Dr. Ali Shariati
After completing the seventh round of circumambulation, the state of Tawaf ends. Seventh? Yes! It is not simply the sum of six plus one, but it is a reminder of the seven layers of heaven. Tawaf, your sacrifice for people, is an eternal movement on the path of people! It is Hajj and NOT a pilgrimage. Isn't this a genuine demonstration of existence? Isn't this the actual translation of Tawheed, and it's true interpretation?!!
At Ibrahim's position you must read two units of prayers. Where is this position? It is a piece of stone with Ibrahim's foot prints on it. It was on this stone that he stood and laid the cornerstone of Kaaba (Hajar-ul Aswad). He stood there to construct the Kaaba. Do you understand? Are you not shivering?
Being in Ibrahim's position signifies standing in his place! Who? You! It is not difficult to realize what Tawheed does to mankind. At one time, it may humiliate you to nothing, denying you "as you are" and "flinging mud" at you. At another time, it endows you with the highest degree of spirituality whereby you are alongside Allah - in His house, as His relative and on His path! Tawheed is a result of your being hit, denied, despised and enslaved during Tawaf.
Allah wants you to prostrate to Him. He will then call upon you - Oh sincere one! Oh friend! My associate, my confidant, my trustee and my listener! My purpose of creation and my private companion ..!
Approximately one hour ago, you were at the bank of this "river" standing, thinking of yourself, watching the people and not being one of them; you were a useless particle reprimanded by Allah. You were "mud", "clay" and "earth"
But now, you are flowing and moving. No longer are you stagnated nor putrefied. You are roaring, washing away the rocks, breaking the dams and finding your way to the gardens to grow heaven in the heart of the salty deserts! You irrigate the fields, the earth, flowers and plants. In turn you help the cultivation of thousands of seeds from which thousands of buds are impatient to germinate, to crack above the earth, exhibit their leaves and rise towrds the sky. If you do not move, you will become like clay - hard and solid; and you will simultaneously bury and destroy all of these potentials.
While the river flows, it gives life to the dead nature as Jesus (PBUH) did. But if you stay stagnated like dampness in the corner, enjoying yourself or suffering, you will become putrefied. Larva of numerous parasites will grow in you, your color will change and you will smell terrible!
Come on - perform Hajj! Join the river of circumambulating people by circumambulating too! After an hour of swimming in this "stream of love", you will abandon your "self-centered mortal existence" and adapt to a new life among the people's "eternal existence" on the "eternal orbit" of Allah. Now you are like Ibrahim!
Next, from the same point which you started Tawaf, you must step out of the Tawaf circle. Like life after death, rise from the same point on the horizon from which you disappeared. The spirit of goodness, the spirit of Allah, which was in your original state of creation (Mud), is visible. From where? It appears at the place where you joined the Tawaf circle - under the right hand of Allah. After denying and killing all of the previous and false egos, you will discover your "authentic ego". Dressed in the clean white garb of Ihram, at the House of Allah and standing in Ibrahim's position, step in his footprints. Face to Face with Allah, start your prayer.
In the history of mankind, Ibrahim was the great rebel who opposed idolatry and established monotheism in this world. Although physically tired of sufferings, the prophet of responsibility and leadership had a sharp mind. His heart was full of love yet he carried an axe in his hand! Faith shined from the center of Kofr. A clear fountain of tawheed, monotheism, emerged from the sewage of polytheism!
The first to fight idolatry, Ibrahim was raised in the house of Azar who used to make the idols for his tribe. Ibrahim fought not only against idolatry and Nimrod' but also against ignorance and oppression. The leader of this movement, he was riotous against abjectness. He was the source of hope and wishes, the man of faith and the founder of true unity.
Ibrahim, enter the fire - the fire of oppression and ignorance! Help prevent the people from being burned by the fire of oppression and ignorance! The same fire is ignited in the fate and future of every responsible individual who is indebted to enlightenment and guidance. For those who behave like Ibrahim, Allah will make a rose garden from the fire of Nimrods! You will not burn and leave behind your ashes. It is a symbolic demonstration of how close you get to the "fire" during your struggle and performance of Jihad. To throw yourself into the fire in order to save other people is a bitter experience, but even more painful is the Shahadat.
