Off to Perform Hajj- The Trip of My Life
Millions of Muslims around the world have embarked on the trip of their life to perform Hajj. Last year around this time, I was getting ready to leave home to do the same. And I made an attempt to publish as many posts while I was there.
The great memories are still fresh in my mind and are getting a boost from looking at the pictures and videos from Mecca and Medina.
On the first anniversary of my Hajj, I would like to share some of my own experiences in the form of pictures, videos and a series of posts.
I recall vividly writing my post on the eve of my departure for Hajj last year.
In less than 12 hours, I will be leaving home to fly to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
I am in the middle of packing, making last minute preparation and going over my checklist for the trip.
But this is no ordinary flight. This is no ordinary checklist. This is no ordinary trip.
I am embarking on a spiritual journey to perform the Hajj- the pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city in Islam.
I made use of a piece that Malcolm X shared about his own Hajj experience.
Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all color and races here in this ancient Holy land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad, and all the other prophets of the Holy scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed by all around me by people of all colors. There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist.
Now that I have tasted the same heartwarming experience, I can relate fully to the feelings of Malcolm X. I, too saw hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, from various backgrounds. Some were super rich, others barely made it. Some were highly educated; others probably never saw a school in their lifetime. People representing various ethnicities, skin and eye color, languages were there for the same common purpose. I, too experienced the unity, brother (sister)hood and random acts of kindness. I bonded almost instantly with people I barely knew before.
My first stop was Medina, which is typical for most pilgrims, to pay homage to Prophet Muhammad. We spent 5 nights in Medina in a hotel next to the mosque of the Prophet (Masjid al Nabawi). Hearing the soothing call to prayers (Adhan) for the first time there, gave me goose bumps.
Standing in line for some three hours in a super crowded place, waiting for a chance to pray on Riazul Jennah (a small piece marked by green carpets in the mosque, said to be a piece of land from Paradise) was one of the highlights of the whole trip. It was very hot, even though we were inside the mosque- but not because they did not have the air conditioning. The heat came from people breathing practically next to each other as thousands of people lined up in a very short space. I had to raise my feet up so I could breathe. I had my hands on my chest to make sure I have enough room to breathe. It was way past mid night but that was reportedly the best time to actually be able to even get an opportunity to pray in Riazul Jennah!
After waiting patiently for a few hours, I had the privilege of entering the sacred space and it was all worth it! Being so close to where Prophet Muhammad once stood, next to where he is buried gave me goose bumps, and still makes my heart melt. I saw grown man crying-some in joy, others in awe of the occasion, with tears flowing onto their beards profusely. I too could not believe my good fortunes.
Muslims crowd each other to pray two ra’kat in this spot and ask for God’s forgiveness, as we are taught that just one ra’kah (when you bow down in ritual prayer) is worth 1,000 of prayers. This is the only place in the mosque that has green carpet, to separate it from other areas of the mosque. The area is opened up to men and women at different times, and it can be extremely hard to find a spot to offer prayer here.
Here is a short video. The video was taken after I prayed at, and left the area called Riazul Jennah. The people seen praying in this video are within the area designated as Riazul Jennah.
And this is how I ended my first post on Hajj last year as I was about to embark on the trip.
OK, I am going to stop here. My heart is starting to thump a little stronger just thinking about it. I am planning to share my experience via short videos or short posts, time and broadband permitting.
A year later, my heart is still thumping just thinking about the experience. I wish I were there again! I am sharing some of the pictures and videos from Medina.
I will publish a post every day for the next ten days, commemorating the Hajj. Hopefully it will bring great memories for you, if you have been there. If you have not, I hope and pray you will soon- InshaAllah.