The blessed days of Hajj are approaching, and Muslim pilgrims are now preparing to travel to the holy sites. The memories and spirituality of Hajj are really moving. Pilgrims cannot help but have tears in their eyes while observing this magnificent gathering that is heading to the house of Allah in total submission and devotion. The pilgrims supplicate humbly, asking Allah to wipe off their sins, to accept their Hajj, and to grant them happiness in this world and the hereafter.

But should all of these awe-inspiring feelings be restricted to the few days of Hajj? I always think of Hajj as a journey intended to guide us on how to lead our larger journey of life. It is the model after which Muslims should pattern their lives. This connection between Hajj and life is very important; after all, both of them are journeys that need special preparation and should have special goals.

Take for example, the first steps pilgrims do in preparation for their Hajj journey. They pay off their debts and bathe themselves. The lesson here is that our lives should be based on purity and cleanliness. How beautiful life would be if each and every one of us tried to adhere to this principle. If only everyone tried to steer clear of anything that may taint their beliefs or blemish their relations with Allah. Of course, it may happen that Muslims commit a sin or succumb to Satan’s whispers, but once such a thing occurs, they hasten to “clean” and “wash” their spirits. Just as they wear pure and clean clothes for their Hajj journeys, they are keen to meet Allah after the journey of life with a pure and clean heart.

“Labbayk, Allahuma, labbayk. Here I am, O Allah, at Your service.” This eternal call, chanted by millions of Muslim pilgrims every year, gives us further inspiration. The pilgrims respond to Allah’s call with pleasure, paying no heed to the trouble they may undergo; they come to Him declaring in words and in deeds their submission to His commands — their unconditional obedience to His orders, their love of what He loves, and their honor to what He honors. This is the spirit that Muslims should keep throughout their entire whole lives. Labbayk, Allahuma, labbayk. This is not merely a ritual phrase to be uttered in Hajj and then forgotten afterwards, rather, it is a motto for every Muslim, a way of life.

After hours — even long days and months — of travel, Muslim pilgrims reach Makkah and refresh their eyes with the sight of the holy places. Throughout their observances of Hajj, in their movements from place to place, and from rite to rite, Muslims recall great scenes of sacrifice by their great forbearers, such as Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and his family, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his noble Companions. These glorious scenes inspire us and motivate us to face the challenges of life with a bold heart as well as to rise up to our responsibility of working and sacrificing in defense of our religion and for the advancement of our Ummah.

Furthermore, in Hajj, pilgrims feel brotherly and sisterly affections towards their fellow Muslims. They meet Muslims from all over the world, from Asia and Africa, from the North and the South, Arabs and non-Arabs, white and black, rich and poor. Muslims from all four corners of the earth meet in this awe-inspiring gathering, in full submission to Allah. They try their best to be good to one another and to avoid anything that may harm or disturb one another. To become absorbed in such a sense of unity and solidarity with fellow Muslims; to feel that you are a member of a big family that embraces Muslims wherever they come form; to care for your brothers and sisters; to avoid doing anything that may trouble them; to feel anguish for their pains and pleasures for their happiness. All of this is important, not only in Hajj, but also in our entire lives.

In addition, Hajj is a good chance to practice patience and to taste the sweetness of forbearance. Amidst such a large multitude of people, pilgrims are bound to face some difficulties and problems, and they are most likely to get upset by the behavior of some pilgrims. However, in order to make sure that their Hajj is accepted, they exercise self-restraint and show patience and forbearance. This is a lesson which we should learn and apply in our daily life. We should apply it in our homes and workplaces. We need to show patience and forbearance with our spouses, colleagues, and friends. This is important for our lives to move smoothly, and most importantly, for Allah to love us.

In conclusion, the lessons reaped from Hajj are countless, and the spiritual provisions taken from it for the journey of life are truly indescribable. I believe that by forming connections between both journeys — namely Hajj and life — and by reflecting more on the underlying wisdoms of Hajj, Muslim can maximize the benefits they gain from Hajj and can experience a real life-long Hajj.

Deep contemplation and reflection will surely generate more and more parallels of this kind. Share your ideas on how to apply the beautiful values of Hajj in our real lives.

By Mohammad Fathi