Ibrahim, sacrifice your son Ismail! Cut his throat with your own hands to save the people's neck from being cut. Which people? Those who have been sacrificed at the steps of the palaces of power or near the plunderer's treasures or inside the temples of hypocrisy and misery! To get courage to seize the sword from the hand of the executioner, cut Ismail's throat with a knife! Allah (Ibrahim's God) will pay Ismail's ransom. You do not kill your son nor lose him! This gesture is a lesson for the sake of your faith. You must reach the point of your willingness to sacrifice your most beloved (Ismail) with your own hands.
Remember that you just left circumambulation or "tawaf of love" and are standing in Ibrahim's position. When Ibrahim reached this point, he had experienced a life full of struggle - fighting with Nimrod, the idols, facing the tortures, the heap of fire, Satan, the sacrifice of his son Ismail and ... migration, homelessness, loneliness passing from the stage of prophecy to the stage of leadership, rejecting "individuality" and adopting "totality" and from being worker in the house of Azar, the idol maker, to becoming the builder of Kaaba, the house of unity!
Here Ibrahim stands. Having left many difficult years behind him, all of his hairs are gray. Yet, at the end of his life, (as old as a history) he is about to build a house; he is about to lay down the black stone.
Ismail helps him by carrying the stones and handing them to his father. The house of Allah is being constructed!
It is a surprise! Ismail and Ibrahim are to build the Kaaba. Ismail is saved from being sacrificed while Ibrahim is saved from the fire. Now they have a responsibility toward the people. Allah has commanded them to be the architects of "the oldest temple of unity" on earth, "the first house of people" in history, "the free house" of freedom and the Kaaba of love and worship. Haram is a symbol of "True Privacy and Modesty".
Now you are in Ibrahim's position! It is the highest point to which Ibrahim could ascend; it is the nearest point to Allah. Ibrahim, builder of the Kaaba, architect of the house of freedom, founder of tawheed, and fighter against the idols, was tortured by Nimrod. Leader of the tribe, struggler against ignorance and Kofr, conscientious of love and responsibility, Ibrahim escaped the temptations of Satan and the Khannas (whisperer) who inspires evil suggestions into the hearts of people.
After suffering all the disaster, tortures and dangers, Ibrahim built a house - NOT FOR HIMSELF NOR FOR HIS SON - but a house for the PEOPLE. It is a shelter for those who are homeless, a shelter for those who have been forced to leave, a shelter for those who are wounded on this earth and a shelter for those who are fleeing. This house is to be a torch amidst a long and dark night. It symbolizes a rebel in the dark of his oppression!
Everyone is shameful and insecure; the earth has been converted into a big house for prostitutes where there is respect for nobody. It is a big slaughter house where nothing but oppression and discrimination prevails. At last - there is a house which is clean, safe and secure for all mankind (Allah's family) - the Kaaba!
In Ibrahim's position, you shake hands with Allah. Live the way Ibrahim did and be the architect of the Kaaba of faith of your time.
Save your people; help them step out of the lagoon of a stagnated and useless life. Awaken them from their deep sleep so they will no longer suffer oppression and live in the darkness of ignorance. Help them move; hold their hands and lead them. Call them to Hajj for Tawaf!
Upon returning from tawaf where you assimilated yourself amongst the people, you are in Ibrahim's position. You are in the house and city of safety and security, facing Almighty Allah. Therefore, You, the "confederate" of Allah should:
- Make your land safe, as if you are in the Haram area! - Make your time as the time of Ihram, as if you are always in the state of Ihram! - Make the earth the Safe-Mosque, as if you are in the Safe-Mosque!
All this because the "earth is the mosque of Allah," however you see that in reality it is not!
Between Tawaf and Sa'y
When completing the tawaf prayer in Ibrahim's position, you must go to "Mana" which is the space between the mountains of Safa and Marwa (it encompasses about 1/4 mile). "Run" between those two mountains seven times. Start at the top of Safa. Part of the path is at the level of Kaaba where you should do the "harwala". Next, you walk normally to the foot of Marwa.
Sa'y is a search. It is a movement with an aim. It is depicted by running and hurrying. During tawaf (circumambulation) you acted as Hajar. In Ibrahim's position you acted as Ibrahim and Ismail. Once you begin "trying" (Sa'y) you are acting as Hajar again.
