The Hajj Diaries

I begin in the Name of the Lord

 

Prologue

God has invited me to Him. He has personally said that you come to me. What an honour and privilege. How many people have wanted to go for Hajj, but something has always come up. Yet, I have asked to go, and God has accepted my plea.

I am going to Repent, get closer to God, destroy my sins and cleanse them. This is a process. This is a journey. A journey to God.

Much of these diaries are my thoughts, any tips for future hujjaj and anything profound I have found in my readings (in italic), and will seamlessly switch between them.

The word ‘Al  Haj’ means the intention and to visit somebody or something. It is that special intention to pilgrimage to Makkah. All for the sake of Allah

Already I know some of the goals that I want to achieve post Hajj.

Spirituality of Hajj is so high that once is enough for our whole lifetime.

O Prophet don’t forsake me in my grave – Intercede for me

Break the bad habits. Tongue under control.

The whole process of going for Hajj is about purifying yourself. Allah purifies you at the end, but before you start you need to start by purifying yourself. You are asking for forgiveness, cleansing debts and writing your will. It is as if you are ready to die, to then being reborn by your Lord.

 

Madinah

Day 1

Super super quick immigration at Madinah. Much like being a British epassport holder when entering London. It took 30-40 minutes to get to the Hotel.

We passed Baqi and saw that beautiful Green Dome from afar. We have arrived in the City of the Prophet.

We had to wait for our rooms to be ready so we had a few hours to kill. God works in mysterious ways, the people I was talking to – acquaintances at first – became my closest compatriots on the trip. We were sitting as a four, and it just so happened that us four were going to share a room. That was a cool thing.

The room was huge, and it was big enough for all of us to get to know each other comfortably without it being awkward and invading each other’s personal space.

I was so lucky to have really really cool roomates. From the outset, it was just normal. Conversation just flowed but also the silence was comfortable. These were like minded people, whose goals and ideals were the same as mine.  These two ‘acquaintances’ became friends over the course of this journey.

One thing you notice here, and that it is all old people. These people save up for years, and hoping that they make the quota that year. I feel so lucky, that we did save up for hajj, but not proportionality as long as these people. But also we made the intention to go for Hajj and we could go straight away the following year. There was no need to be on a waiting list, we could just go. It is an appreciation for the country that we live in but also the life we live that we can afford to come for Hajj.

People have come from everywhere. It isn’t surprising, but its really cool to see. We began to spot the nationality: Korean, Thai, Russian, Bosnian, Uzbekhistan, tajik, and the whole of Africa.

The Prophet’s mosque was so peaceful. Like you want to just sit and pray all day. But it’s a fine line, you have to also not over exert yourself, the Hajj days are coming and you have to be healthy and fit for it.

Naturally, as you go for hajj you have a shopping list of things to buy for people. But you don’t feel like shopping, you just want to sit and chill in the Prophet’s mosque.

 

Day 2

Fajr at the Mosque. I found a really cool spot between two masalas on the marble. The person to my right offered me her musala to share, but I said no, I prefer to pray on the marble.

It is easy to find a spot on the marble generally to pray on. You can always take the musala with the sajdagah sown on (which most people did), I just preferred to pray on the marble.

As with any Salaatul Jamaat, there is chaos prior to salat, but as soon as Takbiratul Ehram occurs, calmness encompasses the mosque.

 

The Rawdhah 

Prophet Muhammad said: “Between by house and my minbar (pulpit) there is a garden from the gardens of Paradise…”

This garden is called Rawdhah in Arabic. It notably has (printed) green carpet and there is only restructured times for the women, as a result, it is manic inside.

You have to queue to get in to the courtyard and then queue again to get inside.

“…Indeed, Allah is with the patient” (2:153)

I only managed to go to the Rawdah once because it just took such a long time to get in and it was so busy all the time. The tip I got was to go after Isha and once go in, stay on the left. Apparently that’s where Sayyedah Fatemahs house was. Once you are there just sit and wait. Pray your Layl and all your duas, and once you see the crowd thinning go inside and pray your Nawafil Salaat.

Being in Madinah gives you perspective of life, being here makes you want to change yourself

It gives you purpose, you begin to examine yourself and the veils are lifted to get closer to God.

