Hajj Chronicles Part 29: Back to the Kabah

Previous posts in this series: Parts 1 to 28

Mina during Hajj 2011

Mina during Hajj 2011

 

An unfortunate pattern

From Eid day onwards, the atmosphere in the camp on Mina was far more relaxed. We’d passed the climax of Hajj (i.e. Arafah), and now had just a few more days on Mina until it was all over. In a way, it was similar to Ramadan after the 27th night: everyone seems to think that once Laylatul Qadr is over, it’s time to relax. But that’s an incredibly flawed perspective: nobody even knows that the 27th night is Laylatul Qadr; and even if it is, the magnitude of reward in Ramadan is such that we should be striving right till the very end.

Now on Hajj, a similar pattern had emerged. And although I’d wanted to do so much more in the final few days and nights of Hajj, the overall relaxed atmosphere in the camp influenced me, so I didn’t strive as I should have.

Still though, it could have been worse. Others in the tent had their smartphones with them, so they’d spend plenty of time online – which can generally be a time-waster (and more-so on Hajj). My new phone did keep me quite occupied (as any new phone would), but I didn’t have an Internet connection – thus I didn’t waste as much time as I otherwise would have.

A fruitful delay

One of the most strenuous acts of Hajj is the return to the haram in Makkah, where hujjaaj need to do their ifadah – which is a tawaaf and sa’ee (just like Umrah). Many hujjaaj try to get this done on Eid day (right after Muzdalifah), but due to the fatigue we felt after our drama, we opted to delay our ifadah until the following night (i.e. the night between the 11th and 12th of Dhul Hijjah). Our sheikh – who would be taking the group – had advised us that this would be the best time to go, since it was usually quiet at that time. And, because my wife and I would be flying out immediately after Hajj, it would be our last time at the Kabah.

So we left Mina that night and headed back to the meeting point in Aziziah – where we were to catch our bus to the haram. Predictably, the bus took over an hour to arrive – but I used the time productively, reading Quran and trying to be positive. I did speak to others, though, and realised that, while telling my getting-lost-story to others, I need to always emphasise the LESSONS I learned from it. People love stories – especially Hajj stories; and while you have their attention, you need to bring across key lessons so that you’re not just ‘entertaining’ them, but also inspiring and educating them.

I also spoke quite a bit to one brother – who I nicknamed ‘the joker’ – since he took every opportunity to laugh at me and make jokes about my experience getting lost. It was all in good spirits, of course, and I didn’t take offence. But after a while it started getting tiring.

Speaking to him – plus my observations during the waiting period that night – helped me to distinguish three groups of people:

  1. The jokers: People that just look for fun and laughs in everything, and are extreme in that they don’t know when to stop.
  2. The complainers: People who find fault with everything, and are naturally inclined to complain about delays and other things which they should bear with patience.
  3. The people of dua and dhikr: I’ve written before about this group – who I’d observed engaging in this kind of behaviour during earlier periods of waiting. They didn’t indulge in chit chat and time-wasting, but instead used their time wisely in dhikr, dua, and reading beneficial material. These blessed souls inspired me throughout the trip, and showed me first-hand that such people do exist. And I long to be one of them.

One last time

When the busses eventually arrived, it was one crazy ride. One of the group leaders rode on the roof to direct the driver through the various detours, while our sheikh – along with the others in the bus – embodied the Capetonian spirit of joviality and light-heartedness.

At the haram, we split up and agreed to meet again outside when we were all done. Alhamdullilah – the crowd on the mataaf wasn’t bad at all, so my wife and I were able to do our tawaaf right next to the Kabah.

Door of the Kabah

The door of the Kabah

Knowing that it would be my last tawaaf on this trip (and possibly my last ever), the emotions really hit me. My heart opened up in ways I wish it would more often, the tears flowed, and I just can’t describe the feelings – except to say that the way I felt was incredibly fitting for the occasion. As we made our rounds, I counted the number of times with the 7 bead tasbeeh in my hand. Back when we stayed in Makkah, I took tawaafs for granted, and was often lazy about performing them. Now, as those beads became fewer and fewer, I didn’t want the tawaaf to end. I wished this experience could just go on and on…

Then came the 2 rakaats of salaah that’s made after tawaaf. I put my all into this salaah, concentrating like never before, reciting slowly with immense reflection, and exerting myself in dua during sujood. If felt like the most important salaah of my life: my last so close to the Kabah…my last in this incredibly- special place – below the ‘arsh of Allah. Never again would I return here – or at least, not for the foreseeable future.

But despite the sadness, I took hope from the experience. I remembered the verse in the Quran describing how Allah is closer than our jugular veins. I took comfort in knowing that once I went home – far away from this House – Allah would still be with me; He would always be so close. No matter where we are, we should always remember that.

The sa’ee that followed wasn’t quite as touching, but it was still important in terms of duas. We made it on the second floor, and physically, my wife was finished by this time – so it was a real struggle for her to make all 7 circuits between Safa and Marwah. I was also tired, but the immensity of the occasion gave me new energy, and I made my circuits through the fatigue and aching legs and feet.

View of the Kabah from the 2nd floor

View of the Kabah from the 2nd floor

After it was done, just before we left, I went to take one last look at the Kabah, and make one last dua. It was an intense dua in which my emotions again overwhelmed me. I was tremendously grateful that Allah had brought me here and taken me through this Hajj successfully – finally fulfilling the dearly-held dream that I’d so longed for.

Alhamdullilah. Alhamdullilah. Alhamdullilah.

Related lessons:

  • After Arafah and the rigours of Eid day, it’s tempting to let up and relax your way through the rest of Hajj. Relax, but don’t overdo it. You’re still on an immensely spiritual journey, and you still have a few days and nights in which you can gather tremendous rewards and build your spirituality in ways that you wouldn’t be able to any other time or place. Don’t waste the time – even if those around you are doing just that.
  • A mobile phone – while very useful – can also be a tremendous timewaster if you’re not careful. On Hajj especially, be very mindful of how much time you spend using the phone (whether talking, chatting online, or using the Internet). The moments of Hajj are precious and extremely limited. Don’t waste them on things you could do any other time back home.
  • When you’re telling other people your Hajj stories (back home or even still on Hajj), make it a point to emphasise the lessons you learned.
  • At any time while you’re waiting (for a bus or other people), use the time wisely – in spiritually-productive activities. Don’t be a moaner, and don’t turn the wait into a social activity full of idle chit-chat and over-the-top joking.
  • Appreciate what you have before you lose it. Before Hajj, make the most of your tawaafs, because once you hit those 5 days, chances are you’ll only have one or 2 more chances to do it again before you have to go back home.
  • Allah is closer than your jugular vein – so remember that no matter how close you feel to Him in Makkah, He is always close to you – no matter where you are in the world.
  • Before you leave the haram for the last time, take some time to make a last dua while looking at the Kabah. It’s a memory you’ll forever treasure, and insha-Allah the sheer gratitude of the experience will bring your heart forever closer to Allah.

Coming up next, insha-Allah: Farewell

What happened next?

Update: The entire series (30 parts) is available at this link – post by post. Alternatively, you can download the complete series as an e-book in PDF format. Feel free to share with anyone you think may benefit.

Image sources: Opening picture courtesy of Al-Anwar Hajj & Umrah, Kabah door, 2nd floor shot of Kabah.

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