O humankind! Fear your Lord and be dutiful to Him! Verily, the earthquake of the Hour (of Judgement) is a terrible thing. [22:1]
With the start of Hajj season the annual alarm has officially gone off, jolting us awake from our forgetfulness and distraction of things yet to come—the Hour that will start with a “Personal Hour” as the Prophet (saw) said, “Whoever Dies, Then His Hour Has Arrived.” Just as the earthquake of the Hour shakes the very foundations of the earth to change it from its state to that of another, this verse should shakes us to the core. Shake us so that we are beyond recognition to ourselves from the contemplation of the meanings behind it. With every day that passes we are closer to our personal Hour, one that we spend in a hole in the ground—the grave. Accordingly, Hajj for the Hujjaj [pilgrims] starts with them leaving behind their families, homes,, lands, wealth etc. They even leave behind their clothing, for men don two pieces of white cloth [and in the case of women an item of clothing from the many in their closet]. It reminds us of the fact that we aren’t taking much with us when we leave this world, no more than a white cloth if we are lucky. During the coverage of Hajj on TV, white dots of thousands, if not millions, of people wearing Ihram is over powering and should remind us Muslms and the world at large that death is inevitable. It is as Steve Jobs said, “. . . the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.” Remembrance of death is life-changing to a Muslim; it is rejuvenating; it’s a moment of rebirth. The wise is he who learns from death before he actually dies. The Prophet (saw) says:
Remember the destroyer of pleasures—death, for not a day passes upon the grave except that it says, ‘I am the house of remoteness; I am the house of loneliness; I am the house of soil; I am the house of worms. [Tirmidhi]
Death is the vehicle that you will travel in to transition you to the Day of Resurrection? There will be a transit in the middle in an airport called the grave! The airport is remote, lonely, full of soil and worms not comfortable at all. It is so certain that every single human being will stop at this airport, this airport that is called “The Grave” and it will say, “welcome to your first stop to the Hereafter”! Hajj season annually reminds us of the reality of the matter, the reality of life, that there is an end that starts with every Muslim being washed, wrapped and buried in a hole in the ground. Let me push this further. Allah (SWT) does not in the ayah address just Muslims, but addresses humankind to come back to Him. Hajj is an event that is witnessed by the whole world, whether on TV, Internet or in person. Islam is a universal religion and has found acceptance in the hearts of people from every nation, so accordingly Hajj is an event that is witnessed by the whole of humankind and is a wake-up call for all without exception. Abu Darda (raa) said that the Messenger of Allah (saw) addressed them on a Friday saying:
O people! Repent before you die. And embark upon good deeds before you become occupied. And connect what is between you and your Lord by remembering Him all the time, and indeed, you will be happy. Give much charity so you will be endowed by Allah. And bid good to others so you protect yourselves, and forbid evil unto others so you will be victorious. O People! The smartest among you is the one who remembers death the most, and the wisest among you is the one who is best ready for it. Indeed, among the signs of wisdom are shunning the falsehood of this life, turning toward eternal life, being fully equipped to live in the grave and being ready for the resurrection.
The questions that every single one of us needs to ask themselves on the days of Dhul Hijjah are: Are we ready for death? Are we fully equipped to live in the grave? Are we ready for the resurrection? Are we ready for a day whose beginning earthquake is “terrible” as Allah (SWT) describes it? Second wake-up call! He out of His Mercy is slapping you into reality and telling you, that it will be ‘terrible’ and asks you to hold yourself accountable before you are held accountable. To reckon with yourself, because you will not be able to withstand Allah’s (SWT) ultimate justice that day—the Day of Resurrection.
Ask any Haaj [person who has performed pilgrimage] what their experience in Hajj reminded them of, and they will tell you the Day of Resurrection. The intense thirst in the heat of Makkah while walking from one site to another to perform the rites of Hajj, the long hours of standing, the masses from all nations around the world and all walks gathering in the Sacred House of Allah in Makkah responding to His call. The fear in their faces, and the quivering of their voices as they invoke Allah to cleanse them—wipe them clean—on their spiritual journey. Thirst? Heat? Sweaty masses of people? Doesn’t that remind you of the Day of Resurrection? As you follow the live broadcast of pilgrims remember that you too will return to Him [SWT] whether you get the chance to physically experience Hajj during your lifetime or not. So let’s all chase away any doubt about the fact that we will return to the origin we came from—that it is as certain as the fact that Hajj will take place every year at the same time and at the same place until Allah [SWT] inherits the earth and everything in it.
The first verse of Surat Al Hajj is taking you by the scruff of the neck and shaking you awake to a journey that you will take with absolute certainty—no maybes. So are you all packed and ready to go? If not then it’s time to plan ahead and start packing. The ticket has been issued and you won’t know until you are on the plane called “Death Airlines” and in transit at “Grave Airport” on your way to the final destination, the Final Hour!
Audio of Halaqa.