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Unspoken Hajj Truths: Lessons In Brotherhood and Fortitude

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Bismillah

Witnessing some of my kith and kin prepare for, and embark on Hajj this year, has brought back some very fond memories from the first and only Hajj I performed almost four years ago.

Photo Courtesy: bbc.co.uk

Photo Courtesy: bbc.co.uk

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Hajj is indeed an incredible experience. It is as unpredictable as it is tasking, taking its toll on one’s physical and emotional faculties, yet teaching valuable lessons. There were times I was really shocked, especially in situations that I could not have imagined becoming a part of, before starting my sacred Hajj journey to please Allah.

No number of Hajj preparatory lectures and literature-reading (albeit a necessary part of preparation for the journey, no one’s doubting that) can prepare one for these tense or tasking situations. Ironically, they end up forming the very core of this journey, leaving you with memories that stay on over the years. That is why, it is extremely important to mind one’s personal habits, behavior, character, social etiquette and actions during Hajj, while interacting with fellow Muslims.

  1. Hand-washing the clothes of a couple of roommates in Madinah or Aziziah, if you’re going to wash some of your own.
  2. Rubbing the legs and feet of a roommate in Azizia who is severaly exhausted after his or her night-long worship and tawaaf in the Grand Mosque.
  3. Not making a big deal about consistently losing  your shoes or having a painful cough throughout the Hajj journey.
  4. Being shoved aside quite roughly with a piece of luggage on arriving in ones tent at Mina, as a sister runs for the best position in the tent – the one receving the best blast of air from the air conditioner louvres – and continuing to meet and greet her as if nothing happened.
  5. Having a sister or brother (especially one older in age) ask you to fetch a second cup of tea for them, just as you are about to take your own first sip – even though they have seen you serve the whole tent-load of pilgrims their tea for the last half hour.
  6. Doing nothing to change your place in the Mina tent, during the three-day stay, despite having two people, who snore loudly throughout the night, flanking you on either side.
  7. Refusing to partake in the gossip that takes place in the shared accommodation in Makkah, Mina and Madinah, at the risk of being labeled rude.
  8. Performing ablution with 5 other people at the same time, under the same tap, in Mina.
  9. Being kind to the poor, bent, elderly woman in the overcrowded bathroom in Mina, who cannot wait in line like the rest due to genuine age issues, and decides to “go” right there on the open drain in the bathroom floor; who, as a result, is shouted at by sisters young enough to be her daughters (or even younger), who seem sure that their behavior towards her is justified by her actions.
  10. Letting your sisters/brothers go first in the bathroom in Arafah, even though you know that’ll leave you with a filthy toilet.
  11. Getting off the bus as it leaves Arafah for Muzdalifah, to stay back to wait/look for those elderly people or lone women in your group who have not yet returned to the meeting point.
  12. Helping form a circle of “satr” around a Muslim of the same gender, who is witnessing a severe allergic reaction, and needs to “go” amid the boulders on the road side (no time at all to look for a bathroom).
  13. Helping an elderly person change into a clean new set of ihram sheets after an accident similar to the one in the previous point.
  14. Delaying your Tawaaf Al-Ifaadah by a day because you happened to run into an elderly person with bloodshot eyes, who begs you to help them find their tent in Mina, from which they are lost for more than a day. Imagine – roaming around in the tented city of Mina for over a day alone, hopelessly lost because you can not read! Delaying your tawaaf to help a brother/sister out of their crisis – perhaps it might just earn a double reward!
  15. Willingly volunteering to become the “Ameer” of a handful of elderly people in your group to take them for Tawaaf Al-Ifaadah and Sa’ee, event though you know it will take twice as long (or more) to get done with it this way.
  16. Saving some water from your only remaining bottle for a fellow Muslim to be able to perform ablution before Fajr prayers in Muzdalifah.
  17. Sharing your sleeping bag with your spouse so that a sister or brother who lost theirs can rest on yours during the night in Muzdalifah.
  18. Placing your prayer rug sideways on the floor at Jeddah Airport Hajj Terminal so that someone can pray next to you on it, even if it means muddying your knees.

