Reflections on Haj


The conditions for an accepted towbah are, remorse, making amends and a sincere intention not to commit the sin again. Back-biting or similar offenses are best amended by making dua for the person, doing/giving sadaqa in their name or the like. Going up to a person and telling them you have been talking or talked behind their back will only make things worse.
For those of you leaving to haj soon, I include part of a letter I wrote to someone concerning her trip to haj. May it be helpful and please do remember us in your dua.
Two thoughts stay with me from my first haj. One was the shock with which I discovered that I remained very much a mortal there. I was under some impression that as soon as I saw the Kaba it would be pretty much a spiritual experience and nothing less. I found out to my chagrin and great annoyance that one still had to heed such human needs as sleep and looking for a bathroom. I remember once having walked for so many hours (I was afraid of the driving there and declined riding taxis!) that as soon as I prayed Asr in a mosque on our way home, I fell into a deep sleep in sujood. The women there thought I had passed out. So, that was a disappointment that your body still existed and had needs.
My second revelation was how similar haj was to life. The experience of haj was a very concentrated version of what life was all about. In life there is much distraction, and your mission is to stay focused and to concentrate on your relationship with Allah. In haj your mission is to stay focused on the rites of haj and to take advantage of being in close proximity to the Kaba and so give it your attention. But you discover that finding a place to stay in Mecca, thirst and wudu, tiredness and sleepiness and shopping for gifts, can distract you. Just like in life, the phases you go through and the roles you play can distract you from taking advantage of life. I met a taxi driver in Mecca, who said he had lived there for 20 years and had never entered the Masjid Haram or seen the Kaba! And there was the Kaba, ever present, but he was distracted by business and the feeling he could go anytime, the feeling of easy accessibility. And I thought how Allah Subhanahu wa ta`ala, is there in our lives always as we move from one distraction to another and how important it is to make the time, heed that priority and turn to Allah on our own, not waiting for calamity to turn us to Him.
If you are traveling with your husband, keep an emotional distance and be super polite, formal and easy-going. Arguing and anger can spoil your haj, as can an exaggerated display of affection which could stir up physical feelings that must not be gratified during ihram.
Try to remain patient and cool throughout to everyone. Speak to Allah and make dua to Him when things are not as you want. Be tolerant. Don’t wait for things to be just so for you to begin the experience, enjoy every moment and see the wisdom and blessing behind everything that happens.
Lately, I have seen a pattern in people’s experiences, that during haj, each person is tested in what is most difficult for him. Or that each is presented with their weakest points, so that they may address those weaknesses, ask for cure and fight their nefs against them. Do not be surprised. When hardships happen, concentrate on how to respond Islamically and take reward –  NOT on whose fault it is.
A frightening outcome of haj can be, God forbid, distance from Allah. For those whose Islamic life and practice is on the fence, haj shakes that  fence. You cannot remain a wishy washy in-betweener. Haj has the ability to cause you to fall to one side or the other. Which side you fall to is not a matter of chance, rather it is the result of what your core truly is. Ask Allah to mend your core, incline and fix it, so it wants His rida alone. Make the choices that will land you on the side of those who want Allah over their desires and people and the lasting Hereafter over temporary dunia.

Mostly, remember that this is the trip of a lifetime, that inshaAllah, you will come back from it renewed and like a new baby free from all sin. Take advantage of every minute. Make continuous dua. Tune into the feelings and thoughts that come to you there, they can lift you to a whole higher level in your development Islamically, and the memories you carry with you can last you a lifetime.

3 Responses to Reflections on Haj

  1. Hadil Diab-Hadaya October 2, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    AA I liked the end about asking Allah S to strengthen our weaknesses. It’s important for us to keep hoping and praying.

  2. Hadil Diab-Hadaya May 10, 2015 at 1:26 am

    AA I read this article a long time ago and came across it again. Nice. Frightening thought about Hajj as an experience distancing one from Allah S rather than bringing one closer to Allah S. I wish I could post this article on social media. Very nice mashaAllah. Full of wisdom.

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