Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Heart is the Haram of Allah (Part 2)

There is a beautiful anecdote that illustrates the kernel of hajj and the aspirants of hajj would really be able to touch the core if they understand it well. In BOOK II of his celebrated Mathnawi, Rumi narrates an incident worthy of contemplation: We hereby reproduce the translation before expounding it: [Bayazid [a spiritual sheikh], on his journey (to the Ka'ba), sought much to find someone that was the Khizr of his time. He espied an old man with a stature (bent) like the new moon; he saw in him the majesty and (lofty) speech of (holy) men;…He (Bayazid) sat down before him and asked about his condition; he found him to be a dervish and also a family man. He (the old man) said, "Whither art thou bound, O Bayazid? To what place wouldst thou take the baggage of travel in a strange land?" Bayazid answered, "I start for the Ka’ba at daybreak." "Eh," cried the other, "what hast thou as provisions for the road?" "I have two hundred silver dirhams," said he; "look, (they are) tied fast in the corner of my cloak." He said, "Make a circuit round me seven times, and reckon this (to be) better than the circumambulation (of the Ka'ba) in the pilgrimage; And lay those dirhams before me, O generous one. Know that thou hast made the greater pilgrimage (hajj) and that thy desire has been achieved; (That) thou hast (also) performed the lesser pilgrimage ('umra) and gained the life everlasting; (that) thou hast become pure and sped up (the Hill of) Purity (Safa). By the truth of the Truth (God) whom thy soul hath seen, (I swear) that he hath chosen me above His House. Albeit the Ka’ba is the House of His religious service, my form too, in which I was created, is the House of His inmost consciousness. Never since God made the Ka'ba hath He gone into it, and none but the Living (God) hath ever gone into this House (of mine). When thou hast seen me, thou hast seen God: thou hast circled round the Ka'ba of Sincerity. To serve me is to obey God and glorify God: beware thou think not that God is separate from me. Open thine eyes well and look on me, that thou mayst behold the Light of God in man." Bayazid gave heed to those mystic saying, and put them in his ear as a golden ring. Through him (the old man), Bayazid came into an increase (of spiritual endowment): the adept at last attained unto the end]. Rumi would like to explain to us the spirit of hajj. The house of Allah is where He truly resides. It is not the cubic structure that we behold but the heart of the perfect human being. The cubic structure symbolizes His unity and is required to transport to us realization. Perhaps the reason why we are told Min tamaam al-Hajj liqaa’ al-Imam (‘a)’ (and the completion of hajj is to meet the Imam) is that meeting the Imam would transform us and unite us with him, and thus enable us realize and behold the true Ka’ba, where none save Allah resides. In fact the Imam (‘a) being a perfect human being whose heart is the sanctuary of Allah, is the Ka’ba himself. Small wonder it is that we read in our traditions that visiting the domes of Sayyid al-Shuhadaa or Imam al-Ridha (‘a) is equivalent to performing a thousand hajj or more. Indeed they are the epitomes of salaat, sawm and hajj. In the brilliant words of Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), 'Nahnu al-salat fi Kitabillah ‘azza wa jalla wa nahnu al-zakaat, wa nahnu al-siyaam wa nahnu al-hajj.” (We (the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a)) are prayers mentioned in the Book of Allah, and we are the zakaat, and we are fasting, and we are hajj…’ [Allama Majlisi, Bihaar al-Anwaar,v.24, p. 303] These allude how they brilliantly exemplify the realities of all these acts of worship in the best way possible. May the Almighty make us understand the devotions that we perform better before our wings of knowledge and action lose their effectiveness.

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