All of the above incidents really happened, either with me or with someone I knew, during my memorable Hajj trip back in January 2006. I ask Allah to grant those who are going for Hajj the fortitude, selflessness and patience to take care of fellow pilgrims on this sacred journey.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Sadaf Farooqi is a postgraduate in Computer Science who has done the Taleem Al-Quran Course from Al-Huda International, Institute of Islamic Education for Women, in Karachi, Pakistan. 11 years on, she is now a homeschooling parent of three children, a blogger, published author and freelance writer. She has written articles regularly for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine and Saudi Gazette. Sadaf shares her life experiences and insights on her award-winning blog, Sadaf's Space, and intermittently teaches subjects such as Fiqh of Zakah, Aqeedah, Arabic Grammar, and Science of Hadith part-time at a local branch of Al-Huda. She has recently become a published author of a book titled 'Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage'. For most part, her Jihad bil Qalam involves juggling work around persistent power breakdowns and preventing six chubby little hands from her computer! Even though it may not seem so, most of her time is spent not in doing all this, but in what she loves most - reading.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Saqib Khan

    November 16, 2009 at 5:06 AM

    An arresting piece that has stopped me in my tracks and one I pray I remember, for my reward can only be greater if I follow it.

    Jazakallah kair for sharing.

  2. Mirza Baig

    November 16, 2009 at 5:51 AM

    bismillah.

    Allahumma maghfirlee wa lakum, min kulli dhanbin. ameen.

    reminds me of a hadith about prophet sal Allaahu alaihi wa sallam giving glad tiding of jannah about a person being clean in heart about everyone (i mean everyone) when he goes to bed.

    jazakumullah kheir.

  3. Me

    November 16, 2009 at 9:29 AM

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    Jazaki Allahu khairan sister for the beautiful article. SubhanaAllah, one’s patience is really tested during Hajj. You find the unexpected happening. May Allah grant us that we be of the patient ones. ameen.

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  5. love MM

    November 16, 2009 at 10:08 AM

    YasirQadhi: Helping others in need is the simplest way to guarantee that Allah will help you at your own time of need.

  6. ummfatima

    November 16, 2009 at 10:37 AM

    Assalamualykum dear sister,

    Jazakillahu khairaan for an excellent article.Alhamdulillah in every situation..Keep thanking the people you helped because they are giving us a chance to come closer to our Rabb.Always try to forget the good things we have done and keep focusing on our sins makes our heart more humble .

    salaam.

  7. mms

    November 16, 2009 at 10:50 AM

    May Allah Bless you.

    You have given some practical examples of how to ‘walk the talk’ of patience and preferring others over oneself… much needed during Hajj.

  8. Ameera

    November 16, 2009 at 10:59 AM

    This beautiful piece reminded me of my own Hajj in 1426 AH (corresponding to Jan 2006). Really, nothing can prepare you for the countless situations on the ground… both inspiring incidents and testing moments. I experienced a couple myself so I thought I’d share them too:

    1. Sometimes, when you step forward to lend a hand with another’s baggage, it’s possible you’ll be carrying it quite a long way… remember it’s for Allah(swt)… every breath, every step.

    2. The lines outside the bathrooms can get quite long. Wait, sometimes, there are NO lines at all… unfortunately, many people seem to feel “fighting it out” is the best way to get a turn. I’d say, take a stand, organize some rows (doesn’t matter if you don’t know many languages – simple gestures always work!) and set a positive trend. Here’s my personal experience with such an incident, on my Hajj blog: http://myhajjtrip.blogspot.com/2006_01_13_archive.html

    3. You might not always get food served to you at the right time – keep snacks with you at all times… light stuff, nothing too bulky. Remember – it’s not all about the food!

