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A Less Than Perfect Hajj: Hajj Reflections


This year marks 10 years since I went to Hajj, Alhamdulillah. In the past decade, I have thought about writing about my experience many times but something always stopped me from doing so. This year, I am sharing my experience in the hopes that it is beneficial for people who may be in a similar situation.

The year was 2014 and I had no idea what my life held for me. I was about to turn 27, single, raising Spark (my pet turtle) and working as an Office Administrator at a small company where I was fairly well liked. In many ways, I had everything one needs to be content. However, I wasn’t content; in fact, I was quietly depressed. In my culture I was reaching the age of “expiry” for marriage and that weighed on me heavily. My self worth was non-existent and every small mistake at work made me hysterical. 

It was during this time that my brother informed our family that he will be going to Hajj with his wife, in sha Allah. I was extremely happy for them. I was going to give him my list of duas so he would remember them on the day of Arafah. I would be helping my parents watch their daughter whom they were going to leave behind. I was excited to bond with my niece over our love for Spark. 

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A couple of days later, as I was talking to my sister about nothing and everything, as sisters often do,  the following conversation ensued: 

Sister: Hey, so I’m thinking that maybe I will go for Hajj too. Do you want to come? 

Me: What? How? With who? 

Sister: With Bhaiya and Bhabhi. He is our Mehram. I don’t have a full time job and you can take time off. 

Me: Oh. Hmmm, I didn’t think of it. But yeah, I guess we can. We gotta ask Ammi and Abbu.

Sister: They won’t say no. We just have to make sure Bhaiya is okay with it. 

Me: Yeah. You have money? 

Sister: Yeah, I have some saved up. You? 

Me: Yeah, I think so. I should be able to manage, inshaAllah. 

I don’t remember if we talked to our parents the same night or if it was the next morning, but the result was as expected. They were overjoyed that we wanted to go and said they would talk to our brother on our behalf. My brother and sister-in-law, may Allah bless them both, said yes without hesitation. 

Just like that, I was now preparing to go to Hajj! The list of duas that I’d put together for my brother would now travel with me. I would get to ask Allah, at Arafah, for those things myself. 

Allah had chosen me, as a single woman, to go to Hajj. Not only that, He enabled me to cover my own expenses without relying on anyone else. Truly, Allah is Al-Lateef. When I thought I was going to end up in the pits of depression, He pulled me out by giving me this opportunity. 

The next few months were filled with preparation. I watched lectures on YouTube, talked to family and friends who had been to Hajj, attended workshops, and took courses. I was nervous, excited, scared, humbled and everything in between. 

The Pre-Hajj Test of Faith

I was also sad, because I had to give up my pet turtle. My parents wouldn’t be able to take care of him and my niece. Plus, he was getting too big for the tank I had. With all my resources going towards Hajj, I didn’t have much left to upgrade his space. I decided to find another home for it. I knew that Allah would provide for him like He did for all of us. 

Amidst all the excitement, the company I worked for got bought out. My position was removed and even though I was assigned another role, it was not what I wanted, so I left in June. In July came the news of attacks on Gaza, in Palestine. My heart was broken. I was so disturbed that I could not sleep most nights. I cried and made dua for our brothers and sisters in Palestine. I wanted to do more so I started looking for rallies to attend and petitions to sign. 

The only problem was, my Hajj visa hadn’t been approved yet. Despite everything that Allah had made easy, my faith wavered when I was about to sign petitions. “What if someone sees my support for Palestine and rejects my visa?” I wondered. “Then I won’t be able to go for Hajj!” Even though the thought only lasted for a second, I had forgotten for that second how Merciful and Powerful Allah is. If He was making everything this easy for me, why would I ever think that He would now make it difficult when I was doing the right thing? 

Alhamdulillah though, it was only momentary. I did sign petitions, attend rallies and advocate for Palestine. My visa still came through and we were set to travel in September. I wish I had documented my journey as I was going through it, or at least after I returned when it was fresh. Alas, I did not. However, there are some things I remember very clearly which I would like to share so others may benefit, inshaAllah.  

