If you have not yet been for the Holy Journey or are planning on performing it for the very first time, your mind is likely brimming with questions and pleasant anxiety as to what kind of experience to expect. You have also likely heard stories from those of your friends and family who have told you about everything from the spectacle that is the Blessed Ka’bah to the chaos which typically ensues are part of the journey. I have had the Blessing from Allah to be able to perform Hajj twice, and I have been inspired each time in different ways.
The reality is that no matter how much information you try to draw or try to get acclaimed to the journey beforehand, you will simply have to undergo it to really understand what Hajj is about. You will figure the “process” and “itinerary” part – that’s easy. I just want to share some overall guidance which I kept thinking that I would share with others while I was on my Hajj journey.
I can testify that Hajj is yet another one of the Blessed Signs of Allah, nothing short of the signs which He mentions in the Holy Quran. Hajj is a struggle, it is a formidable exercise in patience, it brings physical discomfort and it literally takes you out of your comfort zone. It is like life itself: where all the challenges and tests which Allah periodically sends our way to test our will and faith in Him and Him Only. You will go through abundant instances throughout your entire journey which will make you question “Why?” You will encounter chaos and confusion several steps of the way. Despite all of this, the central thing you need to remember is “My singular goal is to gain Allah’s forgiveness and His Ultimate Consent with me when I leave here”. And to achieve this, you will have to cut through a LOT of clutter and have to endeavor it head on with nerves of steel and an unlimited supply of endurance.
You will encounter people from a spectrum of differing cultures and you will observe each one of them undergoing their experience the way their background and culture would have molded them to undergo it – and it will not be in sync with how you would expect yourself to act. Be patient – understand from where they are coming from. All said, each Hajji has been drawn there for the same purpose – to gain the consent of their Sustainer – He who brought each of them into the world and has prepared nourishment for each of them for everyday of their lives and knows more about each of them than they know about themselves. This is what unites all the Hajjis – no matter what else comes in the way.
If you get the chance, pray each Salah in Masjid-e-Haram, especially the Fajr prayer. While in prayer, try to catch a glimpse of how the mass of people converge towards the Ka’bah in prostration. In between the takbeers of the Salah, when there is pin drop silence despite the throngs of people by your side in the perimeter, try to remember that ages ago it was right here where the Prophet Ibrahim (RTA) seeked Allah’s Help and His Forgiveness; and it was here where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) returned victorious after decades of aggression only by the Will and Guidance of Allah, forgiving his prosecutors.
I think the real reward of Hajj – the one I think every Hajji talks about upon their return – is the sense of achievement which comes after they get done with the journey – simply because the journey itself is such a challenge. It’s exactly the same sense of achievement and lightness of the soul one experiences after breaking their fast, or praying the Fajr prayer, or going out of their way to help someone in need. My only advice to you is – no matter what happens during your Blessed Journey – even if extremely unpleasant – just remember, it is nothing but an opportunity directly from Allah for you to prove that nothing will deter you from gaining His Ultimate Consent – and InshAllah start life anew upon your return.