“Here I am, O Allah…”October 11, 2013 2023-08-06 21:38
“Here I am, O Allah…”
We are in the blessed season of Hajj, the holy pilgrimage to Mecca, and the season of talbiyah – that special prayer on every pilgrim’s lips when they are nearing the Sacred House.
A sea of millions upon millions of hujjaj (pilgrims), from all walks of life and ends of the earth, respond to God’s call and invitation to His Sacred House, repeating continuously, “Labbayk Allahu labbayk… I am here, at Your service, O Allah…” and to perform the rites of the Hajj.
Shaykh Munajjid, a contemporary scholar from Saudi Arabia, explains some of the deeper meanings of the talbiyah in the following excerpt from one of his articles [edited for clarity]:
1. “Labbayka Allaahumma labbayk (Here I am, O Allah, here I am)” is [repeated continuously] to show that one’s response [to God’s call] is lasting and ongoing.
2. “Labbayka Allaahumma labbayk (Here I am, O Allah, here I am)” means, I submit and submit again, i.e., ongoing submission.
3. It [connotes] staying in one place (labba bi’l-makaan) and clinging to it, which means, I am persisting in obeying You, thus emphasizing the meaning of continuous servitude to Allah.
4. One of the meanings of the talbiyah is confirming [one’s] love of Allah. There is an Arabic phrase, “imra’ah labbah” (a loving woman) which refers to a woman who loves her child. One only says “Labbayk (Here I am at your service)” to [one] whom one loves and respects.
5. It implies sincerity, as in the phrase “lubb al-shay’” which means the essence of a thing, and lubb al-rajul which means a man’s mind and heart.
6. It implies drawing close, as in the word ilbaab, which means drawing close, so it emphasizes the meaning of seeking to draw closer and closer to Allah.
7. It is a symbol of the tawheed [unicity] of the religion of Ibrahim (Prophet Abraham), which is the spirit and aim of Hajj, indeed the spirit and aim of all the acts of worship. Hence the talbiyah is the key to this act of worship that the pilgrim is embarking on.
The talbiyah also includes praise of Allah, which is the dearest thing with which a person may draw close to Allah. It implies recognition of the blessings of Allah, for He is the source of all blessings and the One Who bestows them. And it includes acknowledging that all sovereignty belongs to Allah alone, and no one else has any true dominion.
When the pilgrim is reciting the talbiyah, he feels a connection with all other created beings, as they all join with him in submission to Allah alone and echo his talbiyah. The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no Muslim who recites the talbiyah but that whatever is to his right and to his left of stones, rocks and clods recites it with him, to the furthest point to the east and the west” – meaning from his right and his left. (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi)
May Allah invite us to His Blessed House and give us the ability to respond to His call! May He make us, very very soon, be of those who can say “Labbayk!” as they travel as pilgrims on the Sacred Journey. Ameen.