Bismillah ir-rahman ir-rahim
… the pilgrimage to the Holy House is an obligation which man owes to Allah; for the man who has the ability to find his way to it…” (Surah Al-i ‘Imran, 96)
“…and perform the hajj (pilgrimage) and the ‘umrah (visit) for Allah.” (Surah al Baqarah, 196)
My dearest children:
All praise and thankfulness to Allahu Teala that inshallah in April, He will invite us as His guests to visit His house and the house of His beloved, whom He sent as His mercy upon the universe.
Our Master says: “The pilgrims are Allah’s guests, and it is right that the Host honor His guests and give presents.”
‘Umrah is a visitation and there are some forms, actions, and behavior expected from the guests of Allah u Teala. The actions to be performed are simple. The obligations for ‘Umrah consist of:
- Ihram: Inshallah in our hotel in Medina, before we leave for Mecca, we will take a total ablution. Men will clad themselves in two pieces of white cloth which we will buy in Medina; one piece to wrap around our waists, the other to put on our shoulders. No underwear or socks or covering the head is permitted. One may wear sandals with heels and toes uncovered on the way, but one is barefoot in the precincts of the Qa’aba and the Masjid an Nabi. After one enters the Ihram, one recites the Talbiyya, making the intention of performing ‘Umrah for Allah’s sake, and performs two rakats of salat of thankfulness.
The ladies do all of the above, except their ihram is a white robe covered around the neck, long sleeved and long enough to reach the top of the foot, and their heads are covered in white.
- Tawaf: is the Circumambulation of the Qa’aba seven times, starting and finishing at the corner of the Black Stone. The first three turns are done with energetic steps, like jogging, and the last four walking quietly, saluting the Black Stone at each turn and reciting prayers you know.
- Sai: means walking between the hills of Safa and Marwa seven times. Starting at Safa, from Safa to Marwa four times, and from Marwa to Safa three times, finishing at Marwa and having a piece of your hair cut at the end.
At this point the “Umrah is accomplished and the ihram is taken off.
This is the form. But we all know that just the form in any kind of worship, such as the five daily prayers, fasting, giving alms, etc. is like an empty envelope without a letter in it; it means nothing. Before we go to “Umrah and during, we have to make the effort to learn and practice the meaning of these actions we will perform.
When we leave our homes to go to the Holy Lands, can we put ourselves in such a state that that we feel we are making our final departure from this world, as if now we are going to meet our Lord? Can we leave the care and the love of this world behind?
Even under the best conditions, as we will be traveling, leaving behind our daily comforts, habits, possessions, above all our independence and freedom, encountering heat, crowds, unaccustomed people, environment, and culture; will we be able to obtain pleasure in our state of patience?
Will we be able to have a taste of that inevitable moment, when all that we possessed and were accustomed to will be taken away from us?
From the moment we leave our homes, our privacy, even in the most private places: in the bedroom, in the bathroom, and at meals, will evaporate. And in public, on the road, in the mosques, we will be together with thousands of people of different races, clothes, languages, behavior, rubbing shoulders, stepping on each other’s feet, talking to our brothers and sisters from the four corners of the world. How are we going to feel about them? Are we going to be with them or apart from them? Are we going to be critical or accepting and loving towards them?
And when we are there, are we going to feel like a stranger, or like someone who was away from home for a long time and finally, joyfully has come back home?
Our beloved Prophet says: “The one who visits my tomb is as if he visits me while I was in this world.”
When we are in Medina will we behave as if we are guests in his house? Will it be as if our beds are made by him; our food is prepared by him; people we see are members of his household; the ground we tread upon is the ground his blessed feet stepped upon; the air we breathe is his breath? Will we believe that when we pray in his masjid, he is the Imam; when we stand in front of his tomb, we are standing in front of him? Will our experience bring a surge of immense love for him and bring floods of tears to our eyes?