Here is a true demonstration of oneness. Shapes, patterns, colors, degrees, personalities, borders, distinctions and distances are destroyed. Naked man and stripped humanity are on the scene! Nothing but faith, belief and action are eminent! Here nobody is spoken of; even Ibrahim, Ismail and Hajar are only names, words and symbols. Whatever exists is moving constantly, humanity and spirituality and between them only discipline. Furthermore, this is Hajj, a decision for an eternal movement in a certain direction. It is also how the whole world moves.
Here in Sa'y you are to play the role of Hajar, woman, a poor, belittled Ethiopian slave and maid for Sara. These are all of her qualifications in the human social system - in the system of polytheism, but not in the system of monotheism! This slave is the addressor of Allah, the mother of His great prophets (the messengers of Allah) and the representative of Allah's prettiest and dearest creatures. In this show of Hajj, she is the first and distinguished character. In the house of Allah, she is the only woman, a MOTHER!
Allah told Hajar to obey Him and He would provide for her and her son. Allah would take care of their lives, needs and future. Oh Hajar, the example of submission and obedience, the great champion of faith and reliance in love, you will be protected under My umbrella!
Hajar totally submitted to the will of Allah; she left her child in this valley. This was the command of Allah and the order of love! However, the model of submission (Hajar) did not "SIT QUIETLY". Soon, she arose and all alone tried to run from one dry mountain to the other searching for water! Constantly searching, moving and struggling, she decided to rely on her self, her feet, her will and her mind. Hajar was a responsible woman, a mother, in love, all alone, wandering, searching, enduring pain, disturbed, deprived of support, lacking shelter, homeless, isolated from her society, classless, race-less and hopeless; yet despite all these drawbacks, she was HOPEFUL! A lonely slave, a victim, a stranger, exiled and disgusted, rejected from the capitalistic-aristocratic system, hated by the nations, hated by the classes and races, hated by the family - this black maid was all alone with her child in her arms! She was far away from her town and country of a more privileged race. Wandering in this strange desert, she was like a prisoner in these mountains. All alone, she was restless but hopeful and determined in her search for water, going from one area to the other.
All alone ... Running on her feet to the top of these mountains (NOT SITTING AND CRYING HELPLESSLY!) in search of water.
This is the promoter of Ibrahim's tradition - not a god but a slave (Hajar), not seeking the mercy of "fire" but of "water". Water? Yes water! Not unseen not metaphysical, not love, not submission, not obedience, not soul, not a Philosophical view of life. not in heaven, not in the hereafter. No, no, no ... In this world and it is drinking water! From a fountain on this earth, it is purely material. This same liquid which flows on earth (water) is that which life is so thirsty for. The body requires it since it becomes blood in your vessels. It is the milk in the mother's breast which satisfies the child's thirst. Searching for water symbolizes searching for material life on this earth. It is genuine need which shows the relation of mankind to nature. It is the way of finding heaven in this world and enjoying its fruit on this earth.
Sa'y is physical work. It means exerting your efforts and running after water and bread in order to satisfy your thirst and feed your hungry children. It is a way to achieve a better life. Your son is thirsty and awaiting you in this dry desert; it is your duty to find a fountain to bring him some water. Sa'y is the struggle and search for your needs out of the heart of nature; it is the attempt to get water out of the stone.
Sa'y: purely material; a material need; a material aim and material act! Economy: nature and work! Needs: material and human!
Surprisingly, in terms of distance, there are only a few steps or few moments from Tawaf to Sa'y. Nevertheless, a great difference exists between the two:
Tawaf: Absolute love! Sa'y: Absolute wisdom! Tawaf: All "Him". Sa'y: All "You"! Tawaf: Almighty's will only! Sa'y: Your will only! Tawaf: As a butterfly who encircles the candle until it burns; and it's ashes are gone with the wind - disappearing in love and dying in light! Sa'y: As an eagle who flies above these black mountains with the support of its strong wings to find its food and seize his bait in the midst of stones. It conquers both the earth and the sky. The wind blows the earth and the sky. The wind blows so softly against the eagle's wings. Flying freely above the sky, heaven signifies its ambition. Under its wings, the earth is so despised. The earth is also conquered by the eagle's sharp and prudent look! Tawaf is: Mankind in love with the "truth". Sa'y is: Mankind self-supported by the "facts". Tawaf is: The exalted man. Sa'y is: The powerful man.
