Greetings of peace,
It is said that visiting God’s House requires an invitation. Intention and aspiration may be prerequisites, but these are not sufficient on their own. An invitation is specific, personalised and cannot be ignored. It is always an honour to be a recipient, whether it is anticipated or completely unexpected. The honour lies in being hosted by the All Merciful, surrendering oneself to the rythmic flow of ancient rituals that point to the Divine Oneness, and receiving innumerable spiritual gifts that nourish the soul like no other.
Feeling blessed and grateful for the invitation earlier this month; my husband and I set out to perform Umrah and visit the beloved (peace and blessings be upon him). As excited as I was about the journey, it always brings with it a level of trepidation for it will undoubtedly expose one’s spiritual deficiencies and ailments in a way that only pilgrimage can. It is through these liturgies, which seem repetitive and taxing on the body, that sends one into a deeper state of self-awareness, holding a mirror up to the soul and forcing the pilgrim to see their inner self clearly in the harsh and luminous desert sun.
What is profoundly beautiful about being a guest of God are the personalised gifts with which every pilgrim is honoured. These usually come in the form of awakenings, a chance to refine the self and aspire towards a higher station of connectedness with the Divine presence. It also offers an opportunity to reflect on one’s character in the light of the best of creation (peace and blessings be upon him).
Through simply being in his blessed city, praying in the Haram and visiting historical sites, the pilgrim is transported to a time where love of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) transformed hearts, minds and civilisations. This love is felt throughout the city of Medina - there is a serenity and peace which manifests through the gentleness and generosity of its people, in the tranquillity that envelopes the entire city, and is symbolised by the green dome that leaves every Muslim yearning to go back time and time again.
I believe that every pilgrim is gifted the longing to cherish this love, to understand it and embody it. As the knowers of God would say, “How do you love the one whom you do not know?” It is only with familiarity, and by creating a fond relationship, that love is sustained.
I returned home inspired to cultivate this love in our community, through which true faith is exemplified. With this intention, the women’s Monday night class will be dedicated to this theme: to increasing our knowledge of the Messenger of God. I am incredibly excited to be teaching his life and character over a three-part series throughout 2019. I invite you to join me as we traverse the path of love through knowledge of the most noble and beloved of creations - peace and blessings be upon him.
With love and light,