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Living the Hajj Experience to Capture That Different “I”

By the grace of Allah, I have been fortunate enough to perform the Hajj three times in my life, once for myself and twice on behalf of others, as well as performing Umrah three times during the holy month of Ramadan. Each experience has brought forth different experiences, emotions, knowledge, and of course, memories. I have shared these in two books titled “Living the Hajj Experience” and “Umrah Diary” with the public.

During these days when pilgrims flock to Mecca and Medina in groups, my heart beats with them, and my body journeys alongside them. I often say, “I wish.” I wish I could be one of them. I wish I could visit the House of Allah, the Kaaba, once again and perform Tawaf (circumambulation). I wish I could touch the door of the Kaaba and pray fervently to my Lord. I wish I could stand at the Station of Ibrahim and walk between Safa and Marwa. And many more wishes…

Recently, while searching for something on my computer, I came across the notes I had written during one of my Hajj journeys. These notes, which pointed to the symbolic meanings of the Hajj rituals, were written amidst a storm of emotions. I wanted to share them with you by making some small additions. Hopefully, they will be beneficial primarily to those who will perform Hajj this year, then to those like me who want to refresh their memories, and finally to those who intend or do not intend to perform Hajj in their life plans.

Tawaf, another name for becoming like Adam. It is a great opportunity for those who want to realize that they are NOTHING in the vastness of the ocean and a drop in the ocean. O Allah, make us feel satisfied! Satisfy us, O Allah! A seed cannot exist in the depths of the soil without being annihilated. Tawaf is the name for annihilation in order to exist. It is the first step of dissolution within the unity of “I” and “we.” Dissolve us, O Allah! Sa’y is the name for striving with anxiety and hope, similar to the anxious and trembling heart of Mother Hagar, who wanted to nourish her son Ismail. To become like Hagar, one must possess such a heart. Grant us this opportunity, O Allah! In the Station of Ibrahim, it is an act of devotion to pray with a heart and mind devoted solely to Him, and to Him alone. This must be what is meant by becoming like Ibrahim.

Zamzam is perhaps the only manifestation of insatiability in the material world. It is the name of an object that those who cannot understand how one can thirst for water without being satiated cannot comprehend without experiencing it themselves. Shaving the head is actually an act of gratitude for the blessings that You have bestowed upon me at this moment, but You do not allow me to sacrifice myself in this way. Therefore, as an expression of my sincerity, I offer my hair as many as they are, as a sacrifice, by saying, “I would sacrifice them for You if they were as dear to me as my life.” Yes, I wonder how aware we are of the symbolic meaning in this act of shaving? While circumambulating the Sacred House with our bodies, we should also circumambulate the House of Ma’mur with our souls. Only then it seems possible to be in the company of both humans and angels. I say “seems” based on my theoretical knowledge.

Perhaps there are those among us who embody this and can share their experiences by removing the word “seems” from the end of the sentence. In Turkish, someone who completes the Hajj is called “hacı,” and in Arabic, it is called “el-Hâc.”

To become a Haji or el-Hâc is not achieved by going to the Kaaba but by leaving the Kaaba. All the worship performed at the Kaaba until the ‘Terviye day’ which is a preparation to meet with Mighty Ma’ruf (one of the names Allah) in Arafat and to attain knowledge and become enlightened in the realm of recognizing Allah.

If we have been able to integrate with the Kaaba through these acts of worship, then it is time to meet the Owner of the Kaaba. And that can only happen by leaving the Kaaba.

Mina, where we stay by performing the five daily prayers before Arafat, is the final stop, the final point, and the final opportunity for realizing the essence of being. It is a point of culmination, in other words, a starting point for becoming a different “us” and a different “I.”

Perhaps there are those who have embodied this among us who can remove the word “perhaps” and share their experiences. Arafat is the name of the place where tranquility becomes tangible, visible. The standing at Arafat is an indispensable part of Hajj, Arafat is the essence of supplication, and the agony of supplication.

Muzdalifah is the first place where steps are taken towards becoming a different “we” and a different “I” after meeting with Him and becoming one with Him. In other words, the journey with Allah has ended with Arafat and has started with Muzdalifah.

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Jamarat is the area where we will stone not the devil of Prophet Ibrahim but our own devils. I wonder if we will be able to succeed?

Mina is the place where anything that hinders our meeting with Allah, anything that prevents us from obeying His commandments and prohibitions, is sacrificed with the intention of worship. The name for this act is sacrifice.

Ziyarat Tawaf, the second pillar of Hajj. Once you complete it, you have become el-Hâc. You have returned to your individuality, but as a different “I.” This “I” is ready for the return journey, different from the “I” that existed before coming here. Doesn’t it have to be that way? The secret of an accepted and rewarded Hajj lies here. To capture that different “I” and live with it throughout one’s life. Let me finish with something I read and added: There are three types of Hajj. -The first is the Hajj of the common people. It is the name for hunting for time in sacred places.

-The second is the Hajj of the distinguished ones; it is the name for visiting the stops in the sacred period of time. The places are known: Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifah, and the Sacred Mosque.

-The last one is the Hajj of the most distinguished ones: It is the name for returning the visit to the sacred places in a sacred time.

May Allah accept and reward our Hajj in His divine presence. Amen.

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Dr. Ahmet Kurucan is a an author and scholar focusing on Islamic Studies and Law.

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