Umra (1406)

 

BISMILLAH IR-RAHMAN IR-RAHIM

 

 

Umrah 1406 - January 1986

 

The literal meaning of ‘umrah is “visitation.” You do not visit the One unless you know Him and unless you are invited by Him. According to the Hanafis and the Malikis, this visitation is sunnah muagqadah. According to the Shafi’is it is fard `ayn, to be done once in a lifetime.

 

The duties we are required to perform in this visitation are the circumambulation of the Holy Kabah and walking between Safa and Marwah. The following are the procedures we must observe.

 

Before you leave your home try to bring yourself in mind and spirit to a state of humbleness and gentleness, being soft-spoken, good-natured and above all, patient. Just before you leave, make two cycles of prayer, and saying bismi Llah, tawakkaltu ~al~`ala Llah, wa l~ 1~awla wa l~ quwwata illa bi-Llah il-’Ali Il-’Azim, take refuge in Allah and bid farewell to your family and friends.

 

As we are not going to stop at a miqat where one makes one’s intention for the ‘umrah and takes ablution, and where men put on ihram, it is suggested that you take total ablution at home, cut your fingernails, and mildly perfume yourself. Women may already put on white robes, white socks and white head coverings.

 

About an hour before arrival in Jiddah you will have to take a lesser ablution on the plane. The men will put on their ihram, uncover their heads, and put on their feet only sandals without backs. Make two cycles of prayer and make the intention for ‘umrah, saying Allahumma inni yuridu al­umrah, fa-yassir li wa taqabbul minna —- “0 Lord, I intend to perform the visitation. Make it easy for me and accept it from us.” Then say three times:

 

Labbayk Allahumma labbayk labbayka la sharika laka labbayk innal-hamda wal-ni’mata laka wal—mulk l~ sharika lak.

 

“I am present, 0 Lord, at Your orders. You have no partner. I am here, 0 Lord, pure and loyal, accepting Your invitation. All comes from You, all praise is to You, the universe is Your kingdom. You have no partner.

 

From this moment on you must watch your language so as not to hurt anyone or anything either by your words or by your actions. You are not to change your physical state by shaving yourself, cutting your fingernails, covering your head or wearing cloths. Keep away from your wives and husbands and control the desires of your flesh. You must take ablution whenever it is needed. After each prayer, each time you meet a group of people, each time you go uphill or come downhill, repeat three times audibly the talbiyah given above (women should do it quietly).

 

Enter the city of Mecca in a state of ablution. As you see the Ka’bah, repeat the talbiyah, takbir (“Allahu akbar”), tahlil (“la ilaha illa Llah”), and as-salatu was­salam (“Allahumma salli ‘ala sayyidina Muhammadin wa ‘ala ali Muhammad”), and say Allahumma zada baytaka tashrifan wa ta’ziman wa takrirnan wa barran muhabbat -- “0 Lord, increase the blessings, honor, grace, and bounties proper to Your House.”

Then stand with the Ka’bah at your left, at the corner of the Black Stone, salute the Ka’bah, and say bismi Llahi Llahu akbar. Make the first three circumambulations with short but quick steps. Each time you come to the corner of the Black Stone, salute it and if possible touch it or kiss it. The last four circumambulations should be done quietly and slowly, again saluting the Black Stone each time. During the circumambulations you can recite the prayers you know, such as Rabbana atina and other surahs and ayats, the tevhid, salat-u selam, etc., but above all try to be in a state of awareness and presence.

 

At end of the seventh circumambulation, come out at the corner of the Black Stone and make two cycles of prayer near the place of Hz. Ibrahim (a.s.), finishing with your private prayers.

 

You then walk to the hill of Safa, to a point where you can see the Ka’bah, repeating the takbir and tahlil and salat—u selam, and start walking toward Marwah. You must make this trip seven times, four times from Safa to Marwah and three times from Marwah to Safa, finishing at Marwah. Both in Safa and Marwah, stand at a place looking at the Ka’bah as you did at the beginning, and repeat the same prayers you said on first coming to Safa. You must quicken your pace each time between the two green lights, and as you do so, say Allahumma aghfir warham wa tajawuz ‘an ma ta’ lam, antal—’ Ali ul-’ Azim -— “0 Lord forgive me, have mercy upon me, don’t look upon my faults. You are the Highest and the Greatest.” At the end of the seventh walk, at Marwah, the men have their hair cut.

 

That is the end of your obligations. You may then go to the well of Zamzam, drink and wash yourself with the blessed water, come out of ihram and put on your normal clothes.

 

It is proper to visit the beatified tomb of our beloved Prophet in Medina after the ‘umrah, having cleansed oneself, inshallah, with that experience. As he was closest of all the creation to Allah Most High, Who created him from His own divine light, one hopes to come close to Allah through him. He is the greatest guide to Him. He is the one who was honored with carrying His divine words to us, to bring us the awareness of truth. He is the one on whom we depend to intercede for us. Blessed is he who will see his light there, who will feel the presence of Paradise in the space between his blessed tomb and the minbar. He himself said, “Whoever visits my tomb receives by intercession.” He also said, “Whoever visits the House of Allah and does not visit me has given me pain.”

