Hajj: A journey of Self-discipline, Spirituality and Serenity

Thousands of Muslims from all over the world have flocked to Saudi Arabia to perform one of the pillars of Islam; the Hajj. It is the major pilgrimage in which different rituals are performed over 5 days in the Islamic month Dhul Hijjah.  
 Some of the main rituals include; circling God's House, the Ka'bah(the black cube above) seven times, walking between the Mountains Safahand Marwah, and also sleeping beneath the stars. Whilst all these rituals have historical importance, it was something else which moved me when I performed some of these rites in the minor pilgrimage: Umrah.  

The first thing which struck me on the Umrah is that all the pilgrims were required to dress uniform.  The females were dressed in loose fitted dresses or robes and all the males were dressed in two pieces of white material; one forming a toga, and the second being a loincloth. I found it humbling how someone's material identity was completely stripped away and the focus was on your deeds and character. Something much more. There was perfect logic behind this dress code. And this was just the beginning.  

The walking between Mount Safah and Marwah seven times imitates the struggle of Hajrah, wife of the Prophet Ibraheem, searching for some water for baby Prophet Ismail as he lay thirsty in the desert. This is really good exercise first of all! And funnily enough, you do start struggling and thinking "How many more lengths do I have left?!" But you continue and persevere. The satisfaction is really great when you finish all seven lengths.  

Hajrah believed in herself, showing strength in a time of desperation and hopelessness. The walking between the mountains (Sa'ee) is such an inspiring concept: Muslims are required to imitate a female (Hajrah) at the holiest site in Islam, for their pilgrimage to be valid.  

I thought I'd save the best till last. It's about the realisation that you're required to be resilient and serene at the same time to perform the pilgrimage. So many things can go wrong! And they will. From your bus breaking down in the middle of the desert, trying to speak Arabic, to making sure you're performing your rituals correctly!  

But you learn self-discipline quickly. With your time. Your tempers. The best is all you can be. It doesn't take a pilgrimage to a holy site to realise this. But it does allow you to re-connect with your history and learn for the future. 


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