There’s nothing like waking up fresh in the company of a loving family. But today is beyond just any normal blissful day as the only spider lily plant in my unlikely garden, so to speak, is blooming, presenting its blossoms of four beautiful, white crowns with petals draping off its sides and tall filaments spouting gems of spore pouches on their peaks. Lovely!
My husband expresses his positive outlook on the heavenly event, “It’s a sign of good fortune, insya Allah!” I nod in agreement, “Insya Allah…”
Today is the day of Arafah, the day when Muslims who are doing Hajj or pilgrimage in the Holy Land of Mecca perform wukuf on the huge plain field desert of Arafah, on the east side of Mecca. On this day, Muslims from many parts of the world fall into deep contemplation, realising they are but the minutest creatures in this vast universe of Allah and recounting for all their past wrongdoings, asking God to forgive them and make them better persons in future. The barren desert crowded with millions of people resembles the Day when our doings in this world are judged at the Ultimate Court of Justice, when all people humble themselves, hoping they haven’t done mischiefs that would send them to the Prison of Fire. The wide and clear sky stretching from horizon to horizon implies the presence of The Omnipotent Judge, along with His Beautiful Angels, controlling and overseeing the procession.
It is said that on this day, Allah forgives all sins of those who present themselves in humility and have faith that Allah is the Most Merciful, Forgiver of all sins.
What about for Muslims who are not able to be present on Arafah on this day?
On this very day, when wukuf is performed on Arafah, Muslims all over the world are also absorbing the moment. By the performance of fasting on this blessed day, we hope to share similar reflective moments as those who perform the wukuf, and therefore with our noble intention to fall into humility in front of The Almighty God, we ask for His Forgiveness as well.
As I ride to work this morning, I say a little prayer, wishing that my time today would be as blissful as those who perform wukuf in Arafah. I feel the wind, the change of the weather — from bright sunny day to occasional cooling off of the clouded sun — and the crisps of greens swaying happily in the wind. Arafah here I come!
Tomorrow is another day of festivity. It’s Eid-ul Adha, a celebration of sacrifice symbolising the slaughtering of our egoistic selves in order to give the best servanthood to our Lord. The occasion is supposed to deliver each and every one of us into a reflection on how much we have been a slave to our own desire. Have we slandered others just to acquire recognition or even high position? Have we been dishonest in our day-to-day work? Have we been envious of what others have more of? Have we not been kind to those who knock on our door for help? Have we looked down on others? Have we eaten up into our brothers’ share of fortune? Have we stolen what is not our rightful belongings?
When we are a slave, to our own ego, we may fall into the darkest pit of disappointment if we fail to achieve what we had aspired for (of this world), or if things we love to have — e.g. wealth, status, recognition, etc. — are taken away from us. Let’s recall people who have lost their million dollar savings due to bankruptcy of a bank, or due to unexpected natural disaster. Some of them can go into so much distress that they’d kill themselves. Or, perhaps a simple desire of wanting to be successful in near future may even eat off our happiness bit by bit.
We are indeed a bunch of idiots who mostly don’t realise that our own ego has been driving us out of happiness. Therefore, we have to “slaughter” its desire of materialism in order to make us a better servant, who is always happy and pleased with whatever it is our Lord decrees for us. Having resistance to our Lord’s Will makes happiness is more difficult to grasp. Accept and be content!
If you go after the world, it will run away from you. But if you go after your Lord, the world and all in it will present itself in front of you without much effort.
Once we have slaughtered our ego, that is the time we celebrate. What is there to celebrate? Of course, it is life we should celebrate on — the happiness and beauty of living in contentment with our Lord’s Decree, breathing every moment in enjoyment, feeling thankful of having been created at the first place.
And we share this enjoyment with tens, hundreds, thousands, and even millions of less fortunate people who rarely have meats for their daily meals by distributing shares of meat each “able” family has donated.
To me personally, slaughtering our egoistic desire is not a once-a-year ritual. Every day and every moment we should recount our own intentions and actions, realising our faults, making amend every single time, and constantly being aware of our own wishes and conducts. Yet, to have a reminder once a year and at the same time share joy with the poor is certainly treasured as well. I do hope we can have more of such moments, contemplating ourselves, emerging to be better, and sharing fortune with others. Insya Allah…