Tawaf: Love, worship, spirit, morality, beauty, goodness, holiness, values, truth, faith, righteousness, suffering, sacrifice, devotion, humility, slavery, perception, enlightenment, submission, Allah's might and will, metaphysics, the unseen, for others, for the hereafter, and ... for Allah! And ... whatever the easterner's spirit is motivated by and in love with. Sa'y: Wisdom, logic, needs, living, facts, objectives, earth, material, nature, privileges, thinking, science, industry, policy, benefit, joy, economy, civilization, body, freedom, will-power, mastery, in this world - for the self.
And ... whatever the westerners struggle for.
Tawaf: Allah only! Sa'y: Mankind only! Tawaf: Soul and nothing else. Sa'y: Body alone. Tawaf: Pains of "being" and worrying about the "hereafter". Sa'y: Joys of "living" and convenience of "this world". Tawaf: Searching for "thirst"! Sa'y: Searching for "water"! Tawaf: The butterfly. Sa'y: The eagle.
Hajj is the combination of Tawaf and Sa'y. It resolves the contradictions that have confused mankind throughout history:
Materialism or idealism? Rationalism or enlightenment? This world of the hereafter? Epicureanism or asceticism? The will of Allah or the will of man? To rely on Him or the will of man? To rely on Him or rely on ones self?
Allah (Ibrahim's God) will teach you the answer - Both! A lesson not by words, perception, science nor philosophy but by showing you an example of a human. This example from whom all the worldly philisophers, scientists and great thinkers who are searching for faith and facts are to learn the great lesson of Allah is again a woman, a black Ethiopian slave and a mother. It is Hajar!
To the command of "love", she submits herself to His absolute will. Leaving her town and country, she brings her child far, far away and leaves him in this dry and lonely valley (Mecca). She relies absolutely on Allah and His love. With the power of faith, she denies all the logics and rationales. This is Tawaf!
But, unlike many of the so-called righteous people or worshippers, she does not sit quietly beside her son. She does not wait for a miracle to occur or for an invisible hand to bring some fruits from heaven or to flow a river to quench their thirst. Nay! She leaves her son in the hands of "love" and immediately arises to run - having decided to search for water and try her best. And now in the uncivilized and dry mountains of Mecca, a woman - alone, thirsty, responsible, a stranger - wanders in a fruitless search for "water"! Oh Allah, are we talking of "Hajar" or "mankind"?
Hajar's efforts are useless; she returns desperately to her son. To her astonishment, the child who was left under the umbrella of "love" in a state of thirst and restlessness, has dug under the sands with his heels. At that moment of maximum desperation and from an unexpected place, suddenly there appears:
by miracle, by the power of needs and the mercy of Allah - "a humming", "the sound of water"!
It is Zam-Zam, a sweet and life-giving fountain of water flowing from stone! This lesson: to find water by "love" not by effort but "after the effort".
Though you cannot approach Him by working hard, Oh my heart you should try your best.
Oh in love, try, try Your best - You, the absolute faith and absolute reliance!
Try seven times which is the same number of times you circumambulated during Tawaf! But, this time, do not pursue a circular path that finally leads you no place except where you originally started (i.e. Zero). Do not travel in an empty circle, reaching no where, gaining nothing and moving aimlessly!, working to fill the stomach and filling the stomach in order to be prepared to work. Finally, continue on until the time of death!
Tawaf: Living not for the sake of living but for the cause of Allah. Sa'y: Trying your best not just for yourself but for the people. Here your path is straight and not a circle! You do not move in circles but walk ahead. It is a migration, beginning at one point and reaching your destiny; it is going from Safa to Marwa.
During Sa'y you repeat a back and forth action seven times. The figure (7) is "odd" not "even" so that your Sa'y ends up in Safa and not at the point
where you began! Seven times! Seven, a symbolic figure represents always, all your life to ... Marwa! Start at Safa which means pure love for others. Your destination is Marwa which means the ideal of manhood a sense of honor, generosity and forgiveness toward others! Who are the others? Those who are trying with you!
What do I know? This is only my understanding and not all that it signifies. It means annihilating and drawing yourself into this ocean of love; coming out clean and sinless; and stepping in Ibrahim's position. Form there - Oh man, a stranger, homeless and exiled from the earth, a sense of responsibility urges you to search for water in the mirage. Go to the top of Safa as Hajar did. See the white flood of people trying. Running down from Safa restlessly and in a state of thirst, they search for water in this hot and dry desert They continue to the top of Marwa where they find no water. With dry lips, empty hands and sad looks, they return to Safa and Start their search again. This procedure is repeated seven times, yet water is not found nor is their thirst quenched! But, they do reach Marwa!
