The Essence of Hajj

With feeble hearts
and
worn out feet
We stumble
In thy path
For the intent
That is made
For the call
That is said
For the piety
That is emblazed
We stumble
In thy path
Our camp
That is distant…
At the site of Mina
With crowd of guests
Gathered
For thy mercy
We ask
And
We stumble
In thy path
We meet thee
At yaoum ul arafah
And beseech
For your forgiveness
And
We stumble
In thy path
At the jamrah
We pelted
Your hated one
And
We stumble
In thy path
We turn to you
For the sacrifice
O Allah!
And you know
We stumble
In thy path
We circumambulate
Alone
Seeking
None
But you
And
We stumble
In thy path!
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Makkah Diaries: Visiting Him – Part-2

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

The decision was made for me.

Yes, I was going to visit his house baitullah…house of Allah with Muhammad this time for good. Who would say I have thought of it? As unbelievable as it sounded, I began to count Allah SWT’s blessings sure they were nth and my counting a bajillion times would not give them their due.

Was I going to meet Him in His house?

Was the little girl who would look up to Papa’s face was really called this time?

Has Allah SWT really heard her wishes when she asked from her in-depth caves of heart?

Indeed He did.

The decision was made for me. Alhamdulillah.

Muhammad and I were planning to visit Him now. This time around though was without Papa, Ammi and Dadi (May Allah rest her in peace with His ultimate Rahmah and open doors of heaven in her grave, ameen).

I was anxious, over-whelmed but content altogether.

How would it feel?

Would I be able to see the Majestic Ka’bah?

The black four cornered entity that stands as an evidence of a divine sanctuary ever since mankind has been descended on to this earth? The hands of Ibrahim A.S and Prophet Muhammad PBUH has touched whom…

What will the moment behold for me?

Am I truly going to witness the glory of noorun ‘ala noor

9:00 pm: At the crossroads

The wind of MakkahAl-Mukarramah kissed my face and being a sinful creature I embraced it. I gazed long time to the Makkah sky…stark black without the Qamr this time around. I stared the long wide metallic boards, the smooth roads, GMCs, land cruisers, Fords etcetera and finally…

Husband and I entered the hudud-e-haram after a long journey in ihram – the holy state when one performs ‘Umrah and Hajj. I knew it as we cross the monumental mushaf enthralled open in white and green afore us…subhanallah. This was just the beginning of the sacred journey we were going to make. Insha Allah.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as we crossed the hudud…was I finally in Makkah?

I looked down at my black garb and tried to grab hold of the trembling feet with my cold hands. Was the AC in the Tucson too high? I heaved in silence and the sighs were mixed with tranquility and amazement. I thanked Allah SWT under my lips that Muhammad thought I was sleeping.

Yes I was here.

This is the land where the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and his companions lived. Home to tawheed – Unity of Allah SWT and the unimaginable trials my beloved prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and his companions went through. It’s the land that reminded me of all the seerah lessons that I listened to as an student of Islam and I finally related to. Even not that close, but we were adulating the sand under our feet.

Prayers emerged unknowingly… O Lord! Now that you have called me here make us the true ‘abd of yours. O our Wali! Accept from us and bestow us your forgiveness. Amen !

To Haram Sharif…

As we weaved our way to the Haram sharif surrounded by gigantic and majestic mountains one thought stayed long with me…

These mountains have seen the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم have seen them…and now 1400 years laters we are seeing them…the blessings are still here. Ain’t they?

O Allah grant us the grains of your mercy, ameen.

The crowd streamed towards haram sharif and amongst it we were two individuals hurling our way to His home. I was excited with what lay ahead. I was humbled as to where I was. I was spell-bound by His glory. I was fearful of Him. Muhammad hold my hand and kept briefing me about the dua’s we have to make for ourselves and others and of the geography of the land we were walking on.

May Allah bless him immense, ameen.

Labbaik Allah humma labbaik
Labbaik la sharika laka labbaik
In-nal hamda
Wan-ni’mata
Laka walmulk
Laa sharika lak.

O my Lord, here I am at Your service, here I am.
There is no partner with You,
here I am.
Truly the praise
and the provisions are Yours,
and so is the dominion and sovereignty.
There is no partner with You.

I recited tashreeq again while looking down.

Huge hotel buildings tried to remain erect as the crowd was flooding. They were there as long as the sight rest and amidst them the classic abraj al-bait – the clock tower. The needles were ticking and as astonish as I already was by the magnanimity of the place I finally witnessed a sense of déjà vu.

The image of that little girl having her breakfast of layered parathas and chai in the courtyard loomed in my mind. This is the same place! Papa ammi dadi look I am here again! I wanted to scream. Oh much I missed them! Words clogged in my throat yet my vision was continuously hindering and blurred.

