By Sister Jasmine Khan
When we emerge from the womb at birth we are attached to our mothers by the umbilical cord. The first thing the doctor or midwife does is to sever this cord so that we can make it on our own in the world. However, the umbilical cord has significance besides the purely physical. This metaphorical connection to our birth mother will make its influence felt throughout the life of both child and mother. This bond between mother and child is so powerful that however hard outside agents may try to break it, and even succeed to a certain extent, the connection will stay and re-surface, no matter how frayed the cord may become.
There is another umbilical cord which will make itself felt, if we allow it to. That is the invisible cord which connects us to our Creator, the true source from which all of us come into this world. No matter how many outside influences we may have in life, that connection stays, and will eventually clamour for attention. As we turn to our mothers for love and nurturing, our souls will constantly yearn for the love and mercy of our true Creator. We may ignore it, deny it, or be too blind, deaf and dumb to acknowledge it, but it will remain the one constant in our hearts, our souls, in the very essence of our being.
As we enter another season of Hajj, we look at family, friends and neighbours scurrying around with last minute chores that have to be completed before departing for the Holy Land. One cannot help reflecting about the whole concept of Hajj, and why it is the fifth and last pillar of Islam. When we declare the Kalimah Shahadah and Testify that there is only One Allah and that we believe firmly in our Creator, we move to the next pillar which commands us to perform the Salaah. We do this out of obedience initially, but there comes a point when we perform our Salaah out of gratitude for all the bounties that Allah has given us; the greatest being the gift of life. We fast to inculcate Taqwa and because we crave Allah’s mercy and forgiveness for our transgressions. We pay Zakah (compulsory charity) and give Sadaqah (voluntary charity) because we want others less fortunate to share in the rizq (provisions) that we have been blessed with. Once we have fulfilled the first four pillars of Islam we feel content to a certain extent.
It is now that our heart and soul starts to crave nearness to Allah, whether we are aware of it or not. We feel a subconscious yearning to meet Allah. We know that someday we will be re-united with our Creator, we will return to that from which we came. This inexplicable longing persists and grows. When we are truly in touch with our heart; when that heart is free from all that is impure, negative, and ugly, the longing will be felt. Our soul will crave to be ever closer to Allah, just as a child turns to his mother for comfort and love. Consider how very merciful Allah is; even more merciful than the best mother. Allah knows what we need and has granted us the opportunity to meet that innate need, by giving us the fifth pillar of Islam, the Hajj(Pilgrimage). We do not have to wait for death to fulfil our yearning. It has been said that the gathering on the plains of Arafat is like a miniature Qiyaamah(Day of Resurrection) and during our lifetime we are granted this unique opportunity to experience this magnificent favour from our Creator.
We often hear people commenting on those who have performed Hajj: “look at that, she/he has been to Makkah, but has not changed at all”. Going for Hajj does not change us; the change has to take place before undertaking the journey. In fact, change is the wrong word, we do not change; we grow and develop. If we change today, we can change back tomorrow. Life is a process of moving from not knowing, to knowing, it is a process of evolving. We do not change from a baby to a child and then to an adult. We grow from one stage to another, developing the necessary skills to cope with each stage.
Similarly our faith needs to grow and develop; it must grow from believing in what we cannot really conceive of as a child, to what we possibly cannot conceive of as a young adult, until we reach a state of clarity. At this point we see and feel the workings of Allah as a constant in our life. We need no proof other than what is taking place in our life. When we are connected to our inner core, the core which comes from Allah, we experience Allah’s influence from moment to moment. Faith is not an object that can be taken up and put down at will. True faith means to believe in Allah every second of the day, it is active and dynamic, not passive.
When we truly believe, unconditionally and with total commitment, trust must follow. We cannot say: “I believe, or I have Imaan and Taqwa”, and then worry about the outcome of certain things. Total trust in Allah means the having the conviction that nothing happens without Allah’s permission, that Allah wants only good things for us. Once we believe and trust, we will flow. We acknowledge and accept that only Allah is in charge, and we submit.
Once we have done everything we can to ensure a good outcome, we release. This is the real power of flow. Nowhere is the power of flow more convincingly portrayed than during the rites of pilgrimage. Many of those people have been known to leave babies, young children and elderly parents to perform the pilgrimage. Some have left their jobs, even sold their homes to pay for the trip. They are the ones who have submitted to an inner yearning to meet Allah, to beg for forgiveness and to re-establish connection to their source. They are the ones who have translated faith into action. Their trust in Allah is absolute, and when they say: “I leave my family in the hands of Allah,” it is evidence of absolute trust.
When we look at the Hajj portrayed we see millions of people moving like a river in flow. They have truly felt the tug of the invisible cord that joins them to Allah, and have given in to the longing to re-connect. Like a child returning to a mother for succour and comfort, all of us have this yearning for the ONE who is even more Merciful. Whether we know it or not, whether we are aware of it or not, that cord is there. When the heart is pure, when the longing to re-connect is so great, that is when the invitation to be a guest of Allah comes!
May Allah Ta’ala make us amongst His chosen guests…Ameen