Friday, March 04, 2011

The Journey of a Lifetime :: Reminiscing Hajj 2010 - Part II

At King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah [October 19-20, 2010]

It was an enthusiastic feeling to land on the soil of what is now Saudi Arabia; reverberating with the thoughts and feelings that this is the place where Islam took its roots and stronghold and spread far and wide. This is the soil where my identity was first introduced by Almighty Allah through the Prophet [peace be upon him] some 1400 years ago. This is the soil where every believer wishes to set foot at least once in his/her lifetime. This is the soil that has nurtured the identity of believers through the ages. We were all set to land at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport at Jeddah.

Monday, February 21, 2011


And when they meet those who believe, they say: "We believe," but when they are alone with their Shayâtin (devils - polytheists, hypocrites, etc.), they say: "Truly, we are with you; verily, we were but mocking.”
Al Quran :: Surat al-Baqara :: Verse 14

Islam and the Muslims are under siege today; they are abused, deterred, threatened, ridiculed, and lured into believing that they are orthodox. They have been under this siege ever since, and will remain so till the Last Day. However, many of us do not amply realize the significance and gravity of this situation. While we at times might be able to outwit the element of siege in most of the cases, the last one – being lured to believe that we are orthodox – is seldom offset by prudence. An offshoot of this same aspect is the rampant and incandescent urge to portray ourselves as unorthodox and contemporary, at times at the cost of belying the premises of our belief and Islam. Just imagine how you would feel when you are ridiculed in your office when you tell your colleagues, “I do not celebrate my birthday!”…

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reverberations of a Ramadaan Night…

It was a hard day for me; in fact, this entire period of the past 2-3 months had been quite hard on me. It was Ramadaan of 1431 Hijri, the graceful and blessed month of Islam. I had sought permission from my boss to report to office early and leave by 4.30 to 5.00 PM so that I could open my fasts conveniently at home. This would also ensure that I was able to offer Taraweeh prayers – maybe after 3-4 years… However, it never meant less work for me. The driving work pressure compelled me to work extended hours at home, late nights – sometimes even till 2.30 to 3.00 AM in the morning. The pressure was immense because my boss was to visit Frankfurt for International Book Fair, and we had to close certain books before that, which meant no scope of relaxation in the deadlines.

I soon became pretty annoyed and frustrated with this routine, since it meant immense exertion and a precarious lack of sleep. I had to wake up for the Suhoor at around 3.30 AM. Then, I was able to catch some sleep [about half an hour to 45 minutes] after Fajir prayers. Then came the struggle to reach office latest by 8.30 AM, to ensure that I was able to leave for the day early. At times, I had to struggle with the swelling traffic on the roads to reach home before the Iftaar time, but Alhamdulillah I always managed to reach on time. After Iftaar and Maghrib prayers, I was compelled to continue working from home. Took a small break for Taraweeh prayers; after which a quick dinner and then back to work again till late at night… This routine had been continuing for quite some days and it had seemingly become very exhausting. A satanic thought always crossed my mind during those days – of all the days in the year, why did this have to happen to me during Ramadaan??

It was one of these days that this incident happened to me. I entered the mosque of my apartment for Taraweeh prayers. A very frail and destitute figure sat next to me as we waited for our Imam to commence the Isha prayers. The figure sitting next to me was literally in rags, with a drearily thin physique and sunken and hollow cheeks; and was probably poor enough not to manage a bathing soap even; his body odor eerily conveyed that he had perspired too much in the day and had probably not taken a bath after that. I quietly asked him who he was and what he did. He turned out to be a rickshaw puller who lived across the street. Did he fast, I asked him; to which he replied in the affirmative. Did he work [pull his rickshaw] while fasting, I asked next; to which he again replied in the affirmative. His answers went gorily deep down my heart like a gulp of blood – he fasted all day long, pulled rickshaw, and perspired because of that. That is the reason why he was sweating and smelling so profusely.

Contrast this against my own plight – I drive to office in an AC car, work in the office that is centrally air conditioned, then drive back home again in the same AC car, and cozily sit in my study room and do my work. What would it be like for such a frail and destitute figure to scorch in the sun the entire day, pull his rickshaw throughout the day to ensure that he earns enough to survive the next day, and then keep fasting throughout the day as well…. Oh Allah, how pleasant this body odor of his must be appearing to You indeed, for even the mere stench from the mouth of the fasting people appears like musk to You!!

