Oh guests of the Most Merciful! Oh fortunate ones! Oh travelers to the Haram! Congratulations on being invited by the Lord of the worlds! Be glad that He has invited you to His House! Not only that, but He has given you the provisions for travel and lodging. And not only that, but He has also filled your hearts with such love of Him and His House that today you leave your homes, your cities, your countries and embark on this journey solely for the pleasure of your Lord. Had this desire not been there then you would have never planned to undertake this journey.
How many a millionaire are there who travel throughout Switzerland, England, America, and so on - who spend their children's vacations over there - but never receive this invitation: Come, visit Our House! Live in Our city! Act according to the Sunnats of Our beloved servants! Run between the hills of Safa and Marwa just as a wife of a prophet and a mother of a prophet did! We love this running of yours. Hurl rocks against Satan just as Our Prophet Ibrahim (alayhi salam) did! Perform sacrifice just as a loyal servant of Ours laid his son and ran the knife over his throat because of Our Command! But we had prohibited the knife from even scratching the throat. Our servant did as he was told and the knife did as it was commanded (i.e. it did not cut); both acted under our command. Those who claim to love Us - We test them to see whether their claim is true.
Come here as a devotee:
This is Our city and Our House. Come here as a devotee; if you are not a devotee, then take on the appearance of a devotee! Be content in whatever condition We keep you in. Here there are crowds of devotees. You will be pushed and shoved; your hair will fill with dirt and dust, and your feet will tire from walking. Be it pushing or shoving, dirt and dust, or difficulties in Our alleys - Our devotees are proud of such difficulties and consider them as the treasures of their lives.
Whoever thinks of these hardships and pains as calamities should not come. He should stay at his home. But those who come as devotees - We will wipe out their sins and return them to their homes as if they were just born today. This is a bathing of bodies and souls rotten and spoiled due to sins - washing these sins will require rubbing. Without rubbing how is cleanliness obtained?
Oh travelers to the Haram! Hajj is no small blessing. This is a great act of worship - very different from all the other forms of worship. All sorts of outward and inward worships are combined in this. Money is spent in the path of Allah and great effort is exerted; it is a purification of the soul of the highest degree; it contains spiritual exercises; there is patience and gratitude, love and ma'rifah. It is a witnessing of the favors of the Almighty and of the acceptance of duas. There is both outward and inward closeness. In a hadith, Rasoolullah addressed those performing Hajj and Umrah - and today you are his addressees:
Sayyidna Abu Hurairah Radi-Allahu anhu narrates that Rasoolullah said: (translation) The travelers of Hajj and Umrah are Allah's special guests; if they supplicate to Allah, He accepts their supplications and if they seek forgiveness, He forgives them. (Hisn-e-Hasin, Ibn Majah and Nasai)
Oh travelers to the Haram! Years of spiritual exercise and training may not yield the benefits that can be obtained from this, if only we understand them and have a will to seek them. Oh guests of Allah! I will not discuss with you the merits of Hajj, because if you did not know its merits than you would have never made this blessed intention (to go to Hajj). Neither will I mention its rites and rulings, because you can get all of this from books and training sessions for Hajj. Rather I want to point out something else.
You are going to the great Court of the King of kings. When a person is a guest of a king then he learns the manners of the court long before he goes there. Then when he reaches there, he monitors every deed of his making sure that it does not result in disrespect.
Oh travelers to the Haram! I wish to share with you an extremely beneficial recipe- one that you will neither find in books nor in lectures. I know that pilgrims are subject to numerous difficulties and hardships. In this journey, there are many trying moments, no, rather many trying hours and days. Sometimes there is the immigration obstacle. There are the difficulties in finding lodging and in getting to the Haram. There are the hardships encountered in Tawaf and Sa'ee. But, my brothers! To achieve any big goal, you must undertake hardships. Those who are mentally prepared for this are the successful ones.
The recipe that I am presenting is called "tafweed", which means entrusting your matters, i.e. entrusting your intentions and desires to Allah. The opposite of this is "tajweez" which means relying on your own plans and actions.
Tajweez is the root of all of our worries in our normal course of affairs and especially during the journey to Hajj. On the other hand, tafweed results in complete contentment. The person who in his difficulties leaves matters into the hands of Allah finds that Allah shows him ways out of his difficulties. When you reach the court of the King, then entrust your matters to the King. If he makes you sleep on the floor, then sleep happily on the floor. And if he makes you sit on the throne then sit on the throne remembering that you are in the court of the King. He has invited you here to honor you.
Never lose sight of the true Beloved for even a blink of the eye
Lest the king glance at you with mercy and you be unaware.
Many people return from Hajj and tell stories about the unmannerly behavior of the people there and magnify the difficulties they encountered there. One time I received a letter from an old man who said that: while you give people good tidings of Jannah, I went to Hajj but found no trace of the fear of God in the people therein. Then the man mentioned his difficulties in such words and talked about other pilgrims and the Saudi people in such a way that I felt sorrow over the way he mentioned this.
We are not going there to have a picnic. When millions of people gather in a city of three or four hundred thousand, then due to the crowd there will be pushing and shoving. The paths will be narrow and difficult. So undertake this journey as an ardent devotee. Whoever is ardent in the love of someone finds enjoyment in the difficulties he encounters on the way and contentment in these worries.
-Adapted from an albalagh article. [Originally published in Urdu in Daily Ummat Karachi on 12 December 2004] .