Tuesday 20th of February 2018

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Call to Prayer

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Al-Ghazali, translated by Muhtar Holland.

The Pilgrimage begins with understanding, by which I mean the understanding of its place in the religion. The subsequent steps are then: yearning for it; resolving upon it; severing the ties that keep one from it; acquiring the seamless garments to be worn during consecration (ihram); purchasing the necessary provisions; hiring transport; setting out from home; crossing the desert; consecration at the assembly point, with the cry of ‘Labbayk’; the entry into Makkah and then the completion of all the rites of Pilgrimage. Every one of these steps serves as a reminder to the mindful, a lesson to the heedful, an exhortation to the faithful aspirant, an instruction and indication to the sagacious.
As for understanding it must be realised that there is no way of attaining to God, Glorified and Exalted is He, except by divesting oneself of desires, abstaining from pleasures, confining oneself to necessities and devoting oneself exclusively to God in every movement and rest.
As for yearning: this arises only after understanding and the realisation that the House is truly the House of God, Great and Glorious is He, so that he who goes there goes as a visitor to God and that he who goes to the House in this world deserves that his visit should not be in vain.
As for resolve: the Pilgrim should be aware that by his resolve he is purposing to leave his family and homeland behind, forsaking pleasures and desires as he sets out to visit the House of God, Great and Glorious is He. He must know that he has resolved upon a matter of high consequence and an affair of great moment. Let him be fully aware that only what is sincere in his intention and action will find acceptance, and that there is no offence more outrageous than to visit the House of God and His Sanctuary for ulterior motives.
As for severing ties: this means the rejection of all iniquities and sincere repentance to God, Exalted is He, for all acts of disobedience, for each iniquity is a tie, and every tie is like having a creditor with you, clinging to your collar….The Pilgrim should sever all ties with his homeland, cutting himself off completely as if he were going into exile, never to return. He should also write down his will and testament for his children and family, for the traveller and his money are at risk unless protected by God, Glorified is He.
As for the purchase of the two seamless garments of consecration: when buying his ihram the Pilgrim should recall the shroud in which he will be wrapped for burial. He should remember that just as he goes to visit the House of God in unusual garb and attire, so after death he must go to meet God, Great and Glorious is He, dressed in a fashion different from that of this world.
As for provisions: these must be acquired from a lawful source. Apart from piety, whatever one supposes to be provision will be left behind when you die, leaving you in the lurch. Beware therefore, in case the deeds which make up your provision for the Hereafter do not go with you after death, but get spoiled instead by the taint of hypocrisy and the turbidity of remissness.

As for transport: when the Pilgrim procures a riding-beast, he should give heartfelt thanks to God, Great and Glorious is He, for putting animals at his disposal to relieve him of pain and hardship. At the same time he should call to mind the vehicle that will carry him to the abode of the Hereafter, namely his coffin, for the Pilgrimage presents a certain parallel to the final journey.
As for leaving home: the Pilgrim should know that he has now left hearth and home, bound for God, Great and Glorious is He, on a journey unlike any other worldly voyage. He should be conscious in his heart of what he wishes, where he is heading and Whom he intends to visit. He should be aware that he is wending his way toward the King of kings, along with a host of visitors who have been summoned and have answered the call, in whom a great longing has been awakened, who have been roused and have risen, who have severed connections and said farewell to relations, and who have set out for the House of God, Great and Glorious is He, which is splendid in majesty and of lofty esteem.
As for crossing the desert to the assembly point, with all attendant hardships: the Pilgrim should there recall the crossing at death between this world and the assembly point on the Day of Resurrection, with the terrors and trials that intervene.
As for donning the garb of consecration and crying ‘Labbayk’ from the assembly point onwards: the Pilgrim should know that this signifies a response to the summons of God, Great and Glorious is He. Hope, therefore, to be accepted and dread being told: ‘No favour or fortune for you!’ The moment of talbiya (calling ‘Labbayk) is the real starting point – this is the critical instant.
As for entering Mecca: the Pilgrim should remember at this time that he has arrived safely at the Sanctuary of God, Exalted is He. As he enters he should hope to be safe from the punishment of God and should dread not being worthy to approach Him. On setting eyes upon the House the Pilgrim should be conscious in his heart of the majesty of the House, venerating it with such intensity that he seems to anticipate beholding the Lord of the House. He should hope that God, Exalted is He, will grant him the vision of His noble countenance, just as He has afforded him the sight of His MightyHouse.