When Hajj Doesn’t Feel the Way You Thought It Would

I was always told that when you first lay eyes on the Ka’ba, your heart is filled with awe and wonder and love and all things good. I wanted to feel those things so badly, but I didn’t. I was extremely grateful to be there, but I didn’t feel what everyone else said I would feel. I thought something was wrong with me and that I didn’t deserve to be there. 

And no, things did not get better after that. Most people in my group were married, with children, save one girl who was also there with her brother. In the holiest of places, I started having meltdowns because I wanted more than anything to have a spouse who would care for me and children I could care for. I avoided  answering people’s questions by reading the Quran. Of course this made me feel even worse – I wasn’t reciting Qur’an for the Sake of Allah, but to avoid talking to people. 

Then there was the issue of Palestine still weighing on me. Here I was, a not-so-great servant of Allah, in His house, during the most blessed days of the year, not feeling the right things while people with much stronger faith were being murdered. What did I do to deserve such mercy from Allah? I was so afraid that Allah was giving me so much in this in the dunya, but that my punishment in the Aakhira would be more severe. 


Despite all these negative feelings and thoughts, Allah, in His infinite mercy, sent wonderful people, including my brother, to gently pull me out of the cycle of negativity.  He reminded me that I was surrounded by people who loved me and cared for me. He explained that a small circle of righteous friends was better than having a large social circle which may pull me away from Allah. His words were comforting. While my sorrow didn’t disappear completely, my brother’s wisdom did shift my perspective and allowed me to focus on my blessings and rephrase my duas. 

On the day of Arafah, I wept and asked Allah for help and guidance and so much more. I prayed for all my friends and family. I asked Allah to help the oppressed, especially the people of Palestine. I asked for success in this dunya and I asked for Jannah in the Aakhirah. Before the day ended, I thanked Him. I thanked Allah for this once in a lifetime opportunity and for making it so smooth and easy. I asked Him for forgiveness for my shortcomings and my wavering faith. Finally, I asked Allah to accept my Hajj and allow me to become a better version of myself. 

After coming back, it was back to the grind of looking for a job and a spouse. Alhamdulillah, I landed a decent job in the summer of 2015 and in October of 2016 I was married. A couple of years ago, I actually came across my dua list from Hajj and subhanAllah, I was amazed at how many of those duas had been accepted. Perhaps those du’as weren’t answered in the way I had envisioned but I know that whatever Allah does, is best for us. 

In the end, even though my Hajj experience wasn’t as uplifting and starry-eyed as so many others’ experiences seem to be, I am so humbled, grateful and forever in awe that Allah chose me for it when He did. 

Before leaving for Hajj, my sister had told me that in the Visionaire program with Muhammad Al Shareef, may Allah have mercy on him, she learned that our duas need to be specific. The biggest lesson I learned from my Hajj journey was how powerful dua is. Even though I didn’t make the intention of going for Hajj that year, I had always asked Allah to make it happen when it was right for me. Standing at Arafah, I realized that I was there because this was the right time for me. I needed to be there to understand that Allah would never abandon me. I reflected on everything I had been through previously and saw that I was never alone in any of my struggles. It was Allah who had pulled me out then, and I knew without a doubt that Allah was going to guide me in any future struggles He has written for me. 

I will end by reminding you, dear reader, that Allah is as you think of Him. Expect good from Him, and you will not be disappointed. He heard the du’as of my heart – du’as I hadn’t even verbalized –  and granted them in the best possible way. He is the All-Hearing so call on Him any time, especially during the blessed months and times.

I ask Allah to bless my parents, my sister who asked me to join her for Hajj and my brother and sister-in-law who so graciously took the responsibility of taking me. May Allah accept the Hajj of all Hujjaj and may He grant everyone the opportunity to fulfill this obligation in good health and with ease. May He grant our Ummah success by allowing us to uphold truth and justice. May He liberate all those who are oppressed. May He unite us all in Jannah with our beloved Prophet (saw). Ameen! 


Reflections On Hajj I Sh. Furhan Zubairi

Seeking Out The Spiritual Underpinnings Of Our Ritual Acts of Worship

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. 🥭

    June 21, 2024 at 6:51 AM

    Is it allowed to put pets in cages and tanks? You should set your turtle free.

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