 

On the way to Medina, the city of purity, you should recite many times the salat-u selam from the depths of your heart. As your arrive you should bathe and dress up in your best clothes and walk to his tomb with great reverence. As you enter the masjid make two cycles of prayer, if possible between the blessed tomb and the minbar, as tahiyyat al­masjid, your respects to the mosque. Follow this by another two cycles of prayer of thankfulness, then proceed gently, facing him, your back turned to the direction of the Ka’bah. Stand not nearer than four steps from the grill, heedful, present, respectful and loving. Salute him with salutations such as as-sallimu `alayka ayyuhan-nabiyyu wa rahmatu Llahi wa barakatuhu; as-salamu ‘alayka ya sayyid al-awwalina wal­akhirih; as-salamu ‘alayka ya rasulu Lllah, ya habibu Llah, etc. Do not forget the salutations of the ones who have asked you to bring their salutations. Then in respect to him, ask Allah for the good things that are dearest to your heart, hoping that he will say “Amin” to your prayers.

 

Two steps to your right you will be standing in the presence of Hz. Abu Bakr as-Siddig (r.a.a.). With the same reverence, salute him and offer prayers for his blessed soul. Another few steps to the right you are in the presence of Hz. ‘Umar al-Faruq (r.a.a.). Offer him also your salutations and your prayers for his soul. Then continue walking towards your right around the corner, at the end of the next side of the inner building, and you will be in front of the house of Hz. Fatimah (r.a.a.). This is not her tomb, but a place where she lived with Hz. ‘Ali (r.a.a.) and their children the beloved Hasanayn (r.a.a.). Remember that, and recite Fatihahs for their souls and ask for their intercession. This is most important, especially for the women.

 

Afterwards one should spend as much time as possible every day in the masjid praying and repenting. There is a separate section for women, and they have special hours for visiting the tomb, which we will find out when we get there.

 

Then, inshallah, we will visit the graveyard of Jannat ul-Baqi where Hz. Fatimat ai-Zahra, (r.a.a.) Hz. Abbas (r.a.a.), Hz. ‘Uthman (r.a.a.), the wives and children and the Ahl-i Bayt of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) are entombed, and prayers should be offered for their souls. We will also, inshallah, visit Uhud and offer prayers for the souls of Hz. Hamzah (r.a.a.) and the martyrs of the battle of Uhud On Saturday we will inshallah go to the mosque of Qubbah as the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) did every Saturday, and perform our prayers there.

 

It is recommended to complete forty times of prayer during one’s visit to Medina. As we will inshallah be staying eight days, we will complete this good custom.

 

At the moment of departure you should make a last visit to the blessed tomb, ask leave, and make two cycles of farewell prayer.

 

May Allah and His beloved invite us to the Holy Lands and enable us to go.

 

Amin.

 

Allah Most High placed the Ka’bah on the face of this earth as a symbol of al-’arsh al-ala  His throne in the heavens. He ordered us to circumambulate it, likening His servants’ devotions to those of His angels circumambulating His throne in the heavens. He considers the circumambulation of those who are able to cleanse their hearts from all that is other than Allah, and who can unify the words of praise within their hearts and whole beings, to be better than the praises of His angels.

 

For a secret reason known to Allah He put four corners on His symbolic House. In divine reality the Ka’bah is a three-sided pyramid with three corners, each symbolizing one of the three divine remembrances of the human heart. The corner of the Black Stone where the circumambulation begins is the memory of the heart’s divine origin. The next corner, the Yemeni corner, is the reminder of the heart’s angelic origin, and the next corner is the reminder of man’s being of divine origin. At these three corners there is no memory of anything evil. The hearts of all the prophets of Allah have only these three memories. But in accordance with the nature of man in the lower world of matter, where Allah gave him his little will and the possibility to choose between good and evil, He added a fourth corner, the Iraqi corner, whereby to remember the evil influences and one’s revolt, disobedience, wrongs and doubts, and to repent. The Ka’bah with its four corners is also in the shape of man’s heart, which contains these four influences.

The talbiyah recited during Hajj and ‘umrah is a condition and an obligation of visitation in just the way that the opening takbir is a condition for beginning your salat. Allah invites you to His house. The talbiyah is your pronouncing your acceptance of this invitation. With the order of Allah, as soon as Hz. Ibrahim (a.s.) finished building the Ka’bah, he cried Labbayk Allahumma labbayk --“I am present my Lord, all of me, as You created me, I am here, now, at your orders.” And Allah brought what He had revealed to Hz. Ibrahim (a.s.) in His voice to the ears of the souls of the believers gathered in the realm of souls. This the soul remembers in this world of flesh, as one faces the Ka’bah in this world of matter, crying, “I am present, I am here, now, and I submit and obey and give myself to You without any reserve and without any condition.”

