Bottling up the spiritual essence of Hajj to make our lives more fragrant
"If you are grateful I will give you more." - Qur'an (14:7)The first of a weekly 4-part blog series reflecting on the Hajj (pilgrimage) in the lead up to Eid al-Adha. Despite 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?
Sarah and I completed the hajj together 12 years ago, just a year after we got married. We recall the looks on colleagues' and friends faces as they politely enquired into our holiday plans and tried not to look too perplexed as the words Saudi and Arabia emerged from our mouths in response. Almost without fail, a long explanation that we were leaving for Hajj , the Islamic pilgrimage, would follow, along with reassurance that we would do our level best to avoid getting trampled.
Hajj itself was spectacular: the huge crowds, the breathtaking diversity of appearances and traditions, the inspiring camaraderie as well as the opportunities to simply take stock and reflect.
It would be an understatement to refer to the hajj as a multi-sensory experience for in addition to sight, sound, touch, taste and smell being stimulated, the soul itself is sparked through proximity to the Divine presence and that of His messenger.
"The Holy Pilgrimage is not a journey to passively worship Allah, but rather the process of dissolving into the love of Allah the way the clouds dissolve into the light of the sun." A Helwa (Secrets of Divine Love)
These experiences all serve in unison to provide fuel for vivid memories to be laid down and accessed for posterity. In fact these experiences become so hard-wired that we can still call upon them 12 years down the line. This process of being able to step back into the moments that made our Hajj is perhaps one of its greatest gifts: the process of deconstructing and reconstructing the self that took place can be called upon any time by closing our eyes and transporting ourselves back to that arid land.
This life is essentially a journey from Allah to Allah and a stripping back of the ego. The Hajj serves a concentrated crash course in both. Yet the lessons gleaned from Hajj live on long after completing that final tawaf.
The process of reliving, re-inhabiting and stepping back into powerful memories as if we were there again is a life-changing way to be express gratitude. We call it 3D gratitude as it enhances the 1D process of lip-service as well as the 2D process of heartfelt thanks to a total sensory embodiment of thankfulness.
You can read more about taking gratitude to the next level in one of our previous blogs.
Try it out. Close your eyes. Recall a moment big or small but memorable. Who was there? What did you see, hear and feel? Breathe as if you were there once more. Feel it, savour the joy and beauty and feel grateful for that gift of an experience.