Comedian/writer and co-founder of the “30 Mosques in 30 Days” project Aman Ali just completed his Hajj pilgrimage with his mother. He posted the following poignant thoughts as a Facebook status update, which we are sharing here with his permission. This is what the Hajj is all about.
By Aman Ali
I’m back from Hajj. To say it was a moving experience is probably the biggest understatement I have made in my entire life. I didn’t know what peace was until I got to spend so many early mornings on the calming rooftop of the Prophet’s mosque in Medina flicking away on my prayer beads, watching the sun rise and its beams crawl across the sky. I didn’t know what kindness was until one day my stomach was growling after prayer and a poor Sri Lankan man with four teeth in his mouth flashed a smile and reached into his tattered shirt pocket to earnestly offer me a handful of dates.
I didn’t know what hope was until I met a Bengali woman struggling with fertility for years tell me she saved every dollar she could find to make the trip to Hajj in order to pray to Allah for assistance. I didn’t know what chivalry was until I watched a woman inches away from a trash bin hurl a half-full can of soda at a street worker to throw away for her, only to have that same street worker seconds later offer to carry some heavy bags she was dragging.
I didn’t know what humor was until I met a Kurdish man whose ailing health was caused by being chemically gassed by Saddam Hussein’s henchmen tell me he likes to exaggerate his chronic cough in front of his wife in order to get out of house chores.
This wasn’t one of those kumbaya “look at all these colors of the rainbow coming together” moments because that would only be scratching the surface of how precious this experience was. It was the fact that all these people turned to God and raised their hands in the air in du’a as tears flowed down their faces. The same God was there listening to each and every one of them. And these few people were only a tiny fraction of the literally millions of people on Hajj this year turning to God for assistance too. And these millions of people are only the tiny fraction of over a billion people who do the same thing every day around the world. And this billion + people have been doing the same thing every day for almost 1,500 years when Islam first originated.
Never have I felt so connected to mankind and history. To think I may have made footprints on the same parcels of land from people like Malcom X and Muhammad Ali made when they did their Hajj pilgrimage. To my own relatives, who many decades ago died on Hajj because the grueling toll of spending weeks at sea trying sail from from India to Saudi Arabia with poorly preserved and rationed food. To Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his handful of companions who started this beautiful tradition now carried out by millions every year. Never have I felt so fortunate and blessed. When I realized how insignificant of a dot I am on the timeline of history, it began to melt away the delusions of self-importance I’ve pumped myself up with over the years and fade into nothingness.
I am nothing but a measly Cheerio in the cereal box of Life.