Released Date : 11/01/2013
Everything begins with intent. “Neeyatpefaislehotehain,” (Decisions of the universe are based on intent) My grandfather quoted when I had gone to visit him at our ancestral village a few years ago. He was 85 then and desperately wanted to attend the Friday congregation prayers but there was no male member at home to accompany him. As luck would have it I reached half an hour before the prayers. It was his strong intent, he believed, which ensured that the universe sent me just at the right time. Poets, philosophers and psychologists have all talked about the role of ‘intent’ – whether in terms of belief or will-power or the ‘universe conspiring.’ But it is true that rarely can the right outcomes be achieved without having the right intent. How does intent determine outcome? Results or outcome are the consequence of the decisions we make and our decisions are influenced by our intent. When I undertake a business trip is my true intent to meet business obligations or have I ‘created’ those obligations because what I really want is a few days of peace away from a bothering family? What is your true intent of going on a pilgrimage? To be called a ‘Haji’, or to comply with an obligatory religious mandate or to ensure God is pleased with us so that our sins can be atoned – ‘rabkoraazikarna’ as our philosopher guide told us at the beginning of the journey. What you will experience during your pilgrimage will be a direct result of the intent with which you undertake the journey. How do we unravel our true intent? We saw in the last chapter that travel reveals our true character, that its Urdu form is derived from an Arabic word meaning to ‘unveil’. Is that the reason why a pilgrimage of any religion involves travel? Our intent for Haj has to be to please God. What would I do if I wanted to please my boss? I would naturally want to know his likes and dislikes and base my actions accordingly. There is nothing different to be done to please God. And that is known asTaqwa – to follow what pleases God and to stay away from what would seem disobedience. The Quran says about preparing for Haj, “…and take provisions [with you] for the journey, but the best provision is Taqwa.” The origin of the word Taqwa is from the Arabic ‘waqaya’ meaning shield and is the verb form of ‘Ittaki’ meaning to be careful or cautious. Taqwa is thus being cautiously and consciously aware about God. At a Leadership Assessment Centrewhich I attended a week before my Haj trip, the lead consultant, a retired Army General who moved into behavioral sciences, had emphasized the need to be mindful, of being in a constant state of awareness. Imagine what would happen if you spent 40 days with the only intent of pleasing God, consciously aware of your every intent and action. The third element which makes up the bhava or the mental attitude before a pilgrimage is a deep desire to achieve the outcome – the talab; for only the thirsty can be quenched, only the one on a quest can find. Talab is the Arabic word for quest or addiction. It is not a coincidence that the Arabic word for student (talib) is derived from talab. Your talab to seek knowledge (ilm,) to perform as prescribed by trying to understand the ‘why’ will ensure that the elements conspire to make things happen the right way for you.Was my attending a leadership workshop that emphasized mindfulness just a week before my Haj trip a pure coincidence or a design of nature to prepare me better for the pilgrimage? And this wasn’t the only such ‘co-incidence’. During the journey I realized there were multiple instances where I ‘discovered’ facets of Quranic texts I had read earlier, found places like the library in Medina which provided sources of great information and came across situations that drove realizations. Were they mere accidents or was it the talab working as part of the grand design? Thus with the sole intent (neeyat) to please God, consciously aware of our every action such that it is for the good and away from anything bad (taqwa) and a deep desire (talab) to attain our goal we embark on the flight to Jeddah (or to Medina as per the itinerary of your tour operator.) Any journey undertaken with such preparation could only be magical.