When we put on our ihram to enter Mecca, we have to feel now “I am not me, but us”; I am no different from anybody; I have no name, no rank, no possessions, no achievements, not even husband or wife. That pure white cloth covering our bodies has cleansed us of all dirt and willfulness. Now all of us are one and equal, none over or under another in front of our Lord, will-less, like a dead body clad in his shroud. And we say the Talbiyyah:
Labbayk, Allahumme labbayk I am present my Lord
Labbayke la sharike leke labbayk Will-less at your orders, there is none other than You
Innal hamda wa ni’mata leke wal mulk All praise to You, all good comes from You, all belong to You
La sharika lek   ; There is none other than You
Will we really mean what we say? Will we really finally be “Present”?
Resulallah (saws) says: “When a Muslim recites the talbiyyah, all that is on his right side and his left side, trees, rocks, the hardened earth recites it with him. [Pointing to his right and left he continued] in these directions till the end of the world everyone and everything is together with him.”
Will you also feel that you are together with them?
If this visit is done without a feeling of yearning, longing to meet someone and to be some place, which one dearly misses in one’s life, perhaps it is not worth taking. But even those who have not felt this longing, when they will see the Qa’aba for the first time, their hearts will tremble with awe and the joy of finding the One which they have missed all their life.
Here you are at last at the spot which you have been facing from far away five times a day in your prayers. It is the center around which the whole universe revolves, from the galaxies to the smallest atom; every created thing turns around and around in a circle. Now you are that atom, or that star or that sun. The far away suns seem as small as you. Do you see the order in the paths where things evolve, from the atom to the vast galaxies? As long as you obey, you are a part of that universal order and one with it.
Then remember that Hd. Ibrahim (a.s.), Resulallah, (saws,) and the saints and the billions of faithful ones have stepped on the same ground as you are walking. And when you jog the first three turns around the Qa’aba, remember the physically battered, weak companions of Resulallah, who were not permitted to perform hajj by the enemies of Islam, who came to do ‘Umrah, who were ordered to show their inner strength by Resulallah sprinting around the Qa’aba. You will also be imitating the angels flying around the Arsh (the Divine Throne). Angels do not have corporal being but inner strength. And when you kiss or touch or salute from far the Black Stone, remember to confirm your soul’s promise in the‘Alam-i Erwah when Allah asked: “Elestu bi rabbikum?” “Am I not your Lord?” and you answered “Bela!” “Indeed!”
When you are done, and do two rakats of prayers near the Maqam-i Ibrahim where the patriarch of the Prophets of Islam, Christianity and Judaism stood, remember that those misguided ones who think they are the enemies of Islam are your astray brothers and sisters.
In the Sai when you walk seven times the long path between the hills of Safa and Marwa remember that Allah u Teala says:
“Safa and Marwa are truly among the signs of Allah…” (Surah Baqara, 158)
That is where Hd. Hajar (Hd. Haggar), left in the wilderness with her young son Hd. Ishmael, ran to and fro to find water, discovering the source of Zamzam. It is the symbol of Allah-u Teala’s reward to the patient servant who shows great effort to remedy his or her afflictions. As Allah says:
“I will not change the state of one, unless he tries to change it himself.”
Also worthy to contemplate is the pendulum of one’s state swinging from good deeds to sinful acts, the changes in one’s heart between the orders of one’s pure soul and the temptations of one’s ego. It is said that every step you take during the Sai relieves you of one of your sins.
This visit is like going to a divine bath to cleanse ourselves from everything not befitting a Muslim, a human being. But as we wash ourselves, taking special care to scrub our hands, feet, face, to the extent of the dirt on them, it is most important to sincerely realize, the dirt, accumulated in our actions, tongue, heart, mind, and wash it as well. It is the place for sincere repentance where the Forgiver and the intercessor are right there in front of you.
May Allah-u Teala invite my children and this faqir by according us the time, health, and means to visit His House and His beloved Prophet. All praise and thanks to the Owner of all, the Most Merciful, the Loving, Generous, Allah Most High. From You we seek forgiveness and unto You we turn repentant.
“O Allah, bestow Your blessings and grace upon our Master Muhammad, and upon his family and companions. Amin.”
Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi