The Lesser Pilgrimage or `Umrah & the Ka`bah

This is the voluntary visit to the Ka`bah at other times of the year. The word `umrah is from the Arabic three letter root `AMR, which means to construct, build and inhabit, implying ‘flourishing, inhabiting, giving life to, populating, and building’. Thus, `umrah means to cause to flourish and to be enlivened by one’s presence at the Ka`bah.

The Ka`bah is a metaphor for divine impenetrability and for this reason there is no fear for the one who is present there. It is the Fortress of Eternal Truth – everlasting and perfect. Whoever performs the `Umrah is not obliged to perform the Pause at `Arafah, but only the Tawāf and the Hastening Between Stations, and does not leave Makkah before visiting the House many times. This represents the passion for Allah’s Names and Attributes which encompass the universe and the Ka`bah is its centre.

Going to Madinah and to the Presence of Muhammad is not considered complementary to the House of Allah, because the prophetic presence is a manifestation of the Presence of Oneness. The enlightened seeker sees through the Muhammadi Presence, and his spiritual insight witnesses the Presence of Oneness – the Unique Absolute One. As his outer is within the shari`ah, his soul is within the tariqah and his Innermost is within the haqiqah. Reflecting upon ‘Muhammad the Messenger of Allah ’ will reveal that ‘Muhammad’ represents the Physical Universe and the ‘Messenger’ (rasūl) represents the Spiritual Realms, and that ‘Allah’ represents the Realm of Power. Thus, whoever knows the haqiqah of Muhammad knows the entire truth.

# … and whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah… [4:80]

The Ka`bah

It is said that the word Bakkah (an alternative spelling for Makkah used in the Qur’an spelled with the Arabic letter ba’) refers to the exact location of the House (al‑Bayt) and its meaning relates to the Arabic word for ‘to weep’. As for Makkah (with the Arabic letter mīm) it refers to the rest of the city and its meaning relates to being sought after.

The cuboid shape of Ka`bah signifies the shape of the Throne, which consists of four directions or corners. This bears a relationship to the four realities of divine origins. Two of them are to the East of haqiqah, which are the `aql (intellect) and the nafs (in the sense of higher self, i.e. soul), as they originate from the rising lights and suns of knowledges. The other two realities of haqiqah originate in the West and are nature and matter. Thus the effulgent divine light begins from the first two realities in the spiritual day and end with nature and matter during the night of that day.

# … the Lord of the two Easts and the Lord of the two Wests… [55:17]

By now we can understand the deeper meaning of the phrases which constitute the foundations of Islam: ‘Subhān Allah, wa’l‑hamdu li’Llāh, wa lā ilaha illa’Llāh, wa’Llāhu akbar’ (Glory be to Allah, and the praise is Allah’s, and there is no god but Allah, and Allah is Most Great). The reason for the House of Allah being shaped like a cube is because it runs parallel to the greatest Throne of Allah which, from one aspect, consists of the universal nature of all matters.

The number four is the basis of numerical elements, which are the basis in the combination of all numbers. The numerical elements are one to ten, which are then repeated. There does not exist within these numerical elements a number which, when combined, contains and includes the number ten, other than four. Thus, four with its true form ‘4’, and within it 3 (four contains 3), thus become seven (4+3=7); and from it 2 (four includes 2), which thus make 9 (7+2=9); and from it 1 (four includes one), which thus becomes a completed 10 (9+1=10). It is for this reason that it is said that the wisdom of the secret of organizing things is based upon four‑based numbers.

Next and last excerpt by Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri on the levels of pilgrimage:

  1. Hajj
  2. Pillars of the Pilgrimage 1 – Al-ihram
  3. Pillars of the Pilgrimage 2 – The walking around the Ka’bah

    Pillars of the Pilgrimage 3 – Hastening between the stations of pilgrimage

  4. Pillars of the Pilgrimage 4 – The pause on ‘Arafat
  5. Obligatory Actions
    • The stoning of Shaytan
    • The Prohibition against Hunting
    • The Prohibition on Sexual Intercourse while on Pilgrimage
  6. Other Aspects
    • The lesser Pilgrimage (Umrah)
    • Ka’bah
  7. The Levels of the Pilgrimage
    • The Pilgrimage of the Revealed Law
    • The Pilgrimage of the Adepts
    • The Pilgrimage of the Gnostic