Hurling pebbles at ourselves...
"Don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff." - Richard Carlson
Despite yet again being unable to physically participate in the rituals in these unprecedented times, how can we bottle up some of its spiritual essence to make our lives more fragrant?
This life is essentially a journey from Allah to Allah and a stripping back of the ego. The Hajj serves as a concentrated crash course in both. Yet the lessons gleaned from Hajj live on long after completing that final tawaf.
Let's take a closer look at one of the most symbolic rituals of the pilgrimage the stoning of the Satan.
Ostensibly the act reflects the ordeal of Prophet Ibrahim as he was dissuaded from carrying out the ultimate sacrifice of his son, Prophet Ismail. The ritual is intense. I vividly recall the hustle and bustle, the noise and the passion on display as pilgrims pelt a representation of the devil.
I remember the words of our group leader who had encouraged us the night before to think of something we regretted or were remorseful over or that we wished to replace within ourselves with each pebble collected. In a sense, the hurling of the pebbles the following day thus represented the stoning of the devil within, the nafs al-ammarah, and represented a choice to replace negativity with proactive positivity.
The implications of the act persist to this day. On a daily basis we can face a barrage of internal chatter that questions our sense of self or tries to derail us. The ability to pause, reflect and a hurl a metaphorical rock or two at these negative thoughts can be massively useful.
It certainly helps to remind ourselves what we cannot control, that over which we have no control and that "Allah is the best of planners."
"The antidote to anger is gratitude. You can't feel fear or anger while feeling gratitude at the same time." - Tony Robbins
Try it out. Close your eyes. What's a worrying thought that you wake up to? Does the same thought disturb your prayers? Now imagine hurling a stone at that thought and smashing into smithereens.
Be grateful for something - anything - no matter how big or small and breathe the negativity away.