Guest column by Maimoona Harrington
Recently a friend’s post about her visit and climb to the Shri Subramanian Hindu temple that is 272-plus footsteps high in Batu Caves Shri Subramanian Kuala Lumpur Malaysia reminded me of a similar climb for my faith.
My climb was to Cave Hira. Cave Hira is located in the mountain called Jabl-e-Noor. This landmark is very significant and holy for Muslims, as this is where the first verses of the holy book, The Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him – by angel Gabriel.
I climbed up to the Cave Hira in 2017 when I went to Saudi Arabia for Umrah (Pilgrimage) with my sons. This time I was determined to go up to the Jabl-e-Noor (mountain of light) and witness the place where the Prophet Muhammad – Peace be upon him – went for contemplation and meditation. The cave where he spent his time in solitude is called “Ghar-e-Hira” that is located in the mountain “Jabl-e-Noor” in Arabic Meaning Mountain of light, near the HIjazi region in Makkah.
It took me a couple of hours until I got to the top of the mountain, but it did not end here. I had to go further down and between the narrow alleys of the mountain to reach “the Place” – the cave Hira. The cave Hira is at the height of 890 feet. It’s over 1,000 to 1,200 steps to climb the mountain to reach the cave. While I was with my son and my brother-in-law, I still made numerous stops. Though I was 43 years old but I felt like 100 years old on the day. I was short of breath and was holding onto my son for support. However, on my journey up to the mountain, I came across many older men and women coming down the mountain that gave me the motivation that if they can do it so do I, so I kept going.
I managed to reach the top and then into the tiny cave deep inside the mountain. Only one person could be there at one time and there was a praying mat lying down to prostate (Sajada) to Allah (Arabic for God). Throughout this time and later I wondered how the Prophet – peace be upon him – made this journey everyday and how he managed to squeeze through these narrow paths. What was driving him to come to this isolated place? Perhaps an Unforeseen Force that had a destiny set for him but led him to it when the right time came.
My friend’s post reminded me of my climb and the force behind our determination that drives us so strongly, that we do not see what lies ahead of us. Our drive is our blind faith and love for the Almighty. This is what keeps us moving everyday whether its my faith in my religion or someone else faith in their religion.
I also posed this question to a group of people and friends on different social media platforms. My questions were:
- Why is it important for any of us to have a faith no matter what religion we represent or believe in?
- What drives us to do what we do, like wanting to climb 1,200 steps to see a holy site?
I am posting the replies with permission from the commenters. One of the answers to my first question was:
“Faith of any kind be it a belief system (aka religion) or faith in oneself or Karma ,even faith in hard work or sheer luck feeds the soul and the spirit ,it helps find the balance of mind and heart with the world outside of you to preserve and progress in one’s life. Just like the debatable question of Faith being a noun or a verb it is a constant motion in one’s self and that alone is a sign of life and a blessed soul” (Sethi A).
And to my second question:
“Have you ever had this feeling when you love someone you want to know them, you want to know their history, it intrigues you to go places where they are born or how they have lived their lives. It’s like when a historian or professor love their education how happy they are to see those things when they go and visit those historic sites, when some scientists find a dinosaur bones how happy they are, it’s their love of studies that make them go crazy places and visit them. It’s their passion to visit what they love to do, same thing is here. We love prophet Mohammed (pbhm) so so much that when we go to Makkah and we come to know he used to go their everyday, for our love and passion we visit cave Hira. Love makes us do things that we wouldn’t have imagined we will ever do” (Shafiq H).
While thinking about the climbs that were so hard for us, I saw similarity in them. Her climb and my climb both were hard yet both were done for our own beliefs and love towards our faiths!