I find a comfortable shaded spot on one of the countless laid out carpets with a perfect view of the Ka'bah. The heat of the Dhuhr sun has found many of the worshipers scurrying into the shade, away from the open courtyard directly surrounding the House of Allah (swt), resulting in a very serene image of the bright black cube contrasted by the glow of the empty white marble floor.
The simplicity of the black cube frees up the senses to allow for greater reflection on the Divine and His attributes. I focus my gaze on the House of Allah and allow my heart to roam free in this most sanctified of places.
I slowly close my eyelids, attempting to temporarily suspend all my senses - for where I wish to go, my eyes and ears are a distraction. In the sea of Divine remembrance, only the heart can swim.
As my head dips down between my chest and folded up legs, a thundering voice wakens me from my spiritual slumber.
“Who are you?”
Startled, I look up to see who would dare raise their voice in the quiet confines of the Haram.
“Who are you?” thunders the holy house of Allah. The Ka'bah has taken on eyes and a mouth and is staring right at me.
“Uhmmm...me? I-I'm Naeem”, I sputter.
“Ahh yes, we heard of your impending arrival.”
“Yes, the birds spoke of the heavy-handed one arriving this weekend.”
“Huh? ‘Heavy-handed’? What does that mean?”
“Are your hands not too heavy to raise in dua'a? Are your hands not too heavy to pick up the Quran? Are your hands not too heavy to give charity?"
My stomach grinds at the sound of those deeply hurtful words.
"But I, I've come to you, the House of Allah (swt), to purify myself and soften my heart."
"HA!", the Ka'bah laughs a resounding, haughty laugh.
"Soften your heart, you say? The winds talk of the long distances you travel to arrive here and how you constantly return in the same pathetic state you arrived. If that is not indicative of a hard heart, then what is? All the animals bear witness that the stench with which you arrive is the same as when you leave. If that is not reflective of a hard heart, then what is?”
“But, but...”, I stammer looking for some hope in the words of the ancient blessed house.
“It really pains me to see you here. The khalil of Allah stood before me with his beautiful wife and son, worshiping his Lord. The beloved of Allah bowed his head before me, proving his undying love for his Creator. The greatest generation lived and died on these hallowed grounds. And now, I am forced to suffer the ignominy of your presence. Woe am I!”
Stunned into silence, I struggle to elicit a defense, but nothing flows from my dry, parched mouth.
“Your stench as you approach me is unbearable. If only you could smell the foul odor of your nauseating actions! If only you could smell your sickening breath, a result of the filthy words that have sprung forth from your tongue! But instead you are oblivious to the wretched odors you generate; brashly convincing yourself that your insignificant good deeds will eventually overcome all the chaos you have wrought.”
Finally I break my silence, only to regret doing so a moment later. "I admit to my many weaknesses, but isn't my presence in this holy sanctuary a reflection of my hope for self-rectification?"
“Silence, you insolent fool! You come here thinking that your mere presence suffices? How arrogant! How ignorant! The sincerity of intention that was constantly embedded into each and every act of worship of your great ancestors is but a distant memory with scoundrels like you. You perform rukoo’ and sajdah in the same way you drink a cup of water – like a donkey. And when you finally find it in you to beg of our Creator, you ask with the same enthusiasm as when you ask a stranger for the time.”
Emotionally distraught, I wipe away the moistness in my eyes, causing my vision to blur, quietly hoping the Ka'bah would disappear.
“You have perpetrated the greatest lie when you continuously lie to your own self. You claim to love Allah, yet your every thought and action prove otherwise.”
Frustrated beyond control, I close my eyes and cover my ears hoping the voice would go away, but to no avail. The Ka'bah continues speaking and I continue listening.
"You hands are too heavy to raise while your head is too lofty to be humbled. How quickly you raise your head from sajdah! How quickly your lower your hands from dua'a! Where is the love you pretend to have for your one and only Lord?"
And just like that, the talking Ka'bah returns to its slumber, leaving me with my thoughts of despair and confusion. So with a heavy heart, abused by the verbal lashes of the Ka'bah, I turn to the One who will never spurn me. I raise my hands and cry to Allah:
"Ya Allah, You have promised to answer the prayers of the oppressed. Today I stand before you, having been stripped naked by Your beloved Ka'bah, and I proclaim that there is no soul more oppressed than mine. For my soul is being oppressed by the greatest tyrant of all - my own self. So I beg of you to free me from the chains of oppression that I have thrust upon myself. I beg of you to lift me from the dungeons of my depraved soul."
I pause, exhale a deep sigh - mentally exhausted and spiritually flustered, I feel bitter and resentful towards the Ka'bah for ruthlessly exposing my inner state while also acknowledging the therapeutic value of beating down my nafs.
I look up at the motionless Ka'bah, ponder over my feeble nature, spiritually overwhelmed by the weighted words of the Ka'bah, I feel nothing better to sum up my tormented state than the comprehensively simple prayer of our dear Prophet Musa with which he called on his Lord after he was run out of town:
"Oh my Lord, I am indeed miserably needy of the blessings You send down on me!" (28:24)