Men, women and kids amassed the courtyard of haram sharif. A continuous rumble and hustle was in the air with the soul piercing fragrance of haram sharif’s cleaning surf. I misunderstood it for the divine place’s habitual fragrance and Muhammad corrected me.

The floor was as brightly white as the moon’s light. The crowd was as if they have forgotten to sleep and praying was the only important thing right then.

 And why not it be?

Towards Mataf

Escalating our way barefoot towards the mataf …Muhammad asked me to lower the gaze so that when I rest my eyes on Ka’bah I can have the first glance and pray. I was an amateur…I did as I was told. And then out of a sudden ka’abah loomed in front of us with hundreds of people belonging to varied ethnicities circumambulating. The holy sanctuary stood there for millions and millions of Muslims visiting it every part of the day from around the globe.

And then among those millions I was a fraction of His chosen ones.

I was here.

Labbaik Allah humma labbaik
Labbaik la sharika laka labbaik
In-nal hamda
Wan-ni’mata
Laka walmulk
Laa sharika lak.

O my Lord, here I am at Your service, here I am.
There is no partner with You,
here I am.
Truly the praise
and the provisions are Yours,
and so is the dominion and sovereignty.
There is no partner with You.

A sudden gush of hot tears overflowed and continued and a hard lump rose in the throat like a date seed. I prayed…we prayed there together what felt like an eternity not noticing who was standing beside us. We sobbed hard with hiccups that did not cease and tears that ran out. With prayers for His mercy and barakah. O Allah SWT! O our Wali!

Just then at a distance in the mataf, tip-toeing on the marbled floor of haram sharif, the little girl smiled back at me her eyes flooding with tears.

Right then with the time lapse of roughly 15 years ago the picture has fallen in its place in the canvas.

Bait-ullah…This is Allah’s home.

This is my home too. Because home is where the heart is…

Read Part 1 here.

A Letter to My Friend: Seeking the Counsel of Trust

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Dear Friend,

When we fall, we fall hard.

One primary aspect of our life is trusting Him in EVERY situation. The notion may sound casual, as we go on saying, “have faith” or Trust Him” or “Don’t worry”. How can one not worry when the descended case is so-worrisome? How can one depict hard bound faith in the feeble states of our imaan?

I know these are simple questions demanding our centuries struggle to overcome faith.

One true example is Prophet Jacob (May Allah be pleased with him), when he showed patience, taqwa and trust in Allah Subhana wa ta’ala even though he was going through the most crucial tunnel of his life. When Prophet Yusuf (May Allah be pleased with Him) was taken away and he spent a considerable amount of time (read: years) patiently waiting till Allah’s decree descend.

He could have complaint Allah SWT yet he preferred patience.

He (Yaqoub) said: Nay, your souls have made a matter light for you, so patience is good; maybe Allah will bring them all together to me; surely He is the Knowing, the Wise.

 (Surah Yusuf:83)

This life asks for your sacrifice.

They say Allah SWT is as per your thinking. Good things come to those who Trust Him.(because ultimately they will enact good and so on and so forth)

I know the nafs yearns to go against what He says. A lot of times we do not understand the hikmah in the situation but believe in Him the rest will follow insha Allah.

Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, “When (will come) the Help of Allah?” Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!

(Suratul Baqarah:214)

My dear, if in situations where your trust in Him dwindles, know that it’s He who is the powerful and the All-Mighty. No harm can touch you if He does not will and no goodness can reach you unless He wills. This is trust.

Trust asks us to go by His words even if it means leaving the dunia knowing that He will bring the whole world in your feet.

Trust asks us to flunk your fortune 500 company interview knowing that it asks for bribe and believing that He will grant the best rizq for you. (after all He provides food to the beings living underneath the stones, yes yes!)

Trust asks us to carry veil even when you know you won’t befit your peer company and knowing that He is the only Wali.

Trust asks us to leave that one multinational job that does not grant you leave for your ‘Itekaaf (retreat in mosque) in Ramadan and knowing that He will provide the most sufficient mean instead.

Trust asks us to meet our relatives earnestly and kindly with whom the ties have been severed in past and knowing that Allah will surely accept from you

Maulana Rumi said,

Don’t turn your head.
Keep looking at the bandaged place.
That’s where
the Light enters you.

It’s not easy, crunching your nafs and abiding by His commands. However, that’s where in between the thawab lies, right?  That’s when the light of His mercy descend on to you because know that unless you are not tested to the threshold of the pain you are not granted.

And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allah . But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.

(Suratul Baqarah:165)

 

Makkah Diaries: Footsteps on the Holy-Land- Part 1

“Papa is it time already to leave?”

