand you must touch or point to the BLACK STONE. Then, immediately, you must be assimilated among the people. What does this stone symbolize? It symbolizes a hand - a right hand! And - whose right hand? The right hand of Allah!
In the past, individuals and tribes made contracts with the chiefs of other tribes. This was done to assure their maintenance and survival in the desert. The contract was known as an allegiance. How was it actualized? The individual involved had to extend his right hand to shake and hold the right hand of the other in order that he becomes his ally. Automatically, it was understood that his previous allegiances were cancelled.
At the Black Stone, the moment of selection, you must choose your path, goal, and future. When joining the people, you must shake hands with Allah who is extending His right hand - therefore taking the oath to become Allah's confederate. You will be free from all previous allegiances; no longer will you be an ally of the powers, the hypocrites, the tribal chiefs, the rulers on this earth, the aristocrats of Quraish, the landlords, nor money. You are free! Quran, 48:10
The hand of Allah is over their hands.
Touch Allah's hand. He is superior to all who have TIED your hands in previous allegiances! Upon acquiring the status of being free (after shaking Allah's hand and re-asserting your "original promise"' to Him), it is your duty to join the people. Do not stop, continue on. You must find and select your "orbit". Enter the system and move with the others. As you circumambulate and move closer to Kaaba, you feel like a small stream merging into a big river. Carried by a wave, not by your feet, you are detached from the ground. Suddenly, you find yourself floating and carried on by this flood. As you approach the middle, the pressure of the crowd squeezes you so hard that you are endowed with a new life. You are now a part of the people; you are now a man alive and eternal! You move not "by yourself" but "with others". You join them not "diplomatically" but "with love".
See the Allah of Ibrahim. By relating you to Himself, Allah relates you to others. In such a deep, delicate and beautiful way he relates you to the people by the attracting forces of His love. Although you are here to see Allah, you find yourself so busy with the people. Allah has invited you from far distances to come to His house for a private visit, but now He tells you to join the people. You are not to enter His house, nor to stop and stare at the house. You must continue in your circumambulation, remaining shoulder to shoulder with the people. Kaaba is only the center of the orbit; there fore, if you stop, move your position or turn your head, you are "out" of the orbit! Once again, do not stop and do not go to the right or to the left. Qibla is in front of you; look ahead and continue going ahead.
Attracted by the forces of the world's sun (Kaaba), you are on your orbit. You have become a part of this universal system. Circumambulating (Tawaf) around Allah, you will soon forget yourself. What prevails is love and attraction; you are only one of the many people who are "attracted"!
Going around and around, you see no one but "Him". You are a "nothing who feels His existence" and simultaneously an "existence who feels nothing". As you circumambulate, you are like a particle in this (circular movement which is an orbit, a motion, a Tawaf and a Hajj! Nevertheless, all of this is symbolic of Allah. Your position is that of "submission"
By becoming departed from yourself, you have assumed a new form as a "particle" that is gradually melting and disappearing. At its peak love is absolute; you are a devotee in love! If love had to be described in terms of motion, what type of movement would it be? Very simply, it is best expressed by the motions of a butterfly! In summary, it may be said that Kaaba is the center of love while you are tie compass rotating around it!!
Hajar was an example for humanity. Allah, the great love and ally of man, ordered her to leave her home with her nursing child. She was told to go to the fearful valley of Mecca where no plant not even thistles, will grow. Out of love for Allah, she Understood and accepted this order. It seems strange - a lonely woman with her lonely child cast into the depth of this valley among such ugly and inactive volcanoes. Without water? Without shelter? Without anyone? But why? All of this because Allah wanted absolute reliance upon Him! This rationale is not comprehend-able by our Wisdom nor does it appear logical. Water is necessary for existence, the baby needs
milk, a man needs friends, a woman needs supporters and a mother needs help. This is true, yet love can replace all of those needs! One can live with love if the spirit recognizes it. Oh lonely maid, a helpless nursing mother, you and Your child must rely upon Allah. Feeling secure with love, rely upon Him!!