Ramblings of a pilgrim

Last year, around this time, I was in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. As the blessed days of Zilhajj enter upon us again, the beautiful memories of last year are flashing before my eyes. When I came back from Hajj, I penned some thoughts and observations that had been floating around in my mind during these days. Initially these were meant to serve as a personal reminder only, but now I am sharing some of these pages with you in the hope that they might benefit the readers.
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I have been reborn after Hajj! I must not disobey Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala at any cost. As long as this is in place, life is perfect. This is the guaranteed key to ultimate peace of heart.

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For me, one of the greatest take-home lessons from Hajj was learning to be patient. Sabr is the fuel we need to face all kinds of situations in the journey of life. I remember an old lady who was our companion in Mina. She was quite ill, had difficulty in walking and even breathing. But you would never get to know it from the graceful manner in which she conducted herself. She never complained, nor announced her grievances openly. Whenever I saw her, I was reminded of the concept of Sabrun Jameelun (beautiful patience)

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In Muzdalifah, circumstances made us sleep on a narrow spot on the footpath under a bridge. There was traffic, smoke and horns all around. Pedestrians of all ages and nationalities were passing by, but we lay there peacefully. I lay there- in public, under the open sky- just because I was following Allah’s command to spend the night there. This was a powerful lesson to obey Allah’s instructions, each and every one of them, without any resistance or hesitation. How many of Allah’s Commands do we disobey in our daily lives just because they seem awkward or impractical to us!

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The pilgrims in our group all wanted to perform their ‘ibadaat and complete the rituals of Hajj in the best possible way. When given two options, they went for the preferred one, the one which was closer to the Sunnah and which was promised greater reward. They intended to do so, planned and put in effort to do so. Whether it was staying in Muzdalifah till the spreading of light, selecting timings for Tawaaf of Ziyarah and Rami of Jamraat, or spending an extra day (13th of Zilhajj) in Mina, we always selected the options that were better in terms of earning more reward, pleasing Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) more and following the Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wasallam) more. 

There, we wanted to be from the Sabiqoon! We were always conscious of following the Sunnah acts and doing mustahabb acts.

Why can’t we cultivate this mindset and attitude in our daily life after Hajj?

Why do we select the bare minimum and just barely manage to fulfill the obligatory acts?

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No matter how comfortable and luxurious your Hajj package is, you have to perform all the rituals of Hajj e.g. Tawaaf, Sa’i, Rami and Wuqoof yourself. Doing this requires a minimum level of physical strength and stamina, which is not developed overnight. We should try to lead active, energetic lives to utilize our bodily faculties in doing good deeds to the maximum. We learn from the Hadith that a strong believer is more beloved to Allah than a weak believer. We should try to improve our strength and well-being in all realms, be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.  

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The hospitality and selfless service of the staff of the Haramain-from the sweepers to the security staff- impressed me a lot. They were always ready to listen and help welcomingly, without any sign of irritation or exhaustion. The Saudis supplied food and drink to the pilgrims very generously. The host country showed no miserliness in serving the guests of Allah with the best of everything.

I couldn’t help but think that a guest in any capacity is to be honoured according to the teachings of our religion. Rasulullah (sallalahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said that whoever believes in Allah and the last day should honour his guest. We should serve our guests with the best of provisions that Allah has provided us with, because the provisions are not ours in the first place, they are gifts from Allah to us. The guests have also been sent by Allah to us! So present your best hospitality to them and Allah will reward you if your intentions are purely for His Sake.

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During Hajj, the people showed ultimate belief in the words of Allah and His Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wasallam). They believed, for instance, in the significance of the Day of ‘Arafah and the sacredness of the Black Stone. They believed that Riyadh-ul-Jannah is really, really from Jannah. They believed in the healing properties of the water of Zam Zam. The firmness of belief was reflected in their actions and their willingness to endure pain and toil in this path.

Why can’t we exhibit this ultimate belief in all the Words of Allah? Why are we so selective? Why do we pick-and-choose stuff that is pleasing to our nafs? Where is true and ultimate belief in all the Words of Allah? If we believe in Him, we should show staunch, unwavering belief in every one of the rewards and punishments he has promised as a consequence of various actions.

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During the Hajj days, we were focused on the primary goal of fulfilling our rituals. We knew the what, when and how of the rituals we had to perform, and that was primary. Mealtimes came and went. The food that you got might have been hot or cold, spicy or bland. If you liked it, you said Alhamdolillah very happily and remained focused on your primary purpose; if you didn’t like it, you still got it over with and remained focused on your primary purpose. Did you get a bed to sleep on? Or a mattress? Or just the carpet? Was the bus air-conditioned or not? Did you fall ill? Just take care, hope, pray and try for the best. You keep on adapting to whatever comes your way without losing focus. These were all such non-issues in those days, because we were focused on something else.
Having this laser-sharp focus is so crucial in our lives. Do you have a primary focus of pleasing and obeying Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala every day of your lives? This is something we need to work on.

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I fell in love with Mina. There was so much peace there. The dawn of Mina, the evening, the night, all of it was so serene and beautiful. The heart felt so peaceful there as if tranquility was descending from above.

In Mina, while making Wudu from a public tap, I would wash my hands, in between a lady from another nationality might quickly rinse her mouth, in the time gap, another lady from perhaps yet another nationality would wash her feet. Three people at one tap who had never met before, never talked to each other before, yet here they were peacefully accommodating each other. The coordination and unity that comes from having a common purpose is truly mesmerizing.

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At the last Hajj, there were quite a few chaotic incidents. People fainted, suffocated and died during the Tawaf as well as the Rami. But how did the millions manage to perform it with ease too? How was my Rami so fearless, my Tawaf so easy, so smooth and spacious? People had scared me beforehand with their stories, but everything worked out so smoothly alhamdolillah. How? It was only and only with Allah’s Help. He is Sufficient as a Helper.

If He Wills, you can move a mountain. If He does not Will, you cannot even take one breath or blink your eye even once, even with all the people of the world supporting you. We must internalize this.

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I experienced the power of Zikr during Hajj. How true are the words of Allah that: Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace. We should make abundant zikr to remove the layers of darkness and covers of heedlessness from our hearts. Our hearts are precious. Our aim is to take them back to Allah as Qalb-e-Saleem (sound hearts)

If Zikr seems to have no effect on you, and you still feel burdened and hopeless, sinful and doomed, don not give up. Attaining that promised peace is not impossible. It just needs more effort to remove the layers of rust and darkness.

Do not despair in the Mercy of Allah and do not disobey Him. Just as Hajj washes away your sins, sincere repentance also cleanses you and replaces your bad deeds with good deeds.  

3 thoughts on “Ramblings of a pilgrim

Add yours

  1. Anonymous: Honestly, no. Not to that level. It’s an ongoing lifetime struggle actually but these memories and points act as beneficial reminders. I ask Allah to keep us steadfast and not to let our hearts deviate after having guided us

    Liked by 1 person

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