Tip-toeing her feet on the marbled floor of Haram sharif the girl asked anxiously.

***********************************************************************

Blue was the sky, cold was the air and merciful was the environment we were witnessing. The post fajr time in Haram sharif looked divine. It was September 2001 (know the significance? You better :p). We were in Makkah sharif to perform ‘umrah. It was my first ever ‘Umrah.

It was a marked moment.

It was the same time when the towers fell.

It was the same time when a plane got hijacked.

And it was the first time my birthday spent in KSA. (Nah, I don’t celebrate anymore. Relax please)

I used to hold Papa’s hands and my granny’s wheel chair as we go to offer our prayers. We were there for two weeks. Such a short period of time.

I still remember my last short visit to masjid Al-Haram with Papa and dadi. It was Fajr and there were, if I am not wrong, three janazas that morning. Lucky souls to die on the sacred land ! The weather was so pretty that morning.

“Papa is it time already to leave?”

I asked again looking at him keenly.

Papa kept looking at Ka’bah praising the magnanimity and divinity of the place. Once over he would drift his attention to the birds circumambulating the Ka’bah.

I kept asking Papa, “Papa is it time already to leave?” and he never wanted to leave the place.

The serenity was overwhelming.

We finally had our breakfast and left for the bus to our abode in Madinah.

13 years later , when I became a young conscious adult, I found the little girl who wanted anxiously to hold Papa’s hand and one kept asking “Papa is it time already to leave?” now had another emotion brewing inside her: To visit Him in His house, Makkah al-Mukarramah.

I would come close to tears for I so wanted to go to Hajj or ‘Umrah with Papa and Ammi. I would make plans with Papa and would look at his face so that someday he might say, “Nim, we are going to Makkah sharif this time beta!” and that time at least did not arrive in the next 1.5 years.

 

Down the Memory Lane: The Journey of My Veil

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Disclaimer: Below is not a rant but reflections based on my personal experiences on covering up. It has asked a lot of courage from me to write on this topic. I write here for my people as how we should really see it not how as the customs teach us to and my sisters who are intending to wear it. Allahumma taqabbal minni ameen.

“Ah well, for you it’s Islam that is your refuge…that you have confided in – for others it can be music. The ultimate solace. The food of the soul.”

 He said moving his hands as if to make a very valid point. I was spell-bound.

All so often I think it’s easy to shrug off the struggle we are doing.

Ever thought what it takes to wear hijab in 40 C? To go to our workplaces in black garbs that welcome unhealthy, astonishing and nasty stares? That welcome unwanted comments and remarks from the most affluent and respectable people and employees of the society and organisations respectively? That makes us stand out from the crowd? [Stand out like fishes out of water I mean]. We – the only ones to wear this dress when the others love to smudge their faces with Estee Louder and Mac. Ain’t I have a heart?

Indeed ain’t I have a heart? I ask myself.

Am I turned too old? Too old for this fashion fiesta? Burhi rooh.

Don’t I want to “show-off” my floral long skirts? (I love long skirts by the way!)

Why do we do this?

Why do I take the hassle of covering my face. Am I a Miss universe, too pretty to protect my face from the evil eyes of others?

Hoor pari tu ho nahin!”

“You must be the oppressed woman. Because your husband might have asked you to cover your face Namra. He is strict. Maulvi!”

“Of course you are a down trodden woman that society has cornered. The so much emotional baggage persona!”

“Too much of your Islamic musings girl, just too much.”

I had no answer. Why cannot I explain?

Why don’t I have anything to say when I must explain the beauty my niqab offers me. The liberation it gives me. The peace it entitles me.

Do I have a mental disorder? Am I a by-product of Islam’s extremism?

Wait.

Doesn’t Allah say that the believers are extreme in His love?

“What do you think of yourself? That you are too much Islamic and we are not practicing it at all?”

“Sara Islam aap per hi tu khatam hona tha.”

Wait! Did I miss a point here? Or are they missing a point here?

 “You don’t seem like an engineer to me!”

“You have wasted all and made no use of your engineering degree! Parhi likhi jahil.” 

All so often I think it’s easy to shrug off the struggle we are doing.

But my academics have taught me who I am in this vast universe. I am nothing. I am just another being accepting His omnipotency. His servant. Muslim. You mean I have to be a heady-haughty-teen to tell you that I graduated from a prestigious university with high grades in STEM? Will you then grant me the acceptance?

I better not.

All so often I think it’s easy to shrug off the struggle we are doing. When I decided to cover 2 years back, it was a decision I had made mulling over for several years. Now that Alhamdulillah I practice it, I won’t give it a second thought. لا حول ولا قوة الا بالله

Only the thought of it makes me shudder. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raajioun. It’s the essence of my existence now. The prime part of my sojourn without which I am incomplete. It has taught me modesty, liberated me from the shackles society binds us and gives me independence. It gives me peace and solace I long for. It makes me content. It gives me courage. It makes me confident enough.

