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…