God is that beauty that souls want to go to

More than Paradise – unveil of your beings. Paradise as a means of getting to Allah

Salvation is greater than Paradise. Damnation is worse than Hell

How shall I withstand separation from you – Imam Ali

The sun never stops shining, but I cast a veil and block the rays.

Success is finding ourselves

Vigilant of Akhlaq

Make God your focus

Unlimited Potentional

Turn to the giver of life to claim eternal life

Open yourself upto God

Born Again

Worship God

Rely on Allah

Thank you Allah.

 

Post Maghrib at the Haraam we had to go shopping. We had to purchase gifts for those who had gifted us money with the trip. We wanted it done before we went to Makkah, because we wanted to enjoy being in the House of God without having to worry about the shopping.

Suggestion: Madinah is cheaper than Makkah than shopping.

 

Day 3

Outside Ziyarah today – Uhud, Quba, Qiblatain.

My favourite part of the day was going to Masjid Amiri. This is Shia mosque in Madinah named after Shaykh Muhammad al-Amri. It’s like you are in another world when you come here.  You don’t realise how much you are oppressed when it is taken away from you and it becomes normal to you. It’s so nice to be able to freely practice your religion how you want.

Prior to Haj, I prayed that I would have good company on this journey. And God always delivers. My roommates that I had, we became a Crew. There was just a common understanding, no one was obtuse on purpose and we always had each others back right from Day 1. If we were going to the Mosque, we would always tell each other and it was an open invite if you wanted to come, if not, no one felt bad. Blessed to have such good friends like this.

 

Day 4

It’s fine line, you want to appreciate and spend time in Madinah and in the Prophet’s mosque, but by the same accord, you have to rest yourself for the Hajj Days.

Pray that your Hajj is accepted

Get lost in the crowd and the atmosphere

Let Baqi’s majesty be restored once again

 

Day 5

It’s just sad – the last day. Now we are actually leaving Madinah. I’ve not had anywhere near the time I would have liked to spend here.

Calm. Serene. Peaceful.

Just being here feels pleasant.

Sitting in the mosque, and you admire the beautiful architecture, you realise it is a really beautiful mosque. But that’s just it. It’s a beautiful mosque, not the Prophet’s mosque.

I would love to come back here without having to come back here and thought of conserving energy.

Honour me with a Return.

Live a life of a free man

Be in awe of God

I’m excited but also nervous about the next part of the journey.

 

Day 6 – Umrah Tamattu

Doing Ghusl of Ihram makes you feel like you are going for Hajj, you are getting into the zone of partaking in a God decreed ritual. It feels more real when you see others dressed in all white. The women dressed from head to toe in all white, the men having two towels covering themselves. Everybody looks ready – ready to cleanse themselves.

I can’t believe I am here, here for Haj.

Masjid Shajarah isn’t very far away – only 15-20 minutes from Madinah. When you hear people saying the Talbiyah:

Here I am, O Allah, here I am. Here I am, there is no partner to You, here I am. Indeed the praises and bounties belong to You, Yours is the sovereignty, there is no partner to You here I am.

It gives you goosebumps. People from across the world, here before God, calling out his name about to go for Haj.

It takes a couple of hours to get to Makkah, and I just tried to sleep as much as possible to rest for Umrah Tamattu.

We got to Haraam just at Fajr time, and we prayed outside the mosque. I, in my nervousness, had to do wudhu 3 times and so we were the last people to go inside, and then start the Tawaf last.

As I walked inside for the first time, guided by IM, I saw the beautiful Kaba with the backdrop of the dawn lit sky. It was bigger than I expected, namely because when I had asked when someone I knew went for Hajj, they said they thought it was smaller than they expected. Perhaps I overcompensated, and I thought it was much bigger than I imagined based on their thoughts.

I was here, invited to God’s house. Not everyone is, and me, the moment I asked, I wanted to go for Hajj, I was invited that very year. Thank you God.

I couldn’t find my earphones to listen to Jawshan (which was what was suggested to me prior to Hajj) during Tawaf, but I took Shaykh Bahmanpour’s advice which was “lose yourself in the moment,” which was the best thing I could’ve done. I enjoyed the experience of listening to different people’s Duas, and making my own personal Duas.

6/7 rounds were done inside Maqaam Ibrahim, and the only reason the first wasn’t – was because we started too far out, and couldn’t get in in time.

