I have to tell you about a gathering I got invited to last week. Believe me when I say that never in my life have I ever wanted to get invited somewhere as badly as I did to this place. It’s quite hard to get on the guest list as it’s on an invitation-only basis. It was the largest most magnificent gathering I’ve ever attended. We were fed forgiveness and drank from the holiest of wells. We struggled in the most beautiful way and wept in the sincerest of ways. In fact, it was probably the most pleasantly painful experience I’ve ever participated in.
If you haven’t guessed it already, this gathering was the annual Hajj, pilgrimage, in Mecca Saudi Arabia. Muslims believe that anyone who performs hajj is individually invited by God. I asked Allah to invite me to perform Hajj every single day of this past year. While I had high hopes of going this year, many odds were against me. Right when I accepted that it wasn’t in my fate to attend, somehow three days before hajj it all came together. People spend months if not years preparing and ironing out the logistics for hajj; how it came together for my husband and I within such a short period of time is a testament to the power of an invitation directly from God. The verse in Surat Yasin where God says “Be, and so it is” never rang truer to me. One day I was in my home weeping while in sajda (prostration) begging God to grant me the privilege of hajj, and the next day I find myself weeping while in sajda in the House of God thanking Him for choosing me to be a guest in His home. His will is truly unbelievable.
I thought waiting an entire year to be granted the opportunity to perform hajj was a long time, but I realized throughout my trip that it was no longer than a blink of an eye as some people wait a lifetime. One of the ladies in our group mentioned that she had asked for the invitation for 32 years. God truly knows when the right time for everything is and I’m sure years from now when I look back on this post this will be even more clear than it is right now. Never underestimate the power of God and His ability to fulfill your prayers.
Alhamduelah I have been to Mecca many times and performed multiple Umrahs, but this was my first hajj. I haven’t been to Mecca in 11 years and when I saw the Ka’bah, my heart stopped as if it were the first time I had seen it. It looked more glorious than I could ever remember; my longing for it made the experience all the more special.
I had been told that hajj was a difficult task to perform but you can never fully grasp the extent to which it is until you experience it for yourself. Despite it being physically taxing, one takes pleasure in every single aspect of it knowing that it is for the sake of God. During hajj you surrender your mind, body, and soul to the higher purpose of pleasing Allah SWT and fulfilling one of the pillars of Islam. What’s beautiful is that you are not alone in this journey, but rather you are accompanied by 2 million of your brothers and sisters all seeking the same purpose of worshiping Allah together. It’s really mind-blowing looking around you and seeing all the different types of people coming from all walks of life for the same purpose. What was so powerful was hearing the pilgrims chant “Labbayka Allahuma Labbayk” (Here I am at your service, O God, here I am) in between each task. The essence of this chant acknowledges that one is there as a result of God personally calling upon them. It’s such a humbling feeling being the guest of God.
Much of hajj is the reenactment of the trials and tribulations established by the Prophet Ibrahim thousands of years ago. What I found profound was how the performance of each task (Tawaf, Sa’i, Mina, Arafa, Muzdalifa, Jamaraat) gave you a rich glimpse into the experience of our prophets in the exact location that it occurred so many years ago. It was an extraordinary first-hand history lesson. It was also a lesson that naturally forces you to realign your priorities and ability to distinguish between what is worth it and not worth it in many aspects of your life. You realize that we as human beings are so much more capable than we think we are. Anything that appeared to be a big deal becomes minuscule after performing hajj. You realize more so than ever that God is greater than any fathomable force, and He is with us in our every step. If we remember and acknowledge that, our lives instantly become easier and more meaningful.
The Prophet Muhammad PBUH said that the person who performs Hajj properly returns as a new born baby, i.e. with no sins at all. I pray that Allah SWT accepts the hajj of anyone who had the privilege of performing it this year and all the previous years, and that He grants those seeking to perform hajj the ability to do so at the right time - Ameeeeen!
A special thank you to all those who made dua that we make it to hajj smoothly. I am positive your prayers contributed to this remarkable gift bestowed upon us <3