“But it’s the gray area of fiqh.”

“It’s not obligatory chanda (beloved).”

I have studied that the wives of the prophet Muhammad PBUH used to wear veil and in order to follow the foot steps of them this is my point of following. O Lord! Make it ever easy for me. I seek your refuge against all the evil and negative thoughts the Shaytan instill in my mind. Ameen. Inna Lillah.

I have friends too…from the “liberal”and from the Islamic rooted communities. I have seen many practicing it and some who have shed-off the niqab altogether…no it does not make me boost with pride…it makes me vulnerable in my bones. It’s that two minute silence moment for me. The hearts ache. For how our families in general have made our brains washed just to savour and relinquish the worldly fantasies. That following a good deed is so overlooked that I have to care for the people. Tears. Sighs. And following a bad deed is so so easy that everybody welcomes it with open arms. Why don’t we feel ashamed when we flaunt our sleeve less gowns? why don’t we die with guilt when we step outside our homes without covering up? Why don’t we jolt when we see our daughters, sisters, wives and mothers wearing see through dresses? Don’t we think that’s it’s time to question our ghairah?

“Shadi hi tu hai.  Shadiyun main purdah kaun karta hai.”

“Loot at her how beautiful she is looking flaunting her golden starred maxi and you….”

 O Lord! Accept this from me. Ameen.

I remember how I and my family toiled. The blood, tears and sweat. The verbal jabs we have endured all in the process of finding a “prince” for me. Now that I have got one Alhamdulillah let’s keep this for another post insha Allah. Bi-idnillah. 🙂 It does not matter. Your niqab is not a hindrance in your “rishta seeking process” my fellows. Tear the woebegone syndrome. Rather Allaah SWT wants to check your niyah, your persistence and your courage in His path. No I am not saying that I am the most taqwa wali…but I can never assume attaining His displeasure for the sake of a life which starts without His mercy and barakah. Sighs.

Can we really trade our life at a low cost of shedding it off for this dunia?

All so often I think it’s easy to shrug off the struggle we are doing. It’s difficult to do the actual required work in His path. To do the real struggle. The needed one. Mujahida. Curbing our desires to look good and flashing off beautiful flairy dresses.

But No.

It might be easy to shrug off the struggle that we are doing but what for? The trade-offs are so low cannot we see? This struggle is precious, it’s my life line, it’s the prime point of existence. Uboodiat. I am nothing if I don’t follow His rules in my life.

رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ

[Who say], “Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower.

(Suratu Aal-Imran:8)

A Letter to My Friend: Learning to Love Him through Trials

Dear Friend,

It has already happened. Look around.

Fairytales do exist. On this earth.

But for those of them to realise we have to work really hard. The darkness breeds and the light will shine only onto those whom He wills. And He wills for those He has tested and those who are the successful believers. Who have never put Him aside.

Who have never sold Him for an inferior amount.

Who have never sold their Yousuf for an inferior amount.

I know things are not easy for you. The tests are not easy. It requires hard core faith.

When I say hard core faith the ayah of Qur’an resonates in my mind…وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِّلَّهِ

But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.

(Suratul Baqarah: 165)

It interprets for the believers are extreme in His love. You know what happens when we extremely love someone? We do as the beloved pleases. We do ALL the things and follow all his commands and orders only to get his affectionate sight, his smiling face or his love. Why our love is so deficient? Why it has holes in it? Why we are munafiq in loving Allah SWT. The taqaza of His love is that we take what he gives and abandons what he asks us to. But we are so unfortunate that even our salah is pointless…for if it was correct we were true mo’mins…isn’t it? I often think.

And this is why I ask you today even though it’s your personal aqeedah trait that if you think that shoving off your face veil will hinder the demons of all possible rishtas and you will get the most best one. Then know that our prime step is wrong in its entirety. Our society does not allow us to carry it but even if I carry it I carry for Him.

I might never have met Muhammad had not veil been a mercy for me. Look at me. I am one case too. My Niqab did not lower me down. He did not turn me down instead his condition was veil. Alhamdulillah. It ushered me up and Allah has blessed me. Alhamdulillah. Then my dear why cannot it happen in your case as well?

“Trials?”

Yes, I did go berserk in the process. But why indeed should we say that. If there was anything that consoled me it was the verses of Qur’an.

Therefore I ask you, It has already happened. Look around.

It has happened. It has already happened.

The wheels will churn for you too. It will happen for you too.

On one condition.

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَندَادًا يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ اللَّهِ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِّلَّهِ ۗ

And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allah . But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah .