Introduction

In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

Aaron wearing a kurta

In September 2015, eight years after I accepted Islam, God opened the way for me to go for Hajj.

Hajj is a once in a lifetime journey. It’s the last of the 5 pillars of Islam, preceded by shahada (testimony), prayer, obligatory charity, and fasting in Ramadan. It’s due upon every Muslim at least once in their lifetime, if they are physically and financially able to do so, and if it is safe to do so.

My journey was as much a physical challenge as it was a spiritual one. In addition to the many hours of walking and intense heat, I sometimes found myself confronted by questions about  my faith that I hadn’t thought to ask before. Throughout my 17-day journey, I kept track of my thoughts and experiences in a journal.

The following are selections from my journal entries. I edited them for grammar, and changed names where I felt it was necessary. I’ve added commentary after most journal entries, either to expand on the ideas in the entry or to cover something I didn’t get to write about.

This isn’t going to be a guide on Hajj. Instead, it’s a chronicle of my thoughts, feelings and experiences as a Canadian Muslim convert as I became part of the largest gathering of human beings on the planet.

Next: Prologue: “2014”

More info

The Hajj (National Geographic)

Overview of the Rites of Hajj (SunnahOnline)