Sweet sadness

Mina on the final morning of Hajj 1432 (2011)

Mina on the final morning of Hajj 1432 (2011)

This picture was one of the last I took on my Hajj last year – as I was leaving Mina after my final round of pelting the Jamaraat. As this year’s hujjaaj prepare to do the same at this time, I hope the feelings and memories of their Hajj journey will remain with them forever – and can inspire them to truly live their Hajj for the rest of their lives.

For most who have been on this sacred journey, we yearn to go back. And while much of that longing is driven by sentimentality and emotion, the reality is that we’ll only get to go again if we’re invited by Allah. We need to prove that we’re worthy of that invitation – by appreciating the fact that we’ve gone already. And that appreciation needs to be more than just lip service. True appreciation is manifested in action – striving to live the best you can, as close to Allah as you can.

For if we do this – if we are sincerely grateful – Allah will give us more, as inferred in Surah Ibrahim verse 7. In this context, “more” can mean taking us back for Hajj again.

May Allah give us all the towfique to be truly grateful so that we may return – again and again – to this amazing journey.


Reflections from Day 1 of Hajj

I wrote this exactly one year ago – in Mina on the first day of Hajj 2011. May it be a reminder to myself and others of how the journey of Hajj is this life’s preparation for a more important journey we’ll all take.

“Friday 4th November 2011

Inside our tent in Mina - Hajj 2011

Inside our tent in Mina – Hajj 2011

Death’s dress rehearsal
Day 1 of Hajj, and being in the tent is quite cramped. But it’s a reminder of the grave – we’re all lined up in rows, space just sufficient for each of us – all in the same, white cloths that we’ll be wrapped in when we die. Except this is still life – there’s still time to change our ways in future insha-Allah.

Today, being Youm-al-Tarwiyyah, is a day of personal reflection: why did Allah bring me here on Hajj? What is my personal, unique mission on this journey?

I know what my intentions are – but is that also Allah’s purpose in bringing me here? I hope so.

I spent a lot of time preparing for this – even though I wanted to do more; and felt I fell well short of my expectations. But my dua lists are comprehensive, well-rehearsed already, and waiting for Arafah. And my life-changes – those ambitions – are also thought through, documented, and waiting for me to pursue after this trip. No…maybe even from now.

The nakedness in here strikes me: men – myself included – sleeping, laying, or sitting – topless. And while I’m self-conscious about it, it reminds me of Qiyamah – when we’ll ALL be totally naked; yet we won’t care about that. What states we’ll be in  – how terrifying, and immense the events and anxiety of that day.

So as this bareness reminds me of that Day’s bareness, I know that it’s not the external appearance that counts here. It’s what’s inside – the state of the heart – that’ll determine our condition that Day. May this day, and journey, put me – and us all – on the road to arriving on that Day with that clean and pure heart (Qalb-us saleem) – which will, insha-Allah, secure us the best possible standing when we stand waiting for our Books of Judgement.”

The biggest 5 days of your life


Hujjaaj head for Arafah on Hajj. (Image source: The Big Picture – Boston.com)

A few weeks back, I’d planned to publish a series of  ‘Hajj tips’ posts – with this one being the first. I ended up not having the time to do the full series as hoped, but due to a recent request – and the stats showing quite a few downloads of the first tipsheet recently – I’ve put together another tipsheet. This one is for the 5 days of Hajj alone (i.e. not Makkah, Aziziah, or anything else).

I’ve based all of it on my own experience last year, and I hope that it will be of benefit to those going this year and in years to follow. As is the case with all advice in life, it may be that not all of it will apply to you – so take what you think will benefit you, and leave the rest.

You can download the new tipsheet from these links:

Hajj tipsheet (5 days) – Word formatHajj tipsheet (5 days) – PDF format

Hajj competition: Your chance to win

Hajj is coming up very soon, and to help get you in the spirit, I’m giving away copies of a DVD we put together after last year’s Hajj. The DVD features more than 200 pictures and videos from Madinah, Makkah, Hajj itself, and Palestine. It also includes audios from Hajj 2011, information about the places of Hajj, and Hajj preparation audios and videos.

For those who haven’t yet been, it’s a ready-made compilation to help you get a picture of what to expect when you do go insha-Allah; and for those who have been, it’s a package to help remind you of these amazing lands – and encourage you to go again when it becomes possible.

All you have to do to win is submit a written piece describing what Hajj means to you. I’m not looking for an informational / encyclopedia-type account; I’m looking for your personal description of what the experience means in your life – in your own words. There’s no strict word limit, but try to keep it under 500 words if possible (you won’t be penalised for going over that).

There are three copies of the disc to give away (see image below), and the competition closes in one week’s time: midnight South African standard time on Monday 15th October 2012 insha-Allah.

If you’re up for it, you can submit your entry to this email address.

The competition is open to both those who haven’t been before and those who have been. Unfortunately, due to logistics, the competition is limited to readers from South Africa (or who have an address I could send it to in the country). I might also consider entries from outside South Africa, but it means that you’ll have to bear the cost of postage – so if you’re willing to do that, feel free to enter.

For any queries, you can contact me on the email address provided above.

Hajj in times of old

With Hajj being only weeks away, I thought I’d share some historical pictures from Hajj and the Kabah – so that we can get a sense of what it was like before the modernisation and convenience of the 21st century.




1941 -when there Masjid Al-Haram was flooded



Unknown time period


(Source: Various sites on the Internet)