- Posted January 17, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Bosa of Hajr-e-Aswad (Kissing of the Black Stone)
For the umpteenth time, I was close to the Hajr-e-Aswad, the Black Stone only a few feet away as I stood watching, thinking and hoping against hope. The struggling mass of humans with the chaotic pushing and shoving was in full swing, a show of raw force like none I had experienced before.
Finally decided, disappointed and discouraged I moved away from the emotionally charged crowd which was fiercely and physically engrossed in the ritual of attempting to kiss the Black Stone. The reality that the evasive Bosa or the Kiss, was not going to happen for me, was sinking in and so be it.
This was my first visit to The Kaaba, the House of God, built by Abraham in Mecca, a simple and yet one of the most beautiful and elegant structures I have ever laid my eyes on. I sat admiring, I stood awestruck, and I walked mesmerized by the majestic grace of a structure so uncomplicated.
Hajr-e-Aswad, the black stone from paradise, is on one of its corners. Touching and kissing the stone, following in Prophet Muhammad’s footsteps, though not mandatory is highly preferable and one of the most physically challenging rituals of Hajj and Umrah. Throw in an intensely passionate crowd of several hundred in a space of several feet and from all directions and every one of them wanting to kiss the stone and one can begin to understand the struggle.
I had completed my other rituals with relative ease but was on the verge of giving up on the elusive Bosa of Hajr-e-Aswad. My saving grace was that it was not for the lack of will or want, but for my refusal to wrestle my way in to do that.
Most of the other rituals are performed with some discipline which is a credit to hundreds of thousands of people from different nationalities, speaking different languages and with no prior rehearsals. However, the Bosa of Hajr-e-Aswad stirs emotions like nothing else and the wheels do come off the wagon of discipline here.
The word going around is that people have lost their lives with suffocation or getting trampled in trying to fulfill this ritual. Even though pushing and thrusting is clearly forbidden and to the extent that the entire ritual may lose its value in front of God, the practice continues.
Once or twice my hormones toyed with the idea of taking on the challenge and getting involved with the conglomerate of bodies and forcing my way in, thankfully to be overridden by good common sense out of the upper chamber.
Being in the House of God, asking the Almighty to let me have the kiss was an option. The risk was the disappointment of a prayer gone begging and not granted as the task was daunting at the least and impossible at the worse.
What transpired next is my story, my own little miracle, and there are plenty of them going around at that place.
As it happened, I was sitting on one side of the Kaaba when with some inkling I got up and got in the swing of Tawaf, which is the counterclockwise walking around the Kaaba in circles. I remember looking at the Kaaba and wishing for the coveted kiss. It was a silent, half prayer at best, a defence mechanism in that if not fulfilled would not disappoint me.
I next noticed three young men right in front of me in Ihram, the two white sheets worn by men. The only man I remember was the one on the left with a handsome and kind face and probably in his thirties. The men looked at each other with a meaningful gaze and nodded. Next they started walking towards the Black Stone, Hajr-e-Aswad. Right behind them and instinctively, I followed.
As they arrived in the general area of the Black Stone, they stood still, hands by their sides, held their ground and started chanting the words, “No Pushing, Please No Pushing, No Pushing.” Two other people already there and to my right joined in with “Dhakka Nahin, Dhakka Nahin” which in Urdu means the same, “No Pushing.” By now I had joined the group and was feverishly repeating, no pushing, no pushing, no pushing, please.
Few more people joined us from behind and with the same slogan. At this point, we were probably about ten people chanting “No Pushing” and just holding our place passively in the crowd which by now had dramatically calmed down.
The group was so tight that as the person in front, having kissed the stone moved out, the rest of the group got pulled in and I kept getting closer. Next I was at an arm’s length from the Black Stone.
Knowing very well that one large push from the crowd could throw me out of my place, I touched the stone first with one hand and then the other. If the kiss did not materialize, at least I had the stone touched.
The very next moment I was right in front of the stone and with the back of a woman's head between me and the stone. My biggest worry at this point was to miss the Kiss after literally being inches from the Hajr-e-Aswad. The woman it seemed was in no rush.
My first instinct was to grab her head and move it out of my way. Grab the woman’s head I did. I then fought the ugly urge of pushing her head away and instead waited nervously. Finally as she moved out of the way, I bent and kissed the stone once only, and in literally a second, it was all over. I then moved out swiftly to make way for others.
Just before the Kiss, as I got close to the Hajr-e-Aswad I must have been in a zone of some sorts as my mind had blocked out the surrounding sights and sounds. This is because I cannot recall the later chanting or hearing of the “No Pushing” slogan and neither do I remember seeing any of those men just before or after the Bosa.
That I shared the story of this miracle of some sorts in my life, is a small personal matter. A better wish is if the muslims from all around the world can somehow come together and perform this ritual in an orderly manner and with discipline and civility.
That the Bosa of Hajr-e-Aswad becomes available to the elderly, the weak, the women alike would be the next frontier, a challenge worth writing and dreaming about. I do not know if I will ever live to see this wish granted, but I will have a prayer out that it does.
For my lack of conviction, it might just be a silent, half a prayer though, just so I do not feel denied if this one miracle never happens.