The Hajj is fundamentally about celebrating the Anniversary of our primordial Covenant with Allah, which He took upon humanity before our earthly existence:
“And remember when your Lord brought forth from Adam’s descendants, from their loins, their offspring and made them bear witness upon themselves saying, `Am I not your Lord?’ They said, ‘Certainly, we bear witness”Surat al-‘A’raf: 172
It is in the valley of Na’man’, which according to some commentators lies on the plain between Mina and ‘Arafat where the pilgrims set out their tents, where Allah took this ancient Covenant with all of humanity, from the first of them to the last of them. Here He manifested Himself to them in another dimension of existence, asking them “Do you recognize Me as Your Lord?” To this, we responded individually and collectively, while still in that pre-earthly state and dimension of existence, “Indeed, we bear witness to Your Lordship.” The word ‘Rabb’ in Arabic, we must recall, means the caretaker and educator, the one who nourishes and elevates.
According to other opinions, this sacred plain near the Ka’ba, while not the physical location of this experience, is nonetheless, spiritually and intrinsically connected to that ancient pre-historic memory, as one of the great mysteries which we cannot fully fathom. A certain degree of this mystery we can understand and remains accessible to us, for if we ponder on the ‘Holy Land’, what is it that makes a land holy and sacred? Certainly, it is holy because of the Prophets who appeared there and walked upon that land, who spoke the Word of God and taught there, God’s Peace be upon them all, such that the land and its surroundings became imbued with their spiritual presence and energy. This level of understanding is sufficient to convince us that this land is sacred and special.
That said, there is a higher level of perception and understanding that also remains, as there are certain places on this earth that are connected to higher and non-physical dimensions of existence. We know from the traditions of messenger ﷺ that the Ka’ba of this earthly realm lies right underneath the Holy Shrine of God in the Heavenly realm, ‘al-Bayt al-Ma’mur’ that is constantly surrounded and visited by the Angels. Similarly, while the locations of ‘Arafat, Mina, and Muzdalifa are sacred because they were witnesses to the first human, our father Adam -a-, and to our masters Ibrahim -a-, and Muhammadﷺ they are also significant and holy in a much deeper spiritual sense: the whole reality of our primordial and ancient Covenant with Allah is intimately and intrinsically connected to their location. The memory of that Covenant, which was beyond time and space, is directly projected on that sacred plain. Indeed, if we ponder the name of the Ka’ba as the ‘ancient house’ (al-Bayt al-‘Atiq), we can now appreciate it in that sense.
In order for us to honor that Covenant, we are called to cultivate our longing, nostalgia, and sense of belonging to Allah. This is the very foundation of the obligation (Farida) of Hajj. By leaving our homes and traveling to the House of Allah and honoring certain places and rituals as the symbols of Allah, we are expressing our preference for Allah over our own selves. These are days of expressing our preference for the One Real God over our many false gods, especially the false god of the Ego. In these sacred days, we express our preference for Allah over our own preferences by celebrating His Taste, His Perception, His Days, and His Law over our own whims and desires.
The Days of Dhul-Hijjah are, therefore, an exercise in alignment. We are seeking to align ourselves with the Godly feelings, perceptions, and choices, that are the Prophetic legacy. For the messenger Muhammad ﷺ was none other than the True Man of Allah: his perception, choices, and feelings are always completely aligned with Allah and fully open to His Word and Revelation.
It is from here where the word ‘Hajj’ derives. ‘Al-Mahajjah’ is the ‘Straight path’ leading to Allah as its destination, as opposed to the crooked and stray path. When we reflect on the Hajj, we are being called to align ourselves with the Straight path over other possible choices and paths. The Straight path, as our Exalted Lord informs us in the Qur’an is the one He desires for us. By walking this path, we are seeking what Allah wishes to bestow upon us: His desire for us to return to Him (Tawba), to Guide us (Hidaya), to lighten our burden, to bring us ease and relief, and to make matters clear for us.
On the other hand, Allah also warns us:
“And God wishes for you to return to Him in repentance; while those who follow their vain desires would have you go very far astray.”Sura al-Nisa: 27
Allah wishes to make your experience on earth joyful and pleasant and to prepare you for a better eternal life when you leave this earthly realm, while those who follow their own perceptions and whims have a different program and agenda for you. They wish to see you suffer and to swerve very far astray, such that it feels impossible to come back and return.
So we must be aware and vigilant that there are two major wills or desires at play: the Will or program that Allah has planned for us, where we come to see and honor what Allah sees as Honorable and Great, and the will or program of those who wish to see us fail and go far astray. This is a very essential component of our belief as Muslims: for what else is the opening prayer of the Fatiha other than a means of seeking the Straight path of God, the path of felicity and everlasting Peace, while seeking His protection from the stray path of evil and destruction? The Hajj is thus but a direct means of cultivating that ‘Istiqama,’ that permeability and flexibility of being straightened and set aright by Allah, let Him Guide and shape our choices and our life. If we are to speak of any Great Reset, then the Hajj is the truly ‘Great Reset.’ Just like the blessed month of Ramadan, it is a holistic program of deprogramming and reprogramming and more importantly of renewing our covenant with Allah.