Labbaik la sharika
wa ni’amata laka wal mulkLa
Here I am,
O Allah here I am
Here I am, You have no partner, here I am
Surely all praise, favour and authority Belongs to you. You have no partner.
Reciting this ‘talbiyah’ is compulsory for ‘Hajj and Umrah’
and should begin in the days leading up to making the blessed journey
The preparation of
the journey to Mecca and Medina is truly unique and overbearing. This is the period of reflection and remembrance as well
as anticipation and excitement. This experience is absolutely unique as the sense of a
tremendous change coming in your life cannot be found anywhere else. I felt overwhelmed so many times as I tried to imagine
seeing the glorious Kaaba with my own naked eyes. I kept reflecting on what I had heard from people and from
what I had seen in photos. To imagine the tremendous vision of the Kaaba took my breathe away and made me restless and nervous.
I was in awe of the tremendous favour Allah (swt) had done on me and tried so hard to slow my mind down as that journey was
coming closer and closer.
How could my heart be prepared for the moment when my feet touch the same
land as where the beloved Messenger (saw) walked and how would I even accept being so close to where the most perfect of all
creation is resting.
This preparation of the first Umrah is a remarkable spiritual experience which became stronger and more permanent as time grew near. As I was embarking
on this journey with my mother for the first time, our intention was to meet all our relatives and friends before we depart.
Before visiting the Baitullah and the shrine of Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi
wa’ale hi wasallam) as beggars hoping for mercy, we should ask for forgiveness from
those around us and carry their best wishes and requests with us.
Many of our friends had already performed Hajj or
Umrah so they were happy to give important advice to us. I had perhaps never felt this close to them as at this time when
I was departing for our ziyarah (blessed journey). It was as though
our friends and relatives were living this experience with us and understood the anticipation we were feeling. My close cousin
had also accompanied me to purchase the Ihram (this is the white garment consisting
of two unstitched sheets or towels).
advised me on important literature, which I should read and infact everyone met us with so much love and affection, giving
us invaluable advice with sincerity that I felt humbled. They expressed a certain envy that only people who love and long
for the blessings of Mecca and Medina can feel. Their eyes filled with water as their faces
smiled requesting that we supplicate on their behalf. They all expressed the intention to visit the blessed
Kaaba and home of the beloved Messenger (saw) themselves and this is when I began to realise the tremendous impact the Hajj
and Umrah can have on so many people. Now I was going to seek the blessings and witness the true miracle of Islam, in the
place where it all began. I felt true love for all these people as I carried this new experience of sharing their experiences
before seeking my own.
This experience of preparing for the Umrah is unique and difficult
to describe. This journey is like no other and therefore as that moment approaches to depart, you get the feeling of reaching
a new stage in your life. This experience is completely different to anything else as it is the journey of your soul.
The other journeys you may have embarked on have all been physical as they will have been related to a worldly need or desire.
However this blessed journey is for Allah (swt) and therefore the soul is
already travelling and reaches the stage of spiritual awareness. Even the social aspect of preparing, which includes meeting
relatives and friends involves spiritual cleansing. The requirement of asking for forgiveness from everyone makes you humble
and that humility gives you the sense of your faith. Being humble and seeking the forgiveness of those around you, which has
to include your enemies is the essence of being a Muslim and this is highlighted in the preparation.
Finally the love people show you and the advice they give is what really touches the heart and gives you the sense
of being part of one Ummah - Nation. These are the emotions and stages of awareness,
which prepare us for that blessed journey and they cannot be gained from reading Hajj and Umrah literature but are gained
from adopting the morals and teachings of our beloved teacher Sayyidina Imam ul’ Ambiya Muhammad
(salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam).
There is a need to have
a basic knowledge of the Ziyarat involved but shouldn’t be the only preparation we undertake but only be a
part of it. As that moment comes closer I reflect on how long it has taken me to reach this stage, where my spiritual journey
began and how much I have learnt. The most overbearing feeling is that of gratitude to Allah
(swt). I was surely not worthy of visiting that blessed house and not deserving of walking on the place where
Rasulullah (saw) once placed his blessed feet but I am going and this is yet another favour bestowed on me by Allah (swt).