As Muslims, hajj is a milestone that a lot of us aspire to reach. I haven’t been for Hajj yet, but I wanted to get the inside scoop from some family and friends that went this year. While it’s fresh in their minds, I asked them 5 questions.
Let’s start by meeting the hajjis and hajjas:
Dr. Rahman, but I call him Abbu 😀
This was my dad’s second time performing hajj, and he actually did it on behalf of his sick mother (my grandma). He went with my mom (who didn’t answer the questions so isn’t being featured here 😛 ) and it was her first time. We will read his thoughts below.
Nobera Chowdhury, my sister-in-law
She said her decision to go to hajj was last minute, but mashaAllah she pulled it off so nicely! She had to leave behind her two girls, which isn’t easy for any parent.
Tasnim Haque, one of my best friends
She went with her husband. I was so impressed with their dedication to research and prepare for hajj. InshaAllah when I do get to go one day, I’ll be asking them for loads of advice and tips.
1. Describe your hajj experience in a few words.
Dr. Rahman – Our hajj was a spiritually re-energizing blessing from the Almighty Lord. My wife, Tahmina, and I have been dreaming about it over many years and we are so grateful to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that He has accepted our intention and helped us perform the journey of a lifetime.
Nobera – I have been thinking about it while I was there and after I came home but I still don’t have the right words to describe it. So I’ll say what our teacher from Hajj said, it’s a “mini day of judgement”.
Tasnim – Hajj was an unforgettable experience. It was both physically exhausting but an incredibly spiritually energizing journey. To be among millions of worshippers from around the world completing hajj rituals that have been done for hundreds of years is a very humbling experience.
2. What’s one moment that really stood out to you?
Dr. Rahman – The moment Tahmina and I saw ‘Baitullah’ the House of Allah on arrival in Makkah. The glimpse of the beautiful, tranquil, peaceful ‘Ka’aba’ immediately filled our hearts with heavenly joy and the hope for reward and mercy from Allah. This moment is so precious in every Muslim’s life, whoever visits ‘Ka’aba’, that he or she treasures this memory to narrate to parents, children, siblings, grand children and other loved ones.
Nobera – It’s the day we walked for hours, from Jamarat to doing tawaf and sa’ee with sore legs from the day before and extreme Saudi heat. We finally got on the bus, happy to go back to Mina and hit the bed (tiny mattress) but then the bus dropped us way before reaching Mina because buses weren’t allowed in that area at that time. It was 1:30am. When we thought we had no energy we started walking, for another hour. We didn’t have any water with us and at one point my husband and I were so thirsty that we went inside a couple of other camps in Mina to ask for water. I felt like a poor, helpless, hungry, thirsty, sweaty and desperate person at the mercy of others, oh add language barrier to the mix. Alhamdulillah we got a small bottle of water from one of them. All I had in my mind was to keep walking and not slow down, otherwise I would collapse, just keep walking and then hit the bed!
But then I started noticing thousands of hujjaj, from all over the world, sleeping on the streets. There were men, women, the elderly, the disabled and children. This stuck with me because I felt like the most privileged person in this world. At that time I could actually feel how Allah had blessed me and taken care of me and protected me from harm all along. I was not more deserving than the people on the streets who had saved up for years or decades to come to hajj and are happy to be sleeping on the streets because this is the struggle you sign up for when you come for Hajj. Although I was exhausted, I felt like my situation was truly the best
Tasnim – It is hard to pinpoint a single moment that sticks out as there are so many moments where you feel grateful to have been allowed to undertake this journey. The first time seeing the Kaaba is definitely a special moment. Walking to the Jamarat with millions of other muslims from all around the world and reciting the talbiya among all the worshippers makes you really feel the unity of Islam and that was also very beautiful.
3. Was the experience how you imagined it to be? Why or why not?
Dr. Rahman – Our experience was nothing different than what imagined. Our hajj imagination was rooted in the previous Hajj I performed in 2010 Alhamdulillah. However Tahmina did not have such previous experience though she performed umrah a couple of times with me and children. Both of us knew hajj is different than umrah in many ways including the extent of hardship, visiting multiple places as obligatory rituals, Allah’s committed mercy on the Day of Arafah and so on. All that we imagined came to be true day in and day out – the hardship, long walks, sleepless nights were however nothing compared to the spiritual gain and ultimate reward from Almighty Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Nobera – Yes and no. It’s kind of like child birth. You hear about it but you really don’t know what it actually is until you go through it yourself.
I imagined Hajj to transform me and bring me closer to Allah and it has, alhamdulillah. I also imagined it to be a deeply spiritual experience, kind of like the feeling you get in Ramadan but it wasn’t. There were times when I felt spiritual but the rest of the time it was about struggles and being pushed beyond your limits.
Tasnim – For the most part, it was how we imagined to be. We had done a lot of research and had heard experiences from others who had been so we had a good idea of how things were going to be. We were also told to have a lot of patience throughout the journey, so it’s definitely something that influenced our expectations.
4. If you could go back and do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Dr. Rahman – Will not make some unintentional mistakes such as covering my head with ihram cloth, preparing for taking on hardship, pray in Ka’aba as much as possible.
Nobera – Practically speaking, if I could do it again in the future, I would stay with my husband outside of the hajj days instead of sharing rooms with other women. Although my roommates were amazing mashaAllah, being away from my husband added some extra challenges that could have been prevented. I also wouldn’t pack as many abayas from here because the ones sold in Madina and Makkah are super light, comfortable and cheap! It’s better to get them there.
Tasnim – I don’t think there is anything we would change. However, there is always space for improvement by increasing the amount of ibaadah you do throughout the journey and taking full advantage of the free time you get throughout.
5. Any advice to those planning to go in the future?
Dr. Rahman – Make sincere intention as soon as you are physically and financially ready and spiritually prepared, and ask Almighty Lord Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to accept your intention with His blessings and mercy. Then when the time comes in shaa Allah, perform it with utmost sincerity, piety, steadfastness, love for other hajies and good character.
- Prepare your heart and body. You will be pushed beyond limits and you will experience things you have never experienced before.
- Go as soon as possible, while you are young and are in good health.
- Focus on your experience and protect your heart instead of being affected by other people’s negativity. You’ll see plenty of that.
- Allow yourself to change and grow BEFORE you go for Hajj because it is an invitation from Allah
- Make dua every day to be invited to go, regardless of your financial situation, childcare issues, health problems etc. Allah will take care of all of it.
To those of you who have already performed hajj, may Allah accept your hajj, forgive all your sins and reward you immensely, ameen.
To those who haven’t gone yet, may Allah invite us to His house soon and make it an incredible journey for us, ameen.