My Journey to Hajj
By Jubeda Khatun
No two peoples experience of Hajj can or will ever be the same! By the grace and will of the Almighty, I had the opportunity to complete my Hajj last October. Upon my return, I have been eagerly awaiting to share my experiences with anyone willing to listen.
As a primary school teacher, my very first audience were the children at the school I teach in on the Isle of Dogs, east London. I prepared a PowerPoint presentation of the different days of Hajj, and gave a brief account of what each day included. The children were mesmerised, as were the teachers. They asked very thoughtful questions, and were intrigued by the mass communal living in Mina, and praying on the streets of Makkah.
It is almost five months now since I have returned from the journey of my lifetime, and I still get goosebumps talking about it. I can close my eyes and recall each and every step in vivid detail. Only last week I was praying Isha with my husband, and it suddenly occurred to me that we had completed our Hajj. I was overcome with a feeling of gratitude and humbleness that very few words can explain.
My journey to Hajj was amazing, overwhelming and a journey of utter devotion and discovery. As a child at the tender age of six, I had accompanied my parents on Hajj and since then I have been to Umrah on three occasions. I wasn’t visiting Makkah and Madinah for the first time, and I was already familiar with the tawaaf, as well as the other rituals. However, this particular journey to Hajj was unlike any other visit I had been on previously. This is partly because so many changes had occurred in my own life that had permanently changed and shaped my character for the better alhamdulilah.
My husband and I had attended many Hajj seminars prior to our trip; we listened to talks online, and read a few books too. I felt like there wasn’t much more we could do in regard to a prior practical preparation. I even had our bags packed, sealed and labelled two weeks before we were due to fly!
However, even up to the morning of our flight, I said to him, “I don’t feel ready, I think I’ve forgotten my du’as, when do we leave for Arafat again?” – I was a bundle of nerves! Being the calm individual he is, he reassured me, and reminded me that Hajj was about a lot more than just theory. He reminded me that the accompanying scholar would go through the rituals, and the specific du’as as and when necessary.
We arrived in Makkah very early on, on a Tuesday, and we made our way to our hotels and took a much needed nap and meal. Alhamdulilah, Allah made every step easy for us and it was almost magical doing our tawaaf under the clear night sky of Makkah. We stopped for some zamzam water before commencing our sa’ee walks between the mounts of Safah and Marwah – and I felt as though the water had given me an energy boost to keep me going.
After cutting our hair, and coming out of the state of Ihram, I felt relieved; it was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. In the state of Ihram, I was so conscious of every move, glance and word that came out of my mouth. It was then that it had occurred to me that entering the state of Ihram for the days of Hajj would be a tremendous task, and this was probably going to be one of my biggest challenges ever. Accompanying this concern, I was also very aware that as a Muslim I should always be on guard and concerned about my actions, glances and speech. Unfortunately, I cannot claim that I spend my days, hours and minutes with this heightened sense of awareness and cautiousness.
My eldest brother had imparted some golden words of advice on me when we said our goodbyes at Heathrow airport, and throughout Hajj his words rung in my ear: “Be patient my sister, be mindful of Allah and your fellow Hajjis, and your Hajj will be made easy for you by the will of Allah.”
I mentioned earlier that my Hajj was a journey of discovery; I discovered qualities in me that I never knew I possessed; patience, strength and endurance that I never knew existed within me. In addition, I felt like I was getting to know my husband for the first time again, I saw qualities in him that I had spent nights praying for before marriage. It strengthened our marriage beyond passing by years would.
A friend of mine advised me to maximise on every opportunity to help and feed others. Alhamdulilah, this comes naturally to my siblings and I, as this was one of the first ‘golden rules of life’ my beloved dad had engrained in us. During the days of Hajj last year, my dad passed away and my eldest brother and sister in-law were completing their Hajj at that time. By the will of Allah, a year to then, both my eldest sister and I had been invited by Allah to do Hajj. We made the firm intention that we would try and contribute towards feeding the Hajjis in our group as much as possible. It is amazing how you make the intention to do something good, and the opportunities just come your way. In Arafat, both of our husbands had the ingenious idea of buying ice creams and baby cucumbers for everyone. At temperatures soaring over 35 degrees, the refreshments were much appreciated! Throughout our trip there were many more occasions of buying tea, sharing dates and serving our fellow Hajjis. When an act is intended and undertaken, be it miniscule – purely for the sake of attaining Allah’s pleasure, the overwhelming joy that is felt is hard to put into words.
I am not a literary expert or even an accomplished writer, I have just written this from the heart. The words in this article do not do justice to the remarkable journey that Hajj truly is. To realise this, you need to embark on this journey of a lifetime yourself. I make du’a that every Muslim is given the opportunity to travel to Hajj whilst in good health. Ameen.