Friday, April 8, 2011

A Pilgrimage in a Pilgrimage - Dear Smoker Hajj...

HABIT. It is a recorded tradition of the Prophet that he once said, “I would easier believe that a mountain has moved from one place to another, than to believe that a man has changed his habits.”

CHANGE. I absolutely agree with the Prophet. The hardest thing, the most difficult path, the most foreboding step is to change…

to quit smoking,

to say goodbye,

to change jobs,

to love and to let go,

and sometimes,

to leave your family and the comforts of home for a journey.

PILGRIMAGE CANCELLED? YA HUU! The original date for my pilgrimage was last December. But due to many cancellation, the trip was cancelled. And boy, was I happy. For to be totally truthful here, I didn’t want to go. Not really. I was in my groove you see. Happy with my daily chores, my work, my play, my friends and family. Why ought I pack up to go on a 2 weeks jaunt through hot and troubled Middle East?

PILGRIMAGE CONFIRMED? UH OH… So I booked a seat for the March trip. And as days pass by, and the date for my flight looms ominously closer I started to worry. Even the idea of going on the pilgrimage with quite a number of my close friends did not endear me to the thought of leaving. I so hated change. I didn’t want to go. But I went anyway, under protest. I said to the Almighty, “God, this is for You. I don’t want to do this. I don’t like to do this. I am doing this because Muhammad, Your Messenger did it, and he beckoned us to do it, and that is why I am going. So please, please make it easy for me.” With that thought I boarded my flight, lugging my cane (newly bought), my laptop (which I ended up never using) and my nervous expectations.

The Lovable Rogues (and me)

IT WAS EASY. As it turned out, God positively answered the sinner’s desperate plea. Oh yes, I had a number of minor contretemps, I fell down a stair once, and I lost my newly bought sunglasses, but otherwise the pilgrimage was wholly beautiful. The destination was beautiful, the sights were beautiful, and I was in the company of friends (both old and new) who made me feel lucky to be part of their clique. Oh, they were not your ordinary good folks. They were much like me – naughty and bad sinners. But they were well-mannered and kind sinners. Lovable rogues.

A PILGRIMAGE WITHIN A PILGRIMAGE. Oh ho, I thought. Perhaps this is what happens when you place your trust in God when you go on a pilgrimage. He answers, and He cares and protects you. But then, I realize, is there ever a moment in our complex life when we are not in God’s hand? Is there a moment when we are utterly on our own? How foolish I have been, thinking that only when I am about to travel (far) am I placing my trust in God. How stupid and dumb I was not to realize that this life, this breath that I am taking and exhaling, this blog that I am writing now – this is all one single journey - A pilgrimage of sorts from the moment we were born and until our last exhaled breath. Life is a journey (so the poets say), and we are all musafir (travelers) on a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage to understand the meaning of God, of Love and of Beauty. The Umrah (small pilgrimage) and the Haj (main pilgrimage) is in truth, a pilgrimage within a pilgrimage. And in both, we have our prophet(s) as our guide, our love and beacon.

You may notice that I am fond of Muhammad, Prophet of God. Although I myself am unworthy. Thank you, sunshine, for reading my blog. You are so much better than me, and you are more worthy to be in his congregation. Wherever you may be, you will always be closer to him. But do not forget me, sunshine. Mention my name to him, and perhaps he will realize that I am absent, and he will ask you to find me.

You don’t have to look far. For I hope I shall always be in the finest of abode – your heart.

Pax Taufiqa.

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