IM did a stellar job and it made it so much easier for myself.

We are attached to the world and our loved ones. Tawaf detaches ourselves from this

Invitation to let it go

Saeyy was hard, we were tired but also it was a little anticlimactic simply because its inside with AC (understandably logistically), you don’t really see the mountain – only at the ends.

Although we were the last to start, we made the time back in Saeyy.

As we headed out to get taxis back to our hotel, because it was Friday, they said there were no taxis or buses going out towards Aziziya until after Zohr. It was 8am. The only thing we could do was walk. So we walked through the tunnel, and we were all tired. Not sleeping much the night before and then physically walking round the Ka’ba and in Saey, tires you out. But everyone got on with it, there were no complaints, which was a beautiful thing.

The rest of the day consisted of sleeping and resting. Umrah Tamattu physically drains you, and we had 2.5 days to be fully rested for the actual Haj days.

At 11pm that night there was Dua Maqarimul Akhkaq on the rooftop of Masjidul Haraam. It was really serene just to be there with the whole group.

Looking from the top at Tawaf looked incredible. To think we were just there this morning. It was like floating on air surrounded by angels.

We met another group just on the rooftop whilst they were having their lectures. I met an individual who I had gone to Ziyarah with two years ago, and what a place to meet such friends.

 

Day 7

Today was my complete rest day. I just slept, did my laundry (laundry facilities are excellent here), and relaxed. I didn’t want to be physically tired for Haj, and wanted to experience Arafah and Mina to its fullest.

The Haraam is far from our hotel, but we knew that from the beginning and so we had already managed our expectations. It isn’t as convenient to go the Haraam but for the Haj days, we don’t need to stay in Mina for any extra days and we can just walk back to our hotel and relax.

Keep me alive for as long it is good for me. Cause me death when it is better for me.

I was waiting for you to call me

We are Allah’s guests and he is our host

Dua Arafah: Part 1 talkes about using our mind and Part 2 is a mouthpiece of the words of God. It’s beautiful and divine.

 

Day 8

I went to the Haraam at 930 and it was empty. By empty I mean I did tawaf in 25 minutes and manged to touch the Kaba (not whilst in Tawaf).

It was empty because all our brothers and sisters had gone to Mina today/yesterday which is in line with their Fiqh.

It was really nice being there, seeing the marble being reflected from the rays of sun, it became a white pureness. Seeing the Kaba in all its majesty – a place in the hearts of all Muslims

I did feel bad I didn’t go to the Haraam yesterday, but I am glad I didn’t, I feel fully rested today and in the Zone for Arafah. Haj is happening.

 

Night of Arafah

We are here – on the Plains of Arafah.

The darkness and heat has engulfed us. There is a sandstorm outside and so the electricity has stopped working.

Arafah is a time of knowledge. Know yourself. Insight into yourself.

Arafah = confession. Forgiveness.

You begin to appreciate the luxury of the hotels that we have been when you have to sleep in a tent in the middle of nowhere, where the electricity is hit and miss and even with the AC on, it’s still just hot.

We only had one bus to get to Arafah, so one the crew didn’t make the first bus on but her bag made it on. When I realised she wasn’t claiming her bag, I took it with me and ensured that her bag was safe and she had a space to sleep.

I am not sure how, but we managed to claim a spot that was slightly inclined so we were sleeping on a hill which meant we kept rolling down (not on purpose). So we asked her to stop praying for a hard hajj, it was inflicting us all…

The friends you make on hajj, and friends for life. You go through this physical and emotional journey together, and there is something there that keeps you united forever.

 

Day 9

Arafah

Post Fajr we went to Jabal Rahma – I managed to get a khandan to come with me too.

Jabal Rahma is where Adam came here first from Heaven, Nuh’s ark stopped here, Ibrahim had the Dream and Prophet Muhammad gave his farewell sermon.

Ask for forgiveness like Adam.

Imam Mahdi is here.

Building up for this moment and this afternoon.

In tiredness and heat we supplicate. Voluntarily.

Noor.

Remove Shaytan.

Pious pray for hereafter.

Some lines of Dua Arafah that caught my eye.

…So, if I pray to You, You will respond to me

And if I beg You, You will give me

And if I obey You, You will thank me

And if I thank You, You will give me more

All that is a completion of favours for me

And Your kindness to me…

…And make me see myself as humble…

 

 …O He to Whom I rarely turned thankful; yet, He didn’t deprive me…

 

 …It is You Who led me to success…

The line above reminds of Quran 11:88 (…my success lies only with Allah)

…It is I who leaned (on something other than You) … 

…There is no God save you

Only You, there is no partner with You

To You is the kingdom and to You is all praise

And You have power over all things

O my Lord; O my Lord; O my Lord…

 

 …O my God: (please do) grant me the realities that are enjoyed by the people who are near to You…

 

As the sky sets on Arafah, may our sins be forgiven and may we attain nearness to the Creator.

No concept of time. Don’t need to check. Lost all meaning. If they tell you to wait. You wait for however long. It doesn’t matter.

 

Muzdalifah

It is recommended to pray Maghrib/Isha in Muzdalifa and I managed to pray Isha in Muzdalifah. We were literally roadside but you couldn’t hear the traffic. We were under the stars in the land of Muzdalifah. What an honour. This how Salaat should be prayed (under the stars).

On the eve of Eid we were under the stars in Muzdalifah.

All the women now went to Jamarat whilst the men stayed in Muzdalifah for the night. Jamarat was also a bit anticlimactic simply because it is indoors with AC blowing. It also has levels so control the rush of people there (to avoid stampedes). I imagined prior to Hajj the pillars would be more like pillars than half a wall of stone.

You are supposed to think about the vices you want to get rid of, but when you are there, you just count the stones out and then leave. If you are not careful, it simply becomes a ritual to tick the box as opposed to activity trying to think of the bad attributes you want to get rid of.

You can get right to the front easily, simply because there is a constant flow of people. They aren’t hanging around the pillars, just throwing the stones and leaving.

The advice that was given, that was rather useful, is that you throw and have a friend watch. You need to make sure that your stones hit the pillars, you can easily miss it with so many been thrown by others. This way, your friend can watch too so that it does hit the pillars.

Our hotel was near Mina, so we could just walk home as opposed to going back to the tents. The roads were closed, and so what was a 40 minute walk became a 2 hour walk. No one had any water, because we didn’t anticipate such a long walk. Everybody was struggling, we were all tired, and the walk just seem to go on and on.

People needed the bathroom and so to keep us all together we were told to go to Masjid Khayf which it is highly recommended to pray at. It is normally really busy and you can’t even get it, so we were blessed that we got to pray in this mosque.

God bless the man who gave us all water as we were walking home. At this time I fully remembered Imam Hussain and the women and the children, when all they wanted was water.

This walk home, I think was one of the hardest part of the trip for me. It was more that is was never ending, all the streets looked the same, and I was just tired and exhausted.

 

Day 10

This day was just a rest day, and it consisted mainly of sleeping. Some went to the Haraam to do the Tawafs, but we agreed to rest and go tomorrow.

That evening was in Mina, and in Mina you just chill. You sit and you chat with your fellow Hajjis. It’s a time of friendship, because there isn’t any wajib rituals to complete in the Mina tents, only to stone the Jamarat the following day. It is a time of reflection on your Hajj journey and share your experiences with fellow Hajis.

 

Day 11

All 3 Stone Pillars are hit today as opposed to the one of the day before. It was a similar feeling as yesterday.

This is when I was becoming ill, on the walk home I was a zombie. I don’t even remember it, I just was thinking about walking. IM was kind enough to make breakfast for me and I just went to bed.

I wasn’t that well when I woke up, but we had to do the Tawaafs and Saey today. We didn’t want to wait till tomorrow because tomorrow there is 10 times more rush. All the people who stay in Mina leave tomorrow and go straight to do the Tawaafs and we wanted to miss that rush.

We prayed Zohr and left, it took an hour and half to get to the Haraam and cost us the most in comparison to all the other journeys we had taken. It would have been quicker to walk, but it’s hot, and you need to save the energy for Tawaafs and Saeyy.

Despite the rush we managed 7/7 rounds inside Maqaam Ibrahim. As we were going to Saeyy it was time for Asr so they wouldn’t let us in. We went round and managed to find a way they hadn’t blocked off. Whilst they were finishing up Salaat, we went to Safa to start are Saeyy. As soon as we got there, they had finished their salaat, and we were able to walk freely.

I find it easier to be in the zone for tawaaf than Saeey, again simply because it doesn’t feel like you are walking ‘up’ mountain – just down two long corridors.

After those two rituals, I was tired and drained. But it was a case of getting on with it and getting it done. And once I started Tawaaf it was fine and went really quickly and easily.

That feeling after Tawaaf Nisa is the best feeling in the world. It is such a relief knowing that you had done the hard bit and all that was left was a final night in Mina and then Jamarat.

I am glad we did it in the afternoon got to rest in the morning, at least I had the energy to finish all three parts. By the time we got back it was 730 and we hadn’t eaten. We quickly prayed, showered, grabbed Mcdonalds (that spicy McChicken) and headed out to Mina.

In Mina we found a better spot than the previous night (not under the AC), and I stayed up for a little while to listen to the lecture. However it wasn’t inspiring enough for me to prioritise listening over sleeping (I was shattered and still ill). I told my friends (they were friends now, not acquaintances), to let me know what he said after I left and I went to sleep.

 

Day 12

Walking to Jamarat (for the final time) was really busy. Everybody was going there today, but once you got inside the ‘Jamarat Building,’ it wasn’t that busy. Again people were just moving. It may have helped because some of our brothers wait until Zohr to do the stoning, whereas we can do the stoning before Zohr, but can only leave Mina after Zohr.

As we were waiting for Zohr, we saw loads of other people from other groups that we knew, and it was a really nice feeling seeing them and greeting them, knowing that we went on this journey together and managed to complete it.

The walk back today was better than yesterday (I was less of a zombie and was feeling better), and we got to the hotel and just rested.

People were saying to go to the Haram today taxi drivers were charging 500 Riyyal (as opposed to the 50 we paid yesterday), and it was take 6 hours (traffic).  It would have been much quicker to walk. I am so glad we managed to complete it yesterday.

 

Day 13

You need to recover from these Hajj days even if you looked after yourself. It is physically draining and your body needs to reset and recuperate.

The final load of laundry was done, so I wouldn’t have to worry about shortage of clothes. If you are staying in Aziziya, take some pegs with you, because sometimes there isn’t enough because people aren’t taking their clothes down in good time so others can use the pegs.

In Aziziya, there is a shopping mall called ‘Souk Salaam,’ which sells chadars that are reasonable priced and have nice designs. This was where we did the last of our shopping that needed to be done.

A lot of people went to do Umrah, but we didn’t go. I hadn’t planned for it but also I wanted to enjoy that time relaxing. This was really our holiday for a year and I didn’t want to be completely drained when I went to work. Due to the rush, it took them a long time to complete everything and some had to come back and do the final tawaf the following day because of the rush.

In the evening we went to the Haraam with the cousins. We met this taxi driver who knew 20+ languages and his next language he wanted to learn was French, because he gets a lot of Hajis from the former French colonies in Africa. He learns by google transalate from home. It’s a show that if he can do it with the resources he has, we can do it with the ample resources we have access to.

There are golden arches right opposite the Haraam, it takes away the sanctity and the aura of the place I think. I don’t mind it being there; just maybe it should be further away so it doesn’t seem so commercialised around the Holy Kaba.

Seeing Tawaf from the roof is just insane. The amount of people circumambulating the Kaba and reciting dhikr is a sight to be seen. You see large groups of people surrounded by their Mahrams in constant prayers

Sitting here in front of the Kaba is just awesome, the view is on point. Seeing people remembering and praising the Lord in their own unique way gives that ambiance of being present in the moment.

Maintain the Spirituality.

We were feeling peckish so that means midnight missions to Mcdonalds, and on the way, my friend noticed the black khanzus I have been looking for since Day 1. It was meant to be.

Sh A was sitting there and we decided to join him, and he was telling us the funniest stories ever, and it was just nice to be sitting there, not feeling the stress of doing any Wajib actions, just enjoying yourself. It was like a holiday – just being relaxed.

Slowly, people began to go to bed, but by the time we noticed, it was only 1 hour till Fajr, so we just decided to stay awake. That was a hard hour though, I just wanted to sleep, but going to sleep meant I may not wake up for Fajr.

