Hajj: I’m back

Just got back from Hajj today, so many thoughts and reflections, may take a while to sort out in my head. I won’t share everything as some things are just too personal. SubhanAllah, the experience was amazing. I had the the whole range of experiences from the amazingly good to the despairingly bad, from the generosity of ordinary and poor people to the incompetence, unprofessional behaviour and the unscrupulousness of [dodgy] Hajj tour operators — this experience I will share since there are lessons to be learnt and action to be taken.

All in all, it is true that when you embark on this journey every instance is a direct lesson from Allah for the Hajji to reflect on and looking back on the three weeks as a guest of God, there were many lessons, some blatantly obvious whilst others subtly discreet that one only realises the lesson in a quite moment with one’s thougts.

I took some photos too but my lens had dust on the inside so some of the shots are spoiled 🙁 and nearly got my camera confiscated by a shurti (Saudi Police Officer), also tooks some video footage of various places as well. I didn’t dwell too much on my photography since I was there for another reason and took pictures now and again.

Met some interesting people and there was great camaraderie in our group and with others from the same Hajj tour operator (seemed we were united by adversity!). Went to visit Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi and spent a few hours discussing the significance and symbolism of Islamic architecture, spent most of the time discussing the symbolism of the minaret (for starters). Will try and relate some of what he related to us (it was deep and heavy and mind blowing!). Went to Jeddah to give salams to Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah at his residence and had dinner with his son and our friend Cheikhna and his wife Habiba, bumped into Abdal Latif Salazhar (director of the Ghazali film The Alchemist of Happiness), he is in Saudi shooting his latest film on the Muslim explorer ibn Battuta, was going to hook up with him and get an interview but just could not get the time. Bumped into his son Yasin Salazhar at Jamarat with his film crew.

Anyway, that’s it for the time being, will try and write more of the coming days insha’Allah.

The Hajj – Departure

In the name of God most Gracious, Most Merciful.

as-salamu ‘alaykum one and all,

Today is the day we embark on this holy and sacred journey. We depart from our home town after Salat al-Dhuhr on our way to Heathrow airport and then on our way to Jeddah. We will spend the first 8 days in Medinatul-Munawwara to visit the Prophet of God (Allah bless him and grant him peace), I am filled with a yearning, apprehension and anticipation. There will be many hardships, I am going with my elderly parents, my wife and daughter, my sister, my brother and his wife and daughter so have multiple roles to play and a lot of responsibility. What else is a pilgrimage if it is not to suffer hardship, make a sacrifice of one’s comforts and to put others before oneself?

I would like to take this opportunity to ask forgiveness from all those who I may have hurt either intentionally or unintentionally, many things are said in the faceless and soulless world of the Internet and I have written my fair share of such emails and messages. Forgive me.

I have never visited the Haramain and this is my first time ever and I can imagine it will be a shock to me, insha’Allah, can everyone pray that Allah accepts our worship and makes it easy for us.

Not sure what I will have to write when I come back, not sure who I will meet, what experiences I will have, but isn’t that all part of this sacred journey? We are the guests of God and far be it from The Host to neglect His guests if they come in sincerity, may Allah make firm our intentions and grant us sincerity and may He open the doors of Divine Mercy for us!