 

Ihram, an obligation for the visitation, consists of two pieces of cloth, one covering below the waist and the other over the shoulders. It is a symbol of having left behind all that is worldly. It is like your shroud, equalizing the king and the beggar putting behind you fame, wealth, honor, pride, lust, need. In ~ you are as naked as you were when you were born, without anything belonging to you; you are as naked as you will be when you die, totally in the hand of Allah and your destiny.

 

The Black Stone, which we believe to have come from Paradise, originally pure white but turned black in this world of matter, is like Hz. Adam (a.s.) who erred in order to gain the honor of being the first of Allah’s prophets and  father of humankind. His error became the cause of his being chosen as the khalifah, the deputy of Allah on earth. It is a reminder that Allah not only forgives a fault realized and repented for, but transforms it into a good deed. It is in the rahmah, the mercy of Allah, that we remember our covenant with Allah. Kissing and touching the Black Stone as a symbol brings the memory of our pledge to Allah, to His prophets, to our Prophet -- the most beloved, seal of all prophethood (s.a.w.s.).

 

During the experience of your visitation spend a quiet time and reflect Ask your nafs: “Have you made your intention to make umrah and put on your ihram?”

 

Nafs                 Yes.

 

You:                 In doing so, have you left all other intentions with the exception of your intention to make the visitation?

 

Nafs:                No.

 

You:                 In that case you have not properly made your intention.

 

You:                 Have you taken off everything before putting on your ihram?

 

Nafs:                Yes, I have.

 

You:                 As you have taken your clothes off, have you taken off the layers of worldly concerns and preoccupations from your heart?

 

Nafs:                No.

 

You:                 Then you are not in the selfless state of ihram.

 

You:                 Have you bathed yourself and taken total ablution?

 

Nafs:                Yes.

 

You:                 Is all dirt washed from your mind and being?

 

Nafs:                No.

 

You:                In that case you are still impure.

 

You:                Have you recited the talbiyah -- “0 Lord I am here, at Your service?”

 

Nafs:               Yes.

 

You:                Have you heard an answer, a recognition of your presence?

 

Nafs:               No.

 

You:                Then you are not really here.

 

You:                Have you entered Mecca, the protected regions, al­baram al—sharif?

 

Nafs:               Yes.

 

You:                Have you left all that is haram, unlawful, behind as you entered it?

 

Nafs:               No.

 

You:                Then you have not entered Mecca.

 

You:                Have you entered al—masjid al—haram, the House of Allah?

 

Nafs:                Yes.

 

You:                 Have you come closer to Allah as you know Him?

 

Nafs:                No.

 

You:                 Then you have not entered the Masjid.

 

You:                 Have you seen the Ka’bah?

 

Nafs:                Yes, I saw it.

 

You:                 Was that what you had intended to see?

 

Nafs:                No.

 

You:                 Then you haven’t seen the Ka’bah.

 

You:                 Have you run around the Ka’bah seven times?

 

Nafs:                Yes.

 

You:                 In doing so, have you run away from the world and the worldly? Having lost it, have you thanked Allah?

 

Nafs:                No.

 

You:                 In that case you have not circumambulated the Ka’ bah.

 

You:                 Have you stood in the presence of Allah as Hz. Ibrahim (a.s.) did, and made two cycles of salat, as he did?

 

Nafs:                Yes.

 

You:                 As he did, have you seen your station in the opinion of Allah and hoped to become His friend?

 

Nafs:                No.

 

You:                 Then neither have you been in the presence of Allah, nor have you made your salat.

 

You:                 Did you stand on the hill of Safa?

 

Nafs:                Yes.

 

You:                 What did you do?

 

Nafs:                I said Allahu Akbar seven times and asked Allah to accept my ‘umrah.

 

You:                 Did you understand the true meaning of Allahu Akbar?

 

Nafs:                No.

 

You:                 Have you come down from the hill of Safa?

 

Nafs:                Yes.

 

You:                 Have all ills left your heart? Did your heart become pure?

 

Nafs:                No.

 

You:                 Then neither have you gone up the hill of Safa nor have your come down.

 

You:                 Did you run between Safa and Marwah?

 

Nafs:                Yes.

 

You:                 In doing so did you run away from your ego, your nafs, and reach the truth?

 

Nafs:                No.

 

You:                 Then you haven’t run between Safa and Marwah.

 

You:                 Have you reached the hill of Marwah and cut your hair? Did you feel light, peaceful, and worthy to be a servant of Allah?

 

Nafs:                No.

 

Then read this dialogue of Hz. Ibn ‘Arabi (q.s.) and try to perform your visitation accordingly.

 

May Allah the All-Generous, the All-Wise, give us the presence, the heedfulness, and the wisdom to enjoy and profit from these visitations, and may their effect and memory be everlasting.

 

Amin, bi-hurmati sayyid il-mursalin Ta Ha wa Ya Sin.