Hajj Poetry & Fiction

A Most Blessed Rooftop

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rofanator/4233679954/in/photostream/By Yacoob Manjoo

This piece was inspired by my time in Madinah, on the rooftop of the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) mosque, a few weeks prior to Hajj 2011.

I like rooftops because they are freedom.

As I write this, I’m seated on one.
No ordinary one, mind you;
but one in a city of immense peace;
on top of a building so blessed that only one other is greater.

Many people aren’t aware of rooftops.
They live their lives down below,
never thinking of how serene and peaceful the world above is.

It’s the same in this place:
hundreds of thousands come to this city,
to this building,
yet only a fraction venture up to this rooftop.

Down below, the crowds swell—
with new faces each and every day,
from places far and wide,
each with a culture,
a nationality,
a family,
a unique life story.

We meet each other—
all speaking different languages,
sometimes unable to communicate
other than in sign language—
yet our greeting is the same;
a universal greeting of peace—
taught to us by the Messenger of peace,
who established this
our community,
in this very place
some fourteen centuries ago.

He would be proud
to see his nation gathered here today—
such variety in colour, speech, and manner—
all committed to one way of life.

All here to visit him,
and honour his resting place—
the ground where he,
and the giants of his generation,
strove to build a society
based on justice,
and universal goodness—
recognised by every single soul—
whether they know it or not.

They walked this very earth
by day and night,
in wartime and during peace,
hardship and times of ease;
knowing that their time here was only temporary—
a short period of tests—
the results of which might determine
their home in the eternal realm.

And some were assured of their success;
yet still they struggled,
still they strove,
still they feared
that they weren’t living up to the lives expected of them.

Yet that generation
was the best of people raised up for mankind.

They enjoined what was good,
and forbade what was evil;
they believed in One God.

our generation today
instead succumbs
to the cultural pollution
of nations that do not truly believe in their Creator.
For if they did,
their lives would reflect more justice,
and eagerness

to fulfil their responsibilities
as stewards of this Earth.

Yet in this blessed place,
this generation—
those who come to visit—
witnesses the way life should be.

We feel the tranquillity
of the way of life
we call our own.

We experience it first hand—
in ways we could never experience back home.

We feel rejuvenated
by this environment—
re-affirming our connection to our Creator,
the Owner of Peace,
the Master of all things—
both worldly and beyond human comprehension.

Grown men break down in tears—
begging their Lord for forgiveness,
and supplicating for all that they need in their lives,
and all that they desire in their existence.

Desperate pleas
with such sincerity—
both in private
and where others see them—
without inhibition,
for in those moments,
nobody else matters:
it’s just them and their Lord.

And so
this City of Peace
purifies the souls that visit;
washing away years,
and lifetimes of mistakes—
and giving hope that maybe,
just maybe,
when our journeys take us back home,
we’ll recapture the magic we felt here,
and live lives of peace, justice, and submission
to the One we owe everything to.


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