That was enough, and I simply could not control my emotions after that. I wanted to hug him, but could not do so because the iqaamat for Isha prayers commenced, and I wept throughout the four rekahs; even during the Taraweeh prayers. Allah had made me see how much other people are close to Him, how much harder they toil for their mere survival, how much more they sweat as compared to me, how much more they are stripped off the necessities of life; but still they continue praising Allah and never complain!! And most important of all, Allah had shown to me probably how much more harder I NEEDED TO TOIL TO GET CLOSER TO HIM. I wept despairingly within my soul and controlled my tears from dropping off my eyes until the time I could. Then I prayed to Allah Almighty to make us all close to Him, so that we all are able to toil hard for His cause, and be amongst those whom He would bestow the honor of glorifying Islam, Ameen!!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Journey of a Lifetime :: Reminiscing Hajj 2010 - Part I

The spellbinding and gorgeous Black Cubical Structure stood in front of our eyes. All emotions and reflexes kindled off quietly as we approached it and gazed through its mesmerizing structure from its top to its bottom. The gorgeousness of the Structure flashed in front of our eyes like lightening, as if we had seen some kind of a treasure!!

Treasure sure it is! The Treasure of the blessings of the Almighty!! I had heard from a lot of people that people are simply unable to control their emotions and their tears when they see the Kaaba for the first time. I was overpowered by my emotions long before setting my eyes on the Kaaba. It happened while we were on our way from Jeddah to Mecca, when our tour guide showed us the approach to Mecca and “Hudood-e-Haram” [the boundaries of the Holy Precinct of Al Haram]. The road ahead of us bifurcated, with one stretch drifting away from the Holy Precinct, clearly outlining the path for the non-believers; ensuring that no non-believer is ever allowed to set foot in “Hudood-e-Haram”!! The other stretch carried a hoarding citing “Hudood-e-Haram starts here”… This was the most felicitous moment of my life; how fortunate are we to have been allowed to traverse this road leading to “Hudood-e-Haram” – Allah-ho-Akbar; thank you Allah for making us among the believers, though completely full of sins we might be!! Tears were simply uncontrollable at this point, and I just shook my wife, who was sleeping besides my seat in the bus. I showed her the bifurcating road and told her that no non-believers are allowed to enter “Hudood-e-Haram”; so thank Allah for making us among the believers! We were four of us on this journey, and my mother and younger brother were seated in the adjacent seats. We then entered “Hudood-e-Haram”; and the microphone speakers inside the bus passionately exclaimed the Talbiyah:

“Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik, Labbaika Laa Shareeka laka Labbaik;

Innal Hamdah, wa Nematah, laka wal Mulk; Laa Shareeka laka…”

Here I am at Your service O Lord, here I am. Here I am at Your service and You have no partners. Yours alone is All Praise and All Bounty, and Yours alone is The Sovereignty. You have no partners…

Preparing for the Journey

We all were very enthusiastic about this journey, so we did not leave any option or resource unturned to gain information about the process of Umrah and Hajj and other details required in Saudi Arabia. Our tour operator had given us some books and had also organized a training camp a few days before we were to depart from India; however, that did not prove to be sufficient; more so because we found some diversions from the Sunnah as mentioned by the tour operators in the training camp. Therefore, we decided to get some authentic books from Markaz Ahl-e-Hadith. These books were a good companion during our stay and guided us towards the Sunnah or authentic traditions of the Prophet (PBUH) with respect to Umrah and Hajj. One of our neighbors, Mr. Tariq, also helped us with some books and a VCD on the Sunnah process of Umrah and Hajj [may Allah accept his services towards this cause, Ameen!] We again thank Allah Almighty that He provided us the opportunity to learn about authentic Sunnah and saved us from innovations (biddaah)!

Leaving India [October 19, 2010]

We had patiently waited for this day to come by, when we would be flying off to Jeddah to set forth our eyes on the glorious and gorgeous Kaaba. Everything was set as planned, and I awaited the arrival of a friend who had promised to drop us to the airport in his car. However, as the saying goes, the journey of Hajj is characterized by hardships and perseverance. Our dear friend became engaged with some crucial official assignment and called us well in time to notify that he would be unable to come by. Alhamdulillah, so the hardships of Hajj has begun for us!! For the first time ever I did not feel any remorse or resentment at this news; actually, felt satisfied that probably Allah Almighty is testing us right at the beginning of this journey! We called in a private taxi for the airport, and then set off…

On the way to the airport, we could see hoards of cars carrying Hajj pilgrims to the airports. Most of the pilgrims were garlanded, as we could see through the cars. I was amused at this sight, because I had read an authentic Hadith the night before, citing how the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions used to garland their sacrificial animals during their Hajj pilgrims!! We were again fortunate enough that ours was a private tour operator and we had our regular international flight from the new gorgeous Terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport [not from the Hajj Terminal, since ours was a regular international flight]!

All went fine and we completed our check-in formalities, then immigration, and finally the security check. The flight was on time, and we still had about an hour and a half at hand; so we now thought of offering prayers and changing into Ihraam sheets [since we were to fly to Jeddah and had to go to Mecca by bus from there, we would be crossing the Miqaat in the airplane itself; therefore, it was obligatory to be in the state of Ihraam before crossing the Miqaat]. Though we had practiced assuming the Ihraam sheets a lot, we were not at all confident until this moment. We found a prayer room near Gate 15 of Terminal 3, where we offered our prayers and changed into Ihraam sheets (which happened without any trouble this time!!). The feel of the two unstitched sheets was so amazing; and what to say about the greatness of this attire. With the sheets of Ihraam on, we sure felt like the ambassadors of Allah Almighty, although at present these were just plain unstitched sheets and we had yet not proclaimed our intension for Umrah and Hajj!!

