Five years ago I was getting ready for Hajj (pilgrimage)to Mecca. People who had gone in the past were trying to prepare me for this trip of a lifetime. Almost everyone was talking about how emotional the journey will be, how the sight of the Kaaba and being surrounded by a couple of million people doing the same thing at the same time will transcend me to the next level of my spiritual journey. I remember many suggesting that, as I enter the premises, I should look down at my feet and walk slowly towards the Kaaba until it’s in plain view in front of me and then lift my head up and soak it all in. They used to say that the second my eyes fall upon the holy sight I will be overcome by its magnanimity, history and significance and fall down to my knees and cry my heart out.
I followed exactly what I was told and I walked slowly, intentionally and with my eyes to the ground until I knew the Kaaba was in front of me. I looked up, soaked it all in and I thought to myself “huh, it’s smaller than I thought” and I felt.......NOTHING.
Maybe something is wrong with me? Maybe I’m not as faithful as I thought I am or I should be? It was disappointing and very anticlimactic.
I thought about this, and continue to think about this, for a long time. I’ve also had many conversations since with many people who tell me “I pray but I don’t feel anything” or “I don’t feel a connection with God”
There is, I believe, a danger in relegating one’s relationship with God to a purely and solely mystical or emotional kind. When we think that God’s presence must be felt, or only felt, in those few moments that we spend praying/meditating we shift our focus from feeling, knowing, connecting with God throughout our life to motions that can carry meaning but at times don’t. God is present in everything, from the mundane to the exciting. It’s learning how to identify and feel the connection that strengthens one’s faith.
I choose to worship God as a Muslim, to learn, understand and abide by the teachings of the religion and to follow its path. I fulfill its obligations to the best of my abilities, but I do not render my relationship to God to just the set of prescribed practices and rituals. They are essential parts of the faith structure I choose to live in but they’re not the only way in which I connect with God nor is it the only way the faith teaches to connect Him.
I didn’t get the spiritual high while at Hajj. I did not ascend to the next level of spirituality. I found my connection to God through serving His creation. I found it by helping others. The journey of Hajj, the time I spent there, the things I found myself gravitating towards doing without any prompts solidified that concept for me. I pray, I fast, I read Quran; I get a high from that at times and at times I don’t but I always feel fulfilled when I find myself at the service of God’s creation.
Don’t think of God as just an emotional concept. Look and reflect on your life to find your connection and use it to augment and strengthen your faith.
Palestinian, Muslim, American, Husband, Father, Academic, Pharmacist, Coffee Addict, Nutella phene, Pseudo writer, Soccer player, former Canadian, Community servant, Pinch hitter imam, interfaith ninja, Intellectual vigilante, and the undisputed KING of snark