The twelfth month of the Islamic year marks the month of pilgrimage, Zilhajul Haram, where we return to Allah (SWT) through the pilgrimage of hajj. Although the physical pilgrimage is important and compulsory, it is also important that we understand the spiritual pilgrimage of hajj as well.

Whereas the physical pilgrimage has a time and is limited to our current age and conditions, the spiritual pilgrimage is timeless and its lessons for us are the same as they were for Ibrahim (AS), Hagar (AS) and Ismael (AS).

In this meditation we will, in sha Allah, focus on the true meanings of the spiritual hajj, so that we can truly understand the spiritual lessons that this pilgrimage has for us.

During the hajj, we perform seven tawafs to represent the seven levels of jannah that we aspire towards. We run between Safa and Marwa seven times and then drink the water from zam zam, as the fountains of paradise are opened to us.

As we run between Safa and Marwa, we are reminded that our life is a constant struggle and constant running towards Allah (SWT). We remember that it is in the struggle that we are humbled and that our bad characteristics are eroded from us. We remember that just as Hagar (AS) was close to giving up, she struck the well and the spring of zam zam opened for her. Likewise, our struggle will not be easy, but Allah (SWT) will eventually open up his rehmat to us as a result of our struggle.

Rasulullah (SAW) said that all of Hajj is Arafat. Indeed, it is on the plains of Arafat, when we spend time in tafaqur (contemplation) that we begin to understand and gain marefat. We are reminded that this is a spiritual understanding and is not bound by physical age, it may have taken some ten years, some twenty years, some forty years and others even more to prepare for this spiritual understanding and a rebirth that they will reach on the plains of Arafat.

What is this spiritual rebirth? This is the understanding of the sacrifice of Ibrahim (AS).

Throughout his whole life, Ibrahim (AS) gave to charity and his only desire was a child. At the age of 70, Allah (SWT) granted a child who he loved immensely. When Ibrahim (AS) dreamt that Allah (SWT) commanded him to sacrifice his son, he could not believe it. The second dream he could not believe either. Finally, on the third dream, Ibrahim (AS) understood Allah’s (SWT) commandment and submitted to his will.

Ibrahim (AS) represents nafsul mutmainnah, the self that is secure and self-realised and accepts its reality. It is the highest level of our self, the level that we all aspire to, where every action is towards pleasing Allah (SWT).

The Shaytan (LA) came to Ibrahim (AS) three times to convince Ibrahim (AS) to not sacrifice his son, using every persuasion he could, but the prophet of Allah (SWT) was resolute in his will.

The Shaytan (LA) then came to Hagar (AS) to tempt her regarding what Ibrahim (AS) would do to her son. Hagar (AS) represents the perfection of the soul, Makamul-Imaan, where faith is perfected. She replied by saying that Ibrahim (AS) is a prophet of Allah (SWT) and in his faith, I have faith.

Finally, the Shaytan (LA) came to Ismail (AS) to tempt him of what his father would do to him. Allah (SWT) placed a sakinat in his heart, so that Ismail (AS) was calm and was constantly reassuring Ibrahim (AS) that this was the right act.

Ismail (AS) represents the child of a self that is perfected (nafsul mutmainnah) and a soul that is perfected, Makamul-Imaan, which is a faith that has reached Makhamul-Ihsaan, where yaqeen is so strong that you worship as if you see Allah (SWT) in front of you.

This leads us to the very essence of hajj, a return to Allah (SWT). Where is the Allah (SWT) that we are returning to, as Allah (SWT) is not in the heavens nor the earth? Rasulullah (SAW) says that Allah (SWT) is in the heart of a believer and the only believer capable of holding the true attributes of Allah (SWT) is Muhammad (SAW).

Therefore, to find Allah (SWT), we can only do this through a true love and submission (tasleem) of Rasulullah (SAW). Apart from the family of Rasulullah (SAW), the one who submitted most to Muhammad (SAW) was Ibrahim (AS), which is why Ibrahim (AS) and his family are mentioned in the salawat, just as the family of Rasulullah (SAW) are.

This is why the journey of Ibrahim (AS), the hajj, and the lessons of Ibrahim (AS) take us closest to Allah (SWT) as none was closer to him, in the heart of Rasulullah (SAW), from amongst the prophets, than Ibrahim (AS).

This is the true spiritual journey of hajj, the perfection of the self and the soul, so that from this a perfection of faith is born and this faith is one that guides us throughout our life. This is a faith that does not just give 2.5% zakaat, but gives everything that we have, especially that which is closest to our heart.

Indeed, the true hajj is that towards the dua of Rasulullah (SAW) ‘inna salaati wanusuki wamahyaya wamamati lillahi rabbil-alameen (Indeed my prayer, my worship, my life and my death for God, the Lord of the Universe). It is when we reach this level of sacrifice, where we give everything to Allah (SWT) that we can reach towards the level that Ibrahim (AS), Hagar (AS) and Ismail (AS) represents.

May Allah (SWT) mark this month of hajj as a month in which we go closer towards him both physically and spiritually. May the day of Arafat open up the springs of marefat for us, where our contemplation brings us a deep spiritual understanding. May our sacrifice of Eid-ul-Adha represent that we are willing to sacrifice all that we have, especially the best of what we have, towards Allah (SWT) so that we, the followers of Ibrahim (AS) can get closer to Allah (SWT) like Ibrahim (AS) did. May we have a perfected self, a perfected soul and, ultimately, a perfected faith. Aamin.