 

Day 14

This was our last full day on this journey. We woke up and missed breakfast. But actually we didn’t miss it, we chose not to wake up for (much like any other day). In Makkah I only really had breakfast on the days we came back from Umrah Tamattu, and Mina, because when we got back it was time for breakfast.

So naturally when we woke up for Zohr we were all hungry, so after praying we went to get Dominos. It was really nice the Dominos, it wasn’t like the weird Pizzas you get in Spain, it tasted as good (but different), to the ones you get in England.

We were sitting in the same spot as yesterday, and so somebody commented every time I come down to the dining hall I see you guys just sitting here. It was true, and I wasn’t going to deny it. It was a nice feeling knowing you had people to sit and eat with together.

There were 7 of us going to the Haram together that evening and so we were bartering with 2 minibuses and playing them off against each other. We managed to pay peanuts for all of us to go to the Haraam. This final carpool was the Crew (basically all my friends I had made on this trip and their respective spouses).

We did a Tawaf Wida, which included a tawaaf for all the people I wanted to do for. This was a multi-intentioned tawaf, which was busy but we managed. Again 7/7 inside Maqaam Ibrahim. We managed to finish the girls by at least 15 minutes; I don’t know how we manage finish so quickly.

This was the final time we would be sitting and chilling in front of the Kaba. We got prime seats again, in the front row so we could see the Kaba with only the Tawaf-ees (Hujjaj)in front of us.

Who knows when I would return back to the Holy Kaba, and in all honestly, the chances of returning with the same people are next to nil. That is a sad prospect because its so peaceful here, admiring the beauty that is the Kaba, and people enjoining in the dhikr of Allah.

As the final meal we found a five guys. That burger and Cajun chips are the one. Definitely one of the best meals the entire trip.

The plan when we got back was to go to sleep because we had a long day of travel ahead of us the next day. But we went in the dining hall, we facetimed home a little and more people started to come and chat. We decided just to stay awake till fajr (again). The plan was to then sleep after Fajr, but our friend came up to our room to say her farewell (she was travelling the following day), and so I gave up on sleep and just started to chat.

The days have just merged together and on the bus on the way to the airport, it was just sad to be leaving Makkah. It was the not knowing when and if I will return.

 

Epilogue

The people you meet make Hajj. It’s the friends you make and you forever have this bond that you went on the Journey together. Shout out to AK, AR, and TD.

The days just revolve around ibadat, and you just eat, drink and sleep in order to be at maximum strength to pray to the Lord in whatever way.

It will be sad not to be dining together every day. Although we didn’t have a table, the three of us, would eat together every day at least twice a day. Knowing this wouldn’t happen anymore unless we make effort to meet was a depressing feeling.

The friend who was leaving the next day, she said that when she sat down in the dining hall, one of the organisers said you just look sad sitting here alone without your friends.

It’s the comradery and the spirit of individuals that make Hajj.

It is tradition to get ill in Hajj and after Hajj. I was unwell for that last day in Mina and I thought I had survived it and that was it. Apparently not. 3 days after flying back, I managed to get an ear infection and I couldn’t hear at all from my right ear. So just watch out, no matter what, you get ill in Hajj, and somehow you get ill much after Hajj too.

People scare you a lot before Hajj, I didn’t think it was as bad as everybody makes it out to be. So long as you know the different rituals and what to do, just go with the flow. Look after yourself so that you are physically able to complete the rituals. Drink lots of water and don’t worry about going to the bathroom because you will sweat it out and have Barocca to give you that energy. Inshallah you will be invited again to go for Umrah so you can spend more time in the Prophet’s mosque and in Masjid Haraam.

When people asked me what I thought of Hajj I fully think it’s a holiday. There is McDonalds where we ate from most days, you stay overnight in Mina with your friends – that’s a sleepover.

It is an enjoyable experience so long as you don’t complain and think about the positivity in all of this. You become detached from the world, and you begin not to care of the outside world. You message home to let them know all is well. But checking social media apps become obsolete because you simply don’t care and it is irrelevant to your life.

If you can afford it, go for Hajj and stay in Aziziya. It makes your hajj easier and overall Hajj is a fun experience.  It is a Journey, that you undertake with your new friends and gives you friendships and will transcend time and space.