Our flight took off from IGI airport on time. We were told by our tour operators that there would be an announcement in the airplane when we approach the Miqaat, but no such announcement happened. Some good-intentioned people informed us of the approaching Miqaat based on the time lapsed. We then proclaimed our intention for Umrah and Hajj and exclaimed the Talbiyah!! Now, we were Muhrim, or in the state of Ihraam, with all the restrictions of Ihraam applicable to us. This was another chilling moment!

Through the rest of the flight, I just tried to recall and remind myself of the prohibitions that I needed to take care of as a Muhrim – no perfumed soaps or tissues, no killing of insects or mosquitoes, no plucking of branches and leaves, no picking up of fallen things not belonging to us…

Monday, July 19, 2010

It’s Trial, Not Punishment

“Cursed were the people of the ditch (the story of the Boy and the King). … They had nothing against them, except that they believed in Allâh, the Almighty, Worthy of all Praise! … Verily, those who put into trial the believing men and believing women (by torturing them and burning them), and then do not turn in repentance, (to Allâh), will have the torment of Hell, and they will have the punishment of the burning Fire.”

Al Quran :: Surah Al Burooj :: Verses 4, 8, and 10

A lot of scholars assert the fact that the pitiable condition of Muslims world over that we witness today is due to the fact that Muslims are being PUNISHED for their misdeeds. We all at times, gullibly agree to the same. Perhaps it is not so…

Our Apartment has been blessed with one endowment that we have a splendid Dars-e-Quran session every Saturday after Isha. The last one saw a description of Surah Al Burooj, where the Mufti sb emphasized on this aspect of people propagating and believing that the Community’s bad times are punishments from the Almighty. Mufti sb emphasized on various logical reasons to outstandingly defy and nullify this perception, which actually appealed to me so much that I am penning down this brief discourse. Mufti sb emphasized on the following aspects:

1. This Surah was revealed at a time when few Muslims were faced with a lot of torture and torment from the disbelievers. These verses were a respite to the Muslims, who were acquainted with the fact that through the ages, believers have been put to trial, something that will continue for the remaining days of the world. The believers faced the trial and torment because “They had nothing against them, except that they believed in Allâh, the Almighty, Worthy of all Praise!” Deductively, this implies that the believers have been faced with torment and trial through the ages, but they had no fault except for believing in Allah… So, how can they be punished for believing in Allah?

2. The Holy Quran uses the word “trial”, and not punishment, to describe these torments by the disbelievers. Quran is Divine Word; therefore, selects the most appropriate words to describe something. The choice of trial makes it evidently clear that what we perceive as punishment is not actually punishment. It is TRIAL…

3. Allah has promised the punishment of hellfire for people involved in tormenting the believers. So, how logical is it to say that the people who punish the wrongdoers [if we perceive the believers as being punished for their wrongdoings] are destined for the hellfire abound? If we perceive the torments to be punishments, it is similar to perceiving an executioner being punished for carrying out the executions ordained by the Court of Law!! Definitely, the Devine logic will never curse and punish someone who punishes wrongdoers and prohibits wrongdoing; but what the tormenters are doing is definitely not the same.

4. If Allah is so forgiving and merciful that He promises to pardon these tormenters if they repent [even after tormenting the believers for ages], how can He, the Almighty, be so cruel to the believers to punish them with such torments at the hands of the disbelievers? Isn’t it contradictory to believe that on the one hand, Allah offers to pardon the tormenters if they repent, but ordains punishments for the believers? A believer is always higher, as per Allah, as compared to a disbeliever.

To conclude, Allah has mentioned at numerous places in the Glorious Quran that the believers will be put to trial; will be surely put to trial. Trials could come in any form; monetary, health, unwanted situations, untoward incidents… We, as believers, need to ensure that our belief [eemaan] does not give way to these trials under any circumstances, Insha Allah. We must continue to believe that with each trial, we grow as more strong and believing Muslims. We must continue to believe that Allah offers leniency to the disbelievers in their ordeals in this World; simply to enlarge their Heavenly Torment. Mufti sb observed that we should not fall prey to the perception that the situations we face today are due to our wrongdoings; rather we should strive to struggle in the way of the Truth! We must also believe that we, who face trials, are fortunate to the extent that Allah puts His best creations to varying degrees of trials at all times! “Verily, those who believe and do righteous good deeds, for them will be Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise). That is the great success.” [Al Quran :: Surah Al Burooj :: Verse 11]

I have tried my best to put into writing the explanations offered by Mufti sb; any errors that might have crept in would be my personal onus. May Allah guide us to the Right Path always, Ameen!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 India License.