Labbaik-Allahuma-Labbaik

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Labaik Allahuma Labaik“Here I am, O Allah! Here I am!” echoed in my heart, my mind and soul all in unison. For the first time in my life I experienced unadulterated rapture. I was off on the journey every Muslim dreams of making – to do all the things that billions of Muslims have performed solely for the sake of Allah (swt).

8th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

I am at Mina. The Hajj experience cannot be described in words, and it must be experienced to be fully understood. For the first time in my life, I am tongue tied. There is no other place on earth, where one willingly shares a bed with 250 people and a bathroom with 700 strangers in the space that was my bedroom back home! The rigors of these three days will almost certainly destroy the body; however, strangely enough, the more tired and uncomfortable one gets, the more one’s soul is purified and strengthened.

I have left three kids behind solely to gain Allah’s (swt) pleasure. I have left my entire palette of experiences to be present under the open sky, where the Prophet (sa) once stood, once prayed, once slept and where his tears must have once fallen. Now, my tears fall here, repenting to Allah (swt) and asking for His mercy.

9th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

The day of Arafat. The emotions are high and the time is so very short. How can I possibly repent, beg for mercy, ask for all that I want for myself, my family, friends, neighbours, people all over the world, weep for the sins I have committed, cry over the mistakes I have made, plead forgiveness for the promises I didn’t keep, supplicate and beseech Allah (swt) to grant me all that I desire?

I now know that ‘beautiful’ is a simple word, and that is just what Hajj is – simply beautiful and purifying. Not complicated, not intricate, just simple dos and don’ts and mostly tolerance and patience – valuable tools for life.

This was the valley, where the Prophet (sa) once cried to Allah (swt) for forgiveness, where he prayed for us, and where his heart belonged. I prayed my heart out. It is exhausting but only mentally. I walked from Arafat to Muzdalifah to spend the night under the open sky. This is a journey of sacrifices and fulfillment, of friendships where one would not expect, and of great pleasure in simple acts.

10th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

What a splendid day! The elation of having put my mind and body through the severity, which cannot be imagined, voluntarily. Never in my life did I think that such physical fatigue and control over one’s desires and sacrifice would bring happiness. The tiredness of walking from Arafat to Muzdalifah, not sleeping but just absorbing Muzdalifah, walking to Mina, stoning the Satan, back to Makkah for the Tawaf e Ziarat and Sae’e and finally back to Mina – all in a day and a half has brought me peace of mind. What is this spirit that Allah (swt) has breathed into His creation? What is it that moves me to such heights of passion that I exert myself physically and mentally thus with only one purpose – to gain Allah’s (swt) pleasure! EID MUBARAK!

11th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

Rami (stoning the devil) is such a simple concept, just like Islam, such a simple way of life. Why didn’t I realize this before? Islam asks so little and gives so much, only if we let go of all the trappings that have become our necessities. In Mina, I realized I didn’t need such a big house, only one sufficient enough to accommodate my family with love and tolerance. We don’t need two cars, just the two legs Allah (swt) has given us. I don’t need three kinds of food at every meal, just enough to feed my family.

Stoned the devil, cast him out but yet so many layers that I have to shed, before I reach the level of true submission. I have never slept so well or as soundly, as I did today.

This was my Hajj experience. Actually, this does not do justice to the overwhelming emotions, the unstoppable tears and the complete and utter calm that descends over you after completing Hajj. It is truly the ‘Journey of a Lifetime’! May Allah (swt) grant every Muslim the means and opportunity to experience it. Ameen.

A Pilgrim’s Letter

By Dr. Farhana Azim

Assalamu Alaikum,

I am back from Hajj by the grace of my Rabb and with the commission of your Duas. All the relatives, friends and colleagues, whom I am addressing in this letter, were in my heart and in my Duas at Arafat and the Masjid-e-Haram. It was the least I could do for them, but I have faith that those Duas Allah – Rabus Samawat ul Ard – will grant in the most, Insha’Allah!

This has been a journey of a lifetime, of immense attainment, learning and enrichment. It has been one journey that took me so many years to embark on… for lack of ultimate preparedness and adjournment of that call from Allah (swt).

Hajj is a ritual and a pillar of faith, which completes the whorl for the wreath that adorns a life of purity supposedly destined for Heaven. This pillar of faith guided me to reinforce my life-structure more dogmatically, since the burden of a lifetime’s transgressions weighed on me heavily. It meant asking Allah (swt) to remodel me to the way of life, as prescribed in the Quran and the Sunnah, and to bring change in my perspective in aspiring for Mominhood from Muslimhood.

In the crowd of 3.5 millions, I may have bumped into a CEO, a leader, an academic or a beggar; there’s really no way to tell the difference. Rank and pomp are divorced of status. Ego is driven out of platform. In this condition, the Hajj does its work. More importantly, in this global commune of people, I saw people from all over the world come here for the love of their Creator. I witnessed how they dealt with each other in untoward situations and used Sabr and Shukr as weapons to combat the lurking Shaitan.

What I endured served to remind me constantly that Hajj is Jihad! Blessed is the Hajj, whose hardships serve to please Allah (swt). I am thankful to Allah (swt) that the forty days I spent there were almost a Jihad – situations varying from the famine of Ethiopia to the afflictions of refugees in distraught, on foot without shelter, men and women with no proper amenities or logistics. In my deal with Allah (swt), I did not choose the ordeals; but He gave them to me – He asked a higher price for my repentance… nothing was for granted! Human ‘soul wash’ demands the highest value, perhaps even more for a sinner like me.

After my adoration for Him fetched my ultimate strength and devotion, I got the courage to ask Him for a ‘backpack’ in the end! He gave me the greatest feeling of satisfaction and Shukr I could ever receive in my life, Alhumdulillah!

Moreover, Hajj has awarded me with a longing to repent more and to submit more! In many ways I choose to bring a deeper desire for His compassion – in my soul, my heart and my senses for continuing this valuation in the life that I am left with now. I know I haven’t left His Place entirely – my heart and soul will always be there with Him in that House!

Many of us come from Hajj happily thinking that repentance is granted, it’s all over now, and we can go back to business as usual. However, for our Hajj to be Mabroor, it is essential that from now on all our activities conform to Iman at all times.

I am thankful to Allah (swt) that I was honoured with this Ziarat. Being a Hajji has put a tremendous responsibility on me to safeguard the enrichment and wealth I have brought with me, to keep my cleansed soul unspoilt and unblemished by worldly indulgences.

Allah (swt), help me!