A Journey To Allah Forever
By, Amir Abdelzaher, syndicated by LivingHalal Media
My journey started with a sickness.
Upon arriving at Amman, I was not feeling too well. My biggest fear thus far was that I may get so sick that I will not be able to perform Hajj properly. The first worry was that at Amman how would I take my clothes off and put on the Ihram while feeling this sick? I didn’t know what to do. While standing in front of the bathroom seeing everyone walk in and change into the ihram, I just grabbed my stuff and walked into the bathroom and threw on my ihram. There was a friendly Egyptian man working in the bathroom who helped me put it on. Everyone on the way looked towards the Hajji’s with reverence and asked Allah that they have a successful Hajj mabroor. On the plane everyone started reciting the Talbiyah. One man stood up reciting and tears were in his eyes as we flew over the miqat. “Labayak Allhuma Umrah”, everyone said in their minds.
Upon reaching Jeddah, my mom and I were happy that the whether was hot, so that I wouldn’t be cold in my ihram. After a few hours we took a bus to Mecca. Everyone was wondering when they would get a glimpse of the Haram. We thought every little masjed on the way was the Haram, until finally there it was. Between the different buildings we could see the minarets of the Haram. It was so glorious, and shining with great power. It was absolutely beautiful. Then suddenly the streets had filled up with people – we were arriving right after fajr. The streets were packed with every ethnicity you can think of. We went to our rooms at Gawharat Najd, just two minutes away from the Haram. Wow, one small room to fit five people, this is going to be something, I thought. We were instructed to perform the Umrah ASAP; I wanted to remove my ihram as well as I still wasn’t feeling that good. So my mom and I, her on her chair, went to do our Umrah.
I walked into the Haram in suspense of when I will see the Kaaba. We walked to the top floor and approached the end of the rail when then we saw it. Wow, it was there – so grand and powerful. The sight of it with hundreds or thousands of people walking around it was so magnanimous. We made our dua and we started our tawaf. I was really tired and unfortunately thought to myself, man I want to finish as quickly as possible so that I can go rest. After the tawaaf, I was too tired to push mom any longer on the wheelchair and ended up in a wheelchair next to her doing Sa’i. When we were done, I didn’t completely shave my head. It was a beautiful feeling. I felt refreshed. I went back to the hotel, took a shower and got some rest. I changed into my regular clothes, which was a white thobe. I was feeling a lot better health-wise. The next four or five days were spent at Mecca. Praying, resting, reflecting and a little bit of shopping. It is a different lifestyle. Our lives in those couple of days revolved around the prayer. We would wake up early to do tawaaf when it wasn’t crowded. Looking at the Kaaba was one of the most enjoyable activities. It felt great to just stare at it. There was so much power there.
Then The Big Day arrived. It was the 8th of Zul Hijjah, time to start Hajj. We were awoken at 1 a.m. to know that the buses were leaving for Mina and that we had to get ready immediately. I took my shower, put on my ihram and packed a small handbag. Upon arriving to Mina, we saw our tent in which we would stay. Wow, I thought, we were going to stay in this tent, and I was complaining about the hotel. We laid down our thin mattresses and set ourselves up. More of our group kept coming and our space started shrinking, the small two feet mattresses were now stuck to each other, so if you spread your arms it would hit your neighbor. El hamd Lellah. We are so spoiled by our lifestyles.
The next of day, 9th of zul Hijja is the day of Arafah. We waited for our buses in Mina and took off for a short drive to Arafah. Once at Arafah, (again, I was complaining about the AC tent in Mina), now there was an open tent with no AC. But everyone was focused. This was The Big Day. Al Hajj Arafah. If there is one day you really want to focus on, it’s this day. The mountains were beautiful, ranging from brown to red. We had a short talk with our sheikh and we were on our way. Everyone here went into his or her own zone. Chit-chatting here was almost unheard. Everyone was making his case with Allah. Recognizing his previous sins and making a covenant with Allah, to become a new person. Then the rest of the time was spent in Dua. Here, Allah forgives his servants. Here is where He says to His angels, “Look at My servants.” And that is what it’s all about. Millions are at the same place, coming to obtain benefits for themselves. Not wanting anything else but forgiveness from Allah. People don’t go to Hajj as someone goes on a vacation, to relax and have a good or okay time. People at Hajj are soldiers on a mission. A mission to answer the call of their Lord and seek His forgiveness as well as ask Him for what is bothering them or what they want. It is almost like a supreme doctor’s visit. You go there and tell Him the troubles you have and ask His assistance. “Wa ma nasr ela beALLah”. You alone we ask for assistance. Here is where it happens. No one can help you here except Him. Brothers were standing, lying down or sitting conversing with their Creator. Meeting with Him in this grand union, this was like the Day of Judgment. The meeting took place from Zuhr to Maghreb. The sunset here was another magnificent view.
