Hajj: Maqam Ibrahim

Muslims look into Maqam Ibrahim (The Station of Ibrahim). Inside the Maqam Ibrahim is a stone block where Ibrahim stood to build the Kabah (photo: iStock by Getty Images).

After completing the seventh round of circumambulation, the state of Tawaf ends. Seventh? Yes! It is not simply the sum of six plus one, but it is a reminder of the seven layers of heaven. Tawaf, your sacrifice for people, is an eternal movement on the path of people! It is Hajj and not a pilgrimage. Isn't this a genuine demonstration of existence? Isn't this the actual translation of Tawheed, and its true interpretation?

At Ibrahim's position (Maqam Ibrahim) you must read two units of prayers. Where is this position? It is a piece of stone with Ibrahim's foot prints on it. It was on this stone that he stood and laid the cornerstone of Kaaba (Hajar-ul Aswad). He stood there to construct the Kaaba. Do you understand? Are you not shivering?

Being in Ibrahim's position signifies standing in his place! Who? You! It is not difficult to realize what Tawheed does to mankind. At one time, it may humiliate you to nothing, denying you "as you are" and "flinging mud" at you. At another time, it endows you with the highest degree of spirituality whereby you are alongside Allah - in His house, as His relative and on His path! Tawheed is a result of your being hit, denied, despised and enslaved during Tawaf.

Allah wants you to prostrate to Him. He will then call upon you - Oh sincere one! Oh friend! My associate, my confidant, my trustee and my listener! My purpose of creation and my private companion!

Approximately one hour ago, you were at the bank of this "river" standing, thinking of yourself, watching the people and not being one of them; you were a useless particle reprimanded by Allah. You were "mud", "clay" and "earth"

But now, you are flowing and moving. No longer are you stagnated nor putrefied. You are roaring, washing away the rocks, breaking the dams and finding your way to the gardens to grow heaven in the heart of the salty deserts! You irrigate the fields, the earth, flowers and plants. In turn you help the cultivation of thousands of seeds from which thousands of buds are impatient to germinate, to crack above the earth, exhibit their leaves and rise towards the sky. If you do not move, you will become like clay - hard and solid; and you will simultaneously bury and destroy all of these potentials.

And he fails that corrupts it! Quran 91:10

While the river flows, it gives life to the dead nature as Jesus (as) did. But if you stay stagnated like dampness in the corner, enjoying yourself or suffering, you will become petrified. Larva of numerous parasites will grow in you, your color will change and you will smell terrible!

Come on - perform Hajj! Join the river of circumambulating people by circumambulating too! After an hour of swimming in this "stream of love", you will abandon your "self-centered mortal existence" and adapt to a new life among the people's "eternal existence" on the "eternal orbit" of Allah. Now you are like Ibrahim!

Next, from the same point which you started Tawaf, you must step out of the Tawaf circle. Like life after death, rise from the same point on the horizon from which you disappeared. The spirit of goodness, the spirit of Allah, which was in your original state of creation (Mud), is visible. From where? It appears at the place where you joined the Tawaf circle - under the right hand of Allah. After denying and killing all of the previous and false egos, you will discover your "authentic ego". Dressed in the clean white garb of Ihram, at the House of Allah and standing in Ibrahim's position, step in his footprints. Face to face with Adah, start your prayer.

In the history of mankind, Ibrahim was the great rebel who opposed idolatry and established monotheism in this world. Although physically tired of sufferings, the prophet of responsibility and leadership had a sharp mind. His heart was full of love yet he carried an axe in his hand! Faith shined from the center of Kufr. A clear fountain of tawheed, monotheism, emerged from the sewage of polytheism!

The first to fight idolatry, Ibrahim was raised in the house of Azar who used to make the idols for his tribe. Ibrahim fought not only against idolatry and Nimrod' but also against ignorance and oppression. The leader of this movement, he was riotous against abjectness. He was the source of hope and wishes, the man of faith and the founder of true unity.

