Hajj 1429 (2008)

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Hajj is a pilgrimage a Muslim person takes once in their lifetime. It is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world. It is the fifth pillar of Islam, an obligation that must be carried out at least once in our lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so. It is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and our submission to Allah.

The Hajj is associated with the life of Prophet Muhammed peace and blessing be upon him (PBUH), but the ritual of pilgrimage to Makkah stretches back to the time of Ibrahim and Isma'il. Pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Makkah for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals. As part of the Hajj, each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building which acts as the Muslim direction of prayer (qibla); runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah; drinks from the Zamzam Well; goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil; and Jamara (throws stones in a ritual Stoning of Satan). The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform an animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three day global festival of Eid al-Adha.

Both my husband and I wanted to take this trip of a life time while we were still young. Given my diabetes, I didn't think it would be fair on myself and Allah to wait until it was either too late or my body wouldn't allow me to complete all the rituals. Also, the journey would allow me to be spiritually closer to the Almighty, rid my sins, bless my marriage and help me start a new chapter in my life. I had the idea of Hajj instilled in my head for about three years thanks to my best friend. May Allah reward her. I was waiting for my husband and the right time to take this journey and it came. All the highest praise and thanks belong to Almighty Allah. Honestly, as I write this blog, I still can't believe I took this amazing journey. Alhamdula.

About three million pilgrims participated in this year’s pilgrimage. The Saudi government invested millions to accommodate us all and I have to say they did a brilliant job! We were received with open arms and given food parcels at various stops. This warmth rippled with my group who were from all over the world. We were like a mini version of the rest of the millions that had flocked for Hajj. This mix helped to form new bonds, encourage team work, patience and importantly we were able to support the weak and elderly.

The group leaders advised on various tours including visiting the graves of the Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) companions. However, I was anxious to see the Ka’ba. I had to keep pinching and reassuring myself that I was in Saudi Arabia about to take the same path as the Prophet (PBUH) did. I kept thinking maybe this isn’t my time and someone was going to tell me to get back on the plane!! I remember on the coach trying my best not to see the Ka’ba because I wanted my first look to be special. I believed the Ka’ba was taller than the Masjid Al Haram (Mosque where the Ka’ba is located) but, when I approached the Ka’ba I was greeted by the magnificent Masjid and had to enter the centre of it to see the Ka’ba. It was amazing! Even though the Masjid surrounded the Ka’ba, its stature overshadowed the mosque. I took a step back and contemplated. I felt my heart fill with love for Allah, peace and closeness to the Almighty.

My next big challenge was the Jamara. My family and some protective Iraqi ladies didn't want me to do the Jamara. They all believed that because I'm a diabetic, I would end being killed by completing this act. I understood their fear especially as so many unnecessary deaths occured here but wanted to prove to myself, them and importantly my love for Allah SWT. Nothing was going to stop me! The Jamara is usually packed with a lot of people who get very excited about this ritual and rightly so. The Jamara marks Ibrahim’s belief in Allah by throwing the stones at Satan when he tried to stop Ibrahim sacrificing his son for Allah. It symbolises ones belief in one Allah and overcoming ones internal battle especially with Satan. I honestly thought, I was going to die at the Jamara. I made peace with the idea of death as I felt spiritually uplifted and ready to see Allah in Paradise. So, when the moment came to throw the seven stones, I felt this huge burst of emotional energy. I cannot describe the feeling but I felt my spirit lift which helped me complete each act perfectly of throwing the stones within Jamara. Trust me; I failed at all ball games!! I then felt cleansed. A sense of peace washed over me. I wanted to cry but kept my emotions in check in front of my group! For the first time in my life, I experienced true inner peace.

The day of Arafat is considered the most important day of Hajj. It was filled with togetherness by everyone supplicating to Allah. I had all my books ready and found a spot in my tent to concentrate on Allah. I had a terrible hypo (low blood sugar) which forced me to lay down for most of Arafat. But Allah SWT still made it easy for me as I was able to do my supplications. I was also comforted and supported by ladies within my tent and my husband ensuring all my needs were taken care of. Alhamdula. My whole body felt at ease because it was naturally doing what it was born to do. Worship Allah. I laid down on the carpet and was fortunate enough to be next to a gap in between the carpets to feel the sand beneath me. It was too hot to go to the Mountain of Arafat and the sand allowed me to connect to Allah by contemplating on his sublime creations. The day seemed to go so quickly and as the heat subsided I was able to join others outside our tents and watch the sun go down as if into the mountains. The colours - red, orange, yellow and purple were amazingly floating next to each other. It was if they symbolised this equality amongst differences. I used the opportunity to join others in making further supplication to Allah. I still had this sense of peace which grew further in Arafat. It was wonderful to see everyone joined in prayers especially as they were all peaceful and tranquil. We were all equal, rich and poor, young and old, black and white. All the men were wearing their Ihram (two pieces of white cloth) and the women dressed in simple abayas. I’m not sure of anywhere else or any situation where people are so equal, together and peaceful especially in the sight of Allah?!

SubhanAllah, Allah made this journey easy for me and my husband in the sense that the ZamZam water stabilised my blood sugars and I didn't feel tired walking from Mina to Makkah. Allah also brought a special lady into my life who I shared emotions and experiences with especially when things got low (which alhamdula was very rare). It was an amazing experience. Life-changing. Made my problems, worries and day to day life feel unimportant. I felt like I was in my natural habitat, doing what I was born to do. When one lets go and does what their natural being was created for it then all falls into place and the peace comes swiping in. I was ready to come back home with this peace and to spread it to others.

The big step is to maintain the goodness of Hajj. Keep my slate as clean as possible. I'm trying to hold on to the peace and avoid the cinema and TV. This is going to be a bit tricky as I have used them too often as a form of escape. InshaAllah, I become a better person.

I made many realisations from Hajj:

1. Turn to Allah as only Allah can help you. Make 2 raka's and read the Qur'an especially when you are down.
2. Never have doubt that your duas during Hajj have not been accepted.
3. Create a prayer space and try to pray with people in your house.
4. Read daily the Qur'an and books on our beloved Prophet (PBUH).
5. Read on the Prophets (PBUH) wives and then the caliph’s.
6. Always send your praises to the Prophet (PBUH), family and the companions.
7. Believe that everything has a reason.
8. Only love for the sake of Allah SWT.
9. Have sabr (patience).
10. 40 days after Hajj your duas are accepted.

InshaAllah, I'll try and remember some more.

I send my peace and blessing to our beloved Prophet (PBUH), his family and the companions.

May Allah accept my Hajj and that of all the Muslims. Please make dua!

May Allah forgive me if I have made any mistakes in this post.


Safiyyah said...

Salaams Sis:

Mabrook! I'm so happy that you got to go!

Big Sis said...

JazakAllah Khair sis. I have to say I'm still overjoyed that I went!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful blog - your blogs are AMAZING!

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Big Sis:

Where are you? Insha Allah you haven't quit blogging :(

Sajeed said...

Dear Sister,
Allah accepts dua of everyone who ask him sincerely. there is no hadith or verse of quran to suggest that duas are accepted for 40days. Kindly recheck for your own good.

Hajj mabroor dear sister in islam.