And you, Oh a drop, from the top of Safa join this White-river of wandering, struggling and thirst! Draw yourself into this flood of people. Try your best (to Sa'y) with the others. In the middle of your Sa'y at the level of Kaaba, "hurry up" along with the others
The End of Sa'y - Taqsir
At the last point of your Sa'y, at Marwa, cut your hair short or clip your nails. Remove your Ihram garments and wear your regular clothes. Feel free! With empty hands and in a state of thirst leave Marwa, go to find your Ismail ...!
Listen carefully! Don't you hear the humming of water from here? See! The thirsty birds are all flying above this dry desert! Zam-Zam has quenched Ismail's thirst. A tribe of strangers from the very far lands has occupied this empty valley. The thirsty people of the earth have made a circle around Zam-Zam. A city of stones has grown in this thirsty and desperate desert. There has been a shower of revelation ... a house of "freedom" and "love"!
After returning from Sa'y, while thirsty and lonely, your loneliness will end here. Zam-Zam is flowing under your Ismail's foot. People are all around you. What else do you see? Allah is your next-door neighbor! You have gotten so close to Him.
- Oh man, tired of "sa'y" rely on "love"! - Oh "responsible man", try your best since your Ismail is thirsty! - Oh, "the one in love", wish! - Hope that love and wishes do miracles! - And you, Hajj, who are coming from Sa'y ... - From the dry desert of "your existence" and the depth of "your neglected" nature, a fountain is humming! - Listen carefully to your heart. - You will hear the humming.
People who have come from all over the world. From the mountain of Marwa go toward Zam-Zam. Have a few drinks, wash your face and bring some of that water back to where you came from so that you may present it as a gift to your people!
The Greater Pilgrimage (Hajj)
It is the ninth day of Zul-Hijjah and the greater pilgrimage has started. Where are you? It does, not matter! Wherever you may be - at Masjid-ul-Haram near Kaaba, in your hotel or on the street - now you must depart for the greater pilgrimage. Wear your Ihram attire and leave Mecca. How surprising, to leave Mecca behind you! Was not Qibla, here in Mecca? Yes it was, but the greater pilgrimage commences by leaving the Kaaba!!!
Were you not supposed to depart from your families, homes, lands and etc, in order to come to Mecca and face the Qibla ? Yes, you were; however, that was during the lesser Hajj (Umrah). And, why should you leave Kaaba now? Because you are going to start the greater Hajj!
Deciding to go to Mecca is not the total actualization of Hajj nor are Kaaba or Qibla the goals of Hajj. These are misunderstandings on your part. The leader of monotheism (Ibrahim) teaches you that Hajj does not end in Kaaba, but begins the moment you leave the Kaaba. It is not your destination but the point from which you start!
Until now (at Kaaba), you were to become assimilated, ignore your personal interests, overcome your self-centeredness and your limitations and discover "yourself". Oh "immigrant" who is going to see "Him" (Allah), from here on you will be pursuing a different path and entering a new land. For Umra and in Miqat you were to leave "your house", but here for Hajj you must leave the "house of Allah"!
At the verge of complete submission and the peak of your freedom, when you have discovered "yourself' - you are now qualified to obey this command: "Leave the Kaaba; and now you are closer to Me than Kaaba!" Visiting Kaaba during the lesser pilgrimage helped you to achieve self-discovery. Now you are going to approach Allah, not to visit the "house" but to see the "owner"!
Kaaba is only the "direction and not the "destination". You started off by coming "to Kaaba" but you are not to remain "in Kaaba". Anywhere you stop, you will be lost and dead.
- Oh Hajj who is starting this journey, who is always trying to approach Him, - Oh man, the spirit of Allah, - Oh the good deed, - You came to Mecca, - Do not stay here. - Do not stop in the Haram.
To give you direction so that you would not be misled by other Qiblas, Kaaba was your Qibla. However, in Mecca, the Qibla is someplace else. You must decide to go there and start a greater journey than coming to Mecca (i.e. the greater pilgrimage)
So, on the day of departure (ninth of Zul-Hijjah), regardless of where you are, put on your Ihram, turn your back to Mecca and move on ...! What place is holier and more respectful than Mecca? Continue on; you will see ...!