[above shows the Mt. Safa of the Mas'aa [place of sa'y]
While some of us are preparing for Hajj in our hometowns, 116 thousand pilgrims are reported to have already entered the holy precincts of Makka and begun the first phase of their rites. The true meaning of preparation, however, must be understood so that we may be able to accomplish the purpose of this ecstatic journey. In a brilliant tradition narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), we are told that there are three kinds of results one can anticipate from Hajj: (1) Utter freedom from Hell Fire, (2) Forgiveness of all sins, (2) Protection of wealth and family on return[ Al-Kafi, v.4, p. 253]. Placing these results in mind, we should try to aspire for the best. Aspiration, however, is not a kind of conceptualization or inculcation; rather, it is a resolution, struggle and hardship. And these need preparation. One of the areas we must struggle to attain is “a state of receptivity”. We should try to widen the containers of our hearts in order to benefit from the Divine Banquet while we are the guests of One who perpetually and abundantly bestows with no expectation of any kind of return whatsoever. Two important areas we must work hard on are (1) Repentance (tawba) and (2) Acquiring knowledge about the secrets of the journey. These are factors that would enhance our receptivity and enable us accomplish a certain level of perfection. When we speak of tawba, the most important element that we should try to achieve is “the state of no return”. Regret should not be an emotional state that does not reap any fruit. It should rather act as a catalyst to overturn our deviant ways and change our states, so that we do not think of going back to sin. Understanding the secrets of hajj would make the journey very meaningful and if we are fortunate to have been given the succor to attain the desired preparation and readiness, we may achieve the apex of Hajj, which is human perfection and Divine proximity. One of the subtle meanings of the hadith of Imam al-Baqir ('a), ‘Min tamaamil Hajj liqaa’ al-Imam’ (The completion of Hajj is in meeting the Imam) is that the perfection and completeness of Hajj is in encountering the characteristics of the imam who is a perfect human being. In other words, the completeness of hajj is to exemplify the attributes of a perfect human being in oneself. Small wonder it is that one is able to achieve the purpose of Hajj through the ziyara of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) if one is in the state of knowledge of their sanctity and status.