I had not even close to imagined when the year 2016 had started that this would be my Hajj year, Alhamdulillah (All Praise For Allah). It is said that when a plan takes shape for visiting the House of Allah - the Ka'abah, it is an invitation directly from Allah. The very thought gives me chills. Imagine your Creator - the Ultimate King Of All Existence - calling you personally. This is only second to meeting Him in person on the Day Of Judgement.
I wrote some heartfelt lines as an introduction to an article The 10 Days Of Dhul Hijjah (2014) that
Ii wrote for Muslimaat magazine:
"I find myself hypnotized each year as I gaze at the videos and photos of Ka’abatullah (the House of Allah) in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, the cube shaped building draped in velvety black covers studded with strings of gold and silver, as millions of Muslims from around the world circumambulate it on the day of Hajj. I almost used to envy the Hujjaj (pilgrims) who concluded the most rewarding journey of their lives and chanted “Labbaik Allahumma Labaik” in a manner that made my heartbeat skip. I knew that Hajj Mabroor (accepted Hajj) was a means of having all sins erased and I yearned for such an opportunity. Hajj plans have not yet been considered by my family which means there is still time before I am able to chant “Labbaik” before the House of Allah."I am reading these lines over and over again and smiling to myself. Little did I know that only an year and a half from having written this article, I would be embarking on the sacred journey myself.
WHY I NEED HAJJ?
My heart, my mind, and my soul are all hurt - shattered, broken, and exhausted - and only a miracle of such magnanimity as Hajj can heal them, rescue them, and resurrect them. This is my chance of establishing the ultimate connection with Allah which would last for a lifetime and beyond, insha'Allah. There is a kind of guilt that doesn't let you live peacefully, there are some pains and aches that stop you from carrying on, and there are some imbalances that keep swaying you from Sirat al Mustaqeem (the straight path). Hajj is the very blessing Allah has given us Muslims to put an end to all of those.
I'M EXCITED ABOUT...
Wearing the Ihram
Ihram is a state (not a garment) to begin with. So, for women it means everything hidden except for the face and the hands. Alhamdulillah, that is what the Hijab is. That's what I do in everyday life. But just to make it the simplest form of dressing and to match the sacred feel of Makkah and Madinah, I am taking along a beautiful chambray material abaya in two colors - blue and grey.
I have only seen this beautiful sight on pages of Islamic calendars, on TV, and in books and magazines. I do not know how my heart will contain itself when I will see this velvet draped House of Allah.
Performing the Tawafs of the Ka'abah!
I want to walk this walk! I want to feel what it is like to swim in that ocean of people who have hearts beating passionately for Allah swt. I have heard of the nasty push and shove that goes on during the tawaf but I don't care about that. In those hours, I wish to feel becoming aligned with the divine motion of the universe that Allah swt has ordained. Everything in the universe, beginning from the electrons around the nucleus of an atom (smallest particle of existence) to the orbiting of the planets around the sun and the galaxies in the universe is counterclockwise like the tawaf. May Allah swt align my heart and mind in the right direction! Ameen!
Staying in Arafat where everyone would gather on the Day Of Judgement!
Picking pebbles in Muzdalifah
Stoning the Jamaraat
The 3 Jamarat are symbolic representations (in Mena) of the 3 places where the Devil distracted Prophet Ibraheem (Abraham) A.S. from fulfilling Allah's Command of sacrificing his son Ismail A.S.
Visiting/Praying in Masjid e Nabawi
Seeing Rasul Allah SAWW's grave!
Being in Riadhul Jannah
When I read about the Riadhul Jannah I couldn't bring myself to imagine that I would be walking through it and if i am lucky I would be praying there, insha'Allah.
"The area between the Sacred Chamber and the Pulpit (Mimbar) is known as the Riadhul Jannah i.e. Garden of Paradise. It is presently distinguished by a green carpet and is also referred to as Rawdah. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said: “Between my house and my pulpit lays a garden from the gardens of Paradise, and my pulpit is upon my fountain (Al-Kauthar).” [Bukhari]. Scholars have interpreted the above narration as follows: The Garden is parallel to a garden above it in Paradise. Or it is in reality a garden of paradise, which will be returned to paradise in the hereafter. Or it is like the gardens of paradise, because the peace and tranquility which is experienced in it when engaged in the remembrance of Allah resembles that of paradise. [Akhbar Madina tur Rasool, Ibn Najjar]"
Staying at the Abraj al-Bayt Towers (Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel)
Insha'Allah I am staying the Fairmont Royal Clock Tower Hotel itself which is the main central building that is the clock tower.
"The central hotel building has the world's largest clock face and is the third tallest building and fourth tallest freestanding structure in the world."
I have photographed the stunning Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the CN Tower in Canada, the grand World Trade Center in New York, and the Colosseum in Rome. It is about time I witness something more majestic, built on a holy level. The clock tower has a glorious gold crescent that proclaims universal Muslim solidarity. I really wish to capture the night views of this beautifully designed skyscraper, insha'Allah.
Uhud Mountain Sightseeing
I am scheduled to visit Mount Uhud sometime after Fajr, so the beautiful light-up will not be there. Nevertheless, I feel very fortunate to be seeing the very mountain that RasulAllah SAWW said is a friend to the Ummah. Throughout my school years I learned about Ghazwa e Uhud (Battle of Uhud) that turned out to be a setback for the Muslims because the archers of the army disobeyed RasulAllah SAWW and in the greed of picking up the booty they left their positions which gave the enemy troops a winning edge.
Masjid e Quba: First Mosque
Praying 2 Raka'ah prayers here earns the reward of an Umrah. RasulAllah SAWW set the foundations of this mosque with his own hands on his way to Madina from Makkah when the Hijra (emigration) took place. I am getting the opportunity of a lifetime, masha'Allah, to pray here.
Masjid Qiblatain: Mosque Of The Two Qiblas
Before praying in the direction of the Ka'abah, Muslims prayed in an opposite direction of Jerusalem and the Qibla was Masjid al Aqsa. While praying, revelation came to RasulAllah SAWW about the Qibla been changed to Ka'abah and he turned around in prayer. The companions followed his lead - setting an example of beautiful, trusted, and complete obedience to the Prophet of God. Masjid e Qiblatain retains two Mimbars and two Qiblas.
Away I go insha'Allah to the lands where the most beautiful things happened - where Rasul Allah SAWW walked - where glorious battles were fought - where the Qur'an was revealed - where angels landed to guide the Prophet - where Islam came!
This has got to be my greatest adventure, insha'Allah.