Amina Wadud's Journey for Hajj
So, yesterday was one of those days when I felt like I didn't have a life of my own-despite managing somehow to successfully raise five children, mostly as a single parent. I had three stops to make with my youngest daughter, baby in tow, and mostly he and I sat in the car; he asleep, and me trying to write a blog on my iPad. Let the record show, I was not successful, despite my best intentions.
I managed to drop that daughter off just in time to head to Oakland as I had told my middle daughter I would. She needed assistance with the baby because her Canadian in-laws gave her a car, which had to be cleared at customs before local registration. Then we went to the farmers' market, the flea markets, and the swap meet. She insists on using a baby carrier instead of a stroller. So I held her six-month-old while she pillaged through a sea of clothing. That's a lot of holding, trust me.
When we finally returned to her place, I was hungry, but I just could not take another moment of being so family-oriented. I decided I would rather brace the rush-hour traffic and eat at home than to stay one minute longer. So of course when she asked if I would hold the baby for ten minutes while she picked up quickly and loaded the dishwasher, I said yes.
Then I checked my phone. Like many people, I keep it on silent unless I'm expecting a call, so I missed a called from my youngest daughter. Instead she left a text message. It read:
"your hajj packgat came" (sic)
I burst out crying. So much so that my other daughter came forward and said, "What's wrong?!" I couldn't speak. I just showed her the text message and cried and hugged her. To her credit, she did manage to say congratulations before finishing cleaning. As I sped off toward Highway 80, I actually prayed that I would not have an accident. Because I really do want to make the hajj, and not just get confirmation that I was approved.
When I posted my news on Twitter and Facebook, I got lots of nice responses from friends, some last-minute advice, and then of course the requests to "pray for me." I also had one of my pre-hajj talks with my shaykh, who also gave me a list of do, persons to pray for, and some important reminders about etiquette. So I think about the Joan Osborn song.
What would you ask, if you had just one question?
I've thought about it before. And I've thought about it a lot. Still nothing comes to mind just yet. Last year, when a friend of mine who lives in Madinah solicited prayers from people before her fourth or fifth hajj, (because, as she said, "It really works"), I asked for a house by the beach with the mortgage already paid! I mean, if you're going to ask, might as well be specific, right? Well, you ought to know how I feel about the idea of God accepting requisition lists.
I also think about the woman in Ramadan who said, never mind about remembering, because when you are on Mt. Arafat, and you hold up your hands in supplication, it is like a book opens up in them and you remember. Even a more secular-type friend said she remembered to make du'a for all of us at Arafat. Well, I may surely remember a lot, but I'm taking notes too. I don't think God would mind a cheat sheet.
Still I hope at the moment that I really, really think of one question that I would never ask from any mortal soul. More than that, I hope I understand what the answer is.
November 4, 2010—The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Humans
Amina Wadud is an internationally known scholar on Islam and gender. She has lived in five different countries and traveled to more than 40 countries as a consultant on Islam, Human Rights, and Women. Dr. Wadud is Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA and visiting scholar at Starr King School for Ministry in Berkeley, California. She is the author of Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective, (Oxford, 1999) and, most recently, of Inside the Gender Jihad: Reform in Islam (OneWorld, 2006). She performed Hajj in 2010, and wrote these blog posts originally for Religion Dispatches.