Journey to the House of God: The Arbaeen Pilgrimage
We are proud to release a brand new GTUx Original from Dr. Mahjabeen Dhala that focuses on the Arbaeen pilgrimage. In this GTUx offering, Dr. Dhala draws from her own experience and years of research to thread together a narrative that illustrates how the lessons of the past imprint upon the present.
In her teachings, Dr. Dhala delves into the embodiment of Islamic faith, worship, and sacred history within the context of the Arbaeen pilgrimage. From the enactment of sacred history to the symbolic importance of the number seven in worship, this GTUx Original is a fascinating look into how the physicality of the practice furthers the practitioner’s unlocking of the spiritual body.
As part of our conversation with the GTUx Connect community, we offer the following insights and reflections for examination:
The Position of the Body
The physical embodiment of faith begins just there, in the body. In the simplest of acts, pilgrims put their bodies in direct conversation with the divine. In the salah, a ritual prayer invoked five times a day as prescribed by the second pillar of Islam, the faithful raise their hands upwards in the remembrance that the divine is always in conversation with them. Pilgrims will prostrate, a practice called sajdah, in which the person surrenders to the divine mystery. Dr. Dhala explains how pilgrims will physically reenact history in a sacred act of remembrance. These practices, along with the physicality of the pilgrimage itself, are ways in which the faithful encounter the divine.
In looking at the ways in which the physical can be a pathway toward a deeper spiritual experience, are there ways in which we consciously or unconsciously move that unlock deeper spiritual meaning? Are there practices that the faithful, the searcher, or the lay person can incorporate into their own experience of the divine?
There is a point on the journey where the pilgrim dons a set of uniform robes, called Ehram. In doing so, the pilgrim removes all limiting and dividing identities to experience a state of communion with other pilgrims along the holy journey. In this state of uniformity, there is a sense of oneness among the pilgrims. This physical transformation of clothes is also a way in which the pilgrim experiences a state of sanctity.
In this donning of Ehram, is there a way this practice can extend beyond the Arbaeen pilgrimage? Is there a way for lay people and pilgrims alike to don Ehram and create a commonality with others? How can this oneness lead to a greater sense of the sacred? How can this lead to a greater state of sanctity for those both within the Islamic faith and other sacred, wisdom traditions?
The annual practice of fasting during the month of Ramadan is a physical act that allows the faithful to feel empathy for the human condition. In this physical act of intentionally experiencing hunger, the faithful can deepen their experience of the universal human condition. In direct conversation with this practice is zakat, which iterates that before we celebrate our own blessings, we must take out gifts to give to those who may not have the same resources. In this way, the experience of pain and remedy are physically enacted in the fasting and breaking of the fast.
In the practice of fasting, the faithful math their experience with positive action (the zakat). Are there ways in which a practice to deepen human empathy can be matched with right action?
To learn more about Dr. Mahjabeen Dhala and our GTUx Original The Arbaeen Pilgrimage, you can watch a quick preview here:
Ready to join the discussion? You can register for The Arbaeen Pilgrimage for free at any time here.