Epilogue: “hajj” (The Hajj Journal)

October 1, 2015

I’m sitting on the porch in my parents’ back yard, and I’m reminded just how many signs of life there are here. The green grass; the yellowing autumn leaves; the occasional ‘plick’ of water from the garden faucet; insects—butterflies, ladybugs, spiders, and more—going about their business; birds getting ready for the coming winter; the wind chime gently ringing soft notes in the breeze. I feel, for the moment, tranquil. I feel like a new phase of my life is about to start. I remember [being asked] once: “What stage of your life do you think you are in?” And the question didn’t seem weird or strange to me. It made perfect sense. Looking back on my life, I can almost section it out into chapters. Definitely for the past 8 years that I’ve been a Muslim. Reversion. Marriage. Divorce. Work. School. Graduation. Career. Engagement. Hajj. At certain points I feel that a phase of my life is ending just as another is beginning. Now there’s my life post-Hajj. Continue reading “Epilogue: “hajj” (The Hajj Journal)”

37. “Farewell” (The Hajj Journal)

The Ka'bah

September 27, 2015

My Hajj has officially ended.

The final rite of Hajj is to do one final Tawaf before leaving Mecca. It’s a way of bidding farewell to the House of God; after doing it, a pilgrim isn’t allowed to engage in commerce until they leave Mecca.

It was a bit stressful. We (Abdulrashid and I) were on the second level [of the Haram] when suddenly, out of nowhere, there was a stampede. We never found out what caused it. But one minute we were walking and the next there was a mob of people running toward us. It only lasted about 5-10 seconds, but it was terrifying. I saw Abdulrashid in front of me, and he stopped for a second, then turned and ran as the crowd came closer. I immediately ran to the edge of one of the indoor balconies and pressed myself against the balcony, gripping the stone ledge for my life. Some brave security guards jumped in and stood with their hands in the air, shouting at the crowd to be calm. Thank God nothing bad happened and no one got hurt. Continue reading “37. “Farewell” (The Hajj Journal)”

31. “Imam” (The Hajj Journal)

September 24, 2015

One amazing thing happened in Muzdalifah. At one point, I was washing my hands, and heard one of the groups behind me praying. The imam had a very, very familiar recitation.

“No way,” I said out loud.

I turned around and, surely enough, leading the prayer was Imam Mohammed Raqih, the imam of the Wetaskiwin mosque. SubhanAllah, at the exact same place and time, across the world, we were there. Continue reading “31. “Imam” (The Hajj Journal)”

2. “Faces” (The Hajj Journal)

September 9, 2015

Currently at Toronto International Airport, running somehow on 3 hours of broken sleep and Tim Hortons. There’s so many faces here. I think I get why classical Arabic uses “face” as a metaphor for a person’s entire being. Our faces are our most identifiable feature. It’s amazing how humans can recognize faces and determine if they are familiar or not almost subconsciously. Looking at all the different faces, you can truly see the handiwork of God. Many faces may have a similar shape or similar features but there are such minute differences that we can detect almost instantly whether the face belongs to someone we know. Continue reading “2. “Faces” (The Hajj Journal)”

1. “Departure” (The Hajj Journal)

A journal entry

September 9, 2015

Here I am, at the Edmonton airport, closer than I’ve ever been to my dream of Hajj. It’s 9:30 PM and I’m tired. Around me, families are gathering –no doubt part of our group—to see their loved ones off. My Dad dropped me off, hugged me, and wished me a good trip…

Part of me is still in awe that it’s happening. God willing I’ll be on the other side of the world, in the holy city of Medina, in a few days’ time. We leave at midnight, land in Toronto at about 7 AM. Then depart from Toronto at 1 PM and land in Jeddah at 7 AM the next day. After that, a 7 hour wait to fly to Medina. After that, jetlag. However, there’s still many miles—sorry, kilometers—to cross between here and there. Anything could happen in that time.

Am I afraid? Only as much as is reasonably necessary. I think my life post-Hajj is more frightening to me. Who will I be when I come back? Where will my life go? I keep hearing how Hajj is a transformative experience. How it’s a completion of your faith. But what will that mean for me?


 

Commentary

Preparing to leave for Hajj is like preparing to leave your life behind. In the days leading up to Hajj, it was like I was planning on checking out of my life for good: I had to eat all perishable food in my place, I tried to see all my friends at least one more time before I left, and yes, it was even recommended to write up my will—which I did. The last thing I did was drive to my parent’s place and drop my car and my cat off. I had to square with the notion that I may never be coming back home. And that’s something that plagued me more during my trip than I thought it would.

But assuming I made it home safely, it was my post-Hajj life is what worried the most. A general fear of change has always hovered over me, especially on the verge of life-changing decisions like this one. I knew that it would take some readjustment going back to my normal life. But the question I wondered was: who was I going to be? Whether it was Hajj or even just attending a conference, one fear that always plagued me is that I would somehow come back as a hardcore, humourless extremist. I didn’t fear so much a change in my life as a change in my personality and, by extension, my identity.

 

Prev: “Prologue: 2014”