When Returning from Umrah
Whilst in Umrah, most of us are blessed with constant amazing feelings and spiritual sensations. These feelings are what people normally refer to as ‘a connection with Allah’. The results of this are quite illogical and irrational. Why do we suddenly enjoy looking at a black cube which is by no means the most amazing structure we have seen? How do we motivate ourselves to circumambulate it at every opportunity and feel satisfied at doing so? Why do we rush to drink water from the Zamzam when it doesn’t really compare to the quality juices and soft drinks we are used to consuming? Why is it that we don’t see as a burden the long walk from our hotel rooms to the Haram, sometimes in scorching heat?
There are quite simple answers to all of the above and we all have our own ways of expressing them. Quite simply, these things become enjoyable because we do them for the sake of Allah and we feel a connection with him in doing so. When we look at the Ka’bah, it’s not actually the masonry or the black cloth that we are focusing on. It is Allah that we are connecting with. Amazingly, we know that there are thousands of people doing exactly the same thing, at the same time, but we know beyond any doubt that Allah is real and we have His full attention. It is not something we need to ‘work-out’, rationally deduce or be told of, but it is a reality which we feel beyond doubt. We begin to feel through our hearts and not just through our physical senses. We are having an intimate moment with the Real, Omnipotent Allah.
It is the fact that Zamzam sprang as a result of Allah’s special Mercy and was loved by many prophets that makes it the best drink. I say all of the above without even mentioning the peace and tranquillity that we feel by just being within the vicinity of Allah’s house- something almost all pilgrims yearn for immediately on return. Even though we may return to our, sometimes sub-standard, hotel rooms tired and exhausted, we feel content and happy and look forward to getting back to the Haram as soon as we can. We treasure every moment of our stay and almost forget that the rest of the world exists. We devote ourselves to Allah.
On return, however, Shaytaan gets straight back to work to move us away from Allah. He makes us assume that all the spirituality we experienced was somehow exclusive to Makkah, and that we should just go back to how things were, and focus only on planning our next pilgrimage. What we fail to realise is that the state of mind and heart that we experienced whilst near the house of Allah is the daily state of heart and mind of those close to Allah. It was our own human potential that we tasted whilst in the Haram. What better life would there be than one spent like our days in Makkah? The truth is, we can live such lives, and many of Allah’s servants do.
It is not simply the place that made us feel what we did – true happiness. Rather, it was the proximity we had with Allah. This closeness to Allah can be achieved wherever we live. Such a state of mind would make easy the biggest of hardships for the sake of Allah. We would feel satisfaction after performing the smallest to the biggest deeds and be happy to leave that which is Haram (forbidden) or doubtful. With this in mind, it is easier to understand the strange stories we often hear about saints whose contentment, dislike for the world and unbounded love for Allah seem almost unreal. Have we not tasted something similar? We can all be like that, if we only make of Umrah what it should be.
Umrah should be a life changing experience. It should actually alter the way we do things in our daily lives. It should not be like a dream where we return home and carry on as usual. We often think back on our time and reminisce, much like we do about dreams without realising there is much that can be done to bring the experience back to life. We may not be able to bring the Ka’bah back with us, but there are many other elements of our time spent in Umrah which were great factors in our overall experience.
A common question on many people’s tongues after returning from Umrah is; ‘how do I get close to Allah?’ The beginning of this answer can be quite simple – by doing what we did in Umrah. That means to worship Allah as he has commanded us to, to keep him constantly in our thoughts and intentions, to take out time from our worldly activities and spend time in his house (a Masjid) and go out of our way to build a connection with him. The last point may be achieved by dedicating time to study the Deen of Allah, to help charities, to call others to Allah, or helping in any other good cause that demands our time, effort and money.
We should start by trying to pray our five daily prayers as perfectly as possible. We should try to pray them in the Masjid in congregation. We should try to leave home as early as possible to find a space close to the front. As we walk, we should bear in mind that Allah is counting every step and will reward us for it. We should imagine we are in front of the Ka’bah whilst we are praying Salah. Whilst in Makkah, we automatically have these thoughts in our minds and we should maintain that consciousness on our return. We should think about Allah before any action we perform. We should ask ourselves; will Allah be pleased with what I am about to do? By doing all of the above, we will be able to rebuild or maintain the connection we achieved with Allah and take steps towards leading a life of spiritual bliss.
Whilst in Umrah, we leave behind our usual utilitarian or materialistic outlook and remember that there are more important goals other than worldly gain or function. We prioritise and constantly think about the hereafter and put our temporary concerns on the back burner. We do things that have no worldly benefit, or are otherwise irrational. The rites of the pilgrimage are good examples of how fulfilling Allah’s commands are more important than our own perceived utility. Some commandments of Allah are easily understood, like Zakat, but what benefit is there in Sa’ee, striding between two marble ramps that once used to be Safa and Marwa? Sayyiduna Umar (RA) is himself reported to have said, addressing the black stone, “You are merely a stone and, by Allah, if I had not seen the Prophet (SAW) kiss you, I would never have kissed you.”
How different our lives would be if we maintained some of the same way of thinking on returning home? What if we were to put the hereafter first in our day-to-day lives?
By Muhi Uddin