Saturday, November 28, 2009
Hajj, as I understood, was a lifetime voyage that every Muslim who had acquired the necessary wealth, and according to interpretations; necessary insight should make. Hajj is composed of rituals with very profound spiritual, social and political significance, the best understanding of which I had obtained in Dr. Ali Shariati's book, Hajj.
The Hajj Pilgramage is an international congress of the greatest dimension in human history. More than 2 million Muslims from all over the globe , from diverse social, cultural and racial backgrounds attend the ceremony in one common dress, reviving the ceremonies that Prophet Abraham, the father of contemporary monotheistic religions performed. The voyage has several stages,reminiscent of the stages of human intellectual and spiritual development. The Pilgrim has to enter a phase of Ehram ,restrictions which could release the spiritual senses and energies that we loose during the overtly material lives that we lead today. These stages consists of a camp for Cognition in Arafat , and for a battle against the devil in Mena, an attemp to shed all the negative attributes that deny human dignity .The three days of camping and walking are culminated by the Sacrifice , where each pilgrim has the opportunity to prove his or her pure intentions walking in the steps of Abraham, ready to sacrifice one's dearest attachments for the Divine. The rituals terminate with a ceremony in Mecca ,revolving for 7 times around Mecca or the House of God in devotion and prostration .
In 1983, before the ceremonies commenced, Iranian pilgrims, along with thousands of pilgrims from other nationalities performed peaceful marches in the streets of Mecca and Medina, as a demonstration of the political unity of Muslims against the atrocities of Israel and American hegemony. These peaceful marches displayed the grandeur of the Muslim Ummat in unity and brotherhood . Saudi police prevented these demonstrations for the fear of the large populations in later years.
Many Muslims would take part in meetings arranged by the Representative of Imam Khomeini in the Iranian headquarters. That year a group of Muslim women from South Africa joined us in the tent in Mena on the day of Arafat( meaning cognition). We read a prayer that day,known as the Prayer of Imam Hussein on the day of Arafat. The sisters from South Africa did not know Arabic and I had to translate for them. It is a beautiful touching prayer and also somewhat difficult in terminology and concept, but I did it and we were crying all the way through.
"Oh God-Almighty! Thou are the One Who has poured the sweetness of Your love within the hearts of your friends and lovers so that they should stand in prayer in front of You and adore You with humility. Oh Thou are the One Who has dressed your Believers with the robe of fear so that they should stand and repent in front of you."
The sisters who had joined us had not heard of this prayer, they had enjoyed the ceremony and told me at the end that they never knew that Shia prayers were so powerful and meaningful and so congruent with Sunni prayers. That was a memorable Hajj for all of us.
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