I was in Jeddah recently on a Chartered Islamic Finance Professional (CIFP) assignment and have the opportunity to perform Umrah right after that. In Mecca, many parts of the Haram are under major reconstructions leaving relatively less spaces for worshippers to perform solat during the peak hours. To make the tawaf, the construction of the double story overhead bridge surrounding the Kaaba has been a great relief for many who have no direct access to the Kaaba due to the congestion.
Circling the Kaaba in tawaf has always been a heavenly experience for many with doas made for the loved ones. Just as the moon that circles the earth or the planets that orbits around the sun or the electrons surrounding the atom in an orbit, this harmonious anti-clockwise movement is the cosmic law governing stars, moon, animals, plants sand, seas, air etc.
Likewise we worship the Almighty in similar fashion. A pilgrim circumambulates the Kaaba as if he or she is a celestial body orbiting another greater body. Hence in our act of worship and the law that governs the universe, there lies a consistency that we belong to only one source, that is the Almighty Allah swt.
Tawaf has also been a frustrating experience to see the disunity of Muslims in the attempt say, to kiss the Black Stone (al-hajar al-aswad). The scene resembles the Quranic verse describing the Day of Judgement, where “…no friend will ask after a friend, though they will be put in sight of each other – sinner’s desire will be: would that he could redeem himself from the Penalty of that Day by sacrificing his children, his wife and his brother, his kindred who sheltered him”. There is relatively no love and compassion as people came from all directions pushing their way greedily to the Black Stone, squeezing and crushing the weak and the old.
Lost were the harmonious flows of tawaf in exchange for disequilibrium and chaos. Such was the state of some Muslims at the Haram who are supposed to be at the peak of divine bliss but remain selfish still with a blacken heart.
One can however secure touching or kissing the Black Stone by paying-off some people who get him or her to the place with relative ease. For the ordinary people, it is an impossible task unless they are ready to die in suffocation or hurting other fellow Muslims trying to do the same thing.
I wonder, once the Haram expansion plan is completed in 2020, the wide open spaces should allow relatively easy access to the hajjar aswad or making the Hajj and Umrah experience something to die for. Otherwise, despite the new infrastructures thrown in, nothing can change our behaviour for the better if we don’t have the desire to change it within ourselves.
By Prof. Dr. Saiful Azhar Rosly