Ibrahim, enter the fire - the fire of oppression and ignorance! Help prevent the people from being burned by the fire of oppression and ignorance! The same fire is ignited in the fate and future of every responsible individual who is indebted to enlightenment and guidance. For those who behave like Ibrahim, Allah will make a rose garden from the fire of Nimrods! You will not burn and leave behind your ashes. It is a symbolic demonstration of how close you get to the "fire" during your struggle and performance of Jihad. To throw yourself into the fire in order to save other people is a bitter experience, but even more painful is the Shahadat.

Ibrahim, sacrifice your son Ismail! Cut his throat with your own hands to save the people's neck from being cut. Which people? Those who have been sacrificed at the steps of the palaces of power or near the plunderer's treasures or inside the temples of hypocrisy and misery! To get courage to seize the sword from the hand of the executioner, cut Ismail's throat with a knife! Allah (Ibrahim's God) will pay Ismail's ransom. You do not kill your son nor lose him! This gesture is a lesson for the sake of your faith. You must reach the point of your willingness to sacrifice your most beloved (Ismail) with your own hands.

And More Painful Than "Sacrifice" Is "Shahadat"

Remember that you just left circumambulation or "tawaf of love" and are standing in Ibrahim's position. When Ibrahim reached this point, he had experienced a life full of struggle - fighting with Nimrod, the idols, facing the tortures, the heap of fire, Satan, the sacrifice of his son Ismail and ... migration, homelessness, loneliness passing from the stage of prophecy to the stage of leadership, rejecting "individuality" and adopting "totality" and from being worker in the house of Azar, the idol maker, to becoming the builder of Kaaba, the house of unity!

Here Ibrahim stands. Having left many difficult years behind him, all of his hairs are gray. Yet, at the end of his life, (as old as a history) he is about to build a house; he is about to lay down the black stone.

Ismail helps him by carrying the stones and handing them to his father. The house of Allah is being constructed!

It is a surprise! Ismail and Ibrahim are to build the Kaaba. Ismail is saved from being sacrificed while Ibrahim is saved from the fire. Now they have a responsibility toward the people. Allah has commanded them to be the architects of "the oldest temple of unity" on earth, "the first house of people" in history, "the free house" of freedom and the Kaaba of love and worship. Haram is a symbol of "True Privacy and Modesty".

Now you are in Ibrahim's position! It is the highest point to which Ibrahim could ascend; it is the nearest point to Allah. Ibrahim, builder of the Kaaba, architect of the house of freedom, founder of tawheed, and fighter against the idols, was tortured by Nimrod. Leader of the tribe, struggler against ignorance and Kufr, conscientious of love and responsibility, Ibrahim escaped the temptations of Satan and the Khannas (whisperer) who inspires evil suggestions into the hearts of people.

Who whispereth in the heart of mankind. Quran 114:5

After suffering all the disaster, tortures and dangers, Ibrahim built a house - NEITHER FOR HIMSELF NOR FOR HIS SON - but a house for the PEOPLE. It is a shelter for those who are homeless, a shelter for those who have been forced to leave, a shelter for those who are wounded on this earth and a shelter for those who are fleeing. This house is to be a torch amidst a long and dark night. It symbolizes a rebel in the dark of his oppression!

Everyone is shameful and insecure; the earth has been converted into a big house for prostitutes where there is respect for nobody. It is a big slaughter house where nothing but oppression and discrimination prevails. At last - there is a house which is clean, safe and secure for all mankind (Allah's family) - the Kaaba!

In Ibrahim's position, you shake hands with Allah. Live the way Ibrahim did and be the architect of the Kaaba of faith of your time.

Save your people; help them step out of the lagoon of a stagnated and useless life. Awaken them from their deep sleep so they will no longer suffer oppression and live in the darkness of ignorance. Help them move; hold their hands and lead them. Call them to Hajj for Tawaf!

Upon returning from tawaf where you assimilated yourself amongst the people, you are in Ibrahim's position. You are in the house and city of safety and security, facing Almighty Allah. Therefore, you, the "confederate" of Allah should: Make your land safe, as if you are in the Haram area! - Make your time as the time of Ihram, as if you are always in the state of Ihram! - Make the earth the Safe-Mosque, as if you are in the Safe-Mosque!

All this because the "earth is the mosque of Allah," however you see that in reality it is not!

Excerpted from a section of the book "Hajj" by Dr. Ali Shariati and translated by Dr. Ali A. Behzadnia.

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