In the Name of Allah's all-embracing Compassion and Love
The Hajj, the Pilgrimage, fifth pillar of Islam
Once in our lifetime we are requested to undertake the sacred journey to the valley of Mecca for the sake of Allah, and thus follow the footsteps of the Prophets whose entire lives were only the sacred journey within Divine Reality. On this journey we experience the abandoning of family, home, possessions, name, and even life for the sake of Allah. We are invited to stand naked of identity and offer to our Lord what has never belonged to us, ourself; we are moved to realize that our life is not our own to live in whatever way we desire, seeking our own goals; we are opened to see that our salvation is in the guidance granted to us through the holy rivers of revelation; we are inspired to desire right guidance, the way to deeper and deeper levels of Allah's Pleasure, more than anything else in the world, and we pledge ourselves to our Source with all our being. We taste the sweetness of submission and the power of fana, complete annihilation in Allah. Standing at Arafat with heart empty of all but Allah is the essence of Hajj. The model of Hajj is essentially the life of every Prophet, and for each there is also an experience of a deeper hajj, an exile, or journey toward Allah, for exile from the world is the coming close to Allah. In the life of Adam and Eve it was the departure from the Garden and the 'falling' to earth. At this time the Kaba also descended to earth through Allah's mercy, as a luminous white structure, an extension of the heavenly house of devotion called Bayt al Mamur where angels are constantly circumambulating and worshipping Allah. Therefore when earth became the dwelling for our first parents, it was crowned with the holy temple, and it is said that they circumambulated it, chanting praises, as part of their worship. Thus whirling and praising are essential worship.
At the time of their descent, Adam and Eve had lost each other, and where they met on earth for the first time was the mountain at Arafat, the Mount of Mercy, Jabal Rahma. The main elements of the Hajj were thus in place on earth, and Adam and Eve were the first hajjis. Their journey was the quest for divine love, ashk, which they could not experience in their paradise state according to Sheykh Muzaffer. For Hazreti Noah the hajj was the journey through the flood in the ark with the ones chosen to begin a new life. For noble Abraham it was the departure from his father's kingdom, and then the leaving of Hagar and Ishamel in the desert according to the divine command, and then the journey to sacrifice Ishmael, or according to Judaic tradition, Isaac. For Hagar it was the experience of being left alone in the desert with her son. The Hajj today, as transmitted by our noble Prophet Muhammad, may Allah exalt his station, is based on the sacred experience of blessed Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael, may divine peace be upon them always. Hagar, Hajja in arabic, even bears the name of this exalted state of journeying. Her quest, as one of the mothers of the faithful, was to invoke Allah's overflowing mercy for humanity. In her seeking help for herself and her son, through her ardent prayers and her running back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwa, she was drawing out the deepest springs of mercy and nourishment for human beings, and this manifested overtly in the form of the Zam Zam water, which sprang up under the blessed foot of Ishmael, the forbearer of the prophet Muhammad. Years later, Abraham returned to the desert valley where he had left his son and Hagar, and together with Ishmael he rebuilt the Ka'aba which had fallen into ruin. After it was completed, the prayers of Abraham opened the way for all future pilgrims to the holy temple. In the powerful words of Holy Koran, "My Lord, make this a land of peace and security, and feed its people with the fruits of divine illumination, those of them who believe in Allah and in eternal life." The land he referred to was both the sacred valley of Mecca and the land of the heart that is inhabited by Allah alone. Blessed Abraham also prayed for the coming of Muhammad within this sacred valley.
The culminating Hajj was that of our blessed Prophet Muhammad, may Allah's peace and special favor always flow through him. His departure from Mecca, through Allah's command, marked the beginning of the full Muslim community in Medina. His return to Mecca ten years later marked the completion of the religion and established the full Hajj. Everything the hajji does today was offered by him. As he mounted his camel, dressed in the pilgrims cloth, and entered the holy precincts surrounding Mecca, he offered for the first time the prayer, "Labayk Allahume Labayk. Labbayk la sharike laka labayk. Inal hamda wa ni'mata, laka wal mulk. La sharike lak." "Here I am O Allah, here I am, empty and naked before You. And there is none other than You to claim existence. Here I am before You O Source and Reality of my being. All praise belongs only to You and flows to You alone. All blessings and favors come from You alone. Upon You alone rests the entire creation. There is none alongside You to claim dominion or reality." This prayer has become the pigrims' dhikr. On the following day, as he first came into view of the holy Kaba, upon which he had not set eyes since he left Mecca nine years before, he cried out 'Allahu Akbar'. He then offered the following prayer which is reminiscent of the prayer for peace of beloved Abraham. "O Allah, You are peace and the boundless Source of peace, and to you returns all peace. Our Lord, let us live our lives in peace, and draw us back into the garden of eternal peace. O Lord, blessed are You and exalted, O Owner of Glory and Generosity. O Allah, increase Your house in honor and dignity, and increase it more with the Hajj and Umra."
On the day of Arafat, we stand together in the afternoon, and offer the prayer of Labayk, connected in heart to all the pilgrims standing at Arafat. The holiness of this day is increased through it being the passing day of our Pir, Hazreti Nureddin Jerrahi, who left this realm for the realm of Beauty in the night after the day of Arafat, the eve of the Feast in the Islamic year 1133. For three consecutive years prior to his passing he miraculously transported his dervishes from Istanbul to the plain of Arafat to join the pilgrims. Therefore we have this as a gift of our Pir, and as we stand together on this day and pray through his name, we are also brought on the holy journey.
It was also at Arafat, in his sublime Hajj, that the final revelation descended to the Prophet Muhammad, may the Divine peace and favor always shower upon him, indicating that the outer stream of revelation was now sealed. In his sermon, called the Farewell Sermon, addressed to the hundred thousand pilgrims gathered with him around the Mount of Mercy at Arafat, he abolished the practice of taking interest on loans, he abolished the blood feud, he established the rights of women, he proclaimed that all Muslims were brothers and sisters to each other, and he pointed to the Koran as the guidance which he left to his followers. He then asked his people whether he had delivered Allah's message and had been a good counsellor to them. All of the pilgrims cried out resoundingly yes. Then he cried out three times, "O Lord be my witness, O Lord be my witness, O Lord be my witness." The revelation descended, "Today I have perfected your religion for you, and completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you the sublime and simple way of submission to Me alone." A few months later the soul of the glorious Prophet Muhammad, may Allah always increase him and his community in peace, was taken to the realm of beauty while he lay with his head in the lap of beloved Aisha. In regard for his exalted being, he was asked whether he wanted to remain in this world or leave for the next. Our mother Aisha heard his tender lips form the words, "With the companions on high." And at moment his soul left his blessed body.
May Allah accept our prayers and bless all of humanity with the inner hajj of the heart, the true hajj.