LONG FOR THE PLACE OF PILGRIMAGE
So there was a man once who with very great difficulty saved enough money to make his pilgrimage as enjoined by the Prophet. He was an ordinary labourer and he had to toil long hours to earn sufficient for the journey. At the same time that he set off, there was also a whole tribe travelling on pilgrimage to Mecca. There were men, women and children and all were led by a very pious man.
Now there is a date fixed for the pilgrims to circumambulate the Kaaba. It is an injunction of the law that the pilgrims are to be present on that particular day once in a lifetime. So the tribe is hurrying to reach the Kaaba on that day. They have no time to waste. But while they are travelling, one of the women nears the point of child-birth. It is clear that she must soon deliver the child and for that she must cease travelling and stay on the roadside. The leader of the tribe, bound by the traditions, says: We must leave this woman and hasten to reach the Kaaba by the date. God will take care of the woman, because we are all heading towards Him. It is His duty.
And what happens to this woman left with a new-born babe alone on the roadside? God does take care of her. Through whom? Through the man who had with the greatest difficulty earned enough for the pilgrimage. He finds the woman distressed and alone, and he stays with her and helps her. But in doing so he misses the central point of the pilgrimage, the circumambulation on the set date.
In due course, the tribe returns, headed by the pious man, and camps again were the woman and the man have stayed. The man is so relieved. The husband is now with the woman, and her relations and all that. So now he bids them goodbye and leaves to compete at least his journey to the Kaaba even though he thinks the spiritual value has been lost. He leaves and the tribe settles down for the night.
During the night the pious man has a dream, and in that dream he hears a voice saying: Of all the thousands of people who have gone on the pilgrimage this time, only the pilgrimage of one is accepted by the Lord. The pious man says: My Lord, whose pilgrimage have you accepted? Who is the blessed one whose pilgrimage you have accepted? And the Lord says: The one who looked after the mother and child.
What matters is that you long for the place of pilgrimage. Whether you are there physically or not, the important thing is to long to be there, to be in His presence, to keep Him company.
THE AWAKENER MAGAZINE, Vol. 17, No. 2, p. 60, ed. Filis Frederick
1977 © Universal Spiritual League in America, Inc.