I was asked to write an article about my journey to Mecca, Saudi Arabia to perform the 5th pillar of Islam, obligatory for all Muslim’s who are financially and physically capable of making the journey at least once in their lifetime called the Hajj pilgrimage. With sincere intentions to complete the Hajj, I and millions of others became the Guest of Allah/GOD at The Kaabah.
The Kaabah, “The Cube”
The Kaaba was the First Mosque on Earth and is known as The Holy House constructed by Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael…its amazing once you really start to understand the lineage of humanity and how we all come from our parents Adam and Eve. All the world division does not make any sense, which was one of my reasons for my accepting the faith of Islam, because it just made logical good sense to me that we are one humanity regardless of color or language barriers. The Quran states this idea really precisely (49:13): “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah/GOD is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah/GOD has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”
In February 2003, I departed JFK and flew to Cairo Egypt once there and settled into a brief layover where you change into you Ihram clothing garments worn by Muslim’s male and female during the pilgrimage. Ihram, often consist of two white un-hemmed sheets (usually toweling material) and are universal in appearance. The main objective is to avoid attracting attention. Everyone is equal, no superiority, no rank just plain garments wrapped around the body shedding all signs of wealth or social status. The ihram is a symbol of purity and equality and trusts me… I wore it well. Till this day, I still have them and would like to be wrapped in them upon my death.
Upon arrival in Jeddah preparing to final clearance into Mecca the Holy Precincts, one thing I noticed immediately was the human brotherhood! The people of all races, colors, from all over the world coming together as one! It was evidence to me the power of the One GOD! All ate as one, and slept as one. Everything about the pilgrimage atmosphere accented the oneness of man under one GOD. This is what the Hajj translated to me first and foremost. I also noticed there is also no gender separation during the Hajj. The Hajjis (males) and Hajjahs (females) unlike in mosque, at Hajj men and women pray together, not just in the same area but also on the same prayer line. This is to remind everyone that on the Day of Judgment, both men and women will be standing together, side by side, in the same rows.
I spent 21 days in the Holy Land, at first Mecca and then several days in Medina, met people from all over the world, prayed on the marble floor at one instant got close enough to touch the black stone while making the ritual circulations (tawaf/laps) around the house. Visited the Prophets Mosque the building architectural structures was magnificent. I was in the company of nearly 3 to 4 million people worshipping Allah/GOD the creator of the world, this was no little thing and my heart and mind completely opened up and surrendered as gratitude flowed through my veins. The feeling was indescribable. Me, from Barbour Street in Hartford, CT having the opportunity of a lifetime, completing and fulfilling the 5th obligation of the faith I believe in was amazing.
Several rituals must be performed to complete the Hajj:
- The rituals that are performed are the circling of the Kaabah seven times in a counter-clockwise direction/laps
- Kissing or touching the Kaabah itself and even the black stone
- The running back and forth (“sa’ee”) between the two mountains of Safa and Marwah to commemorate Prophet Abraham wife Hagar relentless search for sustenance for herself and her son, (she subsequently was blessed after 7 laps to have her patience and prayers answered when Allah/GOD sent the Angel Gabriel, to strike ground and the well of Zamzam was the reward and their sustenance. The refreshing Zamzam water is still available today; it is like no other water…. trust me).
- The stoning at the heads of the devil, and climbing the mountains at Arafat: sacrificing an animal and feeding it to the poor and a few other practices, makes one Hajj complete.
These experiences helped me personally to get closer to Allah/GOD, my understanding of what Allah/GOD intends and requires for mankind…total reliance on Him through prayers and patience, He is near!
Amazingly the 9th day is called Arafat and everyone must assemble on this mountain not far from Mecca, the common meaning of the word Arafat is “to know”. After being taken out of paradise and placed on earth, here is where Adam (upon him be peace) and Hawa (upon her be peace) met up. Standing on Arafat is essential part of the Hajj; whoever misses the standing on Arafat has missed Hajj, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said: “Hajj is Arafat”.
On Mount Arafat, as much time as possible is devoted to prayers, repentance for sins, and in seeking the forgiveness of Allah. I was asked to lead the chanting inside our tent on Arafat, this was and is the most holy of times when the pilgrim stands alone with Allah/GOD. Facing towards the Holy House in the Holy City of Makkah, hands should be raised and prayers offered to Allah/GOD with all one’s heart, even in one’s own language.
In the largest gathering of mankind, each of us was like a speck of dust. Again, every single one of us pilgrims was invited by GOD to be His guest. Bearing this in mind, I remember being prudent of my every act and of how I spend every second in the holy land. The market places were very familiar to me, thought about my beginning on the tables on Barbour Street, people were selling all kinds of product blankets/sheets were spread out on the ground and the vendors were trying to provide for themselves, which made me feel right at home.
I engaged in business started distributing these neat prayer rugs that folded and zipped up into a pouch. I was not prepared to handle all the challenges, and situations, the long walks…. who could possibly be prepared to encounter something of this magnitude? But my faith, and wanting to fulfill my obligation made the difference, pleasing Allah, Almighty, along with the reality every Muslim will be fortunate enough to fulfil this act of worship got me through. So, I embraced with gratitude the opportunity to visit Him, and be His guest.
My heart recited the glorious greeting in His name, “Labbaik Allahumma labbaik.” I am ready to obey your orders, O Allah/GOD. It was a journey of a lifetime…Thank you Lord.
In closing, I would strongly encourage that you make the intents, work hard, save your money and pray to Allah/GOD to facilitate your situation, so that you can make and be a-part of what has been declared the largest pilgrimage known to man.
Stay tuned…GOD willing, I am preparing to write on my experiences, after being appointed as a personal business consultant for Imam W.D. Mohammad, how I was sent with a delegation several times to the far-east on his behalf to conduct business of what later came to be known as Business Tie Clothiers a division of CPC Graceline.
Respectfully your Brother in the faith,
Anthony Griffin/Mujaheed Sahih Muslim