Hajj: Meeting God
There are many aspects of the Haj. One of these is that it is a sort of meeting with God. When, after a long journey, we arrive at the places of pilgrimage, we are transported into a totally different realm. It is as if we have left our conventional world and have arrived in God’s world. We are now touching, as it were, our Sustainer. We are circumambulating Him. We are running towards Him. Taking His name, we offer a sacrifice. We throw stones at His enemies. We beseech Him for whatever we ask for, and we get from Him whatever we want.
During the Haj, the plain of Arafat presents a strange sight. Huge crowds of people pour in from all sides. Every one of them wears the same sort of simple white dress. They have all abandoned their distinctive external markers of identity. On everyone’s lips are the same words, Labbaik Allahuma Labbaik. Labbaik Allahuma Labbaik. (‘Here I am at Thy service O Lord, here I am. Here I am at Thy service.’)
Witnessing this sight, one is reminded of the Quranic verse which speaks of when the trumpet shall be blown and all of a sudden people will come out of their graves and rush towards their Lord. The vast gathering at Arafat is an announcement of the gathering of all of humankind on the impending Day of Judgment. It is an illustration of what is going to happen in the future. According to a hadith report, halting at the plain of Arafat is Haj. From this one can understand the great significance of Haj—that it should serve to remind ourselves that on the Day of Judgment we shall all assemble before God. Gathering at Arafat symbolises this event.
The Ka‘aba is the house of God. Two great prophets—Abraham (a.s.) and Ishmael (a.s.)—together built it. The lofty lives of these prophets and the amazing sacrifices that they made for God are connected to this house. And then, the life of the last Prophet (Pbuh) and his companions and their efforts in the path of God are also intimately related to it.
Right from childhood, we read in books about this unparalleled history of sacrifices, efforts and struggles in the path of God, so much so that it becomes an integral part of our consciousness. And so, when, after undertaking a journey, we arrive in front of the Ka‘aba, these memories, which have been stored in our unconscious mind, are activated. We find ourselves face-to-face with a long history—a history of fear and love of God; a history of sacrificing oneself for God; a history of making God one’s everything; a history of surrendering to God as the All-Powerful One; a history of effacing oneself completely for the sake of God.
This long and glorious history suddenly appears before us in the form of the Ka‘aba. This experience shakes us up c0mpletely. It melts our hearts. It transforms us into entirely new people.
(Translation of Mulaqat-e Khudavandi, in Haqiqat-e Haj)