Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Notes from my Hajj Journal I

December 24, 2006

And so it began. I’m on my way to Abu Dhabi... I have mu laptop in the car, so I decided to type the first part of my entry. It's become very popular for people to write their experiences once they come back from their travels, and Hajj is one of them. I'm not sure I want to follow the trend. I'm not sure how people can share the most intimate and private thoughts... their closeness to Allah (swt). Those who've asked, I've told them I'm nervous. Nervous... that my Hajj be accepted, that it be safe...

I know right now I long to be able to come back and tell all those people who asked me to pray for them, that I did.. that I took their duas with me, and tell them of the places I prayed for them at.....

But I dont know if I'll return.

4pm @ Jeddah Airport- Pilgrims section

Abu Dhabi airport was pretty…interesting. This one uncle on his way for Hajj started shouting @ the poor airport officials who sent him upstairs twice.

A khutbah is going on in the flight. We’ll be approaching the meeqat soon. The khatib is explaining the 3 types of Hajj and that you don’t have to wear Ihram if you’re going to Madinah first.

I received lots of tips from people, especially Farah Aunty. She told me to make sure I don’t miss the meeqat while making the niyyah in flight, when they announce it. She also told me that the crowd for stoning is less on one side, and that I should go to the end to throw the stones… and some other stuff.

I was feeling nervous. I took out my notes, read them, and felt much better.

Last night, I had read Sawitri’s Hajj memoirs. I was overwhelmed. She’s such an amazing sister, she captured so much in a few words.

I turned 23 today. My friend Sana said that this is the best birthday gift I could ever get. I know. It’s unbelievable.

Especially thinking about how difficult this had been. I remember having a conversation with someone- “When do you want to go for Hajj?”, I asked. “This year inshallah if I don’t get married, otherwise next when I can save up for two people.”

For girls in my culture, it’s not customary for them to go for Hajj before they get married. In fact, what people say is that, “spend an entire lifetime in sin, and then go for Hajj to repent”.


Still @ the airport. Really, how people even reach their destination is a miracle. Reminds me of my Hafiz sahib telling me about the organised chaos in India. He was once telling us how in India, everything just falls into place, despite extreme corruption, no centralisation of the transit system, the trains don’t have a schedule to run on, yet the country has progressed so much- life moves on. And it’s the same @ the Jeddah Pilgrims section of the airport. Total chaos, very few people know what’s really going on, and everyone else is sitting and having tea in the middle of the airport.

Saudi Arabia

The home of the 2 holiest cities, so holy that they’re blessed with real things from Paradise- the black stone in Makkah, and the Rawdah in Madinah.

As we exited the plane, in the bus to the airport, a sister noticed my UofT sling bag and started chatting with me. She was travelling with Nugget Travels from Scarborough. They were going to Madinah first.

I really wished the airport was non-smoking. I changed my seat several times and then finally gave up. Every other employee or guest @ the airport smoked. Little I knew that I would soon discover that the situation isn’t much better in the cities. I looked around me, and thought, nothing about this airport reflects the wealth of Saudi. This could be Africa, and you wouldn’t have noticed the difference. There are simply too many men everywhere. Do they even have a website?

Through the painful waiting hours I spent @ the airport, I often wished we were with a group… or at least a few more people. But there’s blessing and wisdom in every arrangement that we had. The airport authorities really exhausted my father. I prayed silently for Allah to help him, because for the time I was standing there, he must have run @ least 8 times between the finance and the pilgrims office.

I made a renewed effort to clear my conscience and intentions. Too many thoughts!

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