Spiritual Secrets of Hajj – Shaykh Ninowy
It is through even a short walk in the city, in the many bustling cities of this world, teeming with busy people anxious about their hectic lives, that one will note the utter preoccupation of humans with their everyday lives. In seeing businessmen and women, speaking quickly on their Blackberries and walking hastily to their next meetings; in seeing laughing and carefree couples, hand in hand, not a care in the world; in seeing the buses full of people who are raring to get where they are going- caring only about getting there on time; in seeing the number of people so quick to answer notifications on their iPhones yet ostensibly so unmindful of their Creator and Sustainer, one will most definitely note that our society is one heaped to the brim of people who see nothing beyond the trivial and transient pursuits of this dunya. People who would cringe and shudder at the thought of losing their smartphones or expensive watches, yet fail to ponder that one day they will lose their lives, and what comes next?
In such a society –in many blessedly auspicious societies in this vast world of ours- the prospect of intentional self-deprivation of materialistic and superfluous pleasures is a foreign and cold oddity in a world of apps for hundred-dollar phones and food provided to one in the comfort of his/her own car. In a society that propagates materialistic ideals and gives little thought to the Lord of the Worlds and the Day of Judgment, the thought of attempting to pull away from worldly gains and money-oriented pursuits would come as shocking and unheard of. However, to us as Muslims who are taught that excessive attachment to the world is the most trivial of pursuits, these ideas should come as no surprise.
“Those who desire the life of the Present and its glitter,- to them We shall pay (the price of) their deeds therein,- without diminution.
They are those for whom there is nothing in the Hereafter but the Fire: vain are the designs they frame therein, and of no effect are the deeds they do!” [Surah-Hud: 15-16]
“Fair in the eyes of men is the love of the things they covet: women and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth) of cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world’s life; but with Allah is the best of the goals (to return to).” [Surah-Al ‘Imran: 14] [/box_dark]
In Islam, we are taught that the best of pursuits are not materialistic and worldly, but rather towards Allah SWT and the akhirah. In his lecture, Spiritual Secrets of Hajj, Shaykh Ninowy explains the best way of seeking and becoming closer to Allah, a way that even the blessed Prophets utilized, is a concept called “tajreed”, isolation or detachment. The ultimate goal of tajreed is to reach the pleasure of Allah by giving up what weighs us down -whether it be dunya, shaytaan, lying, deceit, cheating- ultimately anything other than Allah.[pullquote_left]The ultimate goal of tajreed is to reach the pleasure of Allah by giving up what weighs us down.[/pullquote_left]
This path entails two things: detachment and attachment. Detachment by giving up all that is bad for us, and attachment to none other than our Creator, Allah. The beauty behind detachment is that the Muslim finds a contentment and closeness to Allah, simply because he understands the essence of what it means to need none other than Allah.
Shaykh Ninowy explains that detachment and attachment breed uns, a pure feeling of closeness, peace and comfort with Allah SWT that can only be completely understood when felt with the heart. A strengthening of faith and trust in Allah, and sole reliance on Allah are only some of the perks of detaching from this dunya and striving to attach your heart to Allah SWT.
An important aspect, however, is that asceticism is not a part of tajreed. Shaykh Ninowy explains thoroughly that “Islam wants us to have a balanced life; a life of detachment and a life of attachment. Islam does not want people to abandon their jobs, and abandon their families, and abandon their obligations to do something. Islam wants you to have a balance in which you fulfill the obligations that you have to your Creator, and also you fulfill the obligations to your family, you fulfill the obligations to your friend, you fulfill the obligations to your society, you fulfill your obligations to your community; you become a vibrant element that is positively contributing to your society and of course, first of all, to yourself.” Shaykh Ninowy makes clear that while detaching from the dunya is encouraged, it should not come at the cost of totally neglecting one’s life on this earth.
Fortunately for us as Muslims, Islam gives us many different vehicles through which we can achieve detachment and attachment to become closer to Allah. Fasting is one such method (as we deprive ourselves of food to learn self-restraint and seek the pleasure of Allah) and another method is that of hajj. Through hajj, the person is removed from his/her normal, everyday routine to enter into a totally new environment- solely for the sake of Allah.
[pullquote_right]Hajj itself is the best opportunity for detachment and attachment[/pullquote_right]
Shaykh Ninowy teaches us that hajj itself is the best opportunity for detachment and attachment because hajj teaches the Muslim so many lessons on how to become a better person. One such lesson is that of generosity- detachment from your money. This happens through the many various expenses incurred throughout the pilgrimage. Another lesson is that of good manners. Because arguments and the like are prohibited during the hajj, the pilgrim learns kindness and gentleness.
In addition, hajj teaches sincerity in intention. This sincerity is especially important because, as Muslims, we know that intention is the driving force that determines whether or not our deeds are accepted. Shaykh Ninowy reminds us of the hadith where our Prophet (SAW) says, “Oh Allah, I seek a hajj from you that has no ostentation and no showing off.” This dua, supplication, is crucial and allows us to catch a glimpse of how important intention really is, especially for something as momentous as hajj– something that has the power to, quite literally, change our lives. Shaykh Ninowy urges us to purify our intentions because ostentation and pride can nullify our hajj, and cost us the opportunity of a lifetime; the opportunity to rid ourselves of this dunya -if only for a short time- and become closer to Allah SWT.
Finally, hajj, in the best and most effective way, teaches us the meaning of equality and humanity. When at the ka’bah, surrounded by millions of pilgrims such as yourself, dressed in the same piece of cloth, and all repeating “La baik Allahumma la baik” just as you are, there is nothing to differentiate the rich man from the poor man; the educated from the uneducated. There is no segregation of the races or the classes. There is a distinct separation from all of those man-made classifications, because there is that detachment from the dunya and sincere attachment to Allah SWT.
At that moment, there is only Allah, and His slaves, and he is the Best of Judges between them. Subhanallah, what hajj ingrains in the believer is that everything we believe to be so important –race, education, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, and so on- fall away when we face Allah, the Most High, the Most Great, and are humbled before him to beg His forgiveness. Hajj teaches the believer that all that matters, at the end of the day, is human decency and common courtesy, because we are all equal before Allah SWT. Hajj teaches us to be good to one another, because we are not as different as we think.
It seems to be that if gone into sincerely, hajj is the opportunity of a lifetime. Not only for the obvious reason (forgiveness and a return to our sinless state as newborn babies) but also because there are numerous and amazing lessons that can be learned from the experience. As Muslims, we do everything because Allah has commanded us to- case-closed. But because of Allah’s Infinite Mercy, it turns out that everything we are commanded to do, is exactly that which is best for us. It may seem, ostensibly, that a trip to the Arabian Desert does not do much in the way of spirituality, but it is only through this trip that we can learn many of the values and principles that many just cannot seem to grasp through everyday life.
Generosity. Altruism. Mercy. Humbleness. Equality. Humanity. Mutual Love and Respect. Good Character and Manners. Conviction in Belief. Love: of humanity, and of Allah SWT. Those are the lessons. Those are the goals. Subhanallah.[quote]“It is such as obey Allah and His Messenger, and fear Allah and do right, that will triumph.” [Surah-An-Noor: 52][/quote]
Halla is an avid reader with a passion for justice, writing and Islam who believes that all the bad in the world is countered by great people with great minds and stupendously great actions. She lives in Toronto, Canada where she hopes to change the world around her by starting with herself.
You can watch the video lecture for yourself here: