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All posts by Salmah Shahnawaz

Hajj Diary – Day 4 – Renewing my Connection with Allah

Day 4: Wednesday, 1/10/14, 7th Dhul-Hijjah 1435; 6:47 am

It hasn’t been that long but I’ve been missing home. However, I decided that these two weeks are between me and Allah (swt). Renewing my connection with Him is something I need greatly and this is the perfect opportunity to cut off from the world and focus on that, SubhanAllah.

We were so tired and the bed was so comfortable that we were late for Fajr. Here, being late means half an hour before adhan because the place fills up so quickly MashaAllah! So we were at the perimeters of the masjid courtyard, wondering if we could squeeze ourselves in once the salah started because people take less space standing in salah than they do sitting and saving space! It was a bit awkward just standing around and waiting, when a nice man made space for us. It was so lovely to feel that caring spirit, Alhamdulillah!

فَسَوْفَ يَأْتِي اللَّـهُ بِقَوْمٍ يُحِبُّهُمْ وَيُحِبُّونَهُ أَذِلَّةٍ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَعِزَّةٍ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ يُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ وَلَا يَخَافُونَ لَوْمَةَ لَائِمٍ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ فَضْلُاللَّـهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ 

“…Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him [who are] humble toward the believers, powerful against the disbelievers; they strive in the cause of Allah and do not fear the blame of a critic. That is the favor of Allah; He bestows it upon whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” [5:54]

We wanted to head inside to wait for ishraq but due to the crowd of people moving out, we decided to sit in the courtyard and enjoy the beautiful sunrise.

There are so many things I want to take pictures of sometimes, but I’m glad I don’t have any picture-taking device – the temptation would be too great. I just might be one of those people who take selfies at the Ka’abah, the horror! It saddens me to see that, which makes me thank Allah more that we brought really basic phones on this trip..! It feels good to take in everything with my eyes and store it in my memory, with only words to relate it to others – just like the good old days.

قُلْ هُوَ الَّذِي أَنشَأَكُمْ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ ۖ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ

Say, “It is He who has produced you and made for you hearing and vision and hearts; little are you grateful.” [67:23]

We were not destined to pray ishraq at the Haram though because just as we were enjoying the weather, commotion ensued. It was the cleaners, having fun throwing soapy water and watching people scramble to get out of the way. Watching them have fun doing their job was contagious, and even though we were chased back to the hotel to pray, it was all part of the experience!

Hajj Diary Day 3: First Day in Makkah Ready for Hajj!

Day 3: Tuesday, 30/9/14, 6th Dhul-Hijjah 1435; 4:35am

Done with Umrah, Alhamdulillah!

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

“…Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” (2:127)

I really should make a habit of reciting this more. It’s so amazing that Ibraheem (as) recited it as he was building the Ka’bah with Isma’il (as) – what a greatly rewarding act in itself!  and still asked for acceptance of his deeds. How much more so do we need it then?

I’m waiting for the Fajr adhan as I write. We all split up to do our umrah – tawaf and sa’ee are easier, I believe, if you’re not trying to hold onto someone. Yet with those very beliefs, Allah placed an old Chinese woman in my care, to hold onto and take care of in the crowds of tawaf. SubhanAllah! I was a bit confused at first as to whether she recognized me or not – maybe she mistook me for someone? But then I realized that she just wanted someone to hold onto. It’s a great feeling to be blessed with such a responsibility, and to show affection for our ummah who are our sisters, even if we don’t know them.

Alhamdulillah!

A part of me can’t believe I’m here. The place looks the same yet different, what with all the construction. It’s not as much a hindrance as we feared it would be, Alhamdulillah! It’s so amazing to see all the different groups of people from different countries, all here for one purpose. Makes me wonder what Jannah will be like!

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّلْعَالِمِينَ

“And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed, in that are signs for those of knowledge.” (30:22)

I’m falling asleep. It’s been a long tiring day. Alhamdulillah I got a women’s area as soon as I got out of sa’ee but the problem is that I don’t know where exactly I am or how long it will take me to get out of the masjid right after.

4:39pm

It is technically only Day 1 in Makkah and so far we’ve prayed only Fajr and Asr at the haram and rested for all the time in between. We have two days back in Makkah before Madinah so hopefully we’ll have energy for nafl tawaf then. We’ve been told to save it all now for the actual days of hajj, although we’ve been getting quite the workout by climbing up to the 7th floor every time..! It’s easier than waiting for the lift! All part of hajj prep!

We saw trucks full of goats yesterday, on the way to Makkah! Felt sorry for them, but it all adds to the spirit! It really is a bakra Eid!

The crowd is not as bad as I expected but I’m guessing the three days of hajj are going to be crazy. It’s so interesting to think that so much preparation goes into literally just three days – for that is the crux of it.

SubhanAllah.

In the midst of all the should-be ‘ibadah, you can’t deny the pull of all the shops – some of them screaming “Everything for only 3 riyals”! Alhamdulillah that is allowed too!

… لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَبْتَغُوا فَضْلًا مِّن رَّبِّكُم

“There is no blame upon you for seeking bounty from your Lord [during Hajj]…” [2:19]

A shopping list is definitely required though, so that one does not get carried away!

…فَإِذَا قَضَيْتُم مَّنَاسِكَكُمْ فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّـهَ كَذِكْرِكُمْ آبَاءَكُمْ أَوْ أَشَدَّ ذِكْرًا ۗ

“And when you have completed your rites, remember Allah like your [previous] remembrance of your fathers or with [much] greater remembrance…” [2:200]

We leave to Mina tomorrow night!

Hajj Diary: Day 1 – The Test of Patience Begins

الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَّعْلُومَاتٌ ۚ فَمَن فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ فَلَا رَفَثَ وَلَا فُسُوقَ وَلَا جِدَالَ فِي الْحَجِّ ۗ وَمَا تَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يَعْلَمْهُ اللَّـهُ ۗوَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَىٰ ۚ وَاتَّقُونِ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

“Hajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of ihram], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Hajj. And whatever good you do – Allah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah . And fear Me, O you of understanding.” [2:197]

So, we were all geared up for Hajj – we had said our goodbyes to everyone at home, checked if we had packed everything, anticipated major hurdles, and we were ready to go. We had “taken our provisions,” as the verse states.

We got to the airport and it was so nice to see so many people in ihram – today was the last day for international flights to get in so we could really feel the vibe and energy from the crowd. It brought a sense of unity – that we were all going for one purpose. It was only starting to sink in now what a big deal this was…

The journey of a lifetime!

We didn’t mind that check-in took a while because everything is a test of patience after all, and we had heard SO much about having patience on this journey. Little did we know that we would need to use it so early on.

Somehow the crowd dwindled and we were the only ones left. I could sense something was not right by the agitation of my brother-in-law and father but we only found out the gravity of the situation later – we had managed to get offloaded from the flight. This was the last flight out for this journey of a lifetime.  We had been preparing for this mentally, financially, physically and emotionally for so long. The thought that it may not happen was too much to handle. I felt a bit numb but it also made me think. Were my intentions correct for this pilgrimage? Or was it something I had gotten used to the idea of? How much did I really want to go?

All that was put in perspective at that point. What could we do though? The minutes ticked by and soon it was time for take-off, and we were still no closer than before to getting on this plane that had no available seats. We were even willing to sit in the air hostess’s seats, but to no avail!

Missing the flight would not have been as big a deal if we had had more time. The fact that only Saudia Arabians were allowed in from the next day made things infinitely more difficult and the possibility that we might not go at all was looming over our heads.

Somehow though, I was also rather calm. I made du’a and peace with the fact that everything happens only by Allah’s command.

قُل لَّن يُصِيبَنَا إِلَّا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّـهُ لَنَا هُوَ مَوْلَانَا ۚ وَعَلَى اللَّـهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ

“Say, ‘Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector.’ And upon Allah let the believers rely.” [9:51]

It took some time and tons of patience, but we finally managed to get tickets on a flight to Doha the next day on Qatar Airways, and to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on a connecting flight. The bonus was free tickets for all of us to Jeddah (next umrah trip!) and a free hotel stay for the night. One more day to relax, recuperate, and set our intentions straight.

A huge relief after a huge test. And we got more good out of it in the end. It is like Allah says in the Qur’an:

وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

“…But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you LOVE a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” [2:216]

This was just the end of the beginning…