This is considered the first of the four spiritual Pillars of the Pilgrimage. It is the act of entering the process of the Pilgrimage. It is thus called because the person making the pilgrimage abstains from shaving, cutting fingernails, hunting, and having sexual relations.
It also refers to the donning of a garment, usually of white cotton, wool or linen, worn during the performance of the Pilgrimage. Its significance is that all things which are permitted (halāl) are forbidden (harām), in addition to what is already forbidden, to the person of this station while he is wearing the white garment, out of reverence for the sanctity of Allah.
The people of gnosis consider it to mean the exodus from every circumstance, whether it be exalted or lowly or whether it be related to time or space. This is often referred to as ‘Freedom from Surroundings’. If the person of this station does not exit from the limitations of time and space and from the external world of phenomena he will not arrive at his destination. All human experiences occur within the realm of phenomena. Outside of it there is no time or space, because Allah existed when there was no time and no space, and He remains unchanged. This entire realm of existence, with respect to His Magnitude and Glory, is no more than a mustard seed or smaller.
Makkah itself is the symbol of Oneness and thus worthy of the Divine. Here the seeker should assume new courtesies because every state and every station has its particular courtesy. Thus, the courtesy of Divinity (ulūhiyah) is not the same as the courtesy of Lordship (rubūbiyah). Among its strange wonders that indicate the difficulty of this station is that it demands of man to be both with existence and non‑existence at the same time. People have been excused from having to understand this because of its inherent contradiction. Ibn `Ata’Allah has said the following concerning this condition:
~ The universe is established by His Essence, thus the universe is in reality non-existent with the form of existence – non‑existent from the standpoint of the Ever-Sentient Eternal Essence and existent from the standpoint of Attributes. Thus the person in this station [the pilgrim] can do nothing but submit and from there he concentrates upon entering the “Door of Peace.”
It has been said with regards to this that the one who witnesses Allah does not remember Him, and that He will not be witnessed unless He is remembered.
The courtesy of this Presence is to be occupied with witnessing it and surrendering to its Right Hand (that is, surrendering to the Black Stone because of it having been referred to as the ‘Right Hand of Allah’). Whatever comes from the acts of Allah are the traces. The Prophet said concerning this:
~ The Black Stone is the Right Hand of Allah.
When the Gnostic reaches this station he witnesses the heavens as being ‘rolled up in His Right Hand’ [39:67]. Thus, the Right Hand of Allah veils the Gnostic from seeing the world of objects, because they are not outside of the Right Hand of Allah.
Next excerpt is the second spiritual Pillar of Pilgrimage, Walking around the Ka’bah…