    4. Don’t waste time in Arafah checking out the tents or the food arrangements – you’ll regret it forever!

    5. Don’t complain, however much you may want to after you miss your bus or end up having to walk a long way (up to 15 km a day or more) because the bus fares are getting way too expensive. The fatigue will come to pass, your good deeds will stay on.

    6. Keep realistic expectations and you won’t be disappointed. My mother had told me the bathrooms were very minimal when she went for Hajj last in 1988 so when I set out, I was expecting to see the wooden shacks she’d described. Whoa! Turns out there was better, much better, washrooms! And running water (which wasn’t there in 1989)… so yeah, I was a happy Hajji! :D Alhumdolillah.

    7. Keep a few extra snacks to share with others… biscuits, juice packets, if you have space. It happens that some people run out of supplies in crucial moments like on the way to Arafah and obviously feel shy about asking others.

    8. Don’t panic in difficult situations. In crowded areas, people suddenly tend to panic such as in a jam-packed corridor… don’t lose control of yourself. Try to stay calm.

    9. In a traffic jam (very common in Hajj)… don’t fret, if it isn’t very far to your destination and there are no elderly under your care, walk the rest of the way. Who knows – you’ll have an extraordinary experience… I did. :)

    If you’re interested in a more personal account of my Hajj, take a peek at my half-done Hajj journal. :) I hope it benefits someone InshAllah!

    • Sadaf Farooqi

      November 17, 2009 at 6:27 AM

      May Allah reward you for your valuable input, Ameera. Jazaki Allahu khairan.

  9. Amatullah

    November 16, 2009 at 11:03 AM

    Baarak Allahu feeki Sadaf, beautiful piece.

  10. muhajjirah

    November 16, 2009 at 11:34 PM

    mashaAllah. EXCELLENT and most worthy tips!! jazakAllah kheir for sharing. i hope at least a few of the hujjaj read them before they take off..
    jazakAllah kheir.

  11. Sadaf Farooqi

    November 17, 2009 at 6:32 AM

    Jazakum Allahu khairan for your positive feedback, everyone. I ask Allah to accept the Hajj of all the pilgrims. Dhul Hijjah is an amazing, exalted month and may we all benefit tremendously from its first ten days. Ameen.

    • AbuUmar

      November 18, 2009 at 4:31 AM

      jazakillahu khairan sr sadaf

      makes me wanna go back once again. one more thing: i loved spending time sitting bw prayers in the haram and talking to muslims from around the world . i remember sitting next to an indonesian bro and talking to himonly in smiles, hand gestures and common single words. passing around itr (for men) is a good ice breaker. i remember talking to a haaji from northern pak and remember his story about the financial sacrifice he had to make just to get to hajj…. subhanAllah one of the most memorable convo i had

      • muhajjirah

        November 18, 2009 at 6:28 AM

        “…talking to him in smiles, hand gestures and common single words”…this is the spirt of the Ummah in madinah & makkah!! mashaAllah so nicely said.

      • Ameera

        November 18, 2009 at 10:05 AM

        “makes me wanna go back once again.”

        Aaah, yes. *nostalgic smile*

        • Amna

          November 18, 2009 at 2:53 PM

          JazakAllah!

          My cousin’s going for Hajj, she’d be leaving this Friday. i’ll make sure to hand over a print out of this to her.
          And I can Pray I go there soon.

          I might be silly, but these deeds made me cry. It feels great. :’)

  12. Holly Garza

    November 18, 2009 at 7:48 AM

    SubhanaAllah great advice and very well written tips and or reminders for those going and those of us who will InshaAllah in the future

  13. shaakira

    May 11, 2010 at 4:34 AM

    as salaamu alaikum.

    Subhanallah this was a deeply moving piece for me.
    it reduced me to tears at my desk at work, not because of its sad nature but because i actually felt envious of you and the people who were able to do such humble acts to ensure the best for others especially during hajj.

    inshaallah i hope to go for hajj this year and even if i experience a fraction of what you hav i will be tremendously happy. i believe that these are the gestures that humble us and remind us of our humanity.

    Jazakaallah for sharing your experience and advice.

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