By Asma bint Shameem
This time the crowds were tremendous…..more, much more than the previous years. One couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the number of people at Hajj this year. And similarly, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the sheer number of lessons that I learnt on this journey – lessons of patience, lessons of compassion, lessons of humility and lessons of thankfulness to Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta‘ala.
Every corner I turned, every where I went, every second I spent during my stay in Mina had the potential to mould me for better or for worse.
When I saw the people on the streets , living under a sheet stretched across two bamboo poles, how can I complain about the size of my camp at Mina?
When I saw little kids rummaging through piles of garbage looking for something to eat, how can I be dissatisfied with all the multiple varieties of fruits and juices and foods that I had at my disposal?
How can I even utter the words, “What…. chicken again??!!”
And when I saw old, weak people and people in wheelchairs and people limping and crippled standing at the side of the street hoping to find a ride or walking with their legs so swollen that they were the size of their thighs, how can I even begin to complain about the few hours I was stuck on my air-conditioned bus, not to mention the snacks and cold water that I had readily available to me??
I remember the words of my teacher, Muhammad al-Shareef. He said once,
“Hajj is not a journey of the body such as one may take to a vacation spot or tourist attraction. It is a journey of the soul and heart.”
And how true those words are. It is indeed a journey of the heart….a journey to work hard…. to get your sins forgiven….to get to Jannah.
‘Amr ibn Al-‘Aas narrates,
“When Islam entered my heart, I went to the Messenger of Allah and said, ‘Give me your hand so that I may pledge allegiance to you.’ The Prophet spread his hand, but I withdrew mine. He said, ‘What is wrong ‘Amr?’ I said, ‘I want to make a condition.’ ‘And what is that?’ he said. I said, ‘That Allah will forgive me.’ Then the Messenger of Allah said, ‘Did you not know that Islam wipes out what came before it, and that Hijrah wipes out what came before it and that Hajj wipes out what came before it!” – (Sahih Muslim)
When Allaah will forgive all our previous sins……yes, that’s right…..ALL OUR PREVIOUS SINS…….then is a little discomfort or inconvenience not worth it?
In fact, I think a lot of inconvenience is worth it. Actually, anything…..anything in this world is worth it.
“(That Day)No loyal friend will ask another loyal friend, though they are in sight of each other. To ransom himself from the punishment of that Day, the sinner will wish that he might even ransom himself by his sons, his companion (wife), his brother, the kinsmen who gave him shelter, and whatsoever is in the earth, altogether, so that it might save him.” (Surah Ma’aarij:10-14)
And how dare we complain??
Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala chose us from among 6 billion of His slaves, and invited us to His Blessed House to undertake this Blessed Journey…..to perform this Blessed Worship that people only dream about once in their lifetimes and what do we do??
We forget this immense , immense blessing of His on us and instead of falling prostate on our faces, with unstoppable tears of repentance and gratitude…. thanking Him for inviting us there and guiding us to Islaam and giving us the opportunity to have our sins forgiven, we forget the big picture and complain???!!!!
But dear brothers and sisters, who is it that provided us with all the blessings that we enjoy in our lives, all the blessings that we use day in and day out? It is no one but Allaah!
And it is the same Allah that tested us on the plains of Arafah, during our stay in Mina, and during our bus journey to Muzdalifah.
We need to remember that indeed the greatest blessing that Allah has favored us with is Islam, and it alone suffices as favor.
“There is no blame upon you for seeking bounty from your Lord (during Hajj). But when you depart from Arafat, remember Allah at AlMash’ar AlHaram. And remember Him as He has guided you, for indeed you were before that among those who went astray.” (Surah Baqarah: 198)
So thank Allaah for His favors upon you and when that dust blows, instead of complaining….turn to Allah and hit back with patience and a whisper of gratitude to Allah. And ask Him to forgive you.
“Then let them end their untidiness, fulfill their vows, and perform Tawaf around the ancient House.” (Surah Hajj 22:29)
And remember, Hajj is just a reminder of another journey that you and I will eventually have to take…..a journey every soul is traveling, whether they know it or care to just remain heedless…..A journey to the Hereafter, to Paradise or Hell.
“And take sustenance (with you) for the journey; verily the best sustenance is Taqwa (piety and righteousness).“ (Al Baqarah :197)