One then waits again to make it on a bus to Muzdalefa. Upon arrival, the same cycle of surprise, worry, and regret takes place. You are surprised that now there are no tents here you worry about how you will manage, and you regret not giving enough shukr at the previous station. This night was a happy night. You can tell on everyone’s faces, it was almost like everyone felt that they had been forgiven at Arafah, and are here getting even nearer to Allah “Izdelaf”. We ate some crackers and walked around a little, then made our way to get some rest, as the following day would be one of the busiest days. The weather was pretty cold, especially since we were in the open plains with some wind and wearing our Ihram. I had brought a cover over from the hotel so that helped a lot. I dozed off to sleep while feeling different people make their camp next to us, a lot of whom it seemed, were from Turkey. The next morning one woke up having a hard time getting out of the covers because of the cold. This is where I said to myself, I will definitely get a super cold here and be finished. But like Allah had done earlier He pushed me through this in a manner which I had never witnessed before. We hastened our way back to the main camp Mina, which compared to Arafah, and especially Muzdalefa, was like a five star hotel. El hamd Lellah.
We rested a little, ate and received instructions. At Zuhr it was game time. We set out for Jamarat, the step which everyone hears so many stories about, which are frankly doing more damage than good. Here, we took our longest walk yet, as transportation is not available for this step. The weak and sick and some, as our group leader called, “female women” stayed back. This was like the military. We walked alongside thousands to go take out the enemy. What people miss though, is the spiritual aspect of this, and turn it into more of a physical mission. But whatever it maybe, it is still an adventure. You see the people going there with worry and anxiety on their faces, while the people returning are mostly smiling and chatting. Because of the sheer limited nature of the place and the magnitude of people, this tends to be where you witness the most crowds at Hajj. It is amazing when you first see the large Jamrah which everyone pelts this day. One after the other, hands were just swinging, making an all out attack on Shaytan. We were worried this first time, so we locked hands and hustled through, fired our ammunition, then retreated and regrouped. At my first throw I attempted the automatic fire method but failed as all of my rocks fell when another hand hit mine. Usually we lose a few people here from the group and they had to make their way back alone.
We then continued walking now towards Mecca. We had all missed it very much; those two days out in the mountains made us miss the House of Allah. We walked back and at this point had virtually no energy at all. Given that we threw the Jamarat, and our sacrifice was done on our behalf, all that was left before partial tahlul was either tawaaf el ifadah or shaving of the head. I missed my clothes, even though by this time I had started getting used to the Ihram. A Sudanese brother took some soap and water and shaved my head. This was very refreshing – truly just like a new born baby. Now I had to do my Tawaaf and Sa’i before returning to Mina that night. I was really tired, but I rolled my chair by myself, went along with about 1 million people or so to do my tawaaf and Sa’i. It was really crowded yet still beautiful. Looking at the faces of people you realize Allah’s power. You realize now what He means when He says that in your creation and faces and colors, are signs for people with understanding. You start seeing Allah’s will and power as opposed to the people themselves. We made our way back to Mina that night, relieved at the fact that we have completed the arkan of Hajj. We spent it in rest, getting to know one another and zikr of Allah. The Jamarat got easier the second and third time.
We then returned to Mecca to say goodbye to the beloved city and House. It is beautiful how Allah calls it “the house”. “El Bet” = the House. This is neither a mansion nor a castle, this is The House. Tawaaf el wada’, was one of the most crowded. We kept trying to go upstairs but with no hope, Allah wanted us there next to His House on the ground floor. It was less crowded. However I had to rest, as sleep was attacking me from all doors.
Now comes the beloved city: Madina.
Medina is truly a blessed city. The prophet’s masjed is such a peaceful and tranquil place. You can almost still see the prophet coming in to Madina and the people welcoming the arrival of the most wonderful person on earth to their small city of Yathrib. Here you are in the presence of the prophet and you get to finally meet him. And like the sahaba did, you get to go and tell him that you have heard his message and you have believed and confessed the oneness of Allah and the message of His prophet Muhammad (pbuh). You give your salaams to him along with thousands of others, but you know that he answers you in particular. You have come from distant lands and you have asked for forgiveness from Allah at His house. You get to also visit Masjed Quba, the first masjed in Islam, in which two rakat after having done wudu’ at home, is equivalent to an Umrah. You get to visit the martyrs of Uhud and all those at Baqe’. Next to prophet (pbuh), you also give your greeting to those closest to him, who followed him in the best way ever seen, Abu Bakr, the friend in the cave, and Omar, the whole hearted enthusiastic, yet soft-hearted leader. At Baqe’ you visit Uthman who gave endless amounts of his wealth for the sake of Allah, and Khadija the first to believe in Allah’s message and comfort the prophet with wisdom.
Time to go home.
You end your Hajj journey professing that Hajj is not just a one time journey, but a covenant to live by for the rest of your life. You must go to Hajj, a journey to Allah forever.
About the Author:
Amir Abdelzaher is a Ph.D. student at the University of Miami specializing in environmental engineering. He went to Hajj in 2006, and immediately upon returning from Hajj wrote his reflections. This article is published for the first time and syndicated through LivingHalal Media. For more information about LivingHalal Media syndication